8 Tips to Reject Someone Without Hurting Them

Honesty and maturity are the most open ways to reject someone without hurting them. In this article, we'll discuss some valuable tips.
8 Tips to Reject Someone Without Hurting Them
Bernardo Peña

Written and verified by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Have you ever found that someone really likes you, but that you don’t feel the same way about them? This is sadly quite common, particularly in shared spaces like the office, and it can be quite an uncomfortable situation. In this article, we’ll give you a few tips to reject someone.

Perhaps you’re not attracted to that person’s physical, mental or emotional attributes, or maybe you’re just not looking for a partner. But in any case, you will need to let them down.

But how can you reject someone without hurting them?

In this article, we’ll share some valuable tips.

Keep Calm

A couple in the middle of a stand off on the couch

If this person is looking to hook up with you and you have no interest whatsoever, try to avoid mowing them down with your actions or words. Try to stay balanced.

We all want affection and to be loved, but for that, we need to comply with a universal maxim: treat others how you want to be treated.

  • Don’t give them false hope. Tell them exactly what you feel and what you want, but be absolutely sure about yourself. Ideally, you don’t want to reject someone if you might start to feel something yourself in the future when it’s too late.
  • Talk about this before they ask you out on a date or confess how they feel. If you don’t, you’ll be trapped in a confusing and uncomfortable situation where you could lose a friend, something that nobody wants. It’s not worth losing friends over things like this.
  • Your explanation should be backed up by facts. Be coherent with the things you say and the way you act. If you say that you don’t want any kind of relationship and later they see you out with someone else, you’re just going to make them upset and it could affect your reputation.


The best way to be honest with them that you don’t want a relationship is to give an example that involves someone else. This will divert their attention in such a way that they can better understand your position.

If they’re a close friend, avoid using the phrase “at the moment,” because this could just leave them to continue waiting and this could hurt them, particularly if you’re sure that it’s not going to happen.

Phrases like, “I’m really happy being just friends” leaves no room for any doubts and they’ll understand that they’re in the friend zone and there they will stay.

Time and Place

A man sat on a sofa trying to reject someone

Try to find a quiet space where you can both be comfortable, such as a nearby park or something like that. If you don’t know where the right place might be, ask them where they want to go.

Try to make sure that it’s somewhere where you don’t have to rush and you won’t have any interruptions. These sorts of conversations deserve time and space to avoid misunderstandings and so that you can reach a positive conclusion for both people.

Never reject someone by telephone, chat message, or e-mail. It’s quite cowardly and not very serious. Talk to them in person so that your message can be reinforced by your gestures, tone of voice, and expressions. Try to make sure that you look and sound relaxed and friendly.

Don’t add any extra information, words, or justifications. Any extra detail you add once you’ve said “no” will just be used against you to prolong the discussion and be more insistent.

Remember Your Rights

Woman looking sad as she's being rejected

Turning someone down is, without a doubt, something that you need to approach with subtlety but also be firm about.

To help you will this task, bear in mind these additional considerations:

  • You have the right to turn down any offer they might make.
  • Saying “no” is not a sign of selfishness, but stability and self-respect.
  • Be vigilant against manipulation.
  • Explain your reasons but avoid excuses. You don’t need to give any.
  • Be brief. This will take nothing away from your qualities as a person. If anything, it adds to them.

Once you’re sure, be completely transparent about your intentions of friendship. This way, you’ll avoid hurting them and avoid embarrassing scenes for both of you.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.