How to Let a Guy Down Gently

Two Parts:Knowing What to SayWhat to Do Afterwards

It can be uncomfortable to tell a guy you're not interested, whether you barely know each other or you've gone on three dates. It's never fun to hurt somebody's feelings, but you'll feel relieved once the truth is out and the guy will be able to move on more quickly. If you know what to say and how to say it, then you'll be able to let the guy down as gently as possible.

Part 1
Knowing What to Say

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    Decide whether or not you want to talk to him in person. Okay, if you're dating him, then yeah, you owe him the courtesy of breaking up with him in person. But if he asks you out via text or email, or an online dating network, then it may be okay to just respond virtually. This could make it less awkward for both of you, and can save you the pain of having to see his sad face in person; it can also leave him with more dignity then letting you see how crushed he is when you tell him you're not interested face-to-face. But if it's a close friend or someone you've dated for over two months or so, then you have to make the call and see what would be the most respectful thing to do.[1]
    • Just be mature and make sure you talk to him yourself, whether you're speaking in person or not. Having one of your friends deliver the message will not make him feel great.
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    Be honest about not wanting to date him. If you don't like the guy, then you have to be honest about the fact that you're not interested. If he asks you out, say something like, "I'm sorry, but I just don't see anything romantic happening between us" or "I just don't feel any chemistry, but I really like you as a person." Keep it short and simple but let him know that you don't want to date so he doesn't get confused or keep hanging around longer than he needs to.[2]
    • He may keep asking you for reasons, and you don't have to give in and tell him all of the reasons why you don't want to date him. That will just make him feel worse, so spare him, even if that's what he thinks he wants.
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    Give a legitimate reason. If you don't feel the chemistry, you can tell him. If you're just not into dating right now, say so. If you have your heart set on someone else, let him know. If you just really don't like him because you think he's not attractive or annoying or something, then you can spare him these details. Though it's not pleasant to lie a bit or to make up an excuse, no guy wants to hear you say, "I'm just not into you." Think of a compelling reason that wouldn't hurt his feelings too much.[3]
    • Figure out what reason you're going to give in advance so he doesn't catch you in the middle of a lie.
    • Don't say you like someone else if you really don't. He'll be able to figure it out pretty quickly.
    • Also, don't say that you're not ready for a relationship if you do like someone else. If he sees you hanging out with or even dating another guy shortly after your talk, then he'll feel like a fool because you lied to him.
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    Be firm. Though you can be nice about it, you have to make it absolutely clear that you don't see the guy as a romantic prospect. If you say something like, "I'm just not in a place in my life where I can date right now…" or "I'm just so busy with school this month…" then he'll think you're telling him that he'll have better chances if he just holds on for another month or two. There's no good in giving him false hope, and though this may make him feel better in the short term, he will only feel worse when it takes him much longer to realize that he has no chance with you than necessary.
    • Really, the worst thing you can do is to lead the guy on, so being extra firm is better than being extra vague.
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    Don't insult him. Don't tell him that you think he's not smart enough for you, not cool enough for you, or not attractive enough for you. You'll just get a reputation for being mean and for not thinking of others. If you want to let him down gently, then you must think that he's a nice guy, so don't insult him, even if you think you're just giving him the cold hard truth.
    • Give him all of your attention when you're talking to him. If you seem distracted or keep checking your phone, then he'll feel even more insulted.
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    Avoid the cliches. Don't say something like, "It's not you, it's me," "I think you deserve better than me," or "I'm just not ready for a relationship." All guys have heard this before and it's better to be honest without hurting him too much: you're just not feeling it. It's better to let him know that you will never want to be in a relationship with him in no uncertain terms, than to make him feel worse by feeding him lines.
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    Keep it short. Once you've said your piece, it's time to part ways, either forever or for now. He may want to keep talking and hearing more and more reasons why it won't work out between the two of you, but that will only make both of you feel worse. If you think this may be a problem with this particular guy, then prepare an exit strategy in advance, whether it's meeting a friend or needing to go run an errand. If you have nothing else to do, it'll be more awkward when you have to leave just to get away.
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    If you want to stay friends, say so. If you and the guy really do have a great friendship, then you can tell him how much it means to you and say that you don't want to ruin it. This doesn't mean that you should say you want to be friends with someone you barely know (or even like); if you aren't friends and you say "I just want to be friends," then he'll see that you're just trying to make him feel better. However, if you've been friends for a while, then you can make him feel good by pointing out what a great friend he has been to you.
    • If you really are friends, then it's okay if he doesn't want to hang out with you for a while. Sure, that won't be fun for you, but he may not be ready to start seeing you just as a friend again for some time.

Part 2
What to Do Afterwards

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    Give him space. Whether you guys are close friends or just in the same class, you should give him space after you reject him. You may try to be friends as usual or to ask him for the homework assignment, but he may not be ready to talk to you just yet. So give him some breathing room until he's ready to talk to you as friends. Don't be hurt if this takes him longer than you think.
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    Don't act weird the next time you see him. The next time you hang out, don't look at him like he's a wounded puppy or make an extra effort to ignore him. Just be yourself, act natural, and be kind if he comes up to talk to you. If he doesn't talk to you, you don't have to take the initiative, because he's probably just not ready to really face you. The important thing is that you act like it's no big deal, so he knows that the fact that he got rejected wasn't a big issue and that you can be friends and talk to each other.
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    Don't tell everyone you know what happened. Spare the guy the embarrassment of having your fifty closest friends know what happened. If you tell all of your friends that you rejected him, then they may start acting weird around him too, and he'll know. If he's a nice guy, then he doesn't deserve to be treated this way when he made an honest effort to get closer to you. Try to keep what happened to yourself; after all, if a guy rejected you, you wouldn't want him to tell all of his friends, would you?
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    Treat him kindly. If you are talking again, don't be mean or rude to him, unless he deserves it. If he's trying to just be friends or to be nice to you, then the least you can do is smile and return his friendliness. This doesn't mean you have to hang out with him or spend a lot of time with him, but if you do cross paths, just treat him with human decency. Just don't flirt, touch him, or be so nice that he may be getting mixed singles or think he has another shot.
    • Have empathy for him above everything else. He must be hurting because you rejected him, and you have to remember that, even if you don't want to date him.


  • Be honest.
  • Don't try to avoid him.
  • If he gives you a gift, tell him a big thank you and tell him straight forward that it's a friend thing not a love thing.
  • Before putting him down, review your feelings and you may realize you actually like him.
  • Ask your mom for advice she's far more experienced.


  • Every guy is different. It's you that will find the right words to reject him.

Article Info

Categories: Handling Rejection