How to Let Someone Down Easy—Yes, It’s Possible

Source: Dawson's Creek | Warner Brothers
Source: Dawson's Creek | Warner Brothers

Being rejected by someone you like can make you feel angry, resentful, or painfully self-conscious, questioning whether you’re worthy of love (spoiler alert: you are). But while being rejected is a bitter pill to swallow, doing the rejection is equally lousy. After all, most people don’t enjoy hurting other people’s feelings. In truth, it’s a lose-lose situation all around. Although rejecting someone is one of the most awkward situations in dating, it’s sadly something that can’t be avoided. But the good news is that there are actually ways to reject someone nicely—and we’re sharing 8 tips on how to do just that.


How to Let Someone Down Easy


1. Don’t prolong the inevitable

Let’s be real: There’s never a great time to break up with someone. But dragging things out is incredibly cruel and unfair. So if you know something isn’t right, it’s important to let them know ASAP. It may be hard, but prolonging the inevitable will hurt you both in the long run; and the more time that passes, the harder it’ll be to have this difficult conversation.


2. Get clear on why you want to end things

It’s also important to get clear on exactly why you want to end things ahead of time. Do you feel like the spark’s nonexistent between the two of you? Are you fresh out of a relationship and need more time to heal? Have you grown apart? Answering these kinds of questions will give you the mental clarity you need heading into this difficult conversation, which will make it easier for all parties involved.


3. Do it in person

When it comes to delivering any sort of bad news, it’s always a good idea to do it face to face—or at the very least over the phone. Doing it this way will give them a chance to respond, hear your tone, and read your facial expressions, all of which will help you both get the proper closure you need in order to move on.


4. Communicate effectively and directly

Contrary to popular opinion, rejecting someone nicely doesn’t mean softening the blow. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Beating around the bush only leaves the door open on your romance, which can be especially confusing for the other party. To avoid this, make sure you’re communicating effectively and directly. You might feel bad about it, but being straightforward will be best for everyone.

That said, keep in mind that you can still be tactful and direct. This means treating them with the respect and kindness you’d like if the roles were reversed without stringing them along.

“I had a nice time and think you’re really funny, but I, unfortunately, didn’t feel the romantic connection I was hoping for.”


5. Sprinkle in positives

It’s impossible to fully remove all the sting of rejection, but sprinkling in positives throughout the conversation can help. Likewise, using “I” statements can also stop you from adding insult to injury. Just be mindful of going overboard with the positivity. The last thing you want is to sound like you’re placating them and being disingenuous.


6. Avoid cliches

When it comes down to it, honesty is the best policy. After all, nothing’s more irritating than being hit with the “it’s not you; it’s me” cliches, which is why it’s best to avoid them if you can. This is where knowing why you’re ending things comes in handy; you can use this knowledge to alter cliche lines and speak your truth in a way that’s forthcoming, respectful, and positive.

Examples of ways to avoid cliches:

  • “It’s not you; it’s me.” → “You’re really fun to be around and we’ve had some great times together, but I didn’t feel the spark I’m looking for.”


  • “I wish the timing was better.” → “I’m not ready for a relationship right now.”


  • “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” → “I’ve evolved as a person and don’t feel the same way I once did.”


  • “I want to have fun right now.” → “I didn’t feel a romantic connection with you on our first date and want to end things before someone gets hurt.”


7. Give them a chance to respond

There’s a strong chance they’re going to have something to say on the matter, and that’s OK. Giving them a chance to respond is part of having an open and mature dialogue. After all, if they’ve taken the time to listen to you, it’s only fair that you hear them out as well, so long as they treat you with the same respect you’ve shown them.

Remember to be respectful with your responses, and try to use “I” statements and lead with positives as much as possible.

“I understand that you felt [insert here] during our time together, and I apologize if I contributed to that.”

“I value your honesty and I’m going to reflect on everything you shared.”


8. Let them go

Part of letting someone down easy means having the courage to let them go. Playing games and staying in contact, meeting up, or even hooking up is going to mess with their head (and yours). Instead, grant yourself permission to be alone and heal, and allow them to do the same. In the meantime, get back in touch with yourself—try a new hobby, play a sport you used to love—and read up on a dating apps review to find out how to put yourself back out there and get back in the game when the time comes.