When it comes to rejection, it can often feel like being rejected is the worst feeling.
That said, it can be really horrible to reject someone and turn them down, whether it’s a friend professing their love for you or a date that you’re not interested in.
Here are our top 10 ways to let someone down gently.
1. Tell them you’re seeing someone else.
This is hard as we’d normally steer clear of suggesting you lie to someone, but it’s sometimes the easiest, and nicest, option.
If someone who doesn’t really know you wants to go on a date, this is a good way to avoid making it feel personal.
Nobody can really get offended if you turn them down in favor of your actual boyfriend! Even if that boyfriend is imaginary…
2. Suggest you meet up as a group.
This is a pretty clear sign that you’re not interested in going on a date with someone.
It might seem harsh, but it’s a fair way to approach the situation.
If they suggest going for a drink, maybe reply with: “Oh great, I’ll invite Jimmy and Ben as well.”
That shows you’re not considering it to be a date and that you haven’t even imagined they’d ask you on a date.
It keeps things open and friendly, and, you never know, you could end up really enjoying their company.
3. Tell them you have plans already.
This excuse kind of only really works once or twice, so use it wisely.
Again, it’s hard as you don’t want to just keep pushing someone away, but they’ll probably get the message anyway.
Most people ask someone out when they’re pretty sure they’re going to get a good response, so, if they don’t, they’ll quickly realize that they were on the wrong tracks.
Just make sure you don’t then post loads of photos of you home alone complaining about having no plans the night they’d planned a date.
4. Ask if you can set them up with your friend.
There aren’t many good ways to reject someone and this one might seem quite unfair, but it should do the trick.
It’s a good way to divert attention as well: “Oh sorry, I’m not single, but my friend is – and she’s lovely!”
This quickly puts that attention on someone else and may stop them getting hung up on your rejection.
Ideally, you will then have a friend you think they would like! It would be nice if you could actually help them find someone to date, and it might make you feel better as well.
Letting someone down gently can still feel quite awkward and difficult, so try to make it easier on yourself!
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5. Share photos of someone else on social media.
This is a more subtle way to reject someone in advance of them asking you on a date!
You can slowly share some photos of yourself with someone and people will make their own assumptions from it.
You can do this if you start getting the feeling that someone is becoming more and more interested in you, or as a back-up if you later tell someone you’re dating someone else.
It sets a back story and might be easier for them to handle than a more personal rejection.
6. Let them know you’re focusing on other things right now.
This is a pretty good ‘excuse’ as it can quite often be truer than you may first think!
It’s a good way of letting someone know that you don’t want to date them, but not because you dislike them!
You can just say that you’re busy with your career, or spend most of your free time doing a hobby.
It’s much nicer than just flat-out rejecting someone because you’re not attracted to them, and it might push you to genuinely spend more time focusing on other things.
7. Tell them you’re not looking to date.
Be upfront and just say that you’re not looking to date at the moment – nobody can hold that against you and most people won’t ask why.
They’ll assume you’ve just come out of a breakup, or that you’re too busy or whatever else they want to think.
8. Set some boundaries.
If someone you know quite well has asked you out, you might want to set some boundaries with them.
Maybe they thought they had a chance with you because of how they’ve interpreted your behavior, in which case you may want to evaluate how you act around them.
When you think someone is just a friend, you might be more likely to be tactile with them – after all, if it’s just friendship, you don’t need to worry about mixed messages.
If the friend is misinterpreting your actions, however, you may need to set some boundaries and make sure you’re acting as a friend in their eyes too.
9. Ask how to help.
Similar to above, if someone close to you has asked you on a date, they may be struggling with their feelings for you.
Falling for a friend can be very awkward for both parties. Ask how you can help them and what would make them more comfortable.
Letting them set the boundaries puts them in control, which is what they need after a bit of an embarrassing rejection!
10. Be honest.
Of course, straight-up honesty is always a good one.
You can just politely say that you’re not interested, or that you think you’re better off as friends.
It can be a bit brutal, but they might actually appreciate it. It stops them from wondering how you really feel, or being upset if you say you don’t want to date but then get a boyfriend the next week!
Rejecting somebody and turning down a date can be really tricky, but, most of the time, it’ll end up being fine one way or another.
At the end of the day, do what you’re comfortable with and don’t force yourself into a situation that doesn’t feel right.
It’s much better to feel a bit awkward rejecting someone than agreeing to go on a date with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable or is rude and unpleasant to be around!