how to reject someone nicely

Sorry, Not Interested: 10 Tips for Rejecting Someone Nicely

It’s the most awkward scenario in the dating world — a rejection. As flattering as it can be to find out someone is into you, it presents a tricky situation when you don’t feel the same way. If someone you’re not interested in asks you out, what do you say? How do you let them down easily? Do you rip it off like a bandaid or tread a little more cautiously?

The whole situation is just...painful. (Cue internal cringing) In fact, studies show that when we experience rejection, it activates the same areas of the brain that are activated when we feel physical pain.

What’s more, we can actually re-live social pain much more vividly than we can physical pain. So, when you think back to the time your crush rejected you in middle school, you’ll re-experience all those emotions much more intensely than when you think about the time you broke your arm. (So, when we say the situation is painful, we mean literally painful.)

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Whether someone is asking you out for the first time or you’ve decided after three dates that there’s just no connection, rejecting them isn’t exactly fun. Regardless, it’s important to know how to reject someone.

Here, we’ve rounded up 10 pieces of advice for how to reject someone nicely:

1. Be Direct

There’s no beating around the bush when it comes to rejecting someone. (Especially if the person tends to be a little thick-headed.) You might be tempted to sugar coat what you have to say, but don’t do it!

Honesty really is the best policy here. The best thing you can do (for both of you) is speak calmly but firmly and let them know that you are not interested. There shouldn’t be any question about your decision or how you feel.

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2. Keep It Simple

The simpler, the better! There’s no need to give them a 10 minute speech about why the two of you aren’t right for each other. Neither of you want to be having this conversation in the first place, so keep it short and casual. Try saying something like, “I’m flattered, but I don't think we're on the same page. I'm not interested in dating, but thanks for asking!”

Here are a few more simple things you can say to reject someone nicely:

  • “I really enjoyed getting to know you. I’m looking for XYZ (a serious relationship, someone who shares my political views, someone who enjoys the outdoors as much as I do), so I don’t think we’re a good match for each other. I hope you find who you’re looking for!”
  • “I'm sure you're amazing in many ways, but I have a good handle on what I want at this point in my life, and I don't see us as a good match. I truly hope you find your person."
  • “I really appreciate your interest, but I just don’t feel the same. I know it may be hard to hear, but I’m not interested in a romantic relationship.”

3. Don't Apologize

Okay, we do have “sorry” in the title of this article, but stay with us here.

Saying sorry is like a safety net for uncomfortable conversations. For some reason, we tend to apologize when there’s really no need for it. (And then we apologize for’s a vicious cycle.)

There is absolutely no reason you need to apologize for rejecting someone. Think about it: what do you have to be sorry for? Not a thing! It’s easy to throw out something like, “I’m sorry, I’m just not interested,” but try not to. Apologizing implies that you did something wrong, and you definitely did not!

4. A Call or Text is Fine

Face-to-face rejections, although tough, are really the best way to do it. Of course, that can’t always happen, so a call or text is totally fine. (It might even soften the blow a little bit.) That said, the same rules still apply — be honest and direct, and keep it simple.

If someone asks you to hang out, instead of saying “No, thanks,” you can say something like, “It was really nice meeting you, but I’m just not feeling that type of connection.” If you’re being asked out on a second date (after a pretty bad first one), you can say, “Thanks so much for our last date, but I just didn’t feel a connection,” or, “I would love to hang out again, but just as friends.” (If that’s the truth, of course.)

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5. Don't Drag It Out

If you’re going to drag it out, you’ll likely end up with a lot of uncomfortable silence. The conversation doesn’t need to last long, and the more you talk, the more of a hole you’ll dig yourself into. You might even talk your way into a pity date, which isn’t a good thing for either of you.

Along these lines, if you know for sure you need to reject someone, don’t wait days to make it happen. Do it as soon as possible, make it quick, and while it might not feel good, they may appreciate you letting them know (rather than lead them on).

6. Don’t Mention Physical Traits

Is there anything worse than hearing “I’m just not attracted to you” from someone else? (Probably not.) Even if that’s the case, don’t say it! You’re already rejecting the person, and it definitely doesn’t help the situation if you insult their looks on top of it.

7. You Don't Have to Explain

You really don’t need to go into a lot of detail about why you’re rejecting someone. If you do, stick with “I” statements like “I just don’t feel a romantic connection,” or “I am not looking for a relationship right now.”

More importantly, try not to put blame on the person for rejecting them. Saying something like, “You drink too much,” or “You aren’t my type” can make the situation more tense than it already is. Basically, take the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach.

8. Accept That You May Hurt Them

As with any tough conversation, there’s a chance that someone’s feelings will get hurt. It’s helpful to prepare yourself for every potential response after rejecting someone. It’s not easy for you to say, but it’s definitely harder for the person being rejected!

In a perfect scenario, the person will be totally cool about it. Depending on the situation, though, you might get a response that’s emotional or even angry. It’s normal to feel bad after hurting someone’s feelings, but remember that you’re not doing anything wrong. (You can’t help that you’re not interested, you know?)

9. Don’t Give False Hope

This is why honesty is so important! If you sugar coat your rejection, the person may think they still have a shot. It’s tempting to keep things open-ended and say something like, “Yeah, maybe we can hang out one weekend,” knowing full-well you don’t actually intend to.

Although it’s a lot easier to lie than reject someone, you are doing way more harm than good. All it does is prolong the inevitable disappointment. If you drag them along, it will be much more hurtful down the road.

10. "No" is a Full Sentence

Technically, “no” is really all you need to say! (Although you don’t have to be that harsh about it.) You don’t owe anyone an explanation for how you feel. If you are trying to reject someone and they start to make you feel bad about it, remember that you haven’t done anything wrong. (And you probably dodged a bullet, too.)

Knowing how to reject someone nicely is necessary in the dating world. Although it’s not easy for either person, it’s important to be as open and direct as possible. In the grand scheme of things, the person might actually be thankful that you saved them a lot of time and heartache by being completely honest about how you feel. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s helpful in the long run.

So, the next time you have to reject someone, keep these tips in mind to help soften the blow. It won’t be easy, but at least you’ll be nice about it!

Relish is an award-winning relationship coaching app that allows you to speak with real experts any time of day! Get lessons, quizzes, and insights tailored to your specific needs as a couple. Download the app and start your 7-day free trial!

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