Q&A – Saying No to a Relationship

girl by tree image by lusi on sxc.hu[dropcap]Q.[/dropcap] I have known this guy for a few weeks and he says he is in love with me. But I don’t really want to be in a relationship right now. I have no idea what I am doing.  I just need some advice on how to turn him down gently.
-Laura*

[dropcap]A.[/dropcap] Laura, thank you for your question. I’d love to share with you some personal examples of the things I’ve learned and what the Lord has taught me about guys and relationships. I just want to say how awesome I think it is that you are asking for advice! So many of us just try to muddle through it and end up learning some things the hard way (like I did).

Know what he wants. My first thought was – you’ve only known him a few weeks and he is already telling you he is in love with you? While that may not be a stand alone reason to turn a guy down, it is a warning flag. Love is so much more than a feeling, and while you want a guy able to express verbal love, you also want a guy to love and lead you with Godly actions. These should include being able to guard and protect your heart and emotions as he pursues you. Declaring that he is in love with you after only a short time of knowing you is infatuation. Love grows over time and with knowledge.

Over the years, several guys have declared they were in love with me after just meeting me.  I realized later that they were in love with the idea of me — not me (because they didn’t know me yet). You want a guy who wants to get to know you — the essence of who you are — and be attracted to the real you, not just the way you look. Infatuation isn’t bad and can turn into love, but if you have no desire to be with him then I think you are right in following your instincts and saying no to him.

Know what you want. If you don’t want to be in a relationship right now, that’s okay! When I was younger, I made the mistake of leading a guy on just because everyone thought I should be in a relationship. I wasn’t ready yet, but did so because I thought I couldn’t say I wasn’t ready. Because I didn’t say “no” at the beginning when I should have, I hurt a Christian brother and really regret it. Trust God to lead you in this. Pursue Him and He will let you know when the time is right. I was afraid to say no because I thought another guy might not come around. I let fear, rather than godly love, lead me. Sometimes the nicest, and most loving thing we can do for a guy is to gently say no. God is in control and if this guy is for you, then God will bring him back at another time.

daisy image by jkingsbeer on sxc.huKnow what God wants. Scripture tells us to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and guys hear love through respect. And as we are to build each other up in Christ, the best way to turn him down is gently, honestly and with respect. It can be really awkward to turn a guy down, but it’s always better to be clear and honest and have to do it only once, than hinting around and having to have the talk with him multiple times. Guys hang on to hope as much as we do. So if you don’t want to give him hope that you might be interested in the future, choose clear words to communicate to him. Remember, saying no is the most loving thing you can do if you’re not interested.

Every situation is different, so there is no one thing you can say that will magically make the situation go away. (Though ‘No, thank you,’ is pretty close!) Wrestle and pray through it. This is a chance to grow and love someone in a new way. It is possible to state the truth in love — I had a guy thank me later for the way I turned him down. He said he walked away still feeling like a man and had his dignity and respect, rather than being crushed by a refusal.

Know how to view the situation. Once a near stranger asked me out at a wedding, in front of a bunch of people I knew. Talk about awkward!  But it made me realize the importance of seeing a guy’s pursuit of you as a compliment even if it’s awkward. By pursuing you they are paying you a compliment. God made guys to pursue us, so when we turn them down we need to do it in a respectful way that won’t crush them. In your explanation be honest, but don’t drag it out. Proverbs 10:19 says that in a multitude of words sin is not lacking.  (Obviously, in situations where your safety is a concern, politeness doesn’t matter!)

Laura, it’s hard to say no, so I will be praying for you! Ask the Lord to give you the words and the opportunity to talk with him in a gentle, respectful way. If you can’t talk to him, an email or written message works, too, and you can plan what you want to say. If you write it out, running it past someone else can help, too.  To get both a guy’s and girl’s perspective, it is also helpful to ask a couple you trust for advice. And if possible or applicable, getting your father’s advice and input can be a way through which the Lord helps you navigate relationships. Having your dad say no to guy for you can be a bit more persuasive than your “no”, if he doesn’t listen to yours.

