Getting asked out on a date can be flattering, but sometimes you’re just not interested in spending time with the person who asked. If you’re definitely not into him or her, finding the right words to say can be tricky. “When you have no interest in the person romantically you should turn down the date. There’s no need to go on the date and get that person’s hopes up if you know you’re not interested from the start,” said Dr. Wyatt Fisher, psychologist and founder of niche dating site Christian Crush. Here’s how to decline a date request with grace.
How to decline with style
Would you rather organize your spice rack than go on a date with that not-so-special someone? You can deliver the news without being harsh. The key is to be firm, yet kind.
1. Be gentle
Elly Klein, author of Men Are Like a Box of Chocolates, said it’s important to handle the situation gently. Just because you’re not interested doesn’t give you a license to be cruel. “The best way to let someone down easy is to be honest but gentle. If the person can’t handle your gentle honesty, that’s his or her problem. At least you can feel you acted with integrity. Smile (if you’re face-to-face), thank the person, and tell him or her you’re extremely flattered but you don’t feel enough of an attraction to accept a date,” said Klein.
2. Be honest
Honesty is generally the best policy when it comes to turning down a date. If you’re still getting over a past relationship or if you don’t feel an attraction, relationship expert Lisa Concepcion said you should be upfront about it. “Thank them for the invitation and explain that right now you’re taking a break from dating to reconnect with yourself. If he or she isn’t your type be honest and polite and say you don’t feel a romantic connection but you’re always up for making new friends. Then it’s up to that person to decide if he or she wants to proceed and how,” said Concepcion.
3. Throw in a compliment
Relationship expert April Davis, owner of matchmaking site Cupid’s Cronies, recommends adding a quick compliment to your reply to soften the blow. “You can compliment the person. Say something like, ‘that was very sweet of you to ask and I’m very flattered you’d even be interested in me. I’m just not open to dating. Thank you though,’” said Davis.
When to say no
Are you having trouble deciding when to decline? The experts say you should press pause if the person is:
Dating and relationship coach Christine Baumgartner told The Cheat Sheet it’s best to decline a date offer if the person who asks is very aggressive. “It’s wise to decline if he or she is aggressive and won’t respect your boundaries. For example, if you say you can’t go out this week but you’re available the following week, but he or she still insists on this week,” said Baumgartner.
Some people just don’t make you feel comfortable. If you sense something is “off” with a particular individual, keep it moving. Baumgartner said you should always listen to your gut. “When something about him or her gives you the ‘creeps,’ never ignore this feeling,” said Baumgartner.
Being assertive is one thing, disrespect is another. Bad behavior should not be tolerated. Marriage and Family Therapist Jason Whiting said you should think twice before accepting a date from someone who doesn’t respect you. “It is great to laugh together, and humor is a bonding agent for couples, but if the jokes are cutting or cruel, it is a concern. Having a contemptuous attitude of disrespect and disgust is one of the main predictors of divorce. If he makes fun of her choice in music, or if she makes nasty jokes about the server’s looks, it may indicate a habit of arrogance or disrespect, and this is not helpful for a relationship. Unkind words will always damage a connection,” advises Whiting.
When rejection takes a turn for the worst
You’ve unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, and now you’re left to deal with someone who is going crazy on you. How do you deal with someone who can’t take no for an answer? Here’s what the experts suggest.
1. Prepare ahead of time
Baumgarnter said you should take into account that the person may react badly. If you have a feeling things won’t end well, consider skipping an in-person rejection. “If you believe this might happen, it’s perfectly acceptable to say it by text. If you feel the need to tell them in person, then ensure you are in a public place,” recommends Baumgartner.
2. Don’t engage
Matchmaker and dating expert Stefanie Safran advises not entertaining a temper tantrum. Reacting to someone’s poor attitude will only make the situation worse by playing into the attention seeking. “If someone acts badly, don’t react. It’s not you, it’s them. Move on without engaging; it’s not worth investing much energy into something if you don’t know the person very well,” said Safran.
3. Remove yourself from the situation
If things start to get dangerous, get out of there. You don’t want to hang around and risk being harmed. Relationship coach and clinical sexologist Dr. Claudia Six said if you’re being treated badly, get up and leave. “If they’re angry, cuss you out, and behave badly: Turn and leave. No comment, no explanation, no good-bye. You’re well rid of them — they’ve shown you how they handle themselves when they’re upset. It’s good information to have,” said Six.
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