How to Tell Someone You’re Not Interested in a Relationship (19 Tips With Examples)

We’ve all been there—that awkward moment when you realize you’re just not feeling a romantic spark with someone. Maybe it’s a friend who’s confessed their feelings, or perhaps you’ve gone on a few dates that just didn’t click.

Whatever the situation, knowing how to tell someone you’re not interested in a relationship can be tough. You want to be honest and respectful, but you also don’t want to hurt their feelings or create unnecessary drama.

Fret not! In this article, I’ll help you prepare for this talk, suggest where and when to have it, and give tips on keeping the conversation calm and respectful. What’s the best way to say goodbye without hurting feelings too much? Stick around, and let’s figure it out together.

Make Sure to Know Your “Why”

First things first: You have to be clear in your own mind.

Why don’t you want a relationship with this person? Is it something about their personality, your current life stage, or maybe you just don’t feel that spark?

Sometimes, we get swayed by the idea that we might hurt someone’s feelings, leading us to waver or give mixed signals. Trust me, clarity now saves a lot of confusion later.

Lastly, don’t forget to consider how your decision might impact your relationship with this person moving forward. Are they a coworker, a close friend, or maybe someone you see at the gym regularly? Keeping things smooth can avoid awkward run-ins in the future.

Be Honest but Gentle

Find that sweet spot where you’re truthful about your feelings without being hurtful. Remember, the other person has feelings, too, and even if you’re not romantically interested, there’s no need to be unkind.

Let’s say you’ve been on a few dates, and it’s just…nah. You could start with something like, “Hey, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you, but I think I’m feeling more of a friend vibe between us.”

See what I did there? Straightforward but soft. You acknowledge the good while also being clear about your feelings.

Being gentle also means taking into account their feelings. They might be more invested than you, and that’s tough. So, avoid anything that sounds like blame or criticism. After all, we’re all on this crazy dating rollercoaster together, trying to figure it out as we go!

"How would YOU want to be told? What would YOU want to hear?

I approach this the same way I approach constructive feedback on anything — using the sandwich method.

- Start with a compliment (what you do like about the person)
- Share the negative information (you don’t want a relationship, and why)
- Finish on a positive note at the end (this person deserves someone special who can return their feelings 100%, maybe another compliment, and/or it’s nice to have met you)

It softens the blow, as it were, but it enables you to be honest about how you feel while letting the other person down gently."

Alison Huff | Editor-In-Chief, Women’s Health Interactive

Say You’re Not Ready for Dating—Only if It’s the Truth

Sometimes, you might not be feeling a connection with someone, but it’s not about them —it’s about you. Maybe you’re still healing from a past relationship, focusing on your career, or simply enjoying the single life.

And guess what? That’s perfectly okay!

Just remember, if you use this one, make sure it’s the truth. Don’t hide behind the “not ready for dating” excuse if you’re actually just not interested in that specific person. If you’re spotted cozying up next weekend with someone else at the coffee shop, that will hurt and could damage your reputation.

Use “I” Statements

When you talk about your feelings, sticking to “I” statements can really make the conversation smoother and less accusatory. This is about sharing your perspective, not pointing fingers.

  • Example 1: Instead of saying, “You are too clingy,” opt for, “I feel overwhelmed when I don’t have enough time for myself.” It personalizes your feelings without pointing fingers.
  • Example 2: Avoid saying, “You don’t fit into my life,” and try, “I need someone who shares more of my interests.”
  • Example 3: Swap “You aren’t ready for a serious relationship” with “I am looking for something that aligns more with my readiness for commitment.”

By using “I” statements, you’re owning your feelings and perceptions rather than placing blame or criticism on them. It’s smoother and tends to lead to less defensive reactions. Plus, it shows a level of emotional maturity that can really keep the peace.

Keep the Conversation Short and Direct

When the moment comes to have that conversation, think quick and painless. You want to express your feelings clearly without dragging it out, so here’s how you might gear up:

  • Be prepared: Know what you’re going to say beforehand. This isn’t the time for a freestyle!
  • Be concise: Deliver your main points without wandering down any tangents. Stick to the script.
  • Be final: Leave no room for maybe’s or what-ifs.

For instance, you could say, “Hey [their name], I’ve given this a lot of thought. I value the time we’ve spent together, but I feel like our paths aren’t aligning romantically, and we should stop seeing each other in that way. I’m grateful for the fun we’ve shared.”

