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Gentlemen Speak: The Best Way to Let a Guy Down Easy (From a Man's Perspective)

These basic rules of thumb will help you do a difficult thing the best possible way.
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Art Credit: Erich McVey

Dating is a dangerous thing. Now that I can’t challenge another man to a pistol duel (at least legally, that is) there are few things in life more perilous than asking a woman out on a date. She could say "no." Or she could say "yes," which might even be scarier.

We get it. We know what’s at stake here. For better or for worse, we put a little bit of our manhood on the line when we ask a woman out on a date or put ourselves out there in something more steady. And, like it or not, part of the deal is that you, as the lady, have every right to say no. To be perfectly honest, we don’t want to make it any harder on you than it has to be. We want you to say "yes," clearly. But if you say "no," life goes on, believe it or not.

Easier said than done, am I right? It won’t be easy, that’s just the way it is. Whether you are turning down a date or ending something a little more established, there are some basic rules of thumb that will help you do it gracefully. Here are a few tips from one man’s perspective for how to let a guy down easy.

01. Don't try to make things "comfortable."

Accept that breaking up or turning someone down is going to be uncomfortable, and probably for the both of you. There’s simply no way to make anybody feel good about being rejected, whatever the reason.

02. Don't drag it out.

Don’t feel the need to drag it out any longer than it has to be. If a dude is asking you out on a first date, and you don’t want to go, you don’t need to have a conversation about it. A simple, “No, thank you,” is plenty. Now is not the time for compliments. If you feel the need to say anything more, try this: “I am very flattered, but I will have to decline.” And you don’t need a week to think about it. If you need to take 24 hours, fine, but anything longer is simply delaying the inevitable. But by all means, if you have had a significant relationship, some processing probably needs to happen. Make sure you allow some time for him to process the information, either immediately or at a later date (but not too much later).

03. Be clear.

A guy shouldn’t have to ask a clarifying question such as, “Wait, are you breaking up with me?” We don’t want to have to wonder if you’re just venting. Feel free to say something like, “I don’t think we should date anymore.” Or, “I think we should move on without each other.” Direct and clear is good.

04. Keep it simple.

If there isn’t necessarily a clear-cut reason, or if the reason would be unnecessarily hurtful, don’t feel the need to give specifics. And think about how you want to phrase it. If you try to explain something sensitive on the spot, you can end up saying something you regret. You might be tempted to explain yourself. You might think he’s unattractive and couldn’t stand the thought of going on a date with him. Do not tell him that. The exception, though, is when there is a specific reason and he ought to know about it. If he treated you poorly, tell him that and feel free to give examples. Stand firm and don’t argue.

05. Say thank you!

Men spend a lot of time, money, and effort on relationships with ladies, and we are typically more than happy to do so. Women certainly don’t owe men anything if they end a relationship, but a simple expression of appreciation for what we did invest can go a long way toward mending a broken heart.

06. Don’t leave us hanging.

Don’t give us reason to think that we might get back together, especially if you’re just trying to soften the blow. Inevitably, if we like you enough, we will cling to any hope that it might work out eventually, and that will keep us from being able to move on.

Because moving on is, actually, a really good thing. A relationship that ends is not a failure, as long as you tried your best and you treated him with the respect he deserves. Who knows? You might make another woman very happy that you said “no” to her future husband. Not to mention how happy you’ll make your future husband.