You could hurt your admirer’s feelings or lead them on by saying the wrong thing.
Nevertheless, don’t ever hesitate to keep moving forward if someone isn’t right for you. Moreover, how to tell someone you’re not interested in them doesn’t have to be a minefield.
There are ways to turn someone down firmly without being awkward or hurtful about it.
20 tips to let someone know you’re not interested
Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to tell someone you don’t like them?
Essentially, we all have a deep need to belong.
Psychosocial expert Kendra Cherry, while talking about the concept of belonging, says that essentially, we don’t like hurting other people’s feelings.
Nevertheless, there are many ways to tell a guy or girl you’re not interested. These can also be both respectful and compassionate.
1. Say no to the relationship, not the person
When telling someone you’re not interested in dating, you’re essentially negotiating with them. The idea is to find a way forward that doesn’t involve you romantically. Once you realize that it’s a process then it’s much easier to focus on the facts.
How to tell someone you’re not interested in them shouldn’t be about blame. You don’t want to hurt them unnecessarily. That’s why it’s helpful, in your mind, to separate the person from your need not to be in this relationship.
You can instead say something like “I’m not interested in a relationship” or “I’m not ready to settle down”.
When you tell someone you’re not interested after leading them on, you want to avoid things spiraling into an argument. That’s why you should try to focus on explaining your feelings and needs rather than highlighting behavioral issues about the other person.
Research shows that using I-language is less judgemental and generally reduces conflict.
Of course, when it comes to planning how to tell someone you’re not interested in them, it doesn’t mean saying things like “I think you’re wrong”.
Instead, you could try, “I feel that this relationship isn’t right for me and I need space for now”.
3. Short and to the point
You may have heard of the sandwich technique, where you need to give some positive feedback along with the tough news you’ll talk about. On paper, it may seem like a good idea to help relax someone when telling them you’re not interested in dating.
On the flip side, there’s a new belief that this approach undermines your key message.
Being overly positive when giving someone tough news can also come across as fake. What you really want is to be transparent and concise, as per psychologist’s Roger Schwarz take on giving feedback.
Yes, how to tell a girl or a guy you’re not interested is very similar to giving tough feedback. So, keep it short and avoid overly positive comments such as “You’re an amazing person but I’m not interested in taking things further”.
When you’re wondering about how to tell someone you’re not interested, just remember that you can simply say that you’re not.
4. Be honest and kind
There’s nothing worse than lying when you let someone know you’re not interested. Most people can see through those lies because of various clues from our body language, whether consciously or not.
We do this thanks to something called mirroring which is caused by mirror neurons in our brains, as neuroscientist researchers have discovered.
5. Be respectful
Ghosting almost seems normal these days if you listen to social media updates. A recent study shows that around a quarter of people have been ghosted. Then again, another survey seems to state the figure at 65%.
Whatever number you take, ask yourself if you would want to be ghosted. How to tell someone you aren’t interested involves some form of verbal communication if you want to be kind and respectful.
Of course, nothing is stopping you from ghosting but this approach may take its toll on you after a while. People always find out about these things eventually and may even question you as a friend.
That’s why kindness is usually the best option when considering how to tell someone you’re not interested.
6. Share your feelings
People often fall into the trap of thinking they made a mistake or that they weren’t good enough for you. That’s why when considering how to tell someone you aren’t interested can involve talking about your feelings and what you need.
That way, you take the focus away from them.
For example, it’s perfectly ok to say that you’re just not feeling the relationship, that’s why you’ve decided that you need a time out from dating.
It’s slightly easier when you tell someone you’re not interested after the first date.
Even if there have been several dates, at least you’ve given the relationship a try. Focus on that positive and share your feelings when you tell someone you’re not interested after leading them on. Or even if you haven’t led them on.
7. Focus on incompatibility
How to tell someone you’re not interested can involve communicating that you feel you’re incompatible. Of course, they may disagree and that’s completely fine. Simply remember that this is your decision. You have every right to listen to your feelings and say no to someone.
Going on dates is a bit of a trial and error process. You’re partly testing out how you fit together. In addition, you’re testing out if you want to date.
Let’s not forget that many people choose to be single and it no longer carries the stigma like the old days. So, one of the ways to tell someone you’re not interested is by explaining that you’ve decided to stay single.
