How Do I Nicely Decline a Request for a Date?

by Elise Wile

If you're the type of person who fears hurting other people's feelings, turning down a date can be very difficult. However, the alternative, going out with someone you're not interested in, is unacceptable. To decline a date, gather up your fortitude and get ready to speak the truth, even if doing so means you must step outside of your comfort zone.

Give a soft, but honest answer to his request. Say, "No, thank you, I have other plans that evening," recommends Mary Mitchell, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette." This is fine, even if your plans are to hang out on the couch with a book and your cat. A guy who is asking you out for the first time will likely get the message that you are not interested, so there is no need at this point to let him know you just don't think the chemistry is there.

Resist the urge to lead him on by flirting or otherwise taking advantage of his feelings for you. Continuing to give him your most flirtatious smile after you've turned him down sends him mixed signals.

Provide an even more honest explanation if he continues to ask you out after you have already made polite excuses once or twice. Tell him that you enjoy his company but just don't think you're cut out for one another romantically. There's no need to elaborate, and do spare his feelings. If you think he looks like a troll, keep that information to yourself and stick to, "I don't think we have the right chemistry for dating, but thank you." Remember that you always have the right to say no, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel, writes psychologist Jeremy Nicholson in "Psychology Today."


  • Avoid making up a story about an existing boyfriend or a overall lack of interest in dating, as his feelings will likely be hurt more by a lie than kind words spoken in truth.
  • Resist the urge to tell your friends that he asked you out and you declined. You'll just be setting the stage for his social humiliation, which is no kindness at all.
  • If he refuses to take no for an answer, repeat that you are not interested in dating as many times as necessary. Do not offer additional explanations.


About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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