How To Tell A Guy You Don’t Like Him (17 Subtle Ways)

Telling someone you don’t like them isn’t fun, except they are a class-A douchebag, which I’m guessing this guy isn’t if you are taking your time to learn how.

Personally, when I come across someone asking how to say or do something that may hurt another person’s feelings, I hit them with this question of my own – is it necessary? Would it be harming anyone if they didn’t know the truth about what you felt about them? Can you just, I don’t know, let them fade instead?

But then, over time, I’ve come to realize that as well-intentioned as that is, it isn’t always in their best interest to do that. Maybe going on a basic first date and never picking that tinder dude’s call again wouldn’t damage him for life, but what if it does? What if those two hours or so you spent together that you considered basic was actually the best experience he’s had in a while?

Random tinder guys matter, too, as does that fella with a huge crush on you that you can’t wait to shake. If you’ve decided to let him know you don’t like him (back) is the best move for you, I have a few suggestions that might help.

17 Ways To Tell A Guy You Don’t Like Him

1. Decide how much you want him gone

Would you like to keep him on in some capacity or cut things off in their entirety, never to cross paths with him or his kind again? This is one question you should ask yourself before getting on with your plan to do the deed.

Like what does not liking him mean? Is it that his very existence bothers you that you’d rather not have him in your life at all or just that you don’t want to date him? They may sound the same to you, but the distinction might make a world of difference to him.

2. Sooner is better than later

sooner is better than later

Anyway, whatever the case may be, the sooner you get it over with, the more time everyone involved can save and go back to their normal life. No one sees a puddle of awkwardness and jumps into it, but it’s not going to become any less unpleasant if you keep postponing it.

In fact, procrastination is worse for him even if you wouldn’t exactly call your relationship with him tight, because every passing day that you don’t do implies hope. Not only would you be practically wasting his time by shifting it, but the fact that his feelings for you may grow in that period would also make the news harder to bear.

3. Drop a few hints

Nevertheless, as big as I am at doing things the right way, I also believe in giving the easy way a shot first. If you haven’t tried this yet, consider sending a couple of (subtle and not-so-subtle) hints his way that you aren’t interested in him. You never know, he just might get it.

You can start by flirting with anyone but him, guys don’t like that. It should also pass the message if you friend-zone him and let him know by continually referring to him as one. If he has access to your social media, you can also make posts that overtly suggest you’re not looking for a relationship (or whatever he wants from you).

4. Enlist the friends

In continuance with the indirect approach, consider bringing the friends on board. Yours, his, or better yet, mutuals if you have some, as long as they don’t mind getting in the middle. Although, one has to apply some discretion here, especially since it may come across somehow if he isn’t yet aware you don’t feel the same way.

It might be weird if he has to hear that you don’t like him from a friend he thought had no idea he was even holding a torch for you. But if you have some close friends in common or he’s hung out with you and yours a couple of times, and they are all aware of his persistence, it might work.

I wouldn’t get them to stage an intervention just yet, though, only for them to drop a couple of hints here and there when he’s around. Maybe talk about the new guy you have a crush on, or casually slip in a promising date you had mid-conversation.

5. Prepare in advance

If you are lucky, his ego gets bruised by all the “guys” you’ve been hanging with lately, as per your friends’ report, and he takes that as his cue to back off. But if you got yourself a persistent one who can’t take a hint, you may need to prepare for plan B, which is nailing the hammer on the head.

Unless you really want to hurt the guy, the conversation is likely not going to be your favorite thing, but it can go a lot worse if you don’t prepare. Work a plan, get your points, and practice your (preferably short speech). Don’t forget to factor in the awkwardness, too, because it’s virtually inevitable. 

6. Determine how to pass the message across

As part of your preparation for the D-day, consider the best way to pass the information across. Draw from your history with the guy and see if you can deduce which method of delivery he would prefer if he had a say in the matter.

It is generally considered more appropriate to have conversations of this nature in person, somewhere you can both be one-on-one, so nothing gets lost in transmission. However, if you get the impression that may not go so well, you can resort to a very detailed text, or phone call, especially if that’s how you two usually communicate anyway.

7. Prepare the guy for the conversation

prepare the guy for the conversation

Those who know better than me about hard conversations like Iyanla Vanzant, Oprah's Lifeclass teacher, recommend giving the guy a little heads-up as to the seriousness of what you’re about to discuss. I imagine some version of “we need to talk” should work if the anxiety doesn’t break the guy before you get into it.

You can as well start by saying something along the lines of “So, here’s the thing…”, most people usually know what to expect after that. The point is to let the guy know ahead that something unpleasant his way comes.

8. Be kind and sensitive…

Even though the cat’s not yet out of the bag, there’s no turning back at this point, so you’re going to need all the empathy you can summon. Because, you know, even people you don’t like have feelings.

With that in mind, no matter which method of delivery you go with, pick the kindest version of the words you’ve prepared and be sensitive in your delivery. That means reading the room, too, and being mindful of your timing.

9. …yet assertive

On the flip side, you also have to be careful not to mislead him with your kindness. He’ll want to know why and possibly attempt to change your mind. Unless you plan on having a repeat of the conversation, you ought to nip that in the bud and maintain a gentle yet assertive stance. 

An attitude that shows you don’t want to hurt his feelings, but you also have no interest in discussing this any further.