Give them a chance to process, sure, but avoid the endless loops of discussion that might pressure you both into a corner.

Do It in Person

If you’ve gone on more than a couple of dates with someone, it deserves a bit of face-to-face respect. Meeting in person to communicate that you’re not interested in continuing dating can convey maturity and respect for the feelings involved.

Think about it—you’ve invested time and energy in getting to know each other, so a text or a phone call can feel impersonal and dismissive. Plus, having a face-to-face conversation gives you both the opportunity to express yourselves fully and avoid any misunderstandings.

If You’re Bad With Words, Send a Text

However, if you’re worried about getting tongue-tied or overly emotional, it might be okay to send a thoughtful text instead.

Craft your message carefully. Be direct, kind, and clear. For example, “Hi [their name], I’ve been thinking a lot about us and, honestly, I feel that I’m not ready for a relationship right now. I have a lot of respect for you and wanted to be upfront about my feelings.”

Though generally, in-person communication is preferred for its personal touch, a well-thought-out text gives you the chance to carefully choose your words, ensuring your message is conveyed exactly how you intend.

It’s not ideal, but it’s better than ghosting or leaving things unresolved.

Answer Their Questions, But Stand Your Ground

When you tell someone you’re not interested in continuing the relationship, they might have a few questions. This is pretty normal. People naturally want to understand why, especially if they didn’t see it coming. It’s okay to answer some of their questions, as this can help them find closure.

However, remember it’s totally up to you to decide which questions you feel comfortable answering. Don’t feel pressured to disclose more than you’re okay with.

For instance, if they ask you something too personal, you can say something like, “I understand you’re looking for more details, but I’m really not comfortable discussing that. I hope you can respect my boundaries.” This way, you keep the conversation respectful and maintain your own comfort level.

Thank Them for the Dates You’ve Had

A little gratitude goes a long way, especially in situations like these. Even if you’re not feeling a romantic connection, reminding both of you of the good times can soften the blow.

Say something like, “I want to thank you for the wonderful dinners and laughter we shared. I genuinely enjoyed those moments.” This shows that while the romantic part didn’t pan out, the time spent together was cherished.

Plus, ending on a note of gratitude can leave the door open to friendship, depending on the circumstances. It’s a positive, respectful way to transition from potentially awkward endings to hopeful new beginnings.

If Possible, Don’t Make Up Lies

Honesty really is the best policy—especially when it comes to matters of the heart. If you’re not feeling a connection, it’s tempting to make up a reason that might sound “better” than the truth.

But lies can tangle you up worse than headphones in your pocket—so, stick to the truth. This is much better than inventing a fictitious scenario. Lies can backfire, especially in the age of social media and mutual connections who might inadvertently reveal the truth.

Moreover, staying truthful maintains your integrity. It not only makes you more reliable in their eyes but also helps you walk away with your conscience clear. 

Listen but Don’t Budge

Chances are, hey might have questions, feelings, or even objections to air out—hear them out. Just like you, they’re processing the situation.

Kick off by giving them the floor, “I understand this might be unexpected. Feel free to share how you feel.” This shows you care about their feelings, not just delivering your message.

However, remember, listening doesn’t mean you let the boundaries of your decision get blurry. If they try to negotiate or ask if things could change, reaffirm your stance with kindness, “I hear what you’re saying, but I am sure about my feelings and my decision remains the same.”

Offer Friendship—But Only If You Mean It

So you’ve decided it’s not a match made in heaven—no biggie. But here comes the bit about staying friends. Tread carefully: offer friendship only if you genuinely feel it’s possible and desirable.

If you do see potential for a friendship, clarify what that might look like. “I would love to keep meeting up for movie nights or hanging out in a group.” It provides a clear picture of how you see the friendship playing out, avoiding any mixed signals.

However, if you’re not feeling a platonic bond either, it’s okay to skip this offer. A simple, “I wish you all the best,” will suffice. Remember, forcing a friendship can be just as uncomfortable as being in an unwanted relationship.

You also have to consider how they feel about you; If they have strong feelings for you, it is probably best to cut all ties.

If you decide that you want to maintain a friendship with them, then you could say something like, “Getting to know you has been great, and I enjoy spending time with you. However, I would like to maintain a friendship with you and not be romantically involved.”

You can also say something like, “Before this goes on any further, I want to share how I feel about our relationship; I am not romantically interested, but I would like to maintain our friendship if that is ok with you?”

