Rejecting someone without coming across as a horrible person is not only nerve-wracking -- it can also seem almost impossible. Thankfully, there are some easier, more tactful ways of saying goodbye than simply cutting and running (or changing your phone number).
We asked Christina Steinorth, psychotherapist, relationship advisor and author of Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships (Hunter House, 2013), to share her advice on how to reject someone nicely.
1. Be honest
They don't say that honesty is the best policy for nothing. Whether you've been on one daytime coffee date or several more serious outings, parting ways tactfully requires the truth (even if it's going to hurt).
"The best thing to do is to not be hurtful, but be honest about it," says Steinorth. You might be tempted to sugarcoat what you have to say, but that approach will just prolong the process and make things more frustrating for both parties.
2. Prepare yourself
As nice as you try to be, when you reject someone what you have to say has the potential to make the other person feel badly.
"Be mentally prepared to not have the words you're about to say be well received and approach it from that perspective," says Steinorth. "If the other person gets upset, don't feed into it or argue back, as nothing good will come of it. And really, why would you want to continue to engage with a person you're not all that interested in?"
The best thing you can do is to let things go and, if need be, let the other person have the last word, because let's face it, "it's not like you're going to see them again anyway," she says.
3. Do it face to face
In this digital age where we communicate more often via text and phone than we do in person, it can be tough to figure out just how to tell someone that you're not interested. As tempting as a quick text-rejection might be, though, it's just bad form, says Steinorth.
"Face to face is always the best option. Not only is it the most respectful, it gives the other person a chance to see by your facial expressions and body language that you're serious in your words," she explains.
An in-person breakup also gives you the chance to help the other person process what you've just told them should you feel the need to do so.