How to Turn Down an Awkward Date Request

How to Turn Down an Awkward Date RequestHave you ever gone to great lengths to avoid going on a date with someone? When my maternal grandmother was in high school, a young man asked her for a date repeatedly. After turning him down multiple times, she finally relented and accepted his invitation. As the day of the date drew closer, she started dreading it. Have you ever experienced that sick feeling in your gut when you’re dreading something?

When he showed up for their date, my great grandmother (her mother) sat with him in the living room and made small talk. Apparently the stress of going on a date with him proved to be too much for her and she jumped out of her bedroom window and went to hide in the woods. Her mom excused herself, went to look for her, and then had to tell that poor guy, “Shelby’s not here.” How awkward for everyone involved!

Fast-forward fifty years. A young man I was trying to avoid called my place of employment and asked me if he could come by and talk to me. In a frustrated huff I agreed, but then I lost my nerve. I asked one of the attorneys I worked for to walk me to my car and then I burned rubber. In my rear view mirror, I saw him standing behind my car yelling with a bewildered look on his face.

On the way home, I stopped to check the mail for a friend who was out of town and by the time I pulled onto my street, he was already at my house talking to my mom. In a panic, I flew into my neighbor’s driveway, knocked on her door, and asked her if I could hide. To this day, I’m not quite sure what she said, but the next thing I knew I was hiding in her sewing room.

Not a minute later, I heard my mom’s frustrated voice. She let me know in no uncertain terms that I was going to go across the street and deal with the situation myself. Oh, how immature I was back then! Apparently fleeing runs in my family.

So how do you turn down a date request? No matter what, it will probably be slightly uncomfortable, but it can be done politely. Below are a few suggestions I’ve learned since those days to keep in mind:

  1. No matter how flattered, or disgusted, you are by the invitation, show appreciation for his or her invite. It is hard to get up the nerve to ask someone out on a date, so put your empathy goggles on and make sure you thank him or her for thinking of you.
  2. Don’t make up lies, but be graciously honest. If you already have a boyfriend or girlfriend, let the person know. If you don’t have a sweetheart, but you are still not interested, tell him or her the truth. It’s okay to simply say, “No, thank you.” If it’s true, you can tell him or her that you are just not interested in dating anyone right now. You don’t owe an explanation, but if you have an honest one, you can share it.
  3. Don’t give excuses – these may lead the person on. If you give an indefinite response, it can give false hope to the person asking. For example, do not say, “I can’t date right now because I’m focusing on my exams.” He or she may think that you are not available now, but you will be after exams are over. Or, if you say, “I’m trying to get over a bad break up,” it may sound like you are telling him or her to give you a little more time before asking again. Remember, you don’t owe him or her an explanation. Sometimes explanations make the situation more awkward and less understandable.
  4. Whatever your decision, own it. Don’t pretend to suddenly have to rush off or act like you didn’t hear the request. Be courageous and face the situation even though it’s uncomfortable. If you already know the answer, don’t tell him or her that you’ll think about it… only to say, “No, thank you” through Facebook or texting. Be classy; be honest; be concise; be mature – and take care of the matter yourself. Don’t send a friend to be the bearer of bad news.
  5. Do not humiliate the person (e.g., keep this off of Facebook!) Even if you think he or she will never see or hear it, don’t write or verbalize bad remarks about him or her to friends. If you make a habit of doing so, chances are at least one of your hurtful statements will get back to him or her. Hurtful comments can wound a person for many years.
  6. Remain cordial. If you are forced to be together (e.g., work environment), don’t make it awkward. Treat him or her just the way you did before he or she asked to minimize his or her embarrassment. However, don’t suggest being friends as a way to soften the blow. If friendship happens naturally over time, that’s fine. If you are already friends with this person, don’t treat him or her any differently. This is no reason for you to discontinue an existing friendship.
  7. Don’t beat yourself up for saying no. Don’t accept a date request just because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Occasionally uncomfortable situations present themselves. It’s better to be kind and honest than to lead someone on and climb out of a window to keep from having to go out with him or her. ~smile~

Remember how much courage it takes to ask someone out on a date. Don’t automatically close your mind off to going out with someone who is a little different than you had imagined for yourself. If you want to get to know him or her a little better before going on a date, consider talking on the phone or going out in a group. However, if you are sure you are not interested, I hope the suggestions above will help you turn him or her down with grace and class.

{Eric’s note: I’d like to take a moment to comment to our female readers. I believe that God provided fathers as protectors of their daughters. Additionally, fathers do not have a clouded vision of emotions as it relates to the feelings between the daughter and the calling suitor – more so, the father can be a good, objective point of view for what she should be looking for in a potential husband. If she submits to his wisdom, I believe it would be best (in most circumstances) if the father approved or disapproved of the gentlemen that are calling upon his daughter. If he truly has her best interest at heart and loves her well, she can feel secure in knowing that a man will not get through him that will be harmful for her. Additionally, it is often quite easy for a father to disapprove directly to a caller so that she does not have to face the unpleasant emotions of doing so – and he does not have to give the caller an explanation either (whether it is that she is not interested in the caller or other reasons of his own).

Some people may say that this is an old-fashioned system and that it is oppressive to women’s rights and individuality; however, I would suggest that in an environment where the father deeply cares about his daughter, it puts her in a much safer and secure place than trying to handle those issues apart from a father’s guidance. The do-it-herself system is strongly promoted by current American culture as normal, but I don’t find it flowing from a biblical mindset of how the family should operate in the area of relationships.

Unfortunately, not all fathers are wise or capable to facilitate this fatherly role of relational discernment.  If you are a young female and that is your case, I would exhort you to seek out an older father-type figure who has children older than you and is wise to help you with these issues. If you do not know of such a man, asking your pastor for a reference may be helpful.}

Are you happy with how you have handled date requests in the past? If you have ideas for how to turn down a date with grace and class, please share in the comments! 

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