How to Say No to a Date

Throughout your life, there may be times when a friend, coworker, or acquaintance is interested in dating you, but unfortunately, your feelings aren’t mutual. At these times, you can turn down a date and say no without resorting to hurting the other person’s feelings. There are several ways to say “no” to a date, depending on which method you feel most comfortable with.


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    Be honest and upfront when saying no. Your “no” can be accompanied with your true reason for not dating that person, or you can simply say “I’m not interested, but thank you for asking.” Making up lies or excuses about why you’re saying no can backfire and look obvious, and make you seem dishonest and hurtful.
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    Cushion the “no” between compliments about that person. This reveals that you care about the person, even though you’re saying no. For example, tell the person you enjoy spending time with them, followed by “no” or “I’m not interested,” then end the statement saying you value your friendship and don’t want to risk it through dating.
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    Say “no” in person or over the telephone whenever possible. This shows you have integrity, and that you’re courteous and mindful enough about the other person’s feelings to say no in person. For example, if a person asks you out via text message, email, or through a friend, go out of your way to deliver the news in person or via the telephone.
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    Apologize for not being available. This helps soften the blow when you don’t feel comfortable with a direct “no,” and can make the other person feel as though they met you at the wrong time in your life. For example, say “I’m sorry, but I’m already dating someone right now.”
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    Announce that you’d like other people to join you on your “date. This is an indirect way to say no, since it shows that you enjoy spending time with that person, but are not interested in spending time one-on-one. For example, if an interested coworker asks you out for drinks after work, say you think it would be exciting and fun if everyone from your team at work also came along.[1]
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    Consider whether you have any single friends that would be an ideal match for that person. This shows that you like the person enough to set them up with a friend who may be a more compatible match. For example, say no, then admit that you know someone who might be a better match.
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    Explain that you want to become good friends with a person before dating them. This response is most effective when you’re unsure about whether to date someone, or want to get to know someone better before going on an official date.[2]
    • Don’t say you want to be friends with someone before dating them if you don’t really mean it. This can backfire, and result in the person asking you out again in the future after you’ve become friends, which can make the situation awkward.
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    Be mindful of tone and delivery regardless of how you say no to a date. Even kind words can sound mean and hurtful when you deliver them in a short, abrupt tone. When saying no, be calm and gentle to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings or making them feel too uncomfortable.
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    Use “I” statements when explaining your reason for saying no. This holds you accountable for your decision, and prevents you from sounding rude, condescending, or insensitive. For example, say “I don’t feel a connection with you,” instead of saying “You just aren’t compatible for me.”[3]


  • Show the same respect you would want if the tables were turned, and you were asking someone on a date. This allows you to reevaluate the situation and say no in the same manner in which you would want people to say no to you. For example, if you appreciate honesty, be honest about your intentions when telling someone no.


  • Avoid making a big announcement to others about how you turned someone down for a date. This can make the person who asked you feel embarrassed, violated, sad, depressed, or angry if the news comes back to them, especially if the person had to work up courage to ask you out in the first place.

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Categories: Relationship Issues