Rejection: There’s no easy way to do it. Being rejected can feel hurtful, but it’s definitely not comfortable to be the one breaking the news. But you can learn how to reject someone nicely so that you can end things on a good note.
Follow these tips on how to politely reject someone so that the next time you have to let someone down, you’ll be confident, gentle, and empathetic.
Be confident in your decision
Before you decide how to reject someone, you should remind yourself why you want to stop seeing them in the first place. If you’re on the fence, you might be more likely to be swayed if the person tries to convince you to continue dating. This can be detrimental to both people because now you’re stuck with the potential of having to reject them a second time, and they have another potential heartbreak in their future.
To help boost your confidence in your decision, ask yourself why this person isn’t right for you. If you can clearly understand the “why” (even if it’s simply a gut feeling), keep this in mind as you prepare to end things.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling unsure, consider going on another date to feel it out. This doesn’t mean you’re stringing them along–it’s just part of the dating process.
Don’t put it off
There’s never a good time for rejection. It hurts no matter when we give it or hear it. While it is good to be mindful of the other person when deciding when to break the news (like not letting them down the morning before a huge presentation), make sure you don’t wait too long. Practicing empathy is part of learning how to reject someone nicely, and that means taking into account the things they have going on. But that doesn’t mean you should keep putting off the rejection just because you’re worried about how the news will affect other parts of their life.
You might be tempted to quietly quit the relationship by continually saying no when they ask to hang out or not responding to texts. Even if you’re unintentionally pushing them away, this method is highly discouraged. Just do the deed. You’ll feel the weight lift, and they’ll be glad in the long run that they didn’t keep putting in effort into a relationship that you wanted to end anyway.
Rejection can be hurtful, no matter how you go about it. Even if you have the best intentions and deliver the rejection in the most empathetic way possible, the other person might not receive the news well. And that’s normal. It’s difficult being told that you aren’t the right person for someone.
Pump yourself up before the conversation, just like you would for a sales pitch or confronting the person kicking the airplane seat behind you. Think positive thoughts, take deep breaths, and remind yourself that this is a good decision in the long run.
If you’re doing it over the phone, use a sticky note to jot down a few phrases that you want to make sure to say during the convo. If you’re telling them in person, check in with yourself physically and mentally before meeting up with them. This could be something as simple as sitting in the car, closing your eyes, and doing some deep breathing before you meet them. No matter how you give them the news, be ready for questions, disappointment, and even anger. The crux of the matter is that rejection is not always easy to stomach, and reactions to it can differ.
Pick phone call, text, or in person
We’re not here to tell you that an in-person meeting is the only method for how to reject someone nicely. Let’s face it: We’re in a modern world of dating in which conversing virtually is easiest, at least in the beginning. But if you have been seeing the person for some time, with several in-person dates or deep conversations, the polite thing to do is tell them face to face. Just as respect is one of the most important features of a healthy relationship, it’s also something you need to practice when rejecting someone.
On the other hand, for newer relationships or dating conversations, a phone call or text is totally fine. Sending your rejection via text message can help the other person feel less on the spot when they receive the news and can give you ample time to reread and make sure you’re saying the right thing.
It’s easy to beat around the bush when you’re figuring out how to start an uncomfortable conversation. But it’s important to rip off the Bandaid and get right to it. No matter if you want to know how to reject someone nicely over text or in person, here are a few ways to kick off these tricky situations:
- Hey, [name]. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, but I don’t think this is going to work out.
- Thank you for spending time with me, but I think it’s time we go our separate ways. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to meet you.
- You’re a really great person, but I don’t think we’re the right fit.
Once you’ve started the conversation, avoid over-explaining. This can lead to confusion or further hurt for the other person. You might end up saying something you don’t mean or making them feel uncomfortable due to your own nervousness. The best rule of thumb for how to reject someone? Keep it short and sweet.
Use “I” statements
We all probably have a love-hate relationship with the “it’s-not-you-it’s-me” talk. It’s a lifesaver for the person on the receiving end, but it can feel like a cop-out to the person saying it. Sometimes you really want to point out a fault or imperfection in someone else, and it’s a natural urge to want to do so. But one of the best steps in learning how to politely reject someone is to stick with “I” statements.
Positioning the rejection from only your point of view will not only help the other person feel less triggered but also protect you from being peppered with questions or subjected to emotional rebuttals. For example, take a look at the following rejection:
- “You’re not the right person for me. You don’t share my hobbies, interests, or humor, and you’re too clingy.”
“You” is said three times, which can make the person feel like you’re pointing a finger at them. You’re specifically mentioning the faults that you’ve found, which can be disheartening. Instead, try rewording your rejection like this:
- “This doesn’t feel like the right fit. I have specific hobbies and interests, and sharing them with someone is really important to me. I also really like to do my own thing, and need my future person to prioritize that.”
With this statement, you’re essentially putting the “fault”–for lack of a better word–on yourself. It will hopefully come off less as an insult to the person that you’re rejecting.
Try not to feel guilty
Rejection is part of life, and some things just aren’t meant to be. Don’t be hard on yourself when you inevitably have to break it off with someone. Remember that you’re doing something that is good for both of you–the right-now rejection will save them from future heartbreak and keep you from spending precious time and energy on something that just isn’t working.
There is no easy way to tell someone that you don’t want to see them romantically anymore. But there are easy-to-remember steps for learning how to reject someone. Knowing when and how to reject someone nicely and what to say will help you treat the other person as a human being (with feelings!) while keeping your best interests at heart.