How to Let Someone Down Easy In Person or Over Text: The Full Guide

No one likes hurting someone’s feelings. But if you want to know how to let someone down easy over text or in person, here’s the right way to do it.

how to let someone down easy

You won’t like everyone that likes you. It is a fact of life. Even when someone seems great, if there isn’t a connection, you don’t want to waste your time. But if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of rejection, you know it stings and you don’t want to be the cause of that for someone else, especially someone nice. So, how do you reject someone without hurting them? Are you wondering how to let someone down easy in person or over text?

Well, first of all, you have to accept that no matter what you do, you can’t change their reaction. Even if you let them down in the best way possible, they’ll likely still feel hurt or at the very least, their ego will be bruised. 

There is no getting around that, but that’s okay. Everyone gets turned down and the fact that you want to do it in the nicest way possible says a lot about you.

[Read: How to reject someone nicely and make sure you don’t lead them on]

What you need to know about letting someone down

Want to let someone down in person? Well, that’s the most decent thing you can do. Are there other ways too? Of course, you can let someone down over phone too, but there are some specific scenarios only when you should use it.

To make this easier, we’ll tell you the many mistakes most of us make while turning someone down, and the different ways to let someone down, in person, over the phone, and someone you’ve been dating for a while. Read on, and before you know it, no matter what the circumstances, you’ll know exactly what to do and how to let someone down easy without hurting them, or saying the wrong things!

How not to let someone down easy – The mistakes many people make

There are quite a few ways to let someone down easy, but what you may think is a good method could actually be a pretty common mistake. 

When you are planning to let someone down easy, you aren’t just thinking about not wanting to hurt them but also your own discomfort. As much as you convince yourself it is all about protecting the other person’s feelings, it is also about you. 

But, making yourself comfortable when letting someone down isn’t the priority. You will feel awkward. How could you not? 

Turning someone down for any reason is weird. You don’t like being around someone who’s upset regularly, but knowing you caused those feelings sucks. [Read: How to be mean to people without turning into a mean person]

Remember that letting someone down easy is about their feelings, not yours. So, next time you’re trying to let someone down easy, do not do these things.

1. Do not lie

I know it may seem like a good idea to come up with a lie so they don’t take your rejection personally. But it won’t help in the long run. You are trying to spare their feelings by claiming you still have feelings for your ex or are too busy with work, but would you buy that?

Lying is usually obvious when you are letting someone down, so don’t bother coming up with one. Telling the truth is always the best bet. 

2. Do not apologize

This is something so many people do, I’m guilty of it myself. We apologize when rejecting someone because we feel bad, but apologizing means you did something wrong. Telling someone how you feel is never wrong. 

You’re doing what is right for you. Be firm and honest but you don’t have to apologize. Saying sorry is more about lessening your own guilt than helping their feelings. [Read: How to turn down a second date in the most non-awkward way]

3. Don’t be subtle 

You don’t need to give specific details about why you’re no interested in them. But don’t be too subtle either. Saying something like you’re busy or going out of town doesn’t actually say what you mean. And it leaves them thinking there is still a chance.

If you don’t want to spend more time with this person, be clear and concise about it. Beating around the bush might be more comfortable for you, but it only confuses the person you’re letting down even more.

4. Don’t put it off

If you’re wondering how to let someone down easy, don’t stall. Don’t put off ending things because you can’t face their reaction. The longer you let things go on without saying anything, the worse it’ll be for you and them. You may think avoiding them would give a hint of what’s to come, but it doesn’t. 

If you want to let someone down easy, you actually have to let them down, not put it off until you can’t take it anymore. When you know it won’t work out, they should too. [Read: Are we just friend or is he interested in you? 16 signs he can’t hide]

5. Don’t be too specific

You can be honest and tell them you don’t see it working out because you want different things in your future or have different lifestyles. But you don’t have to go into details.

It is one thing to say you don’t click, or you see the world differently. It is entirely different to list the reasons you don’t like them. Don’t do that, especially if you want to let them down easy.

How to let someone down easy – The right way to do it

Letting someone down easy should ease some of your guilt for hurting them. But again, remember, it isn’t about you. Letting someone down easy is about sparing their feelings.

And take note that they will be hurt. It is inevitable. If this person liked you, and you let them down for any reason, they will be hurt. That is okay. What is more important is that they know the truth in a clear manner. [Read: How to stop a friend from flirting and hitting on you]

The worse thing you can do when trying to let someone down easy is lead them on. This only makes things confusing and prevents them from moving on. Without a clear answer, their pain and discouragement will last longer.

Sure, ghosting might be easier on you. But if you’ve ever been ghosted, you know that it is a whole lot more difficult to handle than just simply being rejected outright. [Read: How to ghost someone when you’ve never ghosted anyone before]

So, before I even get into all the ways to let someone down easy, I want to make sure you understand that being clear and straightforward is the most important thing to ensure they can move forward.

The best ways to let someone down easy

1. Do it in person

I always recommend ending things face-to-face. When you use technology it is a coward’s move. It is one thing if you haven’t even met yet or only met once *I’ll get more into that in a bit*, but giving them the respect of an in-person conversation is the right thing to do.

2. Let them respond

A breakup, even after a short time, can be traumatic. Instead of fighting or just saying your part and taking off, talk. Let them respond. You don’t need to give them every detail of why you want to end things, especially if you haven’t been seeing each other for very long. But let them say what they have to.

Closure isn’t necessary to move forward, but letting them say how they feel is respectful. It may hurt you a bit in the moment. But it is for the best, so that you can both walk away with peace of mind. [Read: The breakup conversation you should use to reject someone without hurting them]

3. Be direct

Being direct can seem mean or rude. But in the long run, telling them the truth and making sure everything you’re saying is clear is just more important than blurring the details for the sake of comfort. Make sure they know that you are ending things.

Let them know you appreciate getting to know them, but it will not work out. I also wouldn’t recommend saying you can still be friends, at least not right away. 

4. Be kind, not comforting

You can be kind while turning someone down. Let them know they are a good person but just not for you. Just keep it strictly platonic. Do not comfort them. This only makes letting them down more confusing. If they are feeling rejected and comforted by you in the same moment, they won’t be sure what they’re feeling. 

You can hug them goodbye but don’t dry their tears or let them know it will all be okay. Sticking around once they know you’ve ended it only makes things worse. You hate to be the cause of someone else’s pain, but comforting them doesn’t help. [Read: Dumper’s regret – The timeline and stages of regret of dumping someone]

5. Keep it brief

Again, this can sound rude, but hear me out. Your breakup should only be as long as is called for for the relationship you had. 

If you dated for a few weeks, you don’t need to have an hour-long talk about closure. But if you two dated for a few months or more, it makes sense that you’d both need to talk more. If you are letting down a coworker that asked you for coffee, it should be a simple, “Thank you for asking, but it isn’t a good idea.” 

[Read: How to behave when someone rejects you but still acts warm and nice to you]

The best ways to let someone down easy over text

As much as I like to advise rejections and breakups to take place in person, it is not always feasible or even necessary. My rule of thumb is if you haven’t met in person, you don’t need to end things in person. For instance, if you’ve been chatting on a dating app for a few days or even weeks, you don’t need to plan a date to end things. And if you have met but haven’t kissed, a phone call or text is acceptable. If you’ve slept together, an in-person let down is really the more respectful avenue. 

But, for those times where you can end things via text, these are the best ways to go about it.

1. Do it fast

If after a first date you realize you’re not into them, send the text quickly. You don’t have to wait until the next day. Once you get home and into your sweats, send them a polite text that makes what you want to say clear.

Something like, “Thank you for tonight. I had a good time but don’t feel a romantic connection. Best of luck with everything,” is perfect. Don’t keep chatting with them before sending the text, just do it. 

2. Don’t make a date

It can be hard to turn down a date, but accepting one and then canceling right before is a lot worse. If someone you’ve been talking to asks you to meet up, don’t put off saying no. If you say yes or even say you have to check your schedule, you’re giving them false hope only to let them down even more so later. You haven’t met this person, so text them the reality of the situation. Saying, “You seem great but just not my match so I don’t think we should meet,” is perfectly acceptable at that point. [Read: 15 signs of a bad first date that reveals a real lack of chemistry]

3. Be upfront

Letting someone down easy doesn’t mean you have to ease into it. Even if you’ve hung out a few times, if there is no love connection, be honest. Let them know you’ve enjoyed their company but you’re looking for something serious and don’t see it going there with them. You don’t need to have small talk and ask how their day was before this. Just let them know as soon as you realize it. 