*Question used with permission.  Name changed for privacy.

Katie
Katie is a mid 20 something who has lived a real life cheaper by the dozen experience. As the oldest of 12 children she loves life and is passionate about restoring order to chaos of every kind. Her greatest passion is discipling and mentoring young adults, and writing is something she does on the side to unwind and process life. Katie is a book lover, Jesus follower and truth scribbler.
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  1. says

    I have been struggling with something similar lately. While no one has ever expressed feelings for me, I most definately am pursued…a little too much, I might add. I understand that being pursued is a flattering thing, but I struggle with finding it annoying more than anything.

    At the moment, I am dealing with a young man at our church. He is a very nice, Christian guy, but my Dad and I both agree that he is not someone that we would consider “husband material”.

    I don’t know that you could really call his actions “pursuit”. He hasn’t asked for a date or expressed feelings of any kind, but he openly stares at me from the time I walk through the doors till the service is over. I take great pains to dress modestly, trying not to draw attention to myself while still being attractive. Being constantly stared at, in spite of my efforts, is unsettling.

    In addition to this, he is excessively friendly. He trips over himself to come and talk to me. I don’t mind talking to him, but the conversation never ends. I literally have to run away or be rude to end it. However, it’s just a matter of time before he finds me again. He just won’t leave me alone!

    I am at a loss as how to handle this situation. This has been going on for 4 months and it’s gotten to the point where I dread going to church. I struggle with wanting to completely ignore him so he’ll leave me alone and then I tell myself that I should just grin and bear it since he really isn’t doing anything inappropriate, he’s just really, really, REALLY friendly.

    Advice?

    • says

      Amanda, I’m sure some of the other ladies may have more advice, but is it possible to talk to him and tell him that you appreciate his friendship but feel uncomfortable over the way that he approaches you? Can you be polite but up your reserve more than usually is necessary so that he doesn’t have such an easy time monopolizing your conversations, or say something kindly but firmly such as “It was nice talking to you, but I need to catch up with some other people now” (worded appropriately, obviously!) If being a little more reserved doesn’t seem to get the point across, and you can’t talk to him directly about how he is making you feel, could you ask your father to talk to him “man to man”. Not in the way of you telling on him, so much as what he’s observed himself and perhaps get to the bottom of why he is staring at you.

      It could be that he is unaware that he is getting in your space, but if he is really trying to get your attention, it would be better to kindly find a way to try to help him see there is no hope at this time for anything but friendship than to, in spite of your best efforts, let him keep trying and thinking he is getting somewhere if that is what he is doing.

      I guess the bottom line is, if it is making you uncomfortable, you shouldn’t allow it to continue if you can help it! Pray about it, as I’m sure you are, and I know God will give you and your parents wisdom to help dissuade him gently or help him to see how he is coming across. :)

    • says

      Amanda!
      My heart goes out to you! I’ve been in a simliar situation – it’s just plain uncomfortable and awkward! I agree with Chantel, you can still be polite to him, but very firm to the point where you feel you may be rude in walking away from the conversation. Remember walking away and saying no is a kindness! In my situation, the guy wouldn’t take my no and gentle hints for an answer so I asked my dad to talk to him and after that he left me a lone. Your dad is a huge assest to you here. He can just tell the man he has observed him talking with you a lot and that you look uncomfortable – please back off. :) Man to man usually takes care of it.

      Also – requit a sibling or close friend to come to your rescue. A good friend watching for him to come over and talk to you and then coming over and getting you works well too. :)

      This may seem rude, but another way to be respectful but not encouraging is when he asks how you are keep it brief and don’t in turn ask about how he is at all.

  2. Anonymous says

    ” Love is so much more than a feeling, and while you want a guy able to express verbal love, you also want a guy to love and lead you with Godly actions. ”

    Amen to that!!

