When you’ve met someone who catches your eye and starts chatting you up or seeing each other, it can be hard to know how to tell him that you’re not interested.
You might be worried about hurting his feelings or coming off as a jerk — but either way, if there’s no chemistry between the two of you, it’s best to let things go before they get any more serious.
Here are 15 ways to turn a guy down after leading him on.
1) Tell him the truth as soon as you can
If you don’t think that a relationship with him is something you want, then let him know.
Don’t leave it on the table for months, hoping he’ll work up the nerve to ask you out, or forcing him to wait out any feelings he might have for you.
Whatever your reasons for not wanting to pursue something with him, tell him — before he has the chance to get even more attached than he already is, and start planning how you’ll spend your future together.
You see, if you just hope that it will simply go away by itself, maybe it will — but only after he’s spent some time in the stinger zone.
The stinger zone is that place where he’s not sure if you’re together or not.
He doesn’t know what to make of your behavior, so he either spends his time overanalyzing every little thing you do, or he tries to find out for himself if there really is something going on between the two of you.
It’s better to end things before they start than after they’ve already started because the longer you leave it the more complicated things can become.
2) Make sure about your feelings for him before you let him go
The problem with letting go of someone you’ve been leading on is that you might come to know him better as time goes on.
It’s not so much about the feelings he has for you, it’s about your feelings for him.
No matter how hard it is, remember that while you can’t always make all of your relationships work out, there will always be a next one.
It’s better to end things with him when you’re sure of your decision, and you don’t have the inkling of a twinge of regret that the two of you aren’t meant to be.
It’s possible that you thought there’ll be nothing more between the two of you, but later you will realize how much he would’ve meant to your life. So in order to make sure that you don’t feel that way, be firm with your feelings and make sure it’s the right choice.
3) If you’ve known him for a long time, tell him in person
It’s a lot easier for a guy to let himself get attached to a girl if he thinks that she’s interested in dating him. So if you just want to see where things stand between the two of you and are not necessarily interested in pursuing something further, tell him that right away.
Especially if you’ve been seeing him for quite some time now, it’s necessary that you do it in person.
You owe him an explanation for your decision, and the longer you leave it, the more he’ll be getting his hopes up. Don’t be surprised if he’s taken aback by your decision.
After all, you’ve been spending a lot of time together, and he’ll want to know why he wasn’t good enough for you.
The sooner you put his mind to rest, the easier it will be for him to move on. If he does push for an explanation as to why things aren’t going further between the two of you, then give him one — but try not to make it mean anything more than what it is.
4) Be direct, but don’t be rude
Being direct is always better than being vague — and it sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders. So don’t beat around the bush.
After all, if you’re not interested, there’s no need to waste his time. If you don’t give him a reason as to why things aren’t going to go any further between the two of you, then what else is he supposed to think?
If he gets upset at your decision and storms off, that’s his choice. And there’s nothing you can do about it. But if he’s okay with it, at least he won’t be feeling rejected.
You could try being a little more direct. Tell him in person, and make sure you don’t leave things to chance by giving him a chance to misinterpret your intentions.
5) If you’ve just met him, you can tell him through text
If you’ve met a guy recently or went on a date with him but you already know that you’re not into him, you can just send him a text message telling him what you’re thinking.
Perhaps, “I’m not interested in seeing you again” would be a good thing to send him. Or maybe “I just don’t feel that there’s any spark between us” is a better option if he seems really keen after the first date.
The best way to break the ice when trying to tell him that you’re not really feeling it is to open up with something like “I just don’t think it’s going to work out between the two of us,” or “There’s no chemistry, and I just don’t feel like we’re right for one another.”
If he reads all of this and feels a little hurt by your decision, that’s really understandable.
But if he doesn’t get the message, you might want to consider telling him in person.
6) Don’t lead him on
If you’re not interested in him, let him know that.
If he starts feeling like you’re “holding out” on him, it’s going to be hard for him to move on. Don’t give him any reason to think that you might change your mind in the future.
You owe him the courtesy of telling him that you’re not interested right off the bat. If you don’t, then he’s going to be holding out hope, and when you do finally let him down gently, he’s going to get hurt.
After knowing what you feel, never continue leading a guy on — even if it means that you’re going to break his heart. It’ll just make things more complicated in the end.
If he starts to get really clingy, up your game and try being a little more curt with him.
You don’t want to lead him on for too long or give him false hope that there might be something between the two of you in the future.
7) Don’t ever ghost on him
It can be tempting to ghost on a date with a guy if you’re not feeling any sparks between the two of you.
Don’t also think of completely cutting communication with him. It’s better to tell him about your decision after you’ve made it, instead of letting things drag on for too long.
If he does ask what’s going on, tell him the truth that you’re not interested in pursuing a relationship with him. He’ll get that much more prepared next time, and if he does start pushing for something more with you, always say no and move on.
It’s not necessary to make him feel forgotten — or worse like he’s some kind of failure if you don’t call him after a date.
The way to break an awkward situation is through honest communication with your date.
If things aren’t going well enough for you to want to pursue anything further with the guy, it might be better to let him down in a text message instead of leading him on for longer than necessary.
But it’s always better to tell him that you aren’t ready for something more than vice versa.
