Ask Wendy

How Do I Let a Guy Down Easy?

Reprinted from October 21, 2016
Hey Wendy,

I don’t like getting stuck saying, “Thank you, and no thank you” when a guy is really into me, and I'm not into him. I would love some feedback on how to let them down gently.

Eileen S. - Sacramento, CA

Hey Eileen,

Nobody likes this part—nobody. And I commend you for wanting to address this head-on because there are women out there who get through this by… not dating.

Dating: It’s not for the meek or the weak.

So let me dive right into your date with Mr. Notmyguy.

Maybe it hits you on sight, right before the initial greeting hug, or maybe you’re just not that into him after another date or three—he’s not the man for you, but he’s asking you out again.

How do you break it off? You do it quickly—Band-Aid style. Don’t be that girl who tells him yes when you mean never again. Dodge Call as a sport isn’t that much fun. You’re a grown-ass woman and he can handle it. Be a good dating citizen and let him know up front. Because I know you don’t like it when he says, “I’ll call you” and never does.

No one is naturally skilled at breaking it off. Trying to avoid hurt feelings or disappointment is natural. If you don’t have a game plan for sliding out of a date, you might accidentally find yourself doing something you’d rather not in order to cut things off. The pressure to not displease him can be intense, and you might feel cornered. It’s embarrassing, it’s stressful, it’s sometimes gross—it sucks. If you know what I’m talking about, then can I get an amen?

Since saying “nope” is harder than it looks, pick one or two of these one-liners and take them for a spin with a friend playing the role of your date:

         “We’re not (quite) a match.”

         “I had a lovely time, but I don’t see a fit here.”

         “I don’t see a matching future for the two of us.”

         “I don’t feel enough of a connection.”

If he persists, try:

      “I’m looking for something different.”

If he persists still:

    “That’s all I have to say.”

Don’t worry, you probably won’t have to get that far. Once they’ve heard “we’re not a match,” most guys aren’t interested to know why. They just want to get the hell out of there.

If he does end up being one of the dudes who’s looking for the “what’s wrong with me” type of answer, repeat, kindly but firmly: “That’s all I have to say.”

The men I’ve talked to about this say they don’t care if you think he’s a nice guy. Telling him how fantastic he is doesn’t make the pill easier to swallow.

One man said, “Hearing I’m great or understanding why I’m not the one does nothing for me. I’d rather just move on.”

Another man said, “Hearing I’m amazing when you don’t want to date me is a booby prize.”

So be quick, rip the Band-Aid off, and be as kind as possible because as you know, this part isn’t fun for anyone.

Happy dating!

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