Ask Jono: Ways To Turn a Guy Down
Your advice is incredibly amazing, you've helped me like ten times without me even having to email you. Alas, the time has come where I need to ask for some specific advice. So here I go. There's this guy from elementary school that recently messaged me on Facebook—now let me clarify by saying that I am now in high school and haven't talked this boy in at least four or five years. He started saying how I was really cute now and that we should hang out sometime. He's been doing this to many of the girls that we both knew in elementary school, my theory is that he probably really wants a girlfriend. I'm not going to be mean and say he's ugly and a jerk but I DO NOT like him, at all. And of course, being so terrified of rejecting people I said that we should hang out. Jono, I really need to know how to reject someone without making them upset or having them stalk me, which he is pretty much already doing.
Help me please!!!
I try to give advice that is incredibly amazing, Sparkler, but sometimes I'm just hacking at the keyboard with question marks floating above my head, and my advice is credibly mazing at best. Sometimes High School Jono was guilty of the same stupid antics I'm being asked about. But for once, I am unable to say that, because this dude is a weird gremlin and what he's doing is dumb and bad.
I do have some experience being a lonely moron, though, and I think this guy is more desperate than he is stalky. Stalker-types are creepy, but they're also committed; they keep holding a candle for one specific girl. They believe that if they only mail her the correct emo poetry about how love is like illegal knives, and maybe a lock of hair, then she will finally see their inner beauty and they will fall in love. This dude, on the other hand, is just blindly mailing hair to everyone in the phone book and hoping someone goes, "OH YES AWESOME," which, of course, nobody will.
In the interest of making this post broadly useful, I'm gonna cover three different ways to turn guys down, but you personally should shoot for something under #3.
1.) Exploratory put-downs
Use When: You suspect that a guy's motives might be less than noble, but you could still potentially like him if turned out not to be a sleazypants.
"What do you like about me?"
A concrete answer here means the dude has actually noticed things about you; beware of answers like "You have a good... um... butt," or "You are smart and funny," which is so generic it's code for "I literally do not remember your name."
"I'd like to be friends!"
This normally just means "I don't want to date you," but if a guy likes actual you, and not just the parts of you that would receive an R rating, he'll want to remain friendly instead of lurching off toward an easier target and never speaking to you again.
2.) Polite rejections
Use When: You aren't interested, but you want to be subtle and keep from hurting the guy's feelings.
"I can't date because of my parents/religion; I am allergic to you specifically; I have to wash my dog that day; etc."
Excuses are a good way to shift the reason for your rejection to something other than the guy himself; it leaves him a little dignity if the problem isn't him, it's just your incessantly filthy dog or whatever.
"I really don't see you that way, but I'd still like to be friends!"
Like the answer in #1, this clarifies that your relationship is only a friendship, but it's a little stronger on the "no" part. Do not say you would still like to be friends if you would not like to be friends. Many guys will go "Uhhhh? Okay! Duhhhh," and follow you around for a month until you're forced to do this whole thing all over again.
"Look, there is a bee outside!"
Changing the subject is perhaps the most polite of the putdowns; one or two of these will make it clear to most guys, but the more obtuse ones may require you to sigh heavily, facepalm softly, and repeat with a stronger response.
3.) Firm rejections
Use When: You don't want anything whatsoever from this guy, including a friendship.
"I am not interested in you."
Period. A horrible silence will probably follow. You'll feel the urge to fill the silence by adding "buuuut," and you shouldn't do that, because you're likely to conclude "but you're still a great person!!" and if he's getting this answer, that's the wrong thing to say.
"I don't see this going anywhere."
Somewhat softer; again, resist the urge to let your mouth say, "but let's hang out sometime!!" while your brain silently adds ,"ARGH NO WAIT," and you accidentally complicate the whole thing.
"No thanks." (in response to an online/text request)
You're not obligated to offer a reason, and in fact, if you keep bending over backwards to find excuses or soften the rejection, it might give the guy hope that he has a chance, even if he doesn't. If you mean to tell him "definitely no, go away," but what you say is "I can't go out because of Scientology and Xenu wants me to wait until I am exactly 7000 days old and I also have an out of town boyfriend and he is um from Canada and uh" then this is no longer a firm rejection. It's okay to just say no.
In your case, a firm "no" is required here. I know it's brutal, but everything about this is bad news, from his randomly messaging all humans with girl parts to his statement that you're cute now. (What were you before, a gargoyle?) He needs to understand that you have no interest, now or ever. Part of me feels bad for this guy, but the only thing that's fair to you and fair to him is to establish that he is a gremlin, or at least acting gremliny, and that what he's doing is not the kind of thing that will ever work in polite society.