It is flattering when someone likes you. But what if you don’t feel the same way about your admirer?
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.
23 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.”
2. Use ‘I statements
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 reject someone nicely, 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 in a relationship.
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, it can involve talking about your feelings and what you need.
That way, you take the focus away from them.
For example, it’s perfectly okay 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.
8. Saying you’re not ready for dating after all
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 of 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.
9. Do it in person
Still wondering how to reject someone nicely over texts? Imagine yourself in their shoes, and don’t do it flippantly. After all, you’re dealing with someone’s feelings and emotions. That’s why it’s always best to do these things in person. It also shows you respect them.
But what if they’ve been too clingy or controlling?
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.
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 for 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. However, 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 okay 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.
How to tell someone you’re not interested in them?
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 accept 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 second, 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.
17. State what you need
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 them 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.
The easiest way would be to remind yourself that you are a good person and that you did the best you could to deliver a tough message kindly.
Add to that statement that it’s important to live your life how you want, including who you end up with.
21. Choose the right time and place
Finding an appropriate setting for this conversation is crucial. Select a private location where you can have an uninterrupted and honest discussion. Avoid public places or situations where the other person might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
For example, instead of telling the person you’re not interested in them during a social gathering or in front of others, arrange to have a private conversation in a quiet and comfortable setting, such as a park bench or a quiet coffee shop.
22. Avoid ghosting
Ghosting, which involves ignoring someone’s messages and cutting off communication abruptly, is emotionally harmful. It’s better to address the situation directly, even if it’s uncomfortable.
For example, instead of cutting off communication suddenly, respond to their messages and let them know you’d like to talk about how you’re feeling.
23. Avoid blame or criticism
Criticizing the other person’s personality, appearance, or behavior can be hurtful and counterproductive. Instead, keep the focus on your feelings and your perspective on the situation.
Remember, instead of saying, “You’re too clingy,” say, “I feel like we have different expectations when it comes to spending time together.”
Some commonly asked questions
Here are the answers to some pressing questions that can give you clarity about how to turn someone down when you are not interested in them:
When is the best time to tell someone you’re not interested in them?
The best time to tell someone you’re not interested in them is as soon as you are certain about your feelings. Delaying the conversation can lead to confusion and hurt feelings, so addressing it honestly and promptly is crucial for both parties to move forward.
Should you give them a reason for your lack of interest?
While it’s not necessary to provide a detailed reason, offering a brief and honest explanation can be helpful in promoting understanding and closure. However, focus on your feelings rather than pointing out their perceived flaws or shortcomings.
Can we still remain friends after you express your lack of interest?
Whether remaining friends is possible depends on the individual situation. If you genuinely believe in the possibility of friendship and the other person is open to it, it can work. However, it’s essential to give both parties space to process their emotions before attempting a friendship.
How should you approach the conversation about not being interested?
Approach the conversation with kindness, honesty, and sensitivity. Find a private setting where you can talk openly without distractions. Use “I” statements to express your feelings clearly, and be prepared to listen to their response with empathy.
Is it normal to not be interested in dating?
Yes, it’s entirely normal to not be interested in dating at a particular time in your life. People have different preferences and priorities, and it’s essential to focus on self-discovery and personal growth. Taking time for oneself can lead to a healthier approach to future relationships when the time feels right.
Move on with grace
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.