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10 Polite Ways to Reject Someone You Don’t Like

Today in Detangle


Last year, a work colleague of mine started to act awkwardly every time I was around. It wasn’t until he brought me a coffee to go from the coffee shop nearby the office that I realized he liked me (I hope my partner doesn’t read this article). So I had to do something to let him know that I didn’t feel the same way toward him. But how can you do that? Let’s find out!

Rejection is definitely the most awkward scenario in the dating world. As flattering as it can be to learn that someone is into you, it can be a tricky situation when the feeling isn’t mutual. If someone has the courage to ask you out but you’re not interested in them, how do you reject them? Do you try your best to show gentleness, or do you act as if you were ripping off a bandaid?

It’s important to openly speak about your feelings and be as direct as possible to avoid confusion or the wrong impression that you may change your mind at some point in the future when it’s clear that you won’t.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can use to gracefully reject someone you don’t like! Let’s take a look!

reject someone
Photo by Stockbusters from Shutterstock

1. Be Honest

You’ve definitely heard this before: Honesty is the best policy. If you want to reject someone you’re not interested in, try to avoid making up excuses, such as a fake weekend trip or a bogus significant other.

Try saying something like, “That’s really flattering; thank you for asking. But I’m not interested in going out.” Hopefully, that person will appreciate the fact that you respected their time by not stringing them along.

Being honest is as important as not being hurtful. You may be tempted to sugarcoat your rejection, but in most cases, this isn’t a helpful approach. It will just make things more frustrating, both for you and for the other person.

However, being honest doesn’t mean that you have to explain yourself or the reason why you don’t want to go on the date.

2. Be Assertive

If the person won’t accept no for an answer, don’t hesitate to get assertive. Make sure you mention again the fact that you’ve previously been quite clear that you’re not interested in going out with them; you can also bring up the fact that disrespecting your boundaries is inappropriate.

Don’t be afraid to remind them that you’ve already said ”no” once. You can say something like this: “Please understand that I’m not interested in going on a date with you and that I won’t change my mind.” Also, when you reject the same person for the second time, don’t forget to ask them to respect your decision.

Even though you may be concerned that your assertive attitude will hurt them, keep in mind that it’s much better, in the long run, to be direct and straightforward.

3. Don’t Apologize

Apologizing could seem like the right thing to do when you reject someone as if it’s your fault that the conversation is turning into something uncomfortable. In fact, for some reason, we tend to say sorry when there’s really no reason to do that. (And then we say sorry for apologizing—it’s a vicious cycle.)

There’s really no need for you to apologize for saying “no” to someone. After all, what do you have to say sorry for? Well, not a thing. Maybe this doesn’t sound like a nice way to reject someone you’re not interested in, but just think about it: apologizing suggests that you did something wrong, which you didn’t.

reject someone
Photo by from Shutterstock

4. Do It Face-to-Face

In this digital era where we communicate more often via phone and text than we do in person, it can be difficult to figure out just how to reject someone you’re not interested in. As tempting as it may be to just send a quick text, though, it’s a bad way to say no to someone.

According to relationship counselors, face-to-face is always the best. Not only is this the most mature way to reject someone, but it also allows the other person to see through your body language and facial expressions that you mean what you say (here‘s an interesting book about nonverbal communication).

And there’s one more thing here. If you were the other person, you’d probably rather hear a “no” face-to-face than get it via text.

5. Try Complimenting the Other Person

If you know the person you’re about to reject, you probably wouldn’t want to lose them if it’s a friend, or alienate them if it’s, let’s say, a coworker. The fact that you know the person who’s asking you out on a date makes the whole situation even more complicated. You don’t want to reject them and ruin the relationship between you two, but you can’t change your feelings—or lack of them.

Knowing the other person means you know some things about them, such as their qualities, things they are good at, etc. Remind them that you appreciate those things about them and say something like, “You’re such a good friend, and I really like hanging out with you, but I don’t see us being more than friends.”

This isn’t the sugarcoating mentioned before; well, it shouldn’t be, so make sure you’re sincere when complimenting the other person.

6. Use “I” Statements

This strategy will help you avoid criticizing the other person. After all, when you reject someone, you definitely hurt that person. So the least you can do is make sure you don’t break their heart any further.

Avoid telling the other person why you don’t want to go out on a date with them or why they don’t match your ideal partner—that can be hurtful. Instead, say something like, “I’m looking for something different” or “I don’t feel that type of connection between us.”

If they ask for more detail, it’s really up to you if you offer that up or openly state that there’s anything else to share.

7. Don’t Offer To Be Friends if You Don’t Want That

If you recently met that person and you two seem to get along, but you don’t want to have THAT type of connection, it’s probably best to keep your distance. I know, you probably don’t want to break that person’s heart, so that’s why you may be tempted to say something like, “I can’t go on a date with you, but we can be friends.”

Chances are, the other person doesn’t want to have a platonic relationship with you. In other words, they don’t want to be just friends with you. Try instead saying something like, “I think you’re great, but I don’t feel a romantic connection. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime.”

missed call
Photo by Tada Images from Shutterstock

8. Avoid Ghosting

This is definitely one of the worst things you can do. You don’t know how to reject that person, so you ignore them. You may think this will solve the whole situation, but it won’t. In fact, it will make it even worse if you run into that person at a party or on the street.

Maybe you don’t want to give them a response right after they send you the message, but try to respond within 48 hours. Dealing with the situation head-on will help you, too; you won’t feel anxious about running into this person again.

Think about how you would actually feel if you asked someone you liked on a date and then got no response back. Your self-confidence would probably be shaken a little bit. However, if the person did something offensive or inappropriate, you shouldn’t feel any responsibility to respond to their texts or phone calls again.

9. Don’t Brag to Your Friends About the Situation

Avoid making fun of the person who asked you out or embarrassing them. Asking someone out on a date isn’t an easy thing to do for some people. If you tend to make a big deal out of saying “no” to a person who’s asked you out, you could make it hard for them to do the same thing again in the future.

Instead, try to keep the information to yourself. Avoid taking screenshots of texts and sharing them with others. You don’t want to shame someone for expressing their feelings or make their efforts into a joke. If you really want to talk to someone about the situation, confide in a trusted friend.

10. Prepare Yourself

No matter how nice you try to be to the other person, when you reject them, your words have the potential to hurt the other person or make them feel bad.

Be mentally prepared to not have what you’re about to say well received. There’s a chance that the other person will get upset, and if that happens, don’t argue back or feed into it, as nothing good will come of it. In fact, if you think that after this you’ll never see them again, it’s better to let the other person have the last word.

You may also want to read How to Come to Terms After a Bad Fight (7 Amazing Tips).

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