Does this sound familiar? You're tearing up the town with your friends when someone slides up to you and begins a classic game of words.
There's a wink, a nudge, and an offer to buy you a drink.
But there's no chemistry.
Or you're powering through a workday when your stomach flops as your far-too-friendly coworker saunters up.
Whether stranger, acquaintance, or friend, sometimes you need to turn down a flirt.
But how do you reject someone politely? After all, you're not trying to hurt them, you're simply uninterested.
Don't Make Assumptions
Some people are flirty with everyone. Not to discount how attractive you are, but maybe it's not actually about you. Think before you jump straight into rejecting a flirt.
There are few things more embarrassing than letting someone down, only to have them tell you they weren't trying to get with you in the first place.
Drop a few hints. If you have a significant other, mention them in conversations. If you're single, point out people you find attractive.
They may seem unbothered, indicating they're just a flirty person and don't want to move beyond that. Or they could start behaving differently towards you if they were interested but now realize you're not. But sometimes people don't get the hint.
If you're still uncomfortable with the level of flirtation occurring, it's time to be bold.
Related: How To Flirt With a Man
Just Say No
How would you want someone to let you down? Reject others the way you want to be rejected. Most, people want clear, direct, and kind rejection.
There's no need to be rude when turning down a flirt. At least not at first.
"You're a great person but I'm not interested in you romantically," is enough to send most respectful flirters on their way.
If the person claims they're just a flirt, and keep pushing your boundaries, continue being specific and direct.
"I'm not comfortable with this level of flirtation,"
or, "I'd rather we keep our relationship professional,"
are polite and direct ways to assert that you'd like the flirting to stop.
Squash False Hope
You know when you have a great first date and your date tells you they'll call you, but they never do? Being left on the hook is an emotional drain. Waiting for someone to decide if they're going to accept or reject your advances, is no small torture. When you're the rejector, don't sow seeds of false hope.
The most common seed we plant is the "Right Now" seed.
"I'm not interested in dating you right now". Or, "Right Now I'm taking some time to be single". Those two words could be the difference between your pursuer moving on to someone else, or pining for you.
"Right now," tells a person that you're not saying, "never". Some people will take this as an invitation to wait.
Lingering hope is powerful, so if you're not interested at all, don't leave them hanging.
It can be tempting to use a lie to avoid having to reject someone. Making up a relationship or lying about your sexuality often feels easier than directly saying no. But you never quite know when a lie is going to reveal itself.
Even if the flirt is a complete stranger, there is always the chance that you'll run into them again. And worse than someone honestly telling you they're not interested, is finding out they lied to you about it.
Of course, there are situations where your safety may be at risk. If this is the case, a small fib is preferable to putting yourself in danger.
Refuse to Engage
After you've been direct and honest, disengage. If the flirt refuses to respect your wishes, don't flirt back. Don't laugh at their suggestive jokes and don't respond to flirty texts. You may have to ignore them completely, do so as much as possible.
If the continued flirting is in a work environment, talk to a superior or human resources. Let the flirt know you're serious. Continuing to engage with them sends mixed messages.
Drop the Nice Act
As much as you may want to be kind, some people refuse to take rejection. Others convince themselves that you're playing "hard-to-get". At this point, politeness is no longer on the table. The flirt may feel upset, hurt, or angry but you don't owe anyone your affection.
You don't need to apologize for not feeling attracted to someone.
Remember, rejection is going to happen. You will be rejected and you will have to reject. Turning someone down is unpleasant, but it's a part of socializing.
For most people, rejection is a blip on the radar. Usually, they'll move on and forget about you shortly. But if politely turning down a flirt goes poorly, shake it off and remember you'll have plenty of opportunities to practice.
Related: Why does flirting makes me cringe
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