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10 Ways to Reject Someone Nicely (Examples)

When my friend Kerin texted me the other night and asked me, “Ryan, what some nice ways to reject someone? I don’t want to hurt their feelings. But I just don’t think it’s going to work out between the two of us. What should I do?” Well, I told her I have a couple of answers for you depending on the situation.

Let’s jump into what advice that I gave her…

First, my experience with rejecting and being rejected

I’m going to spend a good amount of time here talking about my own personal experience. And what I would do. First, I’m a guy—guys are a little more accustomed to getting rejected than women. For every one girl that went out with me, I would get rejected at least 15-20 times.

That’s one thing that I can personally tell you if you’re a girl and coming here—rejecting someone isn’t easy. But if they’re a guy, they are going to be more accustomed to it than you might think. If the two of you are friends and he’s asking you out—then you might have a little bigger of problem on your hands.

Here’s what I’ve always done when it comes to rejecting someone. My top advice! First, just realize that it’s the name of the game. Dating is unfortunately a game of numbers. And if you’re afraid to hurt everyone’s feelings, then you won’t get what you need for yourself.

That’s what I learned for me—if I didn’t pursue exactly what I wanted, I was going to subject myself to a lot of pain and trouble down the line. Same goes for you. Remember that, at least for now, you come first, and then the other person you’re getting to know—comes second.

Avoid being a people pleaser! I was doing that myself. If you people please, much like I was doing, then all you’ll have left is someone who is crappy to you.

Expert fact: According to an article by Guy Winch, “In 2001, the Surgeon General of the U.S. issued a report stating that rejection was a greater risk for adolescent aggresion than dr#gs, poverty, or g#ng membership.” That’s pretty shocking!

Ways to reject someone nicely in person

If you’re talking about rejecting someone in-person, here are some ways that you can do it.

Tips for doing it

Here are some helpful tips to avoid conflict and confrontation:

  1. Choose a private space: Never do this at a Starbucks or somewhere where there are a lot of people. It’s just not very compassionate. And it’s not the right thing to do.
  2. Be soft with your approach. Never think of this as an opportunity to get back at someone. Even if they hurt you. Simply reject them and walk away.
  3. Be quick about it. You don’t need to spend a lot of time with the person. Just be quick with your turn down and then move on.

Related: Relationship questions to ask

5 examples of how to do it

Here are some examples of how to reject someone in-person.

1: I’m sorry, I’m not interested.

This is a very simple way to let someone know that you’re just not interested.

2: I’m taken, I’m sorry.

A very small white lie—yes. But maybe you are actually taken. And while you’re flattered (which you can say), you ultimately should say no.

3: This isn’t what I’m looking for.

A little harsher and more truthful feedback if this is the case. You’re just simply not seeing something here that would make you interested.

4: You seem really nice—but no thank you right now.

A nice compliment can go somewhere to make them feel less let down. But, it’s still important to tell them the truth and to move on.

5: Dating really isn’t a priority of mine right now.

Maybe this is the truth. And maybe it isn’t. Regardless, it’s a great way to let someone down because you can just tell them—I’m not going to be able to give you what you need right now. And I’m keenly aware of it.

Ways to reject someone nicely over text

When rejecting someone over text—it gets a little more complicated. Usually, people are more willing to spout a rude comment after a text message. I mean, it’s certainly easier to do it than when you’re in-person, right? And you don’t want that to happen.

Tips for doing it

Here are some tips when nicely turning someone down over text:

  1. Don’t give an explanation. You don’t have to explain why you’re saying no. You’re just simply saying no but being nice enough to say you’re sorry.
  2. Give a small compliment. If it’s a close friend or someone you know—tell them that it’s really flattering that they feel this way toward you. But it isn’t mutual.
  3. Make it about the situation. Avoid talking about you or them. It’s about the situation. Something like, “I don’t think I’d be capable of giving you what you or anyone else needs right now.”

Related: Relationship red flags

5 examples of how to do it

Here are some examples of how to do it over text message.

1: You’re super nice. And I appreciate this. But I can’t right now.

If you want to tell them that you’re just not going to be able to make it a super high priority—then this is another way to do it. It politely and nicely rejects them. But doesn’t do it in a way that’s going to be a shock to their system.

2: I’m not really interested in any type of relationship right now.

Maybe this is true. And maybe it’s not. Either way, this is a great way to let someone know that they’re just not going to get out of you what they probably deserve.

3: I’m not capable of giving you or anyone else what they need.

This is probably the truth—if you’re rejecting someone (especially if they seem like a nice person). It might just be time to take a look at yourself and figure out what you want.

4: I wouldn’t say that I’m your type. Really!

Maybe this is just a nice way to say—hey, I appreciate you being interested in me. But it’s not you, it’s me.

5: I don’t want to complicate things, here. But, I don’t want to do that.

Great for when you need to nicely reject someone who is a friend!

Ways to reject someone nicely over dating applications

Dating applications are a complicated thing. There is just simply too much “availability” at your finger tips. And when that’s the case, a good deal of human emotion can be put into these. Both positive and negative. I’ll say, most people’s experience of dating applications is quite negative, now.

Tips for doing it

Here are some tips for nicely rejecting someone over a dating application:

  1. Don’t wait, just unmatch. The best way to reject someone is just to close the door right away. Don’t have a back and forth. What’s the point. Just reject them right away.
  2. Make it about you. If you’re not seeing something that you want or need—it’s okay to say, “I’m not seeing something here that I’m looking for. Sorry.” And move on.
  3. Be quick. The faster this happens, the less time the other person has to create an attachment here for themselves. Be quick about your decision!

5 examples of how to do it

Here are some examples of how to nicely reject someone over a dating application.

1: Sorry, I’m not interested.

Remember, you have the ability to make faster decisions here over dating applications. It’s okay to be more blunt and to just shut the door.

2: This isn’t what I’m looking for.

Make sure that you have a good amount of questions that you want to ask to the person to check and see if they are the type that you’re seeking. You don’t want to eliminate a potential opportunity that could turn into something good.

3: Thanks, but no thanks.

A very fast, somewhat harsh, but good response to someone that you’re not interested in.

4: I don’t think we’re compatible.

True or untrue—it’s a good way to say, “Hey, I could foresee us having a lot of problems in this relationship if we decided to move forward.”

5: This doesn’t sound like a fit, sorry.

A polite and almost formal or professional way to turn someone down on a dating application. This is my preferred mode of telling someone that I just don’t see it working out.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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