How To Reject Someone When Dating

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So you’ve met someone, you went on a date with them, and realised that – unfortunately – they’re not for you. Maybe there wasn’t a spark, you were lacking other essential parts of connection, or perhaps you like them as a person but see them more as a friend. Whatever the reason, here’s how to reject someone kindly.

How To Turn Someone Down

So before we look at how to turn someone down – how to reject someone the right way, I want to look at how NOT to… The things that you shouldn’t do.

And I know it’s hard to reject someone. It’s awkward, uncomfortable. It’s also difficult to get the balance right between being honest, and just sounding pretty brutal and harsh.

But here’s three “rules” if you like, when it comes to how to reject someone…

The No-Go’s When Rejecting Someone

1) Don’t Over-Elaborate

So first up, don’t panic and over elaborate. You don’t know what to say, so you end up saying IT ALL, and more – sound familiar?

You list every reason, you give far too long explanations, you go into too much detail, and even end up making up other reasons or lame excuses… Yikes! 

Keeping it concise is one of our tips for how to reject someone – as you’ll soon see – but for now, just remember – you don’t have to say every single thing when rejecting someone, because that actually only ends up making it worse!

2) Don’t Get Too Personal

Our next rule when it comes to how to reject someone is that you really shouldn’t make it too personal. 

Picking up on faults or insecurities of theirs – being overly honest and just insulting them or making them feel bad about themselves… no, no, no. 

You know this already, but I thought it was worth highlighting in our “rulebook” if you like – it’s definitely worth the reminder anyway!

3, Don’t Blame Them

Our last essential no-go when it comes to turning someone down, is shifting the blame onto them. And I get it, you don’t know what to say. You don’t want to insult them, you don’t want to say something like…

  • “I’m sorry but I don’t find you attractive…” (Too harsh, even if it’s true.)
  • Or, “I don’t know what it is but you just annoy me!” OUCH!

So instead, you think of something less personal (this is good, this is one of our rules!), but blow it by – potentially – giving them a complex or making them think there’s issues that aren’t there. So for example, you might say something like:

“I didn’t like the way you did [this]. It made me think… [potential issue / insecurity.]” 

The latter part usually consists of something that isn’t actually entirely true or a big deal, but you make it “the deal” because you don’t know what else to say. 

So maybe you blame it on maturity – you say you’re at different places. Perhaps you pick up on something that they did, which wasn’t the best behaviour, but they end up then kicking themselves for it – even though that wasn’t actually the real reason you two haven’t worked out?

You see? You don’t mean to, but you’re shifting the blame onto them, thinking it’s better or easier, but it’s certainly not the best way to go about it!

It Is You, Not Them

When it comes to how to reject someone, you have to remember that, actually – unless they mistreated you or did something super horrible and wrong – it is you, not them. 

You’re not feeling it, fine. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anything wrong with them, just like when you get rejected, there’s nothing wrong with you. 

It just comes down to compatibility. Not everyone will be for you. You won’t click with everyone. You won’t feel it with everyone. That’s fine. But you don’t need to knock them down when rejecting them. Remember what it feels like.

How To Reject Someone When Dating

How To Reject Someone Nicely

So how do you do it? What is the best way to reject someone? How do you reject someone nicely when dating? Well, let’s take a look…

1) Keep It Short But Sweet

When it comes to how to reject someone you want to:

  1. Be as honest as you can be, without being rude or insulting.
  2. Think of the biggest “deal breaker” / reason for why you don’t want things to go further romantically and find a way to summarise it that way.
  3. Tell them enough for it to make sense and for them to understand why you’re not feeling it – without going into too much depth that it really knocks them down.

See in most cases, this doesn’t have to be a big deal. In fact, it will be less awkward for them if it’s NOT a big deal.

If they have more questions about why you feel the way you feel or what you’ve said – if they’re feeling confused or want to understand anything anymore – they can ask, for sure. You want to leave it at a point where it’s friendly and pleasant and they know that they can still talk to you.

But unless they press for more clarity, just keep it short, sweet and concise – especially if it’s early days and you’ve only been on a few dates.

If you were dating for longer, you probably want to give more of an explanation, especially if things progressed. Don’t just brush them off. But always keep the rule:

Enough to explain it. Not so much that it will make them feel bad. Also – light, kind, as positive as you can be, and pleasant!

2) In Person vs. Message

When it comes to how to reject someone – and whether you should tell them in person or over message, it entirely depends on the situation.

  • If it’s early days – this isn’t like a breakup. In fact, if you were to organise to see them, only to tell them you’re not feeling it – in some ways, that would actually be worse!
    Recommended Read: What To Text After a First Date
  • If it’s been a while, and it’s kind of heading that way anyway, then of course, that’s a little different. You can easily have a mature conversation about it in person and leave it on a nice tone (or so you’d think!)
  • Was it just a couple of light dates and a no go? Then text is actually okay. Especially if texting is your normal form of communication. What’s better than that? A call. But only call if that’s familiar for you two – you’ve spoken on the phone before. This takes it back to not making it a big deal, to avoid the potential “humiliation” for them, and keep it light.
  • Had one date and weren’t feeling it on the date? Then you can actually tell them there and then. Just say something like… “Thanks for a lovely evening. I’m not sure if I’m feeling it romantically to be honest, but I’m more than happy to keep in touch!” Easy, job done. No false hope. Full transparency. Yes it may sting a little, but it’s better to do it there and then if you already know.

Like we said though, how to reject someone nicely (and whether that’s face to face or not) depends on the situation between the two of you – what’s been said, where you’re at, how you typically interact and how long you’ve been dating.

Ultimately, you’ll know the best way to do it. And if you’re unsure – put yourself in their shoes, think what you’d prefer.

How To Reject Someone Nicely

3) Tell Them When You Know

The other thing I want to point out, is that – as hard as it is – you should tell them when you know. Don’t delay being open with them, don’t put it off. (That’s why you’ll also tell them in person, straight after the first date if you know that early on!)

Just certainly – I repeat – certainly, don’t string them along, waiting until you’ve lined someone else up before you break it off with them. That’s a jerk move for sure!

If you are unsure about your feelings, tell them. Be open and honest the whole time. You don’t have to highlight every single doubt when it comes to light or make issues that don’t need to be there, but if you have concerns before making a final decision – raise them.

That way, if you do have to break things off and reject someone, they’ll at least expect it.

What If They Treated Me Badly?

Even if there is bad feeling, even if that person messed up, hurt you perhaps, be the better and bigger person. 

Tell them how you feel, tell them what you liked, then tell them what you didn’t like or respect and walk away, but walk away civilly. 

It doesn’t mean you have to keep in touch, it doesn’t mean you even have to like them… But in a world where you can be anything, always be the best version of yourself, and always be kind.

You can’t expect to live a sweet life if you’re bitter.

Whatever happened, happened. At the end of the day, it’s their loss as you’re walking away now. But you’ll feel better and come across better (making them kick themselves even more!) if you’re strong, firm, decisive but still kind.

So leave out the insults, and just say what you need to say – no less, no more.

That’s All For This One

So there we have it – you are now fully prepared for how to reject someone when dating… Or, more specifically, how to reject someone nicely. Wonderful!

In the meantime, it doesn’t necessarily make your “search” any easier, especially if you’re ready to settle down now and actually want to find “the one.”

So from here, a few posts that should help you:

  1. How To Stay Motivated When Dating
  2. What To Do If You Hate Being Single
  3. Are You Being Too Picky? (Click Here To Find Out!)

Hope this helps. Take care. Don’t give up, or lose faith. The right person is out there somewhere and you’ll find them when you’re meant to. All the best!


How To Reject Someone Nicely
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Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

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