How To Tell Someone You're Not Interested (Without Hurting Their Feelings)

Don't ghost. Be direct.

Last updated on Nov 15, 2022

awkward woman in red shirt with purple background Cast Of Thousands / Shuttersstock

The most dreadful part about dating is having to tell someone you just don't like them.

Figuring out exactly how to tell someone you're not interested can be really stressful when you don't want to hurt their feelings — especially after you've been dating for a while or have friends in common.

Breaking it off with someone isn’t as easy as walking up to them and saying “I’m not interested,” — at least for most of us. It might make you feel bad and even guilty for turning someone down. This can lead to even more painful methods of rejection that have become all too common in modern and online dating, such as ghosting.


Ultimately, though, a polite rejection is infinitely better than having the person you've been spending time with questioning where they stand.

"Remember, this is another human being, with feelings, who you are breaking up with," says life coach Mitzi Bockmann, BA, CLC. "Would you ghost or breadcrumb a co-worker, family member, or friend?"

RELATED: It's Time To Stop Saying Sorry To Men When We're Just Not Interested


No one wants to be rejected — but we have to remember that no one really likes being the rejecter either. According to Bockmann, the best way to reject someone nicely "is to speak from your own perspective."

"Don't say 'you aren't right for me,' but rather, 'I know that I am looking for something different' or 'I don't feel connected to you,'" she explains. "That way you aren't attacking them personally, judging them, but rather speaking about your own needs. No matter what, it might hurt, but the pain will be less if you don't attack them."

I have to admit ending things over text or dating app messaging system is a thousand times easier than doing it face to face. Sometimes, you have no choice but to express that you aren’t interested face-to-face.

Don’t worry, the steps below will help you say you're not interested politely.


How to tell someone you're not interested

1. Keep your interactions short.

If you don’t like someone in the way they like you, keep the conversations short. Many people tend to assume you’re crushing on them if you talk to them for a long time. Keeping things short also reduces the chances of things escalating into a long-term relationship.

How to put it into action: If you’re not sure what to say to end it, try saying “I really have to go.” or “Sorry, I have to get back to my friends.”

2. Say, "Thank you, but no thank you."

There are people that are really bold, and they’ll ask you on a date right away. If you know from the get-go that you're not interested in taking your relationship any further, the best thing you can do is make that crystal clear from the start.

How to put it into action: Be sure to say "thanks" to let it be known that you appreciate the offer and think they're a great person — just not for you. Next, follow with a "no thank you" so that it is known you aren’t interested. If asked why, remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation — you don’t have to answer unless you choose to.


how to tell a guy you don't like him

RELATED: 5 Ways Highly Confident, Strong People Handle Rejection With Grace

3. Avoid any flirtatious behavior.

Saying you aren’t interested, but continuing to be flirty can make you seem as though you're playing hard to get or sending mixed signals. Also, the person won’t think you really rejected them, and will continually pursue you.

How to put it into action: Cut out the flirty comments and gestures altogether so there’s no room for confusion.


4. Tell them you'd prefer to stay friends.

Nothing kills the vibe more than being put in the friend zone. No one likes being friend-zoned by someone they’re interested in.

How to put it into action: Just say you want to just be friends — watch how fast the flirting stops.

5. Just say "no" and remove yourself from the situation.

Many people just aren’t good at taking hints or being let down easy. So you can’t shy away from being direct with them.


How to put it into action: The best thing you can do is just flat out say you're not interested in dating. Don't give the impression hat you enjoy talking to them, or say anything to prolong the conversation.

There might be an instance when you tell someone no, and they persist. If that continues and you feel unsafe, leave the situation altogether. You don't owe anyone anything other than honesty.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Turn Down A Second Date Without Looking Like A Jerk

Tamara Sanon is a writer who covers pop culture, astrology, and relationships.