How to turn someone down gracefully

You had a pretty good first date. The person seemed nice enough. Maybe you agreed to a second date because you couldn’t think of a reason not to. But there’s just no “spark” between you two. Now what? It is time to turn down the other person. And while there’s no easy way to do this, there are some rules you should go by to make the rejection as painless as possible.


No matter what, do not ghost.

Sure, you’ve known them for only for a few weeks or even a few days, but you owe them a clear “No.” Do not slowly stop responding to texts and hope that the person will “figure it out” on their own. Not only is this not cool, it can increase the emotional distress of the other person down the road. Face-to-face vs. over the phone is up to you, but try to break the news as soon as you conclude that you don’t want to continue seeing this person.

Be short and sweet.

Do not try to give a lengthy explanation or beat around the bush; just say it like it is. It might sound something like this: “I had a great time with you, and you’re a nice person, but I just don’t feel like there is enough chemistry between us.” Does that sound brutal? Well, it would be more cruel to make the person listen to a long speech about your life and your goals — how you’re too busy, and they’re so great, etc. etc. Just get to the point.

Be kind yet stern.

Do make it clear that you have no intention of continuing to see the other person. If you make excuses or try to blame it on your life circumstances, the other person might get hopeful — and will be let down even more later. And no matter what, do NOT give them reasons to think that there might be something that they can change about themselves to change your mind (unless that is indeed your intention); there is nothing worse than torturing someone with hope when there isn’t one.

If they still try to contact you, ignore — completely.

If you did everything above 100%, then you’ve done everything you can. Unless the person is contacting you to pick up something you borrowed from them, there should be no contact. “Checking in” isn’t needed. “Happy birthday” texts are not necessary. By doing “no contact,” you are actually allowing that person to have time and space to heal. Resist the temptation and cut all contact. However, if the person insists on texting and calling you when you’ve expressed your desire clearly, it should raise a red flag. Always let someone know if you don’t feel safe.

Don’t feel bad — you don’t exist to make everyone happy

Finally, don’t blame yourself for causing someone an emotional distress. Most people go on many, many dates before meeting the one — that’s just how the game works. It is not your job to please everyone. In fact, the only job you have in this dating life is to make sure that you always keep your doors open, enjoy meeting new people, and give yourself a chance at happiness.


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