Turning someone down is always a bit uncomfortable, but there are definitely ways to make it easier on everyone involved.
It’s officially cuffing season, the time of year when we’d all rather be curled up on the couch in front of the fire with a special someone than all alone, when the ache of our desire to make holiday-themed memories with a new love is at its greatest, when the loneliness we were able to ignore before seems at its worst.
The holidays are bound to not only awaken our own wish for a significant other, but also to prompt more effort in pursuing romantic relationships — meaning the guy at work who’s been carrying a torch for us all year might find himself influenced by the romance of sparkling Christmas lights and ask us out.
While getting asked out is always flattering, sometimes the invitation is extended by someone we’d really rather not date — which normally means being worried about hurting his feelings, procrastinating our rejection of the date, and creating awkward tension by not knowing how to say no politely. And before we know it, we’ve either agreed to a date we don’t want to go on, ghosted him to avoid it entirely, or stated our rejection a little too bluntly. Sound familiar? This is exactly why it’s crucial to understand the art of letting a guy down easy.
Here’s how to do it as painlessly as possible.
Consider How Nervous He Is
If I’m being honest, I can’t imagine how terrifying it is to ask someone out on a date. The closest I’ve ever come to it is asking a girl I wanted to be friends with out to coffee (and even that was nerve wracking). Despite more women today being the romantic pursuers than ever before, we’re far more used to the idea of the man initiating the first date, chasing the woman he likes.
Putting ourselves in his shoes will help set us up to give a more thoughtful, sympathetic response.
So if we’re faced with the task of turning down a date, before actually rejecting the offer, it’s essential that we consider just how nervous he must be and the courage it took to put himself and his feelings out there. Putting ourselves in his shoes and understanding that asking someone out is never easy will help set us up to give a more thoughtful, sympathetic response, even if we still ultimately say no.
Don’t Be a Flattery Junkie
It’s genuinely flattering to be asked out. We all love to know we’re desired, liked, and intriguing enough for someone to want to know more. And when we’re given attention like this, even if we have no intention of actually engaging, it’s easy to enjoy it just a little too much. We’ve all seen the girl who takes advantage of having a guy wrapped around her finger by stringing him along — maybe we’ve even done that ourselves.
It’s unfair to allow a guy to continue pursuing us by giving him little nuggets of hope.
But as good as some extra attention feels, it’s unfair to allow a guy to continue pursuing us by giving him little nuggets of hope. Flirting with or physically interacting with a guy we know who likes us just for fun is not only selfish and a bad look, but deeply hurtful for him.
Make Sure To Thank Him…
Being asked out, even by a guy we’re not romantically interested in, is endearing. Assuming his offer was executed respectfully, it’s important to thank him for the invitation. This lets him know, before even giving him an answer, that we see the thought and effort he put into asking us out and that we appreciate it.
Being asked out, even by a guy we’re not romantically interested in, is endearing.
By taking a short moment to thank him, we’re setting a positive, friendly tone for the rest of the conversation — which will likely help him receive the answer he wasn’t hoping for without being left feeling his bid was rudely rejected.
...Before Turning Him Down
Of course, this is the hardest part: actually having to say we’re not interested. Turning someone down, no matter which words we use, will always feel a bit awkward. It’s normal to feel inclined to lie in order to spare his feelings, or tell him we’ll think about it and hope he’ll forget, but this response is actually more for ourselves and less for his benefit.
Turning someone down, no matter which words we use, will always feel a bit awkward.
It’s uncomfortable, but being honest about our feelings is key. By ignoring our instinct to beat around the bush, we’ll save him embarrassment and confusion in the long run. Offering a simple, polite explanation of not being interested without treating it like a huge deal will allow him to recalibrate quickly and receive our rejection as easily as possible.
Resist the Urge To Treat Him Differently Afterwards
It’s normal to want to avoid someone as much as possible after we turn them down, but this won’t be helpful in making any awkwardness disappear. By resisting our inclination to run and hide, and instead treating him how we always have, we’re granting him the ability to forget about it and move on — which he’ll surely be thankful for.
No one enjoys having to turn down a date, but it’s important to think more about the person who’s actually put themselves out there, rather than only focusing on how uncomfortable we are in the moment.