If you have no desire in keeping a friendship, then you can say something like, ”I’ve enjoyed spending time with you, but I don’t see us together,” or you can say, “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, however, I don’t think we are right for each other.”

Stephania Cruz | Bachelor's Degree in Psychology | Relationship Expert, Datingpilot

Keep It Casual—If Applicable

This one depends on the situation and how involved you’ve been with the other person. If you’ve only been on a couple of casual dates or haven’t known each other for long, keeping things light and breezy can be a good approach.

You could simply say something like, “You know, I’ve enjoyed our coffee meet-ups a lot, but I feel like we make better coffee buddies than romantic partners.” This method keeps the atmosphere less tense. It helps the other person feel less under attack and more like part of a normal, mature conversation.

But of course, if you’ve been more involved or the other person has strong feelings, a more heartfelt conversation might be necessary.

Choose the Right Time and Place

You wouldn’t want to start this kind of conversation just before they have to go to a big meeting or in the middle of a friend’s wedding where they asked you to be their plus one.

Pick a moment when both of you have the time to talk without rush or undue stress. Opt for somewhere neutral where you both feel comfortable. A quiet park or an uncrowded café can work well.

Avoid overly romantic settings like the restaurant where you had your first date. It shouldn’t be a place that adds unnecessary weight to the conversation.

Avoid Ghosting

Easy? Sure. Kind? Not so much.

Simply disappearing without explanation is disrespectful and leaves the other person feeling confused and hurt. They might wonder what they did wrong, replaying every interaction in their head, and that’s just not fair.

Instead, take the high road and close things off with clarity—even if it feels awkward or uncomfortable, it’s the mature and respectful thing to do. Remember, we all deserve to be treated with kindness and consideration, even if things aren’t working out romantically.

Avoid Blame or Criticism

When you’re letting someone down easy, the last thing you want to do is make them feel bad about themselves. Even if things aren’t clicking, there’s no need to point fingers or criticize their personality or actions.

Everyone has their way of being in a relationship, and just because someone isn’t the right match for you, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be perfect for someone else. Keeping the conversation free of blame not only preserves the other person’s dignity but also leaves less room for bitterness.

Keep It Private

Discussing the end of what might have been a hopeful beginning warrants a bit of privacy. Choose a discreet location where you won’t be overheard—a quiet corner of a park or an emptied coffee shop after the morning rush.

In this quiet space, you are both more likely to stay calm and collected, which can lead to a more meaningful and respectful conversation. Plus, it shows a level of care about how they feel during a potentially vulnerable moment.

Moreover, keep this privacy ongoing after the conversation. It’s tempting to share details with friends or seek advice and comfort, but be mindful about what and how much you share.

Stay Safe

While most break-up conversations don’t lead to safety concerns, it’s still good to consider your physical and emotional safety. This is especially true if previous interactions have been tense or if you feel the other person might react unpredictably.

If you have any doubts about how the conversation might go, consider choosing a public place to talk. Somewhere like a busy park or a café can provide a neutral setting with others around, which can help keep the situation calm.

Moreover, let a close friend know about your plans—having someone on standby can be reassuring. They could check in by call or text during the meeting or even be nearby.

"We may want to impart helpful advice or to let the soon-to-be-rejected party know that your disinterest in a relationship isn’t a personal slam on them.

Kindness is one reason to do this. Safety is another. Telling someone that you’re not ready for a relationship, especially after they’ve announced their intentions, can be uncomfortable, emotionally draining, and yes—dangerous.

It’s advisable to have this conversation in a public place and to arrive and leave using your own transportation. Tell a friend or two where you’re going and who you’ll be with. Ask one or more people to check on you later.

Even people who seem chill and sweet can become enraged when they feel embarrassed, mocked, or disappointed. They may try to guilt, cajole, even threaten you into changing your mind.

Protecting yourself is more important than protecting anyone else’s feelings."

Wednesday Lee Friday | Relationship Expert, Women's Health Interactive

Don’t Apologize

When you’re letting someone down, you might feel tempted to say sorry just to ease the sting. However, apologizing for your feelings can send mixed signals. Remember, not wanting to continue a relationship is not something you need to apologize for.

Apologizing might make it seem like there’s a fault or mistake involved in your feelings. Instead, affirming that this is about what’s best for your happiness and well-being keeps the conversation clear and guilt-free. It’s not about faulting anyone; it’s about being true to yourself.