10. Stay as close as possible to the truth

Be honest with the guy, but not in the brutally blunt type way. He doesn’t need to know the reason you don’t like him is that his face makes you want to puke. As the experts point out, rejection already destroys self-esteem, and the pain sticks with us longer than physical ones, you don’t need to add to the pile.

Instead, you can tell him you’re not attracted to him that way, or if you two went out, that it isn’t what you want anymore. Just try to keep the reasons more about you than him, and you should be fine.

11. Don’t go into too many details

Since you are essentially ending a relationship/friendship/acquaintanceship or whatever you two had, it’s only fair that you offer some explanation. You should, however, keep in mind that you don’t owe him a play-by-play of your decision-making process.

The ideal length and how deep you can go into the details depend on how close you two were and how much you are generally comfortable sharing. But trust me, if the gist of the message isn’t going to change at the end of it, the shorter you keep the meeting, the better for everyone.

12. Or give false hope

or give false hope

Don’t leave any iota of hope on the horizon by saying things like, maybe if things were different, or whatever else people say to ease such situations. It’s already going to be awkward, but it can be over that after that one conversation if you ride it out and make a clean break.

It’s more reason to keep the conversation brief because the more chance you get to talk, the more likely you are to say something you don’t mean.

13. Manage your expectations

Don’t expect him to take it well just because ‘he seems like a cool guy,’ as nice as it is to hope for the best, it’s also important to prepare for the worst. If the discussion is going to be taking place in person, make sure you’re not alone wherever you choose.

Privacy is necessary, but you must also prioritize your safety while deciding on a spot. It would help if you also manage your expectations of what comes after. These things don’t always end on a hostile note, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for warm hugs after the conversation either.

14. Let the guy talk if he wants to 

You may not like the guy as he does you, but cutting him loose may very well be the end of that era, especially if you’ve become a significant part of his life. Don’t, in the interest of getting out of there asap, prevent him from getting a word in.

Let him ask his questions and express whatever he’s feeling, but give your response with respect to everything we already discussed. Humor him but within reason.

15. Ensure you are both on the same page before ending the discussion

At this point, the deed has been done, you just have one more thing to do, which is to confirm that that’s his understanding of what just happened. Besides the fact that we don’t comprehend things the same way, his being in love might make it even harder for him to accept reality.

So, make sure he doesn’t leave there thinking you just don’t love him yet or want to date him right now, but might come around. Unless you don’t mind having to crush those budding hopes yet again, ensure you two get on the same page before you call it a day. 

16. Give him space

give him space

When you finally get free, it’s vital that you don’t stoke the fire again, thereby creating another problem for yourself. In case you haven’t ended a lot of relationships, I’m here to tell you that dumper’s guilt is a thing, and you don’t even have to be in love to get it.

So if you get home and feel the urge to ask how he’s handling it, try this: don’t. The more space you can afford to put between you and him, the better. But even if you’re not opposed to keeping the friendship alive, give him some time to process this before broaching it. 

Besides the possibility of him not having a lot of love for you at that moment, pushing a platonic relationship right after telling him you don’t like him might bruise his ego more.

17. Live happily ever after

If nothing else will come of your relationship with him, things should naturally die out from the space. However, if you two manage to stay friends or cross paths from time to time, remember not to make old mistakes. Slip-ups happen, I know, but at least try not to lead the guy on (unless your feelings have changed) and define your rapport going forward. 

Are you going to move on as nothing happened and just keep being cordial to each other? Or would there be a need for another discussion on dialing back the familiarity if there’s been any? Well, that’s what happily ever afters are for, right, figuring things out?


How do I tell a guy I don’t like him?

The best way to tell a guy you don’t like him is to be straightforward with it. Choose your words carefully, though, because unkind ones tend to stay with people, and there’s no reason to be mean. Nevertheless, be sure to make your feelings – or lack thereof – clear, even if it makes you come across as a little harsh. 

How do you tell a guy you don’t like him after leading him on?

If you’ve already led a guy on, it’s only fair that you give him an explanation as to why you no longer like him. Decide the best way to tell him, prepare your points beforehand, and when you finally talk, try to find a balance between honesty and tact. Then stop giving him your attention.

How do you tell a guy you like him but not directly?

Body language signs are a perfect way to tell a guy you like him without coming on too strong or saying it directly. Just smile when he’s around, make eye contact, and do some mild flirting. You could also pay more attention to him than other people and do something thoughtful for him based on what you learn.

Is texting a guy leading him on?

Keeping in touch with someone who’s made their interest in you clear without telling them no can be leading them on. But while it is better to not leave room for confusion, texting a guy after establishing that you don’t love him back shouldn’t be a problem.

How can you tell a guy’s intentions?

No one can tell anyone’s true intentions, not even their parents. The closest you can get to an accurate assessment is to ask the guy in question. But if that isn’t an option, the next best thing would be to study his pattern of behavior and try to gauge what he’s thinking. 

In Summary

I think it’s commendable that you consider other people’s feelings, even a guy you don’t like. If everyone approached relationships this way, perhaps dating wouldn’t be so complicated. These tips may not make having the conversation any more comfortable, but they can help get your message across more effectively. 

Remember, you want to strike a balance between empathy and firmness. As usual, kindly leave a comment and share the article if you enjoyed it.

Leave a Comment