How to tell a nice guy you’re not interested: The DOs and DON’Ts

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Telling someone that you’re not interested in them is always going to be awkward but telling a nice guy that you’re not interested feels way harder.

If he was a player or a bad boy, you probably wouldn’t feel quite so bad. But when you have to tell a genuinely good guy you don’t want to date him, you want to let him down gently.

If you are dreading having “the talk” or you don’t have a clue how to tell Mr. Nice that it just ain’t happening, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll run through some of the most important do’s and don’ts when telling a nice guy that you’re just not interested, along with some practical examples of what to say.

How to let a nice guy down gently: The DOs and DON’Ts

1) DO assess things first

First things first, how you chose to proceed in this slightly delicate dating scenario will probably depend on your unique situation.

For example, have you had a few dates with this guy already, and as nice as he was, you’re not interested in seeing him again?

Or is the nice guy in question a friend or acquaintance who has been pursuing you and you don’t quite know how to give him the message you don’t like him in “that way”?

If you haven’t already met yet — perhaps you just exchanged a couple of messages over a dating app or on social media — you may not need to offer any explanation at all. You can just stop chatting with him and move on.

But if it has gone further than that, you’ll need to decide whether dropping him a text to explain is enough or a face-to-face chat is a better idea.

2) DO think about what you want to say

Before you explain to someone else that you’re not interested, it’s good to have a clear idea in your own head. Especially if you do like the guy and think he’s nice.

Your reason for breaking things off with a nice guy or not wanting to start something with him in the first place should centre on why he isn’t the one for you.

By thinking about what you want to say and how you will explain it, there’s less chance of confusion or mixed messages when you get around to telling him.

3) DO be sure your words and actions match up

We don’t just communicate with each other verbally, we do it in many ways. That’s why it’s important you don’t just say the right things but your behaviour backs that up too.

You might not even be aware of some of the things you’ve been doing that might be giving him hope.

If you have told him that you “don’t see him in that way” but then continue to flirt with him or send messages late at night — the chances are he could get mixed signals from what you say and what you do.

4) DO be completely honest

A lot of romantic miscommunication can actually come up when we try too hard to sugarcoat things. You might be especially tempted to do this when you have to deliver bad news to a nice guy.

Of course, you don’t want to be unkind or tactless, but being totally honest is going to be better for you both in the long run.

Try and avoid delivering only half the truth or a nicer-sounding version of how you feel to protect his ego.

If he is a decent guy then it’s more respectful and mature to be open about things.

5) DO offer him a compliment

In many ways, a lot of the rules for delivering negative feedback (like you would in the workplace) can also apply to dating too. It shouldn’t be difficult to find a compliment to soften the blow as you genuinely think he is a nice guy, right?

It’s ok to tell him that you admire many of his qualities and have enjoyed his company, as long as you’re also clear that he’s just not the right man for you.

Assuming that he doesn’t have “nice guy syndrome”, he’ll hopefully appreciate that there are many things about him that you do like.

6) DO offer the hand of friendship

The whole “let’s just be friends” line can feel like a bit of a cliche. But If you really would like to be friends, don’t be afraid to let him know.

If the news has come as a big blow, he might want some time and space before he feels ready to form a friendship. But even if he decides he would rather not stay in touch, at least you gave him the option.

If you like this man, just not romantically — there’s no reason not to try and keep him in your life if he’s happy with that too.

7) DO consider telling him face to face

Whether you opt to have a conversation IRL rather than over messages will likely depend on how far the relationship has already gone.

But if it’s been a few months since you started dating, you might decide it’s more respectful to explain things in person rather than on the phone.

We can be tempted to chicken out because it feels more uncomfortable to tell someone to their face that we’re just not interested.

A good way to judge whether an in-person chat is in order could be to ask yourself if it were you hearing this news, what would you prefer?

8) DO send a text if you are bad with words

If you already know that you struggle to express yourself clearly or things often come across the “wrong way”, it can be better to send a message or an email instead.

That way you can take time to think about what you really want to say and consider if it will be interpreted in the way you meant it.

Of course, texts can also give the wrong impression to someone, but if you know you’ll get tongue-tied it still could be a better option.

9) DON’T ignore him

In recent years it might seem like ghosting (ending a relationship by suddenly cutting off all contact) has become a bit of an epidemic in modern dating.

