How to Politely Decline a Date

By: Jason Lee

It’s always a good feeling when someone asks you out. It means that someone is expressing that they find you attractive, interesting, and want to get to know you better. However, even though this feels great, it doesn’t mean that we want to go out with every single person that asks us out.

Maybe we’re already seeing someone, maybe we don’t have time to date, or maybe we’re just not interested? Whatever the reason, society says we can’t just run away screaming when someone asks us out. We’re required to politely decline the date.

But how do you politely decline a date? What happens if you know it’s going to hurt their feelings? Are there magic words to make things simpler? Let’s dive into all of that and more.

Girl with hand up rejecting

First, You Have the Right to Decline a Date With Anyone Without Explanation

Before we get into how to politely decline a date, we need to make sure we all understand something. Every single person has the right to refuse going on a date with someone. And, while sometimes saying why can be helpful, you aren’t required to give any reasoning or explain yourself. This might sound like common sense, but it’s something easy to forget, and it’s important for today’s discussion.

The Easy and Polite Way to Decline a Date

If we knocked on your door right now and offered you a nice slice of dirt pie (not the cool kind made out of Oreos, but actual dirt from your front yard), chances are you wouldn’t be interested in eating a slice. How would you politely decline that slice of pie? (Ignore for the time being that we dug up the dirt from your front yard).

You’d probably say something like, “Oh, I appreciate the offer, but I’m not interested right now.” And that would be the end of it.

Guess what? Declining a date is just that simple.

“Hey, want to grab coffee with me this weekend, you know, on like a date”

“Oh, I really appreciate the offer, but I’m just not interested. Thank you, though.”

And that’s it. That’s literally all you have to say. It’s polite, direct, and gets your point across. There are literally zero reasons for you ever to complicate things. If you try and soften the blow or beat around the bush, you might not get your point across.

What If They Ask Why Not?

When people ask how to reject a date nicely, they’re usually not asking how to say no. What they’re usually asking is what to say when the other person pushes for an explanation.

First, as mentioned, you don’t owe them an explanation. Literally never. But when you’re in a situation where you want to keep things from being awkward (maybe it’s a friend or coworker), you can choose to give an explanation if you want.

What we recommend, though, is never making up an excuse. If you are going to give them a reason you don’t want to go out with them, make it be the truth. The problem with saying anything else is that number one, it’s a lie, and number two, it may lead to more questions.

So, what do you say if you want to give an answer to this question?

Well, it depends on the reason you’re saying no. If it’s a logistical reason like any of the following:

  • You’re in a relationship
  • You’re too busy
  • You think it’s a conflict of interest (with work or a friend)
  • You live too far away

…then just tell them that reason. And make sure you don’t say that you’d date them if that weren’t the case if it’s not true because you never know when conditions might change. If you wouldn’t date them because you’re in a relationship and you aren’t interested at all, what happens if you are ever out of a relationship? They’ll come knocking again and now it gets kind of weird.

Tell the truth, and don’t add anything unnecessary to it.

What to Say If You Just Don’t Like Them Romantically

This is where you might think it gets a little trickier but it really doesn’t. You need to respond in a way that respects their feelings but is also honest. Here are a few sample phrase you can use to explain why you’re not interested:

“Hey, want to grab coffee with me this weekend, you know, on like a date”

“Oh, I really appreciate the offer, but I’m just not interested. Thank you, though.”

“But why? I think we’d have a lot of fun.”

“I’m sure you’re great, but you’re not my type.”

“What’s your type?”

“I’m not getting into that. It’s a no, but thank you.”

People will try and press, but you can’t let them. You’ll see we cover that more in the next section but wanted to touch on it here. Let’s look at a few other sample ways to explain why you don’t want to date them.

  • “I don’t feel the same way about you.”
  • “I’m actively interested in someone else.”
  • “I don’t see us working out romantically.”

Again, keep things simple but honest. If they keep pressing, read on.

What to Say If They Keep Pressing

If your first explanation isn’t good enough for them and they start a debate, shut it down. At this point, they’re making things awkward and unfair to you. Something simple as, “I appreciate that you’re interested, but it’s going to be a no.” You’ll have to get a bit blunter, but it’s necessary because they’re not getting it. Don’t get drawn into a long debate because no one wins with that.

How to Reject a Date Online

Declining a date online is the same as it is in person. You can literally cut and paste the lines from here and use them as needed. And what’s really nice about online dating is that if someone doesn’t get the hint and keeps pressing, you can just block them.

Need to Find Someone New

Chances are if you’re not interested in the person that asked you out, you might still be looking. If that’s you, we’ve included some links below to our favorite online dating sites where you can find someone who you WANT to ask you out 🙂

RankSiteFree Trial Link 
#1ZooskFree Trial
#2eHarmonyFree Trial
#3The LeagueFree Trial
#4JdateFree Trial
#5Christian MingleFree Trial

Written By: Jason Lee

Jason Lee is a data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.

His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.