Sorry, Not Interested: 10 Tips for Rejecting 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.)

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.

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!”

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 apologizing. it’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!

Be respectful and appreciative

There’s no point in dragging things out after a meh first date. “Be kind but straightforward,” says Gina Handley Schmitt, LMHC and author of Friending: Creating Meaningful, Lasting Adult Friendships. Remember: Even if the person isn’t your cup of tea, they might have construed the date as a sparks-flying success: “There are actual human beings on the receiving end of a rejection, and these human beings will inevitably be disappointed and hurt when their romantic feelings are not reciprocated,” says Schmitt.

Try: “Thank you for making yourself available. With that being said, I am clear that this isn’t going to be the right relationship dynamic for me. I do hope all the best for you, though, as you continue your journey.”

How to Reject Someone When They Keep Asking “Why?”

Just because someone wants to know why doesn’t mean they’re entitled to any further discussion. “Breakups are not exit interviews,” Jon Birger says, and no one is entitled to an explanation — as noted earlier, “no” is a full sentence. However, if you want to clarify, keep things simple, and don’t take this as an opportunity to dump on them. Keep your points focused on you and what you want, rather than on specific things they’ve done or characteristics they have; for example, go with “I’m looking for a relationship with more constant communication” over “You literally never text me back.”

Keep in mind that you don’t have to say anything. “If it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to explain it,” Metselaar says. If you’re not interested in further conversation, you’re entirely within your rights to block or ignore further messages. After all, you’re the main character of your story. Keep it kind, and keep it moving.

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