How to Reject Someone Without Hurting Them — 4 Useful Tips

When someone tries to ask you out or hints that they’re into you, but the feeling isn’t mutual, it can really make life complicated. On one hand, you don’t want to come across as a jerk, but at the same time you should never feel compelled to date someone out of guilt. Although it can be difficult to reject them, there are ways to do it while remaining compassionate yet unambiguous.

How to Reject Someone Without Hurting Them — 4 Useful Tips

Be considerate and tactful

Let them know that while you’re flattered, you aren’t interested. Smile and thank them. You can even tell them you respect the fact that they had the courage to ask, but that you aren’t interested in them in the same way. There’s no need to scoff at them or degrade them. They deserve some respect. After all, they’re allowing themselves the possibility of being rejected and embarrassed because you mean that much to them. If you feel the need to offer an explanation that soothes their ego, you can simply tell them you are focused on your life goals right now and aren’t looking for a relationship. Or you can say that you really like them as a person, but there isn’t that “spark.” It’s far better than a blunt, “You aren’t my type.”

Once you’ve let them down easy, make an exit. You might be tempted to find more ways to placate and comfort the individual rejecting you, but this is not a good idea. Standing there and continuing with a conversation will just make things awkward and will leave the other person feeling confused and even resentful.

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Give them an immediate answer

Hey, if you’re not into them you’re not into them. But that means you need to be straight up about this. For instance, if they ask you out via text or DM, you don’t want to ignore them and just hope your silence serves as “the hint.” Avoid “ghosting” as well. It is a really mean-spirited thing to do and might even backfire. After all, your goal is to reject them without hurting their feelings too much, right? By vanishing forever without addressing the issue, it will make the situation worse. Finally, there is no “good time” to reply except right away. The longer you wait, the more difficult you will make it for both of you when you do give them an answer. When you say “no” you need to be firm about it. You don’t need to be hostile about it, but you don’t want them to think they still have a chance. It’s going to hurt no matter what, but at least in the long run you’ll both be better off by making an immediate decision.

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Be Straightforward

If you’re firm and absolute the first time, you won’t have to worry about them asking a second time. Time ends up being wasted for both of you if your response isn’t unambiguous. If you say things like, “I just got out of a long term relationship” or “I’m too busy to date anybody at the moment” you’re giving them a false sense of hope. They will simply wait for a few weeks to go by and then ask you out again, forcing you to come up with a whole new list of excuses.

Once you’ve rejected them, you need to move on. Sure, knowing that somebody likes you can make you feel pretty good about yourself, even if you don’t want to date them. But if you are completely certain that they’re not the right person for you, don’t re-initiate communication with them ever again. Don’t add them on social media. Delete them from your phone contacts. The last thing you want to do is drunk dial them one night, and then be left having to clean up the mess you created once you sober up and realize what you’ve done!

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Be Authentic

There is nothing wrong with saying no. Nobody gets enjoyment out of telling a person you don’t want to date them, but if you aren’t attracted to them or just can’t picture them as your boyfriend/girlfriend, you can’t help it. By giving any answer other than “no,” you are disrespecting yourself just as much as you’re showing no respect for the other person.

Go with your gut instinct. Maybe you do think the guy/girl is attractive, but there’s just something about their personality that doesn’t mesh with you. Don’t date somebody if you aren’t sure, because then you’ll end up having to break up with them, which can hurt a whole lot more than a rejection!