There are lots of topics on GaG about friend-zoning and questions about whether or not someone may find them attractive, or have an interest to start a relationship. This is partly because the person who is on the receiving end of the attention may not know how to say something with honesty to politely end things before they start.
If you have someone in your life who is attracted to you, and you are fearful about breaking their heart or not knowing the right words to say, consider some of my examples. This way, you’re out of the woods, and the other person quickly knows where they stand.
Auntie Ozanne’s Guide to Rejecting
1. Don’t mislead with false hope. “You’re so great and really attractive. If I wasn’t in the screwed up place I’m in right now, I’d probably date you.” This is terrible. This just feeds anticipation that when you’re out of your bad situation that you’ll come around. If you don’t intend to, then say words that are more definite. “You’re great, but I know I’m not great for you, and since I can’t put 100% in to this, that’s not fair to you. You need to find someone who can.”
2. Don’t turn them down only to flirt with them right after. Again, what a way to confuse a person! People who usually do this, thinking that once they say that they’re unavailable, they’re in a position to freely flirt with the person without abandon because the actual verbal message should have made it clear. It isn't. It’s also a way that people unwittingly use as power to continue the attention without having to answer for it. If that doesn't sound like you, then great - but that's how it can be perceived. Non-verbal communication is just as effective, and if you say one thing, but do another, you just put yourself right back at the beginning of trying to get them off your back.
3. Don’t feel so responsible for their feelings. They’ll get over you. Let them react as they see fit to their rejection without you feeling as though your honeyed tone and words of sensitivity toward them are needed. You’re not a horrible person for rejecting someone, and though you don’t need to be outright insensitive, you don’t have to pussyfoot around and invite late-night phone calls if they’re feeling bad because it’s "the least you can do". We shouldn’t be as egotistical as we think, that someone’s interest in us means we hold their heart in our hands. There’s no worse way to let someone get on with their life than to make them think they can’t even move on from you. They deserve to find that other person who will love them, so let them go, and let them grieve you in their own way. It’s out of your control.
4. Don’t avoid them unnecessarily. If someone who has a crush on you sees you unexpectedly, no need to run away and avoid. Still be the friendly person you are and say hi, and if inclined make your small talk and be on your way. This person is going to be analyzing your every move. So if you’re curt with the person, they’ll think it’s their fault they even liked you in the first place, and just because someone liked you and you didn’t like them doesn’t mean you have to start being a jerk toward them to leave you alone. If your nature is to be nice, then be nice. But if you’re overly nice, they go back to their friends and say, “He/she was so nice to me today, it’s mixed signals, what does it mean?”
5. Don’t feel the need to compensate the rejection with friendship. You don’t have to take on someone in your life as a friend to make up for things. You might feel badly that you don’t feel for them what they do for you, but being “friends” takes work and having someone in your life as a friend when you really don’t want them to be will feel more like you’re giving them a friendship out of pity. Imagine: friendship as a consulation prize. Why do this? It’s one more friend that might complicate things for you, and they will have to feel as though friendship was a runner-up position in your life that neither of you wanted. You both deserve better friends than what you can give each other. There is no rule that the saying, “Let’s just be friends” has to be literal. You don’t have to be friends. You don’t even have to talk to the person again. In fact, the whole "let's be friends" term is insincere and really shouldn't be said whatsoever if no friendship is to be had. If you don’t want the person in your life, you’re not being horrible, you’re doing both of you a favour.
You don’t have to be critical toward the person, getting in to the you’re-not-my-type excuses, which may be true. You can just get to the point.
What to say upon rejecting so there is no confusion how you feel:
- “I’m flattered, but I know we’re not right for each other.”
- “I can’t accept your gift, it wouldn’t be right. If I did, I run the risk of appearing as though I’m using you. As generous as you’re being, I have to ask you to take it back.”
- “I’m not going to say ‘it’s me, not you’.. it’s us. I’m sorry, but we won’t work out, and I'm not interested in trying to make it work out.”
- “You want this more than I’m willing to give you, and I’m not prepared for that.”
- “I don’t need time. I need you to respect that I’m not interested.”
- “I’m not being mean, saying no to you is not being rude, it’s being honest.”
- “I don’t think it’s best we stay just friends, given the circumstance of learning how each of us feels. I think it’s best that each of us go our own ways for now.”
- “No. I’m not going to answer whether or not I find you attractive because it would be futile.”
- “I’m not ignoring you, I’m just back to the way I was before I knew you were interested."
- “I didn’t mean to waste your time. I thought we were just having fun as friends. Now that I know that I've crossed the line, I’ll have to stop so there is no more confusion about it.”
(I found this photo and thought it was interesting... Who of these two do you think got rejected here?)