How To Tell Someone You're Not Interested?

You come across many people when you are single and trying to find a potential partner. But not many pass your vibe check, and you wouldn’t want to waste your time and energy with them. If you want to know how to tell someone you are not interested respectfully without hurting their feelings, this post will help.

Dating can be a draining task. You meet so many people hoping to find someone compatible but often end up not feeling connected with them. Rejecting someone is never easy and may put you in an awkward situation. You may not want to hurt them by telling it outright or keeping them waiting. In this post, we talk about subtle ways to tell someone you are not interested in.

In This Article

15+ Polite Ways To Tell A Guy/Girl You Are Not Interested

Convey your disinterest without being rude or stating it outright. Peruse this list to figure out what best suits your situation and how to tell someone you’re not interested.

1. Be honest about your feelings

Being honest about your feelings is not easy, especially when you know the other person expects an answer that contradicts what you have in mind. You can just tell them that you don’t feel the same way or that you’re not on the same page as them. However, it is advisable that you practice the speech a couple of times beforehand and ensure you don’t sound too harsh. Consider using a mirror, recording app or video, as part of your practice. It is important to be nice and polite and not come across as mean unintentionally. However, if they continue to be insistent, you can act like a broken record and simply restate your practiced part.

protip_icon Point to consider
Use the I language while speaking about your feelings. It is less judgemental, minimizes conflicts, and prevents the discussion from spiraling into hostility (1).

2. Keep the conversations short

You can let the other party know about your disinterest in different ways. Keeping conversations short is probably the subtlest and least painful way to turn down someone. Saying no to someone can be hard, especially if they’re a nice person. Keeping your conversations short and taking your time to reply can let the other person know how you feel without you having to spell it out in as many words. While this is easy to do on text, if you end up on a phone call with them, try making small talk and saying you have to go before the conversation becomes deeper.

3. Tell them you want to remain friends

Tell them you want to remain friends

Image: Shutterstock

The friend zone remains a reliable classic. They may be a genuinely great and funny person, but if you feel you just don’t click, and you can’t think of a way to let them know gently, telling them you want to be friends is a good way to make your intentions clear without being rude. It also allows you to keep them on good terms and converse freely without wondering what the other person thinks. However, don’t force the friendship, and if they say they want space, give it to them.

4. Make up an excuse

This might not be the best way to handle an uncomfortable situation. Still, it is definitely one of the easiest, especially if the other person is extremely insistent and neglects the nonverbal cues. It can be hard to decline advances over and over again, so come up with excuses whenever they want to meet or hang out. Make sure you’re through with them, though, as being caught in a lie can be embarrassing. Also, ensure that you’re consistent and do your best not to give false hopes or mixed signals.

5. Tell them about your family responsibilities

While this may often sound like an excuse to the other person, it doesn’t always have to be. Sometimes, the timing may not be right for both of you. Family responsibilities should be a top priority on anyone’s list, and it is completely acceptable not to have time for dating. If you have a lot of family responsibilities and are feeling the pressure, let them know outright. They deserve someone who can give them time and attention, so let them know before the relationship gets serious to avoid hurting their feelings. Chances are they’ll understand your situation and be respectful about it.

6. Send them a text message

Send them a text message that you are not interested

Image: IStock

Let’s face it — telling someone you’re not into them can be awkward and uncomfortable, especially when done in person. You can send them a text explaining how you feel. This way, you can be clear, and it’ll be difficult for them to convince you to give them another shot. This message will probably be shared as a screenshot to multiple people, though, so be very careful about how you word it.

7. Tell them you’re still getting over your ex

While this is an uncomfortable scenario to be stuck in, it is great at repelling unwanted attention. You don’t have to throw yourself a pity party, but telling someone you’ve had a breakup and need some time to yourself is completely understandable. Getting in and out of relationships is hard, especially when it involves cutting a person you had deep regard for out of your life. Give yourself space and time to heal before you get back out there.

8. Make your disinterest very clear

Many people find it hard to be curt and to the point, as it may come across as standoffish. Nevertheless, sometimes, the occasion demands a firm statement or reply. Know your boundaries. You could just outright say no, refuse, and get it over with. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t owe anyone an explanation about how you feel, and some people simply cannot take the hint. Ideally, a simple no would suffice, but more often than not, you might have to reinforce it with the broken record technique or extra firmness

protip_icon Do remember
Try to explain your feelings honestly, so the other person has clear answers. It will prevent them from feeling bad about themselves.

9. Sandwich the rejection with compliments

Sandwich your rejection with compliments

Image: Shutterstock

Telling them how great they are while also reaffirming that you don’t want to date them requires artistry. It requires you to be friendly without coming across as flirty. Finding the right balance can be difficult for some but rolls out naturally for others. With a little practice, everyone can master this art. Starting or sandwiching the rejection with a sprinkling of compliments is probably your best bet for an amicable breakup, even if you’ve only been on a few dates. Practice it in front of a friend or a mirror, and that’s it, you are ready.

protip_icon Be watchful
Don’t be overly positive when communicating the tough news. Be transparent and concise.

10. Get them a cake

Getting them a cake is one of the ways you can let someone down politely. However, it is necessary to make sure that the two of you are absolute buddies for this to be received well. This is ideal when you’re two friends just exploring other aspects of your relationship. You could have a message added for the icing or even give them a card. You could go for something simple, such as “Just not that into you,” or compose a rhyme. You could then proceed to have a fun time, laughing at the things that went wrong and ending the evening with fond memories and lots of laughter.

11. Tell them you are moving away

If you plan on moving or leaving the city soon, there isn’t any point in pursuing something serious. Many people prefer not being in long-distance relationships, especially at the beginning of the romance. So, if you’re relocating, even temporarily, it’ll definitely be off-putting. Be realistic about this scenario because while distance can make the heart grow fonder, out of sight, out of mind could also weed its way in. Be upfront about your plans and discuss them maturely.