In such cases, sadly, they may not take no for an answer. So, you may need to write down your message. Either way, keep it simple, factual, and to the point.
If you want more ideas, including an example of a nicely written text message then check out this video:
10. Practice with your friend
How to tell someone you don’t like them can be a tough question. For instance, you may feel sad that you’re going to hurt a person’s feelings. Then again, you may feel guilty.
Remember that it’s worse to string someone along.
That’s why practicing with a friend can be a great way to tell someone you’re not interested in dating. After a few attempts, you’ll have taken the mystery out of the whole process and you’ll feel more confident about what to say.
11. Be open
As mentioned above, how to tell someone you’re not interested means being respectful and kind if you want to do the right thing. That’s why you should avoid saying things like “I love hanging out but…”. Moreover, the “let’s be friends” phrase can almost feel condescending if someone is head over heels with you.
Naturally, every situation will be different and you have to gauge what will work best for your case. Either way, remember to be open. Of course, you can thank them for some great dates but be clear when planning how to tell someone you don’t want to date.
12. Explain without giving excuses
Most of us want to let people down gently and no one likes to admit they’ve led someone on. Nevertheless, we’re human and these things happen. Although, don’t dwell on that point and let the guilt make you invent lots of weird excuses.
For instance, when thinking about how to tell someone you don’t like them, it’s perfectly ok to say that you feel you have different goals in life. Another option is to say that you have other priorities right now.
13. Don’t force the “let’s just be friends” line
If you’re not interested in dating someone who’s madly in love with you then the ‘friends’ option may just be too depressing for them to hear. Instead, let time evolve things naturally.
If you have friends in common, a friendship further down the line can happen but give people time to recover. After all, we all get a bruised ego after someone tells us they’re not interested in dating.
14. Listen but don’t budge
There is no harm in listening to the person even if you are planning to reject them.
Hear them out but don’t budge from your position. Your openness to understand their perspective should not lead you to accepting the proposal out of pity.
Remember, you should date someone because you like them, not out of pity.
15. Talk about the missing connection
When you tell someone you’re not interested after a few dates then they will ask some questions. People often want to know why and what they’ve done wrong, even if they haven’t done anything specific.
In those cases, the best approach is to focus on the process and not the person. So, for example, it’s ok that you’re just not feeling the connection in your gut. Ultimately, we can’t always explain our emotions.
16. No apologizing
It may be your first reaction to apologize while feeling confused about how to tell a girl or a guy you’re not interested but avoid it by all means.
First, you can’t help how you feel and secondly, apologies can be misleading. The last thing you need is for the other person to think there’s some hope.
So, don’t start saying sorry or feeling guilty. Quietly listen when you tell someone you’re not interested after a first date.
Then walk away while leaving no doubts about your intentions.
When planning how to tell someone you’re not interested in them, it can be helpful to think about what you need in life. It’ll make you feel more confident in your decision and help you come up with neutral statements.
For example, “I need time alone” is perfectly valid. Other examples include “I need to focus on my family/career/self-care”.
18. Remember, it’s not personal
Whatever you do when thinking about how to tell someone you’re not interested in them, remember that it’s not personal. Besides, you have every right to honor what you need and with whom you want to hang out. It helps you deal with any feelings of guilt.
19. Remember the why
Another way to cope with any feelings of guilt when considering how to tell someone you’re not interested in them is to focus on your ‘why’. Essentially, keep your end goal in mind to give you the confidence and motivation you need to get through the conversation.
It’s worth noting that people can get emotional and angry when you tell someone you’re not interested after a few dates. Simply listen and acknowledge that they have every right to their feelings. Those feelings are not your responsibility.
20. Forgive yourself
It can be tough deciding how to tell someone you don’t want to date. Of course, you might still care about the person which could also open up a host of emotions for you. That’s why self-compassion is key and so is forgiving yourself.
How to tell someone you don’t like them can be daunting but as long as you remember to keep it short and to the point while being kind, then you can’t go too wrong. Of course, you’ll have to manage your own emotions. So, practice self-compassion and perhaps take some time out for self-care.
Then, trust that you’ll know when it’s time for you to commit to the right person. Finally, be brave when thinking about how to tell someone you’re not interested. Remember that we may meet a few people who are not meant for you before the right one comes along.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.