a man feeling uneasy

Is this you when someone you aren't interested in asks you out?

It can be hard to say no, especially to someone who thinks highly of you.

But saying no is essential to protecting your time and staying true to yourself. Use these conversational tools to handle these tricky situations.

Feel Confident

a woman doing a confident swaying of hair

Many of us feel like we have to say 'yes' to make sure other people are comfortable and like us. But being a people pleaser can be damaging to yourself in the long run.

Realize that you have every right to follow your heart if you don't want to accept the invitation. Feel confident knowing you are entitled to say 'no.'

Try this...

Winnie the Pooh in his old clothes saying,

You can use conversational skills to give a firm but polite rejection.

  • Be sincere.

    Show your appreciation with, "That's really kind, but..."

  • Be polite.

    You can show your courtesy with, "I'm sorry."

  • Be straightforward.

    Get to the point with, "I'm just not interested."

If They Ask You Out In Person

A man saying no with a pointing finger

You might be afraid to say what you want out loud, or nervous that it'll be awkward the next time you see them.

  • Listen to what they have to say.

    Cutting them off might make you look rude and too eager to reject them.

  • Just say no.

    Don't make excuses or lie. Just be straightforward and polite.

  • Tell them you just want to be friends.

    Soften your rejection by showing you like them as a person but not as a dating partner.

That's a really nice invitation. I value our friendship but am not interested in dating. I hope you understand.


Linda's coworker John asks her out for Friday night. Linda is single but she isn't interested at all. Which response is best for her?

"I can't this Friday night."

"I don't see us as more than friends."

"Let me get back to you tomorrow."

"I'm sorry, I have a boyfriend."

If They Ask You Out Over Text

A woman texting

  • Respond promptly.

    Don't just stay silent and hope they get the point. Ghosting is rude and reflects badly on you.

  • Be honest.

    It may be tempting to make excuses or even lie over text, but in the long run, it's always better to stay honest. Just follow the formula: direct + polite.

  • Use "I" statements.

    "I" statements keep the rejection about you without making them feel insulted or put down: "I'm sorry. I just don't see you in a romantic way."

  • Don't over-explain. Remember, "No" is a complete sentence. It's nice to be polite, but you aren't required to give more detail than you're comfortable with.


Lisa sent Jeff a text message to express her feelings about him, but Jeff doesn't have the same feelings about Lisa. What should he do?

Ignore the message

Text: "Sorry, you're not my type."

Text: "Sorry, I don't think it'll work."

Text: "Thx, but no."

Take Action

A man saying sorry

It's no one's fault that you're not interested in the date offer. Stay true to your heart!

Practice rejecting an imaginary invitation:


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This Byte has been authored by


Fay Hsueh

Instructional Designer