In fact, research from one dating app found that 78% of people between the age of 18 and 33 had been ghosted at some point.

We know that it’s wrong really, but I think we can also understand the appeal — at the time, it feels like a much easier way out.

Rather than dealing with the problem, it’s understandable we want to ignore it. Let’s remember though, Karma can always come and bite you in the ass, so it’s good to treat others how we want to be treated.

That means, especially when you are dealing with a nice guy, it’s not fair to simply go silent on him.

10) DON’T draw it out until he “gets the hint”

Another avoidance tactic we can be tempted to try is slowly withdrawing until they get the message.

I know I’ve been guilty of this one before, and the truth is that it can work eventually — but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

A bit like ghosting, it’s easy to understand the appeal. We don’t have to actually say the words “I’m not interested” to the lovely man who we have absolutely nothing against.

You might think it is easier to keep making excuses for why you can’t see him and hope it fades out without ever having to be direct about how you feel.

But whilst you know your intentions are to make an exit as swiftly as possible, he’s being left in the dark, which isn’t really fair.

A bit like a band-aid, it’s much better to rip it off quickly in one go than slowly peel it back and prolong the inevitable discomfort.

If nothing else, think of it this way, the sooner you tell him, the sooner you are allowing him to move on and find someone who is interested in him.

11) DON’T give him false hope

When we decide to take the super soft approach to dumping someone, it can end up coming across as a bit confusing for them.

It may come from the very best intentions and you’re simply trying to be nice about it all — but what you are really doing is sending some potentially puzzling messages.

You might think it’s better to say: “I don’t want to ruin our friendship” when the real problem is that you’re not attracted to him physically.

Or by directing the blame away from anything he has done and onto yourself by saying something like: “right now I’m just not looking for a relationship” when really you are — just not with him.

You think your reasons will sound more pleasant to hear, but he may just read any ambiguous sentences with false hope.

12) DON’T be afraid of confrontation

Nobody (well, except for pretty horrible people) would say they enjoy confrontation — but it’s also an unavoidable part of life sometimes.

Hopefully, the unrequited romance with your nice guy can be resolved in a friendly way.

But if the subtle approach hasn’t worked and he isn’t getting your hints — you may have no choice but to pull out the big guns and go for totally blunt honesty (no matter how savage it feels at the time).

Even though it feels like a horrible situation to be in, at least you are learning some really valuable communication skills.

If you’re still unsure what to even say, next we’ll run through a few examples of how to reject a nice guy as kindly as you can.

Examples of how to tell a nice guy you’re not interested

How do you say you’re not interested in someone? Let’s face it, there’s no great way to do it, but there are definitely better ways you can phrase it.

How to tell someone you’re not interested politely

“Even though I think you are a good looking guy and a nice person, I just don’t think we’re the right fit because X, Y, Z”

You can honestly compliment the qualities you think he has, but go on to explain that he’s not the right person for you. This way you’re highlighting that there isn’t something unlikable about him per se, he’s just not the one for you.

How to tell a guy friend you’re not interested

“Whilst I really value you as a person, I’m afraid on my side I don’t feel a romantic chemistry between us, so prefer to remain just friends.”

If you already have a friendship with someone, or would rather be friends than continue dating, you can try to explain how there just aren’t romantic feelings on your side.

How to tell someone you’re not interested after a few dates

“I have genuinely enjoyed spending time getting to know you, but for me it’s not a connection that I see working long term.”

If you’ve had some dates with someone, but stronger feelings haven’t developed for you, you shouldn’t feel bad — that’s what dating is for after all. It’s usually not until we get to know someone a bit better that we realize it’s not going to work out.

How to tell someone you’re not interested because you’ve met somebody else

“I really have liked getting to know you better, but I have to be honest and let you know that I’ve actually met someone else who is a better fit for me right now.”

Telling someone you aren’t interested AND you’ve met someone else might feel extra brutal, but if it’s the truth they deserve your honesty. In the long run it may also help them to move on if they know you are off the market.

The bottom line

You’re nice, they’re nice — it’s just all so uncomfortable, right?

But here’s the good news… the fact that you are considerate enough to care about letting him down kindly and the fact that you believe he is a nice guy, means it’s probably not going to be as bad as you think.

Whilst it might be a little embarrassing for both of you, no matter how awesome you are, the reality is that he’ll get over it.

So instead of avoiding things and staying in polite limboland forever, it’s far better to be upfront.

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