There’s nothing more exhilarating than being asked out by someone you’re attracted to, but when you are being pursued by someone who just doesn’t do it for you the experience becomes an exercise in reluctant interactions, forced smiles, and finding a polite exit strategy. And if you are more of a “socially sensitive” type of person who has a hard time letting anyone down, it’s even worse.
The very thought of communicating rejection to someone else romantically for a socially sensitive person can sometimes bring about moderate to severe feelings of discomfort, and so they wait to have the “just-friends talk.” At best their fears of a bad outcome grow until exploding in self-fulfilling, passive-aggressive resentment, or at the very worst, they might even find themselves involved in a relationship that they never really wanted in the first place.
Fortunately, any guilt associated with expressing rejection to another can be minimized by exercising more assertive communication skills and being honest up front. Not only will you escape feeling like “the bad guy,” but you can avoid getting yourself wrapped up in situations you really don’t want to be in.
Saying “Thanks, but no thanks” nicely If someone asks you out but you’re really not interested, the best policy is to politely decline immediately at first mention, but do so politely. While there will always be some level of disappointment for someone who is turned down for a date or romantic relationship, honesty from the start minimizes hurt feelings on both sides. The sooner a person is let down the less likely the other person will be seen as “leading” or “stringing” them along.
The kindest way to express disinterest is to simply state that you just don’t feel that spark of chemistry between you. There is no need to apologize, but do soften the blow by highlighting a great attribute about them or your last experience with them, such as “I really enjoyed our conversation the other night as well, but I just don’t feel that romantic spark.” If they press onward, keep it civil and repeat that you don’t feel chemistry between you.
Also, do keep it positive by not berating, making fun of, or pointing out obvious incompatibilities or discrepancies that might offend the other person, even in jest. Even though the very thought of being with this person on a romantic level may turn you off or make you laugh, exercise some compassion; try to put yourself in that person’s shoes. Imagine having interest in and approaching someone who you find attractive, but the interest is not reciprocated. It may have been a shot in the dark, but you took it, and now you’re getting shot down. How would you like to be treated? Direct but polite works best. Remember that turning someone down in a polite but direct manner is not as hurtful as leaving your interaction with them up for their hopeful interpretation.
If you are turning someone down in person, also pay attention to your nonverbal body cues so that you aren’t inadvertently sending mixed messages. Maintain eye contact and appear relaxed. Looking away frequently or maintaining tense body posture can very quickly transmit discomfort and put the other person off. On the other hand, you don’t want to transmit flirtation with your body while turning them down verbally, so even if you can sometimes be a high-touch person in conversation, keep physical contact to a minimum.
Politely asserting your disinterest toward someone else’s advances toward you may seem uncomfortable at first, but it is the best policy for all involved. The sooner you communicate that the spark just isn’t there, the sooner you can both move on to finding the right people whose advances will be more than welcome right from the start.