12. Let them know you are busy with your job/studies

Tell them you are busy with work or studies

Image: IStock

Different people have different priorities, and that is completely okay. People are often more than willing to understand that you are at a different place in life and have your own priorities. Give yourself some space to breathe and tell the person that you don’t have time for them right now. If they take it well, you might earn a good and understanding friend out of it.

13. Start seeing someone else

The dating stage gives you multiple opportunities to meet new people. When you meet someone you just click with, it can be tough to explain it to someone else who has been vying for your attention. As honest as you might want to sound, you need to choose your words wisely. If someone is persistent after you’ve already said no, telling them you’re seeing someone else might be just the perfect way to ward off someone. It might hurt a little initially, but they’ll stop bugging you.

14. Let them know you’re not on the same page as them

Our world is ever-changing, and the pressure to find the perfect person to spend the ideal life with just keeps growing. However, you will often come across someone who’s just not on the same page as you. Maybe they’re looking for something casual, or they tend to move on too fast. Even though you might have grown to care for this person over time, it can be tedious to work things out with them. Both of you expect different things out of the relationship, which can be unfair. Talk to the other person, and see if you can manage expectations. If not, you can just accept that you want different things and move on amicably.

15. Ghost them

Ignore their text messages and calls

Image: Shutterstock

While this is not the politest trick to push away someone, it certainly is an important one. Sometimes, no amount of subtleties or quiet gestures can get the message across. They may continue to be incessant in their approach. Just ignore their text messages and dodge their calls. Try to avoid all possible contact with them, and they’ll realize how you feel once they hit a blank wall. It is recommended that you don’t rely on this method before assessing all your options. After all, you don’t want to hurt someone when it can be avoided.

Sometimes, you may choose to take this route when you cannot muster the courage to reject someone. So, to avoid confrontation, you ghost them or slowly fade away. Joanna Goddard, an editor, recalls how she used to do the same. She says, “I was kind of…The Worst. If I didn’t like a guy, I wouldn’t tell him outright, but instead, I would give him a good-night kiss and then slowly…stop…answering…his calls. And the worst part is that I would do this even if we had gone out like five or six times, and even if I had spent the night at his house (i).”

While ghosting is often seen as a less-than-ideal approach to ending connections, it’s essential to recognize that each situation is unique. In some cases, when done thoughtfully and for self-preservation, ghosting may spare both parties unnecessary confrontation and emotional distress.

16. Let them know about the incompatibility

Have an honest and realistic conversation and tell them about the incompatibility. Start by politely acknowledging the positive aspects of the connection before pointing out the differences. For instance, you might say that you’ve genuinely enjoyed your time together and value the connection you’ve shared. However, as you’ve spent more time together, you’ve recognized that your values and long-term goals differ. Stay calm and put forward your points in a respectful way. You may mention that you could have given it a try had your outlooks aligned more closely. Honest communication and transparency can help them understand your points and end the connection respectfully.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do you say when someone says they’re not interested?

Being rejected in a relationship can be upsetting. However, rather than taking it personally, you may accept it with grace because it is not always about you. Choose a kind and dignified response and meet the person with compassion. Be appreciative that they were courageous enough to share their honest feelings.

2. What does it mean when a guy says he is not interested in you?

A guy might reject a girl if he is not interested in continuing the relationship. There may be many reasons behind this. It might be possible that he has different interests to pursue, is going through a hurtful past, or wants to keep the relationship casual. So, rather than taking it personally, look at it from a broader perspective and try to stay positive in every situation.

3. What are some common mistakes people make when letting someone down easily?

Some common mistakes people make when expressing disinterest in someone are giving false hopes of a friendship to console them, being vague, and delaying the conversation to prevent hurting them. On the contrary, these can do more damage than good, sending mixed signals and confusing them. Another common mistake may be blaming the other person instead of taking accountability for their own mistakes and expressing their emotions.

4. What is soft ghosting?

Soft ghosting is a milder form of ghosting where someone partially cuts communication with a person. For example, the person may have stopped messaging or replying but continues to react to their posts, messages or send emojis.

5. Is ghosting worse than rejection?

For many people, ghosting can seem worse than a rejection. People need firm answers and closure about a breakup. Getting left on a cliffhanger may lead to overwhelming emotions, confusion, and overthinking, thus leading to stress. On the other hand, although getting rejected may feel painful, they may be able to move on, knowing why the relationship cannot work out.

Rejecting someone can be quite an arduous task. Rather than playing games with them or leading them on, you should confront them directly. You can also hide your disinterest in them by devising excuses like family responsibilities, studies, relocation, getting over an ex, and many other reasons. But, be mindful to handle them and their feelings with respect, love, and grace. It’s also critical to understand that you aren’t accountable for their feelings. So, if someone acts immaturely in response to rejection, don’t let it get to you.

Infographic: Right Ways Of Telling Someone You Aren’t Interested

Being mindful while turning a proposal down can help you stay respectful towards the other person’s feelings. Besides, it saves the other person from the emotional damage that may happen due to hard rejection. Our infographic shares the right and wrong ways of rejecting someone with poise, respect, dignity, and gentleness.

ways of rejecting someone with respect (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Sometimes saying ‘no’ to someone can be much more difficult than saying ‘yes’.
  • But you have the right to reject, but not to be rude to them, and there are ways to convey your lack of interest.

Discover effective strategies to communicate your lack of interest to someone while being considerate of their feelings. This informative video offers helpful tips for letting him down gently and maintaining respectful communication.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. S. L. Rogers, J. Howeison, and C. Neame. I understand you feel that way, but I feel this way: the benefits of I-language and communicating perspective during conflict.
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