If you do decide to let him down, make sure you have some kind of explanation prepared in advance.
8) Don’t be intimidated by him
Some guys can get a little clingy or obsessive. If you’ve told him that you’re not interested in a relationship and he starts getting too close for comfort, there’s only so much you’re going to be able to take.
Don’t let him intimidate you.
Tell him that you need some space and don’t see a future between the two of you, and make sure he understands it. Believe me, he’ll get the message.
If he’s being too persistent, you might have to end things sooner than you’d like.
Despite his attempts to change your mind, stay firm.
9) Use the “let’s just be friends” line
This one doesn’t always work as well as it does in the movies. But if you’re not interested in seeing him again, you can use the line “let’s just be friends.”
That is only if, you still want to be friends with him.
You don’t want to give him the impression that there’s still something between you two. If he’s reading your words and not understanding, try being a little more direct.
It might be better to tell him, “we’re great friends. I just can’t see us being in a relationship.” Or, “I think we’d be better as just friends.” Just make sure that he understands what you mean by this.
If he’s not interested in that idea, feel free to go.
It will take a lot of the pressure off of your shoulders and make things so much easier for you.
He might be angry and hurt that you won’t give him a chance, but it’s better for both of you in the long run than if you had gone ahead and started dating — only to break his heart later on.
10) Apologize for leading him on
If you led him on, and he feels rejected, you might want to apologize for it.
You owe him that much.
But don’t make your apology all about him and what he’s feeling. Try being more direct with your apology and say something like, “I’m sorry I wasted your time. I was just being a little bit silly — and that was not cool of me.”
Leading someone on only to let him down will only lead to some seriously hurt feelings, so be direct with him.
Don’t feel bad about being honest with him — no matter how much it might hurt.
It’s better to let someone down sooner than later on.
He’ll understand, and most likely be okay with the matter at hand. Just make sure you don’t say anything that would lead him to think that you’ve changed your mind about ending things.
11) Don’t take it personally
If he’s upset at you for breaking things off, don’t take it personally.
It doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person — just that he doesn’t like the idea of being rejected.
He might even become angry but try to push those feelings aside because it’s not your fault. You’ve done nothing wrong.
But if he can’t accept that, there’s really nothing you can do to change his mind. Although what you might want to do is offer him some sound advice.
If he’s upset, that’s going to make it harder for you to move on. If you’re hoping that it will end there, by all means, say something like, “don’t worry about it.”
Or “I’m sure you’ll meet someone else and find happiness with them. Good luck.”
In the end, there’s only so much you can do and it’s his decision to accept what you’ve said or not.
12) Don’t play games
If you’ve broken things off, don’t start playing games with him.
You shouldn’t be leading him on any more than he’s leading you on. If you meet him for drinks and flirt with him, don’t be surprised to find out that he thinks there’s something between the two of you.
If all of that is hard for you to handle, be honest about it. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. It gets really exhausting to keep up with a game that you won’t be winning — which is why you shouldn’t start it. If you want to be friends, just ask him out as a friend.
Don’t try to backtrack and make things seem like they’re more than they are. It’s not fair to him and it’s not fair to you.
In the end, this is all about being fair and treating people the way that you’d want to be treated.
13) Don’t talk about him with your friends
If you’ve ended things with a guy and don’t want to discuss it with him, don’t start talking about him with your friends.
It’s not fair for him and you’re just going to make things more awkward for both of you.
On the other hand, if he’s still talking about you with his friends, feel free to chat with yours about it. It’ll help you keep your mind off of him, which is going to make it easier for you to move on.
Don’t get into any arguments with him about it and don’t get angry if he doesn’t like what he hears from your friends or sees on social media. It’s not your problem if he’s feeling insecure.
14) Stop hanging out with him
After you’ve ended things with him, don’t go to see him or hang out with anyone that he’s associated with.
Spending time with him will only make you miss the time that you used to have. You don’t want to get back into that habit, as it’s going to make it harder for you to move on later.
If he’s still talking about you with his friends or your friends, it’s better to talk about it with them. It’ll help keep your mind off of him and start you on a new path forward in life — which is what you’re doing.
He’s not going to be understanding if you change your mind and come back to get back together with him later on.
The less he sees of you and hear from you, the better.
15) Focus on yourself
No matter what he says, find a way to focus on yourself.
It’s not entirely your fault that he’s insecure and has feelings for you. And it’s not your responsibility to figure out why.
Don’t feel guilty about ending things if they’re going nowhere and will likely never work out in the end. You’re not doing him or yourself any favors by trying to make these things work out.
Instead of allowing yourself to get annoyed, or feel guilty about it, focus on your own life. Focus on being happy and living out the rest of your days as best you can.
If you’re ready for it, you can also start looking for someone new to date.
You might feel horrible for breaking things off with a guy who you’ve led on, but you need to remember that it’s for the best.
All you’re trying to do is be a good person and do the right thing.
Your morals are important to you and you’ve taken it upon yourself to do what’s best for everyone.
You can’t allow anyone to get in the way of that.
So don’t take it personally if he gets angry or upset, because it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person — just that he doesn’t like being rejected.
That said, it might still be a good idea to apologize for any hurt feelings so as not to alienate him any further.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.