The Exact Steps to Politely Decline a Date the Easy Way

Fact Checked by: Det. Nicholas Nalder

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 “being a good person” says we can’t just run away screaming when someone asks us out. We need to decline the offer and turn them down, and we need to do it politely.

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 anyone else. And, while sometimes saying why you’re declining 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

Alright, so let’s get into it.

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.

It can be and is this easy in all situations. It doesn’t matter if they’re a coworker, a friend, an ex—whatever. You can tell them you appreciate it, but you’re not interested. Period. End of discussion.

What If They Ask Why Not?

When people ask how to reject a date nicely, they’re usually not asking how to say no. That’s often the easy part. 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

What happens if you’re open to dating someone, you have all the time in the world, but you’re just not interested in that particular person 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.

The only reason they’re trying to drag the conversation out is that they think they’ll be able to convince you to change your mind. If you’re not ever going to change your mind, then shut it down after you give them the brief reason why that we talked about in the previous section.

If they push any further, they’re getting rude and unfair to you. You may find yourself needing to walk away from the conversation completely if they don’t get the hint from your direct communication.

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Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.