Here’s The Best Way To Gently Turn Someone Down If You’re Not Interested
I am a huge people-pleaser. It’s taken some time for me to accept it and say it out loud, but it’s true. There is truly nothing I hate more in life than having to do something that might hurt someone or make them upset. Even just the vague concept of hurting someone else bothers me so much that I would go to pretty much any length to avoid doing so. Needless to say, this little issue of mine made dating very difficult. In particular, figuring out how to politely reject someone has been my Mount Everest.
I mean, isn’t the concept of rejecting someone who was genuinely interested in you inherently going to be hurtful? That’s how I felt when I was single. I thought there was no real way to kindly reject someone, so I’d go to great lengths to come up with elaborate lies and ego-boosting explanations all to hopefully ease the blow. But it turns out there’s another way.
Unfortunately, when I was single, I never really had anyone to teach me how to turn someone down nicely. Luckily, if you’re a single person struggling with this, I’ve got some very helpful tips to share. In a recent Reddit AskWomen thread, women shared their go-to methods for rejecting people politely — and they’re incredible.
In scenarios where someone approaches you first or you’ve had just a casual date or two, it’s best to cut to the chase. Being brief, clear, and kind will show them that it just wasn’t in the cards for you two — and that’s OK. “The two keys are tact and honesty when letting someone down,” Erika Ettin, dating coach and founder of A Little Nudge, previously told Elite Daily. “While someone might be disappointed that you don’t want to go out again, he or she can’t really be angry at you for feeling, or not feeling, how you do.”
“Just tell them you’re not interested. You don’t have to get into it any more than that. It’s not harsh, it’s just direct. Rejection sucks no matter how much you sugar coated so you may as well be clear.
The thing about telling someone you’re not interested is that it’s always going to be a slight blow to their ego. Being upfront and direct, though, especially when it comes to casual dating, can make it sting less. “If you want to tell someone you’ve been casually dating that you want to end things, don’t be afraid of being direct,” writer and relationship expert Kiki O’Keeffe previously told Elite Daily. “The stakes are a bit lower, so there’s less pressure on both sides to navigate tricky emotions. Be decisive but kind, and that will go a long way toward ensuring that each party feels respected.”
One of the best ways you can reject someone kindly is to avoid placing blame on them. It’s perfectly fine to simply say you don’t think you’re compatible. While you don’t necessarily owe them an explanation, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Susan Edelman previously explained to Elite Daily that if they do ask for more details, it can be helpful to offer some context (just so long as it doesn’t hurt their feelings). If you’re worried that the real reason you’re not into them might bruise their ego a bit too much, you can always go for the “I just didn’t feel a spark — I’m sorry” response, which is incredibly fair.
It’s better to be direct than wishy washy, even if you’re not someone who usually says things bluntly. The truth is, being upfront saves the both of you from becoming even more entrenched in something that just wasn’t going to work from the beginning.
“We hate hurting people’s feelings, so a lot of times we try to avoid or be vague,” Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, previously told Elite Daily. “It’s just not the way to go. You need to close that door so you don’t string them along. For example, if you say, ‘I have other plans,’ they might ask again. While it seems caring, it’s just delaying the inevitable and making them feel like a fool which will cause more hurt feelings.”
“You just say something like, “Sorry, I’m not interested.” or “No.” If you want to be extra gentle about it, you can say something like, “I’m flattered, but not interested.”, “No, thank you.”, or “Thank you for asking, but I’m not interested.” If they push for anything beyond that, they are the ones being rude.”
Sometimes people don’t take rejection well, and if that’s the case even after you turn them down politely and respectfully, there’s honestly nothing you can do, according to Ettin. “If someone is not mature enough to handle this, that is on the other person,” she explained. “You can only control what you put out there, not how people react to it. But, if someone is not gracious when you’ve expressed that you’re not — or no longer — interested, don’t let that impact how you deal with similar situations in the future.” If someone reacts poorly to your rejection, it can definitely leave a sour taste in your mouth, but it’s also important to remember that at that point, it’s out of your hands.
Deciding how to reject someone.
While it’s widely considered best practice to break up with someone in person, letting someone know you’re not interested in them doesn’t always warrant an in-person meetup. According to sex and dating coach Myisha Battle, M.S., it’s totally fine to reject someone over text if you’ve only gone on a date or two and your primary mode of communication has been through text. “To some folks, rejection by text is even preferable to meeting up in person only to be told things aren’t working,” she tells mbg.
- “Hey there! This weekend was really fun. To be honest, though, I’m not really feeling a spark. I hope you can understand, and I really wish you all the best.”
- “Thanks for dinner last night! I do want to be honest with you, though—I had a great time, but I don’t think we’re a great match. I wish you the best, though, and hope you find what you’re looking for out there!”
- “I’m really flattered by the attention you’ve been giving me lately, but just to be upfront with you, I’m not interested in you in that way. I think you’re great, though, and I hope we can still be friends.”
- “[Name], I think you’re a great guy/girl. I’m just not feeling a connection here.”
- “Hey, [name], I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you these last few weeks. I think you’re hilarious and such fun. That said, I’m just not feeling a romantic connection here, and I think it’d be best for us to go our separate ways. I’m really glad we met, and I hope you find your person soon.”
Value your friendship
It’s never easy disappointing someone, especially when it’s someone you care about as a pal. “If this person is in your social circle or someone you’re close with, you likely don’t want to lose the relationship,” says Kaitlin Kindman, LCSW, practice director and co-founder of Kindman & Co.. “Let them know that you see and appreciate their vulnerability and give them space to show that it’s okay for them to feel let down.”
Try: “I hope you know how much I care about you and the relationship we have. I know it’s not easy to share your feelings and I admire the courage it took to let me know how you’re feeling. I don’t want to hurt you, but unfortunately, I don’t feel the same way. I understand if you feel disappointed and that this may make our relationship awkward for a bit. Take all the time you need and when you’re ready, I hope we can still be friends.”
Keep it casual
If a coworker asks you out, be clear that you’re not interested and don’t feel pressured to give any explanation as to why. Keeping a casual tone—like in the example below—will help both parties feel more comfortable during an awkward situation. (FYI, this assumes a peer is asking you out, not a supervisor or boss, which is crossing a line!)
When an old flame comes callin’, keep it short and sweet. “Let them know that your focus has shifted,” says Walker. That means, no need to recount details from the past or remind them of how terrible your breakup was! (Related: The 10 Stages Of Every Breakup—And How To Make Each One Suck Less)
Try: “Hey. While I can appreciate many aspects of our past relationship, going out again would feel like a step backward for me, and I’m committed to my future growth—in all areas of my life. Be well.”
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