You are under no obligation to say yes to a date just because someone asks you. The good news is you don't have to be forcefully rude when declining a date invitation in order to get your point across.
The Initial Inclination
Many people - women, in particