How to let someone down gently

Dating and relationships can be real emotional rollercoasters. From the electric feeling when you just ‘click’ with someone, to those awkward moments when the spark just isn’t there anymore, the highs will come with the lows and you'll need to be ready for both. It’s no one’s favourite conversation, but if someone’s really into you and you don’t feel the same about them, you’re going to need to know how to let them down gently.

As you’ll see in our video, this isn't rocket science – it's just about being a decent human being. Letting someone down gently boils down to three simple 'rules': be polite, be honest and be kind.

1. Be polite

As Life Coach and Relationship Expert Anna Williamson says, “You don’t have to be nasty when you’re not interested in somebody”. She suggests explaining to whoever you’re letting down that you’re really flattered that they’re interested in you, but unfortunately you don’t feel the same way about them. This way you’re not damaging their ego too much, but making the message that you’re not digging it very clear.

2. Be honest

Honesty is often the best policy and, as ex Love-Islander Tom Walker says in the video, it’s better to tell someone how you feel than drag a situation out and create more hurt in the long-run. Anna supports this when she explains that being honest can soften “that moment of rejection" by showing that you respect the other person enough to not want to lead them on.

3. Be kind

Being kind is really about having empathy for the other person; putting yourself in their shoes and understanding how they might be feeling. Sure, you might be feeling awkward but, as Lots Holloway says, “Imagine that they’ve struck up the courage to come and speak to you. If you’re rude to them, it’s going to really hurt.” Just think: how would you feel in their situation? Probably nervous, maybe a bit vulnerable? Remember this, and treat them as you'd like to be treated in their situation.

Whilst pulling the plug on a relationship, or rejecting someone’s advances, is never an easy thing to do, dealing with it politely, honestly and kindly is almost always the best policy.

Where to find help

If you have concerns about your relationship, visit Relate for more information about relationships, and to message a counsellor for support.

It is always good to speak to someone you trust about the issues you might be facing, no matter how big or small. Although it can be hard talking about relationships, everyone finds them challenging at times, and if you are experiencing difficulties, don’t feel ashamed or different, and don’t feel you have to hide away from it.

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