How To Tell Someone You Don’t Like Them Without Being Terrible

There’s one thing worse than asking someone out, and that’s someone asking you out that you’re not interested in. While it’s always flattering to know that your personality has attracted potential dates, it can be really hard to know what to say without hurting anyone’s feelings. Here are some good techniques.

  1. Tell them that you’re not in a good place to date right now. This needs to be sincere for it to work. If you say it and then start dating someone else a week later, that’s a slap in the face to the guy who liked you. But if you’d just like to stay single for a bit, that’s completely respectable and it won’t make this guy feel bad for asking. Hopefully, he’ll get the hint with this sentence alone. If he follows it up with, “can you tell me when you will be in the right place?” then you might have a clinger that you need to be slightly more honest with.
  2. Watch your body language. Body language can be huge when it comes to the way you tell someone you don’t like them. If you’re constantly hugging them or kissing them on the cheek, it’s safe to assume that they might misread that, especially if they’re in a position where they’re not used to people being overly friendly. Do yourself a favor and try not to give off mixed signals. At the same time, don’t recoil whenever he’s present — just don’t get touchy-feely when they enter a room.
  3. If it’s a friend who wants to take things to the next level, keep complimenting their friendship. It’s a subtle way to try and create boundaries without making things weird or embarrassing. You’re still paying him a big compliment, it’s just likely not the compliment he’s hoping to hear. Even saying something like “I value your friendship too much to take that step” is a way to let him know that you have no plans of accelerating the relationship.
  4. Tell them they remind you of a cousin or sibling. Sometimes, we just don’t like someone since they remind us too strongly of someone else. It’s completely natural to be turned off of someone romantically for this reason and it’s not their fault. Again, it’d be best if it were true, but it’s worthy of a white lie if you respect someone and don’t want them to think they’re undateable. If anything is going to tell them that you don’t like them, this is it.
  5. Be honest, but sandwich it in compliments. That way, they come into the conversation and out of the conversation feeling okay. Remember, it’s not your job to police their feelings after the fact. That’s on them. A good example would be something like, “You’re literally one of my favorite people, but I just don’t see you that way. I’m so sorry. I wish I did, but I know you’re going to make someone very happy someday.”
  6. If you have another crush, let them know. Just try not to give the name away, since they may want no involvement. When you have a crush on someone, you focus on them and enjoy spending time with them. Crushes can almost be a part-time job. Your brain simply doesn’t have the time to try and fit another relationship or crush possibility in. “You’re wonderful but I really like someone else right now” is a soft rejection that won’t leave them feeling bad.
  7. Try setting them up with a friend. For this to work, you genuinely have to like the person as an individual, and also have a single friend who’d match well with them. Don’t try to pawn this guy off on someone else if he’s giving you the creeps, or if he wouldn’t make a decent boyfriend to someone. Your mission is for him to find happiness elsewhere. Plus, any guy will know that the phrase “you’d really hit it off with my friend” means that you don’t view them in a romantic way.
  8. If they won’t leave you alone, go no contact. Sometimes, guys who have crushes on you can be a little creepy about it. If you notice he’s always hovering over you when he sees you out, or if he keeps texting you constantly with no reply, it’s time to significantly limit the amount of contact you have. Make sure your social media profiles are locked down so that he doesn’t get pertinent information. Also, block his number, or let him go straight to voicemail. You don’t owe anyone your time. Just because he likes you doesn’t mean you need to pick up the phone and feed into his crush.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.