How to Reject Someone – and How to Take Rejection Well


Hello, dear readers! I apologise for the unannounced long hiatus. Things have been a little crazy in the World of the Jess and are about to get crazier, because… *drumroll please* …I got into graduate school!  I’m going to be studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at Edinburgh – and, as it’s a distance learning course, I don’t even need to leave my beloved Oxford home. So in between that, working my full time job, and keeping my relationships going (plus trying to have a social life, keep up with my own writing and, y’know, sleep once in a while!) my already busy life is going to be getting busier. Even so, I hope to get into a regular blogging schedule once more, as I have many articles in the pipeline which I want to share with you guys.

One other and super important note before I get into the main post – I want to wish my beloved partner and wonderful metamour a very happy anniversary for tomorrow! For love that lasts and keeps on growing stronger, these two are my inspiration. So, Nomad and Chesh, here’s to you – I love you both!

And now, without further ado, onto today’s topic…


Rejection isn’t nice. We all know that. Being rejected when you ask someone for a date, sex, a scene, play, or anything else, can be painful and often feels humiliating as well. Equally, rejecting someone who’s expressed an interest in you is no fun. But there are things we can do to make this unpleasant reality of life and relationships a little easier from both sides of the equation.


How to Reject Someone

Be kind and respectful – but firm

‘I’m flattered, but no, thank you’ or ‘I’m flattered, but I just don’t feel that way about you’ is a perfectly valid response and requires no further explanation or justification unless you particularly want to give it.

Thank them for their honesty…

…and bravery in sharing their feelings with you. Tell them (if it’s true!) that you think they’re a great person and/or value their friendship. If you feel safe and it seems appropriate, perhaps offer them a friendly hug. Then give them a little space to process their inevitable hurt feelings.

Don’t get into more conversation about it than you want to have.

Someone is always going to wonder why they’re being rejected, and may ask for a reason. Give one, if you like. ‘I’m simply not attracted to you’ is a valid reason. ‘I’m not dating at the moment’ is a valid reason. These and any other reasons shouldn’t require any additional explanation. Whatever your reasons might be, even if you don’t know exactly what they are, they are absolutely valid. Do not allow the other person to tell you they’re not, or to look for a way around them.

At any point, it is okay to say ‘I don’t want to discuss this any further’ and walk away. ‘No’ is a complete sentence!

Finally: look out for your own safety!

The vast majority of people will not become aggressive or threatening when rejected. However, unfortunately, some will. Trust your instinct. If something feels unsafe, it probably is. If someone becomes aggressive or seems like they might, get out of that situation via any means possible. At this point you no longer have any obligation at all to be nice to them!


How to Take Rejection Well

Don’t push it

Again, ‘no’ is a complete sentence – and it ALWAYS means no. Asking once is absolutely fine. Asking more than once is pressuring and coercion, and isn’t okay. Confession time here: someone who liked me once asked me out (while I was physically backed into a corner – don’t do this!) and then spent months of the friendship that followed making “jokes” about wearing me down. Don’t do this. It is, however, okay to say ‘if you change your mind at any point, let me know.’

Don’t argue with their reasoning

Whatever reasons they offer – if they do, and this isn’t an obligation – do not try to change their mind or get them to see why you actually are perfect for them. This is a profoundly awkward situation to put someone in and it isn’t okay. Any reasons they may have are valid, even if you don’t understand them.

Realise there isn’t anything wrong with you

Just because, for whatever reason, you’re not this particular person’s cup of tea, doesn’t mean that you won’t be a brilliant match for somebody else!

Thank them for their honesty…

…and for looking out for their own boundaries, as well as for being kind about it (assuming they were!) Tell them (if it’s true!) that you value their friendship (or whatever their place in your life is) and that you hope you can continue to be friends.


By all means, take a bit of time and distance to process your bruised emotions/ego. Seek out other loved ones, friends or family to help you through this if you need support. However good a friend they are, the person who rejected you is NOT the appropriate person to go to with this.

And finally, it shouldn’t need saying, but…

…don’t get angry, don’t raise your voice, don’t do anything physically aggressive (and this includes putting that person into a situation where it’d be difficult for them to leave.) If you feel your emotions getting out of control, remove yourself from the situation before you do something harmful.

2 thoughts on “How to Reject Someone – and How to Take Rejection Well

  1. John Bennett says:

    Excellent pieces of advice. No, rejection isn’t fatal (though it sometimes feels like it); and equally true, it’s OK to reject someone else; and while they might not take it very well, that isn’t *your* problem. I keep telling myself both these things over and over, and one of these days, they might just sink in:)

  2. polyhydra says:

    Excellent advice! The one thing on that list that i haven’t done yet is to thank them for their honesty (and bravery). I’ll have to remember that for the next time!:-)

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