How to Turn Down a Date

Side view of man and woman arguing while sitting on sofa at home
Side view of man and woman arguing while sitting on sofa at home

It's not easy turning someone down when they ask you for a date. Here are some of the best ways to gracefully and politely turn down a date with no hurt feelings from either party.

1. It's not what you say, it's how you say it. Authenticity, empathy, and compassion can guide you to correctly turn down a date. By being honest, straightforward and direct, you avoid giving false hope and creating hurt feelings.

It was Shakespeare who said, "If it were to be done, let it be done quickly." Remember the Golden Rule and be kind, but honest.

2. It is never a good idea to turn someone down through a friend, over the phone, or via text. Always face your problem. The only way out is through. It adds insult to injury if you set someone up to do your dirty work. A clean break can only happen in person, eyeball-to-eyeball. Say what you mean and mean what you say, directly and with compassion.

3. If red flags have alerted you to a dangerous situation, or the person has anger-management problems, you should write a timely letter to disengage. Don't put things off. It only makes things worse. Meeting in a public place will not ensure safety, so it's better to not place yourself in a dangerous situation.

4. Never add fuel to the fire by bringing others into a personal matter. It can cause the person to feel humiliated, rejected and vengeful.

What if you need to turn down advances from someone of your own gender, whether you are gay or not?

My empathic process really helps here, as it give you a non-defensive way to communicate. By putting your head in your heart, and having empathy, you can authentically and gently reassert that you like a person as a friend, but not a romantic interest. It's not your sexual identity that's at play here, but rather your romantic interest.

In the final analysis, it is important to be direct, authentic, timely and empathetic, rather than giving false hope, and remember: safety first... your safety.

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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.