    Saying “No” may not be easy but we as young women shouldn’t be afraid to say it. Talk to God, talk to your parents and go from there! A Christian young man will honor and respect your “No”. And don’t be afraid to have your parents be involved, he should honor and respect them too :)

  3. Elizabeth says

    Thank you so much for posting this! It encouraged me very much! I haven’t ever been in a relationship yet or ever been persued by a man, but I will remember your post if I ever do get into a relationship that I would need to get out of or that is moving more quickly than what I’m actually ready for at the time. Thanks again for this wonderful post!

  4. Rachael says

    Katie and Jeniffer thank you for your comments. I realise one thing iv been doing wrong is apologising over and over again…a simple ‘thank you but I cannot’ seems far more easier and appropriate to say for me x.

  5. lexie says

    If a guy makes you feel uncomfortable don’t be afraid to speak up and him already telling you he is in love with you I would find uncomfortable as well. Don’t be afraid to talk to your parents about this.

  6. Catherine says

    You really need to read The Gift of Fear. A good, well-meaning man does not follow a lady into a parking lot and make her feel uncomfortable.

    • says

      Catherine,
      Fear is a healthy thing! I changed the example as the way I had it written it came across the wrong way. So the post has been edited for clarity. I’m all about safety. Thank you.

  7. Eoz says

    Uh, if a stranger is following me to my car in a parking lot, I’m going to be afraid, not flattered. Men should know that doing that could be tantamount to harassment.

    • says

      Eoz,
      Thanks for commenting. That would be harassment. I realize that was not the best example to use as that particular situation wasn’t creepy but it sounded like it from the way I wrote it, So the post has been edited for clarity. Girls, if the situation is creepy, get help! Don’t stand there and talk!

  8. Rachael says

    Katie thank you for this honest and detailed reply. You mentioned ‘It is possible to state the truth in love — I had a guy thank me later for the way I turned him down. He said he walked away still feeling like a man and had his dignity and respect, rather than being crushed by a refusal’.
    How do you give a short yet not too blunt response to somebody? I find myself getting so nervous I just blurt out my response before thinking it through in my head. Often this is because I am caught off guard.

    • says

      Rachael, I hope I’m not stepping on Katie’s toes by answering you as well, but just wanted to mention one idea — there are some rather lovely, old fashioned ways of phrasing these types of things that I think should never have gone out of style! Phrases like, “Thank you for the honor of your request/attention, but I cannot accept it.”

      Also (and this again is my personal opinion, I’m not speaking for Katie!), I believe that while it is good to thank a man for honoring you with his pursuit, it is not wise to apologize for turning it down. A gracious, “thank you, but I cannot”, is actually less awkward than, “I’m sorry, but I cannot”, and does not have the potential to lead to a further chain of awkward, “No, I’m sorry,” “No, really, I’M sorry!” :)

    • says

      Rachel,
      i feel your pain! Lol I have gotten so nervous at times (like the parking lot incident that I just blurt and run). Some times it helps to start thinking “what would I say?” having a plan ahead of time helps. (not a detailed plan because every situation will be different and when i fly off the top of my head I say no when I mean yes, or yes when I mean no! lol) My stand by plan when I am unsure is, “thank you for the honor of asking me, I’ll need time to think and pray about this, may I get back to you on it?” That gives you time to go and think of what and how you want to say something. It will also depend on how well you know a guy as to how much you should explain or not. In the parking lot I didn’t need to get back to the guy. A no thank you is sufficient! I agree with Jennier. Least said soonest mended. And stay as far away from “i’m sorry” as possible! It confuses and muddles the situation and makes it sound like the guy isn’t good enough and tears him down. (at least in my experience!) It also makes you sound unsure. :) Here’s more thoughts on the I’m sorry – http://notunredeemed.com/2011/10/11/signature-of-the-divine/

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