When it comes to dating, being in the position of having to reject someone is just as uncomfortable as being on the receiving end of a rejection. Unfortunately, letting someone know that you're not interested in him is actually better than leading him on because you don't want to hurt his feelings. You need to tell him politely but in no uncertain terms that although you're flattered, you just want to be friends.
Keep It Simple and Honest
If you've decided to turn someone down, whether it's after a date or two or before you've gone on a first date, there's no need to make up some elaborate lie to try and avoid hurting her feelings. Instead, let her know in a way that mixes honesty with caring for her feelings, advises psychotherapist Christina Steinorth in an interview with Canadian Living. You can say something simple like, "You're a great girl, but I'm just not into you like that." The key is to give a real reason for turning her down while avoiding critical, blaming statements or mixed messages.
Aim for a Positive Outcome
It's important that you prepare yourself for a positive outcome, where you and the man you're turning down will think well of each other after the conversation, whether or not you go on to be friends. One of the best ways to ensure this is to remember that it takes courage to ask someone out, and that he does have feelings for you. When you sincerely thank him for his interest, he'll feel respected rather than blown off, so make sure to offer your appreciation and a genuine smile.
Don't Be Afraid to Assert Yourself
You have the right to be true to your own feelings, as well as saying no to her romantic advances. Just because she's interested in you doesn't mean you have to return the favor, and letting her know you'd just like to be friends doesn't mean you're discourteous or uncaring. If she continues to persist after you've told her how you feel, don't be afraid to speak up and assert yourself in stronger terms. In most cases, however, a simple no-thanks type of response will suffice.
It's important to remember that, no matter how nicely you may tell him that you just want to be friends, you have no control over his reaction. And unfortunately, the possibility that he'll react with anger, open disappointment or some other negative feeling is very real. If this happens to you, try to simply stay out of it. Don't try to reason with him, to explain yourself or to participate in any way. If you feel the need to say something, simply tell him, "I'm sorry you feel that way," and then let it go. If he doesn't want to be friends, that's his prerogative.