4. Don’t use memes

Do not use memes, emojis, or any other weird digital communication methods. Use your words. Turning them down via text is already impersonal enough, adding a crying face emoji will only be distasteful. You want to let them down easy but still, take their feelings seriously. 

5. Don’t expect a response 

In the modern dating age, being dumped via text is super common. Even if you said it nicely and were hoping they would understand and wish you luck back, they may not. If they don’t respond, let it be. Don’t check in on them or make sure they got the text.

You may have assumed they’d be crushed. But maybe you just ended it before they got a chance. Take this as a win. [Read: Why are so many people so mean to nice people? The truth

The best ways to let someone down easy after a few dates

If you’ve been seeing someone casually and thought you liked them or weren’t sure, but now are entirely sure you don’t like them, your method will be a little different than with someone you barely know.

If you’ve been to their place, they yours, or have slept together, you’ll want to add a few things to your rejection to help let them down easy. 

At this point, you get the feeling that they like you and see things moving forward. But you don’t. So you want to make sure you’re getting the message across without causing too much harm. 

1. Take notes from The Bachelor

I know it is weird to advise you to take dating advice from a reality show, but these people break up with about 25 people in a 6-10 week period. You can learn something from them. 

The people they are letting down haven’t just been on a couple of dates with them, but walked away from their entire lives, families, jobs, the internet to date them. If the lead can let them down easy, so can you. 

Do it in person. Sit down with them. Let them know you appreciate the time you’ve spent getting to know them, but don’t see a future there. Give them a hug and thank them for understanding. [Read: 18 breakup lines you can use for a mess-free breakup]

2. Let them handle it

You may think they will fall to pieces or get mad, but just let them do what they’ll do. At this point, some emotions are invested so they likely won’t wish you well and walk off with no issue. Don’t expect any specific reaction. 

Tell them what you have to, and then let them react how they will. If they are sad or angry, let them be. If they become manipulative or rude, then you immediately shut it down and walk away. 

3. Offer feedback

If you have a reason for not being into them that isn’t just, you aren’t feeling it, share it. It may seem harsh but most people want to know if they did something wrong or said something that turned you off. 

Let them know their sexist comments weren’t appreciated, that they talked too much about themselves, or even that they came on too strong. This will help them out in the future, even if they can’t see it right now. [Read: 14 valid reasons to break up with someone in a relationship]

4. Help them out

Don’t act like you’re doing them a favor. But let them know you don’t want to waste their time. You aren’t feeling it or don’t think your feelings line up, and don’t want to waste their time seeing if you could get there eventually. 

Let them know they deserve someone great for them. But it isn’t you. And seeing you is just preventing them from meeting the right person. 

5. Shut it down

Whenever I’ve tried to let someone down easy, they were usually very graceful about it because I was honest and we moved on and maybe even became friends down the line. Only once did someone respond in a way that was inappropriate. 

I told him I felt uncomfortable with how strongly he came on without even knowing me and he insisted I led him on and that we were perfect together. At first, I let him react that way and told him I just wasn’t feeling it and thought we should part ways. 

Instead of accepting that, he kept arguing that he didn’t see this coming and it wasn’t fair and claiming he knew me well and that we had a future. He then tried to manipulate me into giving him another chance. [Read: 20 good questions to ask a guy and find out what kind of guy he really is]

At that point, I had been clear and polite, and respectful but I didn’t owe him anything else. I had to say, “I explained myself and won’t be responding to you anymore. Good luck with everything.” 

It hurt to have to do that, but it was necessary and sometimes it is. Even if you want to let someone down easy and reduce the pain of rejection, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Some people will always react in a way that makes you uncomfortable. But, if it is over the line, you have every right to shut it down and walk away. 

[Read: How to end a relationship on good terms without bitterness or drama]

It is great that you want to learn how to let someone down easy and as long as you are honest, it shouldn’t be too hard. Just remember that you are ending it for you. So be sure that is your goal, even if their response isn’t what you hoped for.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...