Excerpts from the Expert

If you feel like you have different values

"It's been quite a while since I've wanted to tell you this, but for some reason, I've been afraid to. We had a great time, and I've learned a lot from you. But, I've noticed that we don't share the same values, and I find it a bit problematic to have a healthy relationship. I felt the need to be sincere with you because I respect and value you, the time you shared with me, and the effort you put into this. Thank you [name], and I'm sorry that I can't keep seeing you."

You might think this is brutally honest, but trust me, this is the way to go. You let them know exactly what you think, otherwise, you’ll hurt them more. This will make it easier for them to move on.

If you feel like you’re not physically attracted to them

"I finally took the courage to tell you the truth. I don't want this to have a negative effect on you. I want to be honest and sincere with you. I don't feel that physical attraction it takes to have a relationship. I appreciate you, your presence, and everything you shared with me. I am very thankful and very sorry."

It is a bit short, but it is there. If you want to be friends with them, you can tell them. But do not say it just to make them feel better. It’ll end up being awkward and more complicated.

If you simply don’t feel the connection or chemistry

"I wanted to tell you this in the most honest and pure way possible, which is one of the reasons it took me so long to tell you. However, I don't feel the chemistry for us to have a relationship. I don't want to waste your time, because I know that the affection you give, you deserve to have it back. You deserve to be thought of and to receive just as much joy as you give. Thank you for absolutely everything. It's been amazing to know you. I wish you joy and light in everything you do."

This is a kind way to tell them. Remember: You have to feel it before you say it. If you’d like to be friends with them, you can let them know and ask them if it’d be fine with them.

If you don’t share the same interests

"I'd never want to hurt you because I appreciate everything you've done for me. I value your presence, your time, and your effort. But, sharing the same interests is very important to me when it comes to building a relationship. Unfortunately, we don't share the same interests, and I'm sorry to let you know that I can't keep seeing you anymore. Thank you [name]. I wish you the absolute best!"

The reason why you should tell them that you’re grateful and appreciative towards them is because they’ve put effort and time into building something with you while you weren’t as sure like them.

It’s a good way to let them go and help them let you go.

Liam Barnett | Dating Expert | Relationship Coach, Dating Zest

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I feel guilty?

It’s normal to feel a bit guilty after rejecting someone, but remember that you’re not responsible for their feelings. You have the right to choose who you want to be in a relationship with, and it’s important to prioritize your own happiness.

What if they don’t take “no” for an answer?

If someone is being persistent or disrespectful, reiterate that you’re not interested in a relationship and that you need them to respect your decision. If necessary, distance yourself or seek support from friends or family.

What if they get angry or upset?

It’s natural for someone to feel disappointed or hurt after being rejected. If they get upset, try to remain calm and understanding. Acknowledge their feelings without getting defensive or engaging in an argument. If things escalate, it’s perfectly okay to remove yourself from the situation and end the conversation.

What if I change my mind later?

Hey, feelings can evolve! If you initially weren’t interested but later develop feelings, it’s okay to reach out and see if they’re still available. Just be prepared for the possibility that they may have moved on.

What if they were just a friend who confessed their feelings?

This can be tricky, as you don’t want to lose a valuable friendship. Be honest and gentle in your response, emphasizing that you value their friendship but don’t have romantic feelings. Give them space if needed, and hopefully, you can navigate this shift in your dynamic and maintain a strong platonic connection.

Final Thoughts

Be upfront about your feelings, but also be mindful of the other person’s emotions. Choose your words carefully, choose the right setting, and most importantly, choose to be respectful, even if things don’t go exactly as planned.

And hey, if you stumble or say the wrong thing, don’t beat yourself up. We’re all human, and we’re all learning as we go. The important thing is that you’re trying your best to be true to yourself and treat others with compassion.

Now go forth and conquer the dating world with your newfound wisdom!

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Clariza is a passionate writer and editor who firmly believes that words have great power. She has a degree in BS Psychology, which gives her an in-depth understanding of the complexities of human behavior. As a woman of science and art, she fused her love for both fields in crafting insightful articles on lifestyle, mental health, and social justice to inspire others and advocate for change.

In her leisure time, you can find her sitting in the corner of her favorite coffee shop downtown, deeply immersed in her bubble of thoughts. Being an art enthusiast that she is, she finds bliss in exploring the rich world of fiction writing and diverse art forms.