How To Tell Someone You Don’t Want A Relationship Without Hurting Them

There’s no easy way to tell somebody that you don’t want to be in a relationship with them. It can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable situation to be in, but there are ways that you can prevent it from being worse than it already is. Here’s how you can let someone down without hurting them too much in the process.

  1. Talk to them face-to-face. If you think it will be easier to send a text, you’re wrong. Nothing is more upsetting (not to mention downright offensive) than someone thinking you’re only worth a text message rather than an actual conversation. Think about how you would feel in this situation. You really liked this person and wanted a relationship with them but they didn’t feel the same way. How would you like to be told this, through a message or in person? Most people are insulted when they get rejected through a screen, and why wouldn’t they be?
  2. Tell them why you don’t want a relationship. Even though it might be uncomfortable and awkward, it’s so important to let that person know why you feel the way you do. The reason might not have anything to do with them, and that’s fine. Knowing this gives them a sense of closure and perhaps it will provide them with some reassurance as well. Remember that you’ll only hurt them further if you tell an obvious lie, and kindness costs nothing.
  3. Tell them right at the beginning. It’s never a good idea to lead someone on because you’re too embarrassed to tell them that you don’t want a relationship. Even if they haven’t made their feelings obvious yet, you should still let them know if you don’t see anything happening between you two. Perhaps you’re only interested in being friends, or maybe you’ve recently broken up with somebody and you’re still healing from that. Whatever the reason may be, you should tell them that right from the start. If anything, they will appreciate you being honest with them and not wasting their time.
  4. Don’t use the typical lines that everyone else uses. Don’t bother with the “it’s not you, it’s me” crap. Not only is it unoriginal, but it also gives the impression that you don’t think that they deserve an explanation. Also, it might be a lie. Maybe it is about them—maybe they aren’t what you’re looking for and that’s absolutely okay. Either way, don’t you think it’s best to try and be honest with them instead of holding back how you feel? If you use that line, they will probably assume that you are simply looking for an easy excuse, and trust me, that will hurt them far more than the truth. If it actually is about you, tell them this in a different way. They will definitely respect you for it.
  5. If they are a close friend, reassure them that it won’t affect your friendship. Rejection can be painful enough without the worry of losing a really good friend, so make sure that you let them know that it won’t change your platonic relationship. It might make things a little bit uncomfortable at first and that’s understandable, so you might suggest not seeing each other for a little while just to give each other some time to recover from the situation. It could be that this person took a big risk by telling you about how they feel and they knew it could jeopardize your friendship, so it’s only fair if you can respect that and refrain from making jokes in the future if you decide to stay in touch.
  6. Don’t post about it on social media. You might think that you can make an indirect tweet to tell this person how you feel, but it’s a really insensitive way of handling it. Also, it’s not a clear message. The thing about indirect tweets is it leaves people with more questions: Is it really about me? What did I do? Why didn’t they just tell me this face to face? It can drive a person nuts to be left in the dark like that. Avoid social media, avoid oversharing any details about it, and talk to them about it first.
  7. You could write them a letter or email. Some people find it far more easier to open up to someone through a letter or email. Even though speaking to someone in person is the best and most polite option, if you aren’t very good at verbal language or you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, then writing or typing your thoughts might work better for you. It gives you time to work out what you want to say and it provides a personal touch. This works far better if it is a close friend or a work colleague, rather than someone who you just met through online dating. It also means that you can avoid the awkward pauses, so it’s a win-win!
  8. Be encouraging. So, this person isn’t who you want to be in a relationship with, so what? They might not be what you are looking for, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be great for someone else. It doesn’t need to be an uncomfortable conversation where you put them down and focus on all of the reasons why you wouldn’t work as couple, it could be a chat where you encourage them to keep looking because they have really good qualities and there is someone out there for them. Those are the words that they will really appreciate hearing.
Coralle is a freelance writer and blogger with a special interest in Mental Health & wellness, Women's health, and relationships.

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