Being rejected hurts, but being the person to reject someone’s advances is almost as hard. This is especially true if you’re one of those people who hates confrontation. Sometimes, however, it’s the only option. Here’s how to let him know that you’re not interested when he isn’t taking the hint.
- Ignore his texts. You don’t want to be the jerk who ghosts people, but some guys think that any response is an invitation to keep the conversation going. Even if you’re only sending one-word replies, he may think you’re just shy or playing hard to get. In contrast, cutting off all communication and leaving him hanging is hard for him to interpret as anything other than rejection.
- Talk favorably about the people you’re dating. While honesty is almost always the best policy when it comes to dating (can we please stop using the old, “It’s not you, it’s me” line?) exaggeration may be the only course of action if you’ve already tried to make your disinterest clear. Talking about dating other people and enjoying the company of other guys should make him realize that you’re actively pursuing other options despite his availability. If he’s still not taking the hint, that’s his problem.
- Give him the cold shoulder. Body language is a powerful tool when you want to tell someone how you feel about them without saying it out loud. Fidgeting when he talks to you, leaving the room when he comes in, and turning away from him are all ways to show that you aren’t interested in being in his presence. You can also try more subtle cues such as crossing your arms or maintaining distance when you talk to him. These signals tell him that there is no connection between you as far as you’re concerned, and they are difficult to misinterpret as signs of attraction.
- Make your social media accounts private. If you’re feeling invaded by his attention, remove him from your follower list and make your accounts private. There’s no reason he should have access to your personal life anymore than he already does. Not having access to your social media may also have an “out of sight, out of mind” effect on him: If he can’t scroll through your photos, his obsession will have nothing to feed on and will eventually fade.
- Talk to his friends. If you want to be as kind and tactful as possible, you could approach his friends instead of talking to him. This will avoid embarrassment for both of you. If his friends are decent people who have his best interests at heart, they will talk to him discreetly about it without mentioning that you asked them to. Make sure you trust them, though, as it could get awkward if they end up making a joke out of it.
- Tell him gently. If varying levels of hinting do not work, it’s time to woman up and tell him directly. You don’t have to be unkind or awkward about it. Just tell him that you’re flattered that he likes you but that you don’t think you’re compatible. Tell him that he deserves to be with someone who will appreciate being with him. Be clear, and do not leave any room for doubt or negotiation. He may ask you to give him a chance, but do not let your niceness sway you. Just tell him you’re sorry, but you know how you feel. There’s no need for him to be taking the hint here – you’re telling him straight up.
- Don’t worry about being a “bitch.” A lot of us struggle to reject guys we don’t find attractive because we don’t want to seem bitchy or arrogant. This is one of the worst examples of how toxic masculinity brainwashes us into thinking that we must always be grateful to guys who find us attractive. If he responds angrily to your rejection, it’s a major red flag that may indicate controlling and abusive tendencies.
- Tell him that he’s making you uncomfortable. If he continues to make overtures despite your honest conversation with him, let him know that you’re feeling uncomfortable. Some guys think that rejection is merely a challenge that women throw down when they want to play hard to get. They treat the whole thing like a big joke that you’re both in on. If this is the case, telling him that you feel harassed and are genuinely uncomfortable is the next step. Hopefully, this will wake him up to the reality of the situation and back off.
- Keep a list of unwelcome interactions. An issue that can arise when you tell him you’re uncomfortable is that he doesn’t understand what you’re talking about. He doesn’t see any of his behavior as pushy or inappropriate, so you must be overly sensitive. This is an example of gaslighting and is another major red flag of toxic masculinity and controlling tendencies. And while you don’t owe it to him to explain yourself, you may want to keep a list of incidents so that you can give him specific examples of uncomfortable behavior. This will also be useful if you have to seek outside help to resolve the situation.
- Get the authorities involved if necessary. While it’s likely that you’re just dealing with an overly-optimistic guy who suffers from a severe lack of awareness, you should be on the lookout for warning signs that the problem might be darker. If you feel unsafe, you should talk to the authorities. States have different laws about prosecuting stalkers and issuing restraining orders, but all have strict procedures to protect you.
When to seek help
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in 12 women are stalked within their lifetime, and 75% of them will know their stalker. Here are the signs to look out for:
- He shows up unannounced. Stalking is not a one-off incident. If the guy you’ve rejected shows up unexpectedly one time, it’s probably not grounds for concern. But if he keeps popping up “coincidentally” wherever you go, it’s worrying behavior that may indicate more than just unfortunate happenstance. He’s not not taking the hint, he’s ignoring your wishes and trying to force the situation.
- He keeps calling you. If he keeps trying to contact you, you should block his number. Repeated calls and texts are signs of harassment and should be recorded in your log of inappropriate behavior. If he’s just trying to get your attention or hasn’t picked up on the fact that you aren’t interested, you shouldn’t panic. But if his attempts to contact you become more frequent and invasive despite your explicit requests for him to stop, you have every reason to be concerned.
- He tries to get you alone. There’s a difference between a guy not taking the hint and your rejection making him try even harder. The major indication that someone is dangerous rather than clueless is when they refuse to leave you alone even after you’ve been clear that you don’t want to have any contact with them. Some guys may try to talk to you one-on-one in a desperate attempt to explain themselves or even apologize for making you uncomfortable. This is inappropriate but does not always signal stalking. If a guy tries to isolate you from a group by getting you into an empty room or his car, however, it’s a big red flag.