How to Tell Someone You're Not Interested After You've Already Led Them On

Turning someone down is no easy task.

No matter the situation, it's always awkward and uncomfortable to explain that you're just not interested, but it's particularly nerve-racking when you've already led someone to believe there's a romantic future for you two.

The Vampire Diaires: Stefan and Elena holding hands and talking

(The Vampire Diaries via The CW)

You may scoff at the idea of leading someone on, proudly declaring that you should just be honest with how you feel, but that's much easier said than done. Sometimes you're not quite certain about where you see the relationship going, you realize later on that you just don't like the person like that, or you simply got caught in a lonely spell and used a convenient person to temporarily fill that void—we're human, it happens.

The problem now is how do you gently tell someone that you don't see this turning into a relationship when you know they've planned a "happily ever after" ending to what they thought would be a romance.

Thankfully, we have some tips. Keep scrolling for how to tell someone you're not interested after you've already led them on.

1. Understand That You Owe Them a Conversation

When you don't have deep feelings for someone, it's hard to work up the nerve to have a difficult conversation with them. It's so much easier for you to ghost them or to simply let things fizzle out. However, this approach is incredibly unfair, especially if you've been leading someone on. Ghosting is confusing and hurtful in any situation, but it's especially frustrating when it happens with someone who you has sensibly developed feelings for you.

If you've taken enough time to hang out with this person, and they think you two have a romantic future, you owe them a conversation about why things won't progress. It's going to be tough and stressful in the moment, but it'll be much better in the end that both of you got some kind of closure, which will allow each of you to move on more quickly and in a much healthier way.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Rebecca and Nathaniel angrily staring at each other

(Crazy Ex-Girlfriend via The CW)


2. Decide on a Method

Since you weren't technically dating this person, you don't necessarily owe them an in-person conversation. While we usually advocate for in-person breakups, ending things with someone you've been leading on can't fully be qualified as a "breakup." Though it might be more considerate of their feelings to cut things off in person, it's acceptable to settle for a phone call or text message if you're worried you won't be able to effectively communicate yourself during a stressful in-person chat. Whatever path you choose, deciding on the method is crucial to the success of your conversation.


3. Plan a Script

If you're typing a text message, you have an opportunity to perfectly craft everything you're going to say. If you decide on an in-person conversation or a phone call, it's still best to get a rough idea of what you want to communicate. Don't try to memorize a word-for-word speech, as you'll probably end up sounding cold and scripted, but do get some idea of what you want to communicate. That will ensure that you get your point across, get everything off your chest and give you both the closure you need to move on from the relationship.


4. Be Honest, But Brief

While you do owe the person you've been leading on a conversation, it doesn't need to be a drawn out breakup speech. The two of you weren't officially dating, so you can keep things short and sweet when it comes to why you're ending the relationship. Explain that you just don't feel like the connection is  there, that you're sorry that you didn't realize it earlier and that you wish them the best in their future love life.

After that, leave. They're probably going to want more out of the conversation, but the best thing you can do is walk away. It may sound harsh, but it's actually much less painful in the long run. It prevents either of you from saying something that you regret, and gets you out of a situation that's likely very uncomfortable and awkward on your end.

Gossip Girl: Serena and Nate Arguing

(Gossip Girl via The CW)


5. Cut Off Contact

Again, it may sound harsh, but if you've been leading someone on, the best thing you can do after ending things with them is cut off all contact. No calls, no texts, no long chats in the hallway or at a party—basically you eliminate anything that might be misconstrued as flirting from your relationship. Since they have more feelings for you than you have for them, it's not fair to maintain your presence in their life and keep hope alive that the two of you might rekindle things someday. You don't have to be rude or cold, you should simply stop with anything that might give them the idea that you're re-thinking your decision. Otherwise, you might find yourself in the same situation just a few weeks down the line.


Looking for more advice on life's difficult issues? Click HERE for how to feel better when a close friend leaves you out on social media.