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How to Tell Someone You Don’t Like Them Without Being Mean or Rude

Rejecting someone is never easy, but learning how to tell someone you don’t like them is an essential part of life. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be mean.

Learning how to tell someone you don’t like them is an important life skill. Offering the truth, especially when difficult, will help you in so many future experiences. Plus, it is the only way to let someone down respectfully.

Most of us know what it feels like to be rejected. It sucks. Because of that, we don’t want to hurt someone else by telling them we don’t like them. But, sometimes there is no way to avoid it.

If you don’t know how to tell someone you don’t like them, you’ll be hiding from difficult conversations forever. Taking the time to learn how to tell someone you don’t like them and doing it with grace and honesty is always the best move for you and them.


Why you should tell someone you don’t like them

When you don’t like someone, shutting down can feel like the easy thing to do. Ghosting them or even making up an excuse seems like it would be less trouble, but that isn’t true.

Ghosting is a cruel and cowardly way to deal with someone you don’t have feelings for. Ignoring them and moving on may seem like it won’t hurt them, but it will. Trust me. I’ve been there plenty of times, and it always hurts more than the truth.

Ghosting is simply easy for you. It means you don’t have to have an awkward conversation or deal with what this person has to say. You don’t have to deal with the rejection. But, whether you tell someone you don’t like them or not, they still feel the feelings.


They will move on quicker and find closure faster if they have the truth to help them get over you. You should be flattered this person likes you even if you don’t like them back. Appreciate it and respect them enough to offer them the truth, even though it may be momentarily awkward for you.

You don’t want to be that person they think back on as a coward who went silent instead of owning up to the fact that they didn’t like them.

So, before you chicken out about hurting someone’s feelings by telling them you don’t like them, know that you likely will hurt them. But, telling them rather than ghosting them will hurt a whole lot less.

How to tell someone you don’t like them

Learning how to tell someone you don’t like them isn’t going to be easy. It sucks to hurt someone’s feelings and crush their hope. You feel guilty and uncomfortable, and it will be awkward. But, that is a part of life. Not everything is easy. And more importantly, not everything is about you.

Telling someone you don’t like them isn’t about you, but about them. It is about respecting them enough to tell them the truth so they can move on.

Keeping that in mind will make learning how to tell someone you don’t like them a lot smoother.

#1 Do it sooner rather than later. Just like a breakup, the longer you wait, the worse it will be. If you know someone likes you and you don’t like them, just let them know. Any amount of time you let pass only leads them on. Even if you aren’t doing anything to show interest, they will remain hopeful without the truth.

I know you probably want to put it off because it will be uncomfortable, but it will get worse the longer you wait. Not only will your own anxieties increase as you put it off, but they will likely feel worse the longer you wait.

#2 Be prepared for their response. This could go a lot of ways. When I’ve had people be honest with me in the past, I appreciated it. I’d answer simply with, “Bummer, but I really appreciate your honesty. Take care.” I’m sure that response is what you would hope for.

But, not everyone sees things like that. Some people may be very upset. They may accuse you of leading them on or ask more specific questions. Some people want to know what they did wrong or even make you feel guilty.

Know that going in there are many ways they could react, so try to be patient.

#3 Answer their questions the best you can. This person deserves some closure. some people can move on just by you telling them you aren’t interested. Others want answers. Answer their questions as honestly as possible without being cruel.

You can say you want different things, you don’t feel any chemistry, or maybe you have feelings for someone else. You don’t need to go into great detail, but giving them some reason as to why you don’t like them can help them move on.

#4 Put yourself in their shoes. During this conversation and leading up to it remember what it feels like to be rejected. Consider how you would respond in a similar situation. It can be hard to see this situation from another viewpoint, but it can help you remain as sympathetic as possible.

#5 Don’t coddle them. This is where the line between caring and too caring blurs. You want to apologize and comfort the person you’re letting down, but it is not your job. You can be polite and respectful, but trying to comfort them sends mixed messages.

If you get pulled into comforting this person, it can give them false hope that something could happen later on and keep them infatuated with you.

#6 Give them space. You don’t need to check in on them to see how they’re doing. Let them be. Whether you work together, are friends, or simply run in the same crowd, give them space to move on.

If you are constantly around or even sending them memes, it will be hard to distance themselves from their feelings for you.

#7 Let them know if you want to stay friends eventually. You can let them know what you want after this. Let them know you would eventually like to be friends or keep in touch. But, if you don’t want that, make it clear.

You can end your conversation by saying take care or good luck with everything to imply you won’t be talking again in the future. Letting them know your goal now will help them prepare for how to deal with their feelings.

#8 Shut it down if necessary. Although you want to do the right thing by being honest and respectful, there are some people who will take advantage of that. They will want to sit down together and get closure. They will want you to answer a ton of questions or go on for hours about how you hurt them.

This again is where the line can be crossed. You can be respectful and polite, but if things seem to be going beyond a brief conversation, let them know you’ve answered everything you can and are sorry for hurting them but can’t do anything more. Then, wish them the best of luck.

Sometimes, to move on, people need a firm answer and rejection. This is the sort of thing that makes it difficult for you to tell someone you don’t like them, but you can handle it with some tough love.


Learning how to tell someone you don’t like them certainly isn’t fun but is the best thing to do for both you and them. Just follow these steps, be firm and you’d be able to turn someone down without leading anyone on.

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