Single Life
Here's how to turn someone down nicely
Here’s The Best Way To Gently Turn Someone Down If You’re Not Interested

Be kind but direct.

by Candice Jalili
Originally Published: 
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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.

Keep It Super Simple
“‘Thanks, I'm flattered but not interested/available.’”


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."

Be Direct And Clear
“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.
‘No thank you, I'm not interested.’”


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."

Don’t Make It Too Personal
“don’t quote personal traits as reasons for rejection. it is seen as a personal attack. you can suggest that you are incompatible instead”


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.

State Your Position Firmly
“I think this line works, saves face for everyone, is super clear, and gets the message across
‘I'm sorry, I just didn't feel a connection.’”


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.”

Remember That Their Reaction Doesn’t Reflect On You
“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.

Tell Them You're Just Not Feeling It
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“I’ve had a good time talking with you and you seem really nice but I have to be honest, I’m just not feeling it in ‘that’ way.”


Giving a vague or false reason can leave people confused. Not saying how you really feel can leave the whole situation up to interpretation on their end, which isn’t exactly fair, and ghosting takes it to an extreme. "Ghosting someone is especially painful because the person being rejected may simply not ever know why you abandoned them," couples therapist Dr. Gary Brown previously explained. "It leaves them with not only not knowing why, but potentially misinterpreting the reasons."

Accept The Fact That You Might Hurt Them
“No matter what you tell, he's going to feel upset. All you can do is reduce the impact it has on him by emphasising why you decided to leave him, and if it's his fault, tell him about it so he can better himself and move on.
The more you sugar coat it, the longer it will hurt him. Get straight with your intention to speak with him and leave him with a positive note. That's all you can do. What he does next is up to him and him only.”


Sometimes when people want to be nice and spare someone’s feelings, they overcompensate and instead just leave the other person with less closure, which can be painful. “It's natural to want to soften the blow with someone you care about,” Elle Huerta, the CEO and founder of heartbreak recovery app Mend, previously told Elite Daily. “But being straightforward will cause much less heartbreak. Try to keep the other person's long-term feelings in mind, not just the short-term pain they'll experience. If you want them to be able to let go and find happiness outside of your relationship, the best thing you can do is be clear that they're not your person.”

Simply Say "No"
“‘No thank you.’
You don't need to explain yourself. You don't need to defend yourself.
If he presses about reasons, tell him you're not feeling it, and that that won't change.
If he presses more after that, he's a rude jerk, and you can stop being nice to him.”


Overall, just avoid leading them on in any way. If you like the person enough to be friends, just not romantic partners, now might not be the time to say it. “Close the loop and wish them the best,” Grace Lee, co-founder of A Good First Date, previously said to Elite Daily. “Remaining friends may be an option farther down the line, much farther. Give them time and space to heal and move on.” Accepting rejection is always a little tough at the very least, so you might as well give them clarity in the moment so they don’t ruminate on it for too long.

Treat Them The Way You'd Like To Be Treated
“ Think about how a guy would feel if you made your excuse and kept repeating it to avoid saying no. You have to admit, that seems pretty cruel to him, doesn't it?
It doesn't happen often, but I generally say no, just politely and gently.”


This should be a no-brainer, but to quote the heartbreak prince Harry Styles himself: “treat people with kindness.” As Dr. Edelman explained, “It is very important to turn down a date respectfully. Ideally, you want to treat others the way you want to be treated. It's one way we can all make the world a better place.” Sometimes putting yourself in another person’s shoes before you deliver something potentially bad can help you see the best way to do it. If you think you’d be overly hurt if someone said it to you, perhaps run it by a friend who can tell you objectively what they think about it.

Tell Them You Just Don’t Feel Chemistry
“You're really great, but I don't feel we have chemistry.”


Sometimes going with a compliment-leading sentence can soften the blow, especially if you do like the person, just not romantically. "Tell the person what you like about them first,” Dr. Brown advised. “Then let them know, without judging them, why you need to end the relationship." Everyone deserves respect, and you can definitely still give them that even as you are ending things.

Now go forth and reject your suitors swiftly and kindly!


Erika Ettin, dating coach and founder of A Little Nudge

Kiki O'Keeffe, writer and relationship expert

Dr. Susan Edelman, board-certified psychiatrist

Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking

Dr. Gary Brown, couples therapist

Elle Huerta, CEO and founder of heartbreak recovery app Mend

Grace Lee, co-founder of A Good First Date

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