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How To Tell Someone You’re Not Interested (7 Respectful Ways)

by Sonya Schwartz

Many of us enjoy the rush of being the object of someone’s affection, being chased by people who are into us feels great, right? The answer, of course, depends largely on the person doing the chasing. The downside to being attractive or just being a woman is that the attention we get doesn’t always come filtered.

Many people want the privilege of being with you, but most of them either come too late or aren’t your type, leaving you with the responsibility of saying no. It may not be our favorite thing, but telling someone you don’t want to go out with them is an integral part of the dating process.

If you find it hard to say no, it’s okay, it’s not just you. Between the desire to be unique, a fear of conflict, and our inherent need to not hurt others, most people do. In the post, the writer, therapist F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W., also notes that the word 'no' maybe particularly harder for women, especially when men are involved.

Still, I believe the need to be nice or wanting to get along should never supersede doing what’s best for you. That said, here’s how to let a person know you’re not interested without necessarily being unkind

7 Kind Ways To Tell Someone You Are Not Interested

1. Consider the best way to let them know

Consider the best way to let them know

So you’ve been on a couple of dates, maybe even gone to his house, and he’s been to yours, but you’re not feeling the vibe. So now you’re wondering how to tell a guy you don’t like him.  First, you want to put the feelings of the guy in question into consideration without doing things to lead him on.

So, depending on how well you know this person, after thinking things over, the next thing to figure out is the best way to get the message across. Would you rather do it in person or over the phone? If it’s the latter, will it be via email, text message, phone call, or a casual gif saying no?

Doing it over the phone is obviously a more convenient option as it spares you the stress of coming face-to-face with the recipient and their feelings. It is also the only option if the relationship is long-distance. However, the thing about that approach is that the impersonal nature of the communication might make you come off as insensitive or rude.

On the other hand, doing it in person reduces the chances of them misunderstanding you or something getting lost in translation. Plus, it says you care enough to explain things to their face, and it’s generally more respectful. Nonetheless, there’s a catch here too, not everyone takes rejection well, and if things go south after telling him, you might have a situation on your hands. Therefore, weigh your pros and cons before you proceed.

2. Keep the conversation short

There are several versions of how to let someone know they are not interested, but the most effective, for both parties, are situations where nothing gets overly dragged out. After deciding the best way to pass the message across, the next thing you should work on is keeping the conversation short. At least that’s how I’d do it.

If you are going to do it over a phone call, after the usual hi’s and hellos, try not to beat around the bush too much before getting to the crux of things. Similarly, if you’re texting, pass your message across in a few lines. If they ask questions, answer them as politely as you can, then let them know you have to go. The same goes for in-person interactions.

However, some guys don’t make it easy, they might even have a counter-argument prepared on why you should go out with them. It is up to you to decide whether to indulge them or not, but you should know letting it go on for too long might send a mixed signal.

In addition, prolonging the conversation also makes getting swayed by them an option. So if you know you don’t want to date someone, keeping your interactions short is just better for everyone. 

3. Make your disinterest clear

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone thinks you’re dating when you were just being nice? Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff that happens when you adopt vagueness as a rejection theme. Sometimes, the best way to show empathy for this person is to hit the nail on the head.

You don’t have to be rude to pass your message across. You could even start with a compliment, as long as you both end up on the same page. Instead of saying, “I like you too, I’m just not sure I’m ready to date,” try to be more precise. He might take it as you telling him to wait, so something like, "Thanks, but I’m not interested" will suffice.

I understand the concept of people-pleasing, but what you need to understand is that hiding behind vagueness is just prolonging the inevitable. You’ll lead them on, they will eventually tire of waiting, and when they do bring it back up, you’ll either have to reject them again or become a reluctant partner in a relationship you don’t want.

Either way, you’ll find yourself in a messier, more awkward situation than it should have been.

4. Don’t force a friendship

Most of my male friends first came to me as admirers. This may be a manifestation of how I want to get along and not hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’m sure many women can relate. You tell people you’re not on the same page, some of them get the message and leave, others hear something like, 'maybe I need a little nudge'. They basically think they can hang around and change your mind, even though you clearly stated otherwise.

As much as guys hate being in the friend zone, in my opinion, many of them willingly walk into it in hopes of being the exception: the one who gets out. Where I’m going with this is you do not have to force someone who is romantically into you to be friends just to cushion their pain. 

