Taking the high road: Spare their esteem, reject with respect
If there’s someone in your group of friends or place of work that you’ve noticed sneaking glances at you, running into you by the water cooler or sitting on the same couch, chances are that they’ve become interested in you. However, if you find yourself thinking that you’d rather drink raw eggs or sour milk instead of being seen with them in public, you might want to think about how you’re going to reject them without killing their self esteem.
Of course, it’s always easier to take the low road and blow them off completely — in this case, you don’t answer any of their calls or text messages, you keep a strict 6-foot-separation-at-all-times policy and you certainly avoid any conversation that would lend itself to anything past small talk. In other words: The Cold Shoulder, a method that has long been used by the insensitive half of the world. It’s likely that just about everyone has had an encountered with an insensitive type; if you can’t think of anyone that fits this mold, you are probably that person.
Rather than employing the cold shoulder method of rejection, try these things instead.
If you’ve already agreed to go out for dinner or drinks before they started playing the creep card, make it pretty obvious that you’re not considering the outing to be a date and that the checks should be separate. It’s also important to make sure that you don’t allow the conversation to go anywhere past friend level.
In doing so, avoid talking about relationships at all cost. Don’t talk about your past relationships or how you are as a significant other — this will only make them further envision you being their arm candy. If they bring it up, find your way out of the conversation by quick subject changes or by directing the conversation away from you. If done correctly, this is just a subtle hint that you don’t want to be that person — but they probably won’t even realize that you’re rejecting them at first.
In text messages, avoid giving off the vibe that you’re flirting. This is tricky because tone isn’t easily read in text messages. At the very least, avoid emoticons as much as you can. Second to that, don’t have at-length conversations via text message throughout the day. This only opens the door for them to think you’re interested. Most importantly, don’t call them by pet names — calling them “love” or “beau” is never going to make someone believe that you’re not interested. Ever.
Social settings are the trickiest places to keep someone at arm’s length. If you’re at a social gathering, branch out and talk to other people. If you two are attached at the hip all night long, they’ll have no problem with staking their claim on you or trying to take you home at the end of the night.
Of course, there is always the option to be up front about your lack of interest. The best way to do this would be pulling them away from bystanders — the worst thing in the world is being rejected in front of a crowd of people.
Quietly tell them that you’re not interested, but it’s important that you’re honest about your feelings. Do it in such a way that you sound like you feel just a little bit remorseful, so as not to look like the aforementioned insensitive. Be sure to make a clean break and exit the conversation as soon as it’s over. Don’t go into detail about why he or she is not a good match for you — this will almost always end up in hurt feelings. On top of that, don’t say things that might give them a glimmer of hope if you know it’s never going to happen. After you’ve delivered the low blow, exit stage right and go back to your business, careful not to cause any more damage.
Mind you, this isn’t a list of tips on how to avoid someone completely — if you have absolutely no desire to date someone and they’re not getting the point, that’s when it’s permissible for you to be more forward about your lack of desire to date them.
However, if you’re reluctant to date someone but still find that your day feels empty without receiving text messages from them and they’re the first person you want to tell about important things that are going on in your day, why not give it a shot? Maybe they have a funny haircut, listen to music that makes your ears bleed or maybe they dress like they’re stuck in 1997.
Those things might be an initial turn off, but giving someone the chance to be with you might not be that bad after all — it could actually turn out to be the best decision of your life.