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Politely Turning Someone Down

Updated on February 14, 2016
SerenityHalo profile image

Andrea writes on various topics from dating, couples, astrology, weddings, interior design, and gardens. She studied film and writing.

Turning Someone Down

Don't turn asking people out into a huge life or death situation. Asking someone out in most cases isn't a huge deal.

Generally, people will ask you to a movie, dinner, or some outing fairly early in getting to know you. So they probably don't have a lot of developed feelings for you... yet.

The most important part of turning someone down is being honest. As soon as they ask you out, be real with them. Don't say yes if you don't want to spend time with them. Leading someone on is worse than saying "no." Remember if this is the first time someone is asking you to hang out or on a date, that doesn't mean you're committing to something huge. You don't have to have your feelings or thoughts all sorted about this person right from the get go.

But if you know you don't want to -- don't.

What if They Keep Asking You

If they keep asking you out... and there's no end in sight... try backing off. Don't talk with them as much. Stop texting. Are you flirting with this person? Stop. Give it space. Some people are not going to get it even when you are direct with them.

If they start to stalk you (beyond the normal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, social media) but if they start calling your friends to see where you are, hang out outside your door, or where you work -- then you might have something serious. Don't give them attention. This person is probably insecure and possibly controlling. Let them know they're over stepping their boundaries. Tell them that you don't have to give them reasons for where you have been, etc. If they're becoming a private investigator -- you can always get a restraining order.

All I can say is... I hope that never happens to you.

What if my Friend Likes me, But I don't Like Them

If a close friend asks you out on a date or maybe a romantic outing... or if they confess their love for you... be kind. They've probably been working toward this moment for awhile. If you don't like them back they may have misread you at some point, or maybe you flirted with them too much. What's important here is your friendship. Let them know you care about them as a person, that their friendship with you is important to them. But be clear and tell them why you don't want to try a romantic relationship with them. Don't be shocked if they need some space after this. It's completely normal. And you did the right thing if you know you don't want to be with them romantically.

You can let them know that you really don't want to hurt the friendship by dating. This isn't a fun crossroad because sometimes friendships morph and if you don't start dating... then you're probably hurting the friendship anyway. In this situation, you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. But even if you reach this crossroad know that a good friendship will heal. It may change, but if will heal. It's reasonable if you just want to stay friends. That might hurt someone's ears and their hopes, but you can't just date someone because they asked.

What are the best ways to turn someone down gracefully?

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Turning Them Down Gracefully

1. Make sure you give them undivided attention. Keep your phone out of view. Give eye contact. Smile. Don't touch them and be flirty.

2. If it goes well, be appreciative that they find you flattering. You can thank them for it. Buy them a drink. Be as classy as you can about it.

3. If you're instinct is to run and hide, don't be too upset with yourself. It might not be the most graceful approach, and it's hard to bounce back from it, but know that it happens. Try not to run.

4. If they ask in person, turn them down in person. If they text you to hang out, turn them down in a text.

5. If they try to give you gifts, you don't have to accept them. If it's expensive you probably should.

6. If they're just looking for a date for the night, you can refer them to someone else.

7. Try not to laugh. Some people don't know if you're laughing out of kindness... or if you're being rude and laughing at them.

8. Don't be too shocked. Stay calm.

9. Try to talk in private.

10. If it's at their house -- don't stay over too late.

11. Don't ambush them with friendly texts the next day or so.

12. Understand that they might think of you and treat you differently now based on this interaction.

What if I end up Liking Them Later Down the Road?

It happens, but sometimes you deny someone... then later end up liking them. Be honest about it. You should probably be the one to step up and say something to make things clear. Don't worry! You are allowed to change your mind at some point.

You may want to start that conversation with the cutie like this, "I know that one time you asked me out and I said no, but now I...."

You may want to try to gauge how they feel. Try asking them questions about how they see the friendship, what they like about you, if they're seeing someone, and eventually getting to the point. Be honest -- especially if you've developed feelings for them now.

Don't be too upset if they end up saying "no" to you. It sucks when the timing isn't right, but you'll survive it. Have faith in yourself and that someone just as nice as you will come along and sweep you off your feet.

It's Not a Big Deal

It may seem like it, but it's not a big deal. You'll move on. Making a small conversation out to be bigger than it needs to be will only drive you crazy. People get asked out all the time; it's not the 1950s with a strict structure anymore. People like to spend time with people. It doesn't have to be a big romantic deal. They may just be looking for someone to go eat dinner with them. Or to have a conversation. And if someone liked you, that's cool. (Unless it's from someone really creepy, but it can be cool when someone likes you, even if it doesn't work out.)

Just Be Cool

Unless someone is asking you out on a date and you've known them for a super long time -- don't sweat people asking you to things. You should be cool too with friends that you've known for a super long time that like you, but it makes more sense why that would be more dramatic since it could upheaval your social dynamic.

If someone asks you to dinner, it doesn't necessarily mean they're interested in you romantically. Even if they're paying, it doesn't necessarily mean that. And if you don't want to spend your precious time with someone and would rather have some alone time -- power to you. Your time is precious and you don't have to spend it anyway that someone tells you to do. Go be with the people you love and enjoy the time with them. Life is too short to spend your time by someone else's standards -- so don't go hang out or date people you're not interested in building closer friendships or romances with. It'll only frustrate and annoy you.

But it is definitely easier to be open to friendships than romances. Be nice. You don't have to marry everyone you see... but be nice.

Be Good at Breaking Up

Remember this, everyone processes relationships and romance differently. How some people need to end a relationship, might not be pretty or fair to you. Ending a relationship is not about mincing your feelings most of the time. It's about the other person needing to get out and find the right person. This isn't easy to swallow, but some people don't like facing the hysterics of a break up. Part of a relationship, in a weird way, is being good at the break up. I'm not kidding. You need to be someone that's safe to say that things are moving on, going a different direction, and not make it to where you completely look like a total mess and disgrace in front of someone else. Try not to make your break ups too sloppy, but somehow attractive. Some people regret breaking up with others because some people are so good at breaking up seamlessly.

So instead of wallow in pain when it happens, take control of your break up. Celebrate a fading love. It may sound weird, but this will get you on track faster than if you sit around in your sweats eating ice cream. Tend to your wounds gracefully, and get yourself out into the real world, not the dating world and online dating world, but go take some fun classes for yourself. Do things you've always wanted to do but for some reason told yourself you couldn't.


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    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      I've only ever had one 'Dear John' letter, although some of my exes - thinking I was a mind-reader - didn't bother to let me know I was 'history'. Mind you, I've cold-shouldered some as well.

    • HarleyyQuinn profile image


      5 years ago

      Could this actually be the polite way to turn someone ??


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