Eventually, they’ll decide which one matters more to them, being with you as a friend or not at all. If the person in question is someone you are already friends with or think would make a good one but don’t want to date, you can leave the option on the table without forcing things.

Let them know you hope your friendship remains, but you also understand they need time to process. And if that’s not something they want, let it go.

5. Make up an excuse

Make up an excuse

Here’s another good old way that works; come up with a convincing excuse that gets the undesirables off your back for good. The thing about this method, though, is that it can take a lot of mental work if you are not a natural at it. Just to be safe, it pays to go for a general excuse rather than a specific one that could get you caught in a lie.

If it’s a stranger or someone that’s at least removed from your circle enough not to know otherwise, you can say you’re in love with another person or too busy to date. Once again, I’d like to say being nice shouldn’t take precedence over doing what is right (for you). But if spinning a bogus explanation is what does it for you, I say go for it.

Chemistry is another great justification for turning somebody down since it’s not something you can force. This wouldn’t work for turning a guy you’ve just met, but it might if you’ve gone on a few dates with them already. Graciously tell them you’re not feeling it. It’s only an excuse if it isn’t true, right?

6. Tell the truth

As the saying goes, the truth shall set you free. The truth doesn’t require you to form an extravagant lie; neither does it thrust you into a relationship you don’t want. It might take a little jab at the person’s ego, but that’s something you can fix by inserting a little kindness into your tone.

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On a more serious note, if you don’t want to go out with someone, you must have your reasons, right? Superficial or not, your reasons are yours, and they are valid. So, rather than ghosting them because you don’t want to hurt them, telling them precisely that is always an option.

All the same, this does not make it okay to be mean to people in the name of honesty. If you know that 'why' in its raw form will be a mean thing to say to someone, refine or sugarcoat it a little bit. And if refining it turns out to be too much work, you can always defer to a direct "thanks, but no thanks." 

7. Just say no and get it over with

Massaging the ego of everyone who shows a romantic interest in you is tedious and unnecessary. This may come as a surprise, but you don’t owe your suitors an explanation. Some people don’t know how to take a hint, you could spend a whole day dancing around your answer, but they wouldn’t get it until they hear the word. 

There are those who do it on purpose, hoping to capitalize on your niceness, but some are really just like that. In any case, simply say “no”, because the truth will set you free. "No, I’m not interested" and that’s that. I have to say, though, this only works as well as it should when your actions match the word.

We live in a world where women have to tell grown men that "no means no", not try harder, not I’ll think about it, just no. In an ideal situation, it doesn’t have to come with an extra firmness or aggression, merely stating it plainly should be enough, but you and I know our world is far from ideal.

To remove every iota of “what ifs” and “maybes”, when you reject an admirer this way, don’t send mixed signals afterward. Don’t flirt with them, tell it as it is, and keep it moving. Will some people insist even after that? Absolutely. But then, whatever they get after that is on them, not you.

FAQs

How do you reject someone nicely?

Let the person know you appreciate their attention but that it is simply not what you want. For clarity, you could give a brief explanation as to why you are not quite there without dwelling too much on it, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t feel like.

How do you tell someone you’re not interested after leading them on?

Decide which is better between telling them in person or doing it over the phone, then prepare what you are going to say ahead of the conversation. Something along the line of "not feeling any connection, no matter how hard you try." Keep the conversation brief and stop leading them on after that.

How do you tell someone you’re not interested in online dating?

One of the good things about online dating is that you don’t have to reply to someone if you are not into them. But if you feel obligated to respond anyway, adopt a simple but direct approach such as "thanks for the interest, but I’m not interested." Then keep scrolling.

How do you reject someone without ghosting?

Think about the reason you’re rejecting the person and the nicest route to take, then tell them. If it helps, put yourself in their shoes and do it how you’d want to be rejected. If it’s too much to do in person, you can let them know over the phone. Regardless of how you choose to pass the message across, just make sure to express your disinterest clearly.

How do you reject someone without hurting them?

Rejection hurts, however, you put it, but you can soften it with a brief explanation as to why it cannot work. Compliments have also been known to take the sting out of awkward conversations, so you can say, “You seem like a great person, but I just don’t see you in that light.”

The Bottom Line

The best way to let a person know you’re not quite there is to let them know. No one likes to be rejected, it’s going to suck regardless of how you put it, but a little kindness can help them get over it faster. As always, I appreciate your feedback, please leave a comment and share the post, if it’s not too much trouble.

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Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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