Sometimes a woman will ask me, “How do I tell a man I’m not interested?” Women often ask this question because they believe saying no is unkind. If you feel this way, I want to invite you to reframe your perspective.
In actuality, saying no is not the ultimate unkindness. Not saying no is the ultimate unkindness.
Why would not rejecting someone be unkind? Because when we don't say no and we're not direct, it keeps the guy wondering. He might retain some level of hope, like “Well, maybe she's going to change her mind, or maybe she's going to start being interested in me.”
Sometimes we just kind of breadcrumb him and talk to him when he calls, but not really give him too much attention, in hopes that maybe he'll get the message without us saying what we need to say to just reject him outright.
This is what is unkind.
It’s also unkind if we fall off the face of the earth and he doesn't know what happened, because it's going to leave him with all kinds of unanswered questions, not just about what happened to us, but about himself.
Maybe he's going to fill in the blanks with thoughts along the lines of him not being desirable, or maybe he’s not attractive enough, or any number of things that he may be insecure about. Guys struggle with rejection, just like women do, so one of the best skills you can develop when you're dating is to learn how to say no in a kind way.
There is nothing wrong with being sensitive and not wanting to hurt a man. One of the biggest things we focus on when going through this process is the other person’s feelings, and of course we don’t want to hurt anyone. But, you want to keep in mind that you’re not responsible for how other people react. You are not responsible for how a guy takes it when you tell him you’re just not interested.
Let me be clear – when you say no, you can’t keep a man’s feelings from being hurt. That could happen. Your job is to say it in a way that is as kind and direct as possible, using grace, but also make sure that he gets the message.
Sometimes, too, we don't want to say no because we think it's about them. We don't want to hurt their feelings, but in reality, it's about us: We have this hesitation about being honest because we are uncomfortable saying no.
So again, rejecting someone in a kind way is a really great skill that you can develop, and it honestly comes in handy in other areas of life.
Not only is this awesome in those kinds of situations with men, but if you learn how to say no, then you can start to say no in other areas. If you're a people pleaser, or you're non-confrontational, this can be really hard for you, which is all the more reason to get used to doing it.
Just start to practice saying no in other areas of your life. It doesn't have to be a mean thing. There are all kinds of ways that you can say no in a way that's gracious and kind and respectful.
We have cultural aspects to consider, too. It's so easy to just to blow people off because it's uncomfortable to be honest. We don't want to answer or respond to whatever issue might be at hand, but saying no and being straightforward is classy, and often pleasantly surprising for the other person. It's a way of honoring other people so that they know where they stand with us. And it’s worth mentioning that it’s easier to go to bed at night with a clear conscience, knowing we've been fair to another person.
I want to cover a few ideas on how to say no. It gets easier with practice, so choose one that seems to apply to the situation the next time it comes up, and just give it a try.
The person will appreciate your honesty, even if it stings in the moment.
I remember when I was in my twenties, there was a guy who had asked me out and I did that very thing for the first time. I said, “Hey, thanks so much for asking me, but I just have to be honest, I'm not interested in a relationship.” And he actually said, “I really appreciate you being honest with me.”
There was another time when the roles were reversed. It was someone I knew from the church I was going to, and he pulled me aside one day and said, “Hey, Shana, I just want to let you know. Thanks so much for being interested in me. I really want to be honest with you. I'm interested in someone else and I'm not interested in dating you.” I have to say, it was so awesome for him to do that. Even though I was sad, I felt noticed, and I felt honored. And I felt like I was being treated like a human being. I was sad about it, but I didn't walk away with any kind of deep wounds about that situation, because I felt like he was respecting me.
So remember that saying no is not mean. You should practice it and trust that there are nice ways to say no. You will feel more confident and less awkward the more you practice.
Not saying no and stringing someone along or ignoring him because we're too uncomfortable is not the kind thing to do.
Remember, the dream you have to love – and be loved - is possible!
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