How to Let Guys Down the Nice Way

You are exiting a grocery store, the gym, or even one of your classes and then you hear it: the dreaded “Excuse me?”. You turn around to see a guy you don’t know and it clicks. You’re about to be asked out.

One major problem: you’re not interested. What do you do now? Whether it’s because you are already dating someone, he’s not your type, or you just don’t want to, finding the right way to turn down a guy can be tricky, especially if rejecting people is not exactly your forte.

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You turn around and he’s standing there. He tells you that you caught his eye and he proceeds to ask for your number, social media accounts, or if you would like to hang out sometime. If you’re anything like me, you stand there with your jaw slightly dropped, embarrassed and completely blindsided for a few seconds before any actual noise can leave your mouth. Flattered? Maybe. Suddenly nervous? Definitely. Feeling awkward? Guaranteed.

Sure, plenty of girls might say, “Just tell him no and walk away.” But for me, it just isn’t that easy. He did have the courage to approach you. As someone who feared rejection for a huge part of their life, dishing it out to others is really difficult for me due to my own experiences being rejected. Respecting that someone is brave enough to approach me while offering me a compliment makes it difficult for me to slam the door on people in these situations. Being strong, feminist, and independent does not mean you have to hurt anyone’s feelings.

What I have learned in my own experience of being hit on is that each person is different, including a unique approach to fit their intent. Some are very forward. Some are very genuine. Some have a hard time taking no for an answer. Despite their different nuances, sticking to a general plan of action can keep the encounter short and sweet while minimizing the awkwardness on both ends.  

One of my favorite strategies is offering them a compliment to offset the fact that I’m not interested and about to turn them down. Something along the lines of, “That’s really sweet of you, but I am not looking to date right now” or, “You really made my day, but I am in a committed relationship.”

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Offering people an ego boost before turning them down makes them feel more like their efforts weren’t completely wasted. What is most important in these scenarios is communicating your intent clearly while still maintaining empathy and respect for the person asking you out. The bottom line is there is no perfect formula for turning someone down without them feeling at least a little bit disappointed or rejected, but maintaining empathy for all people on a day to day basis means doing your best, and that’s all we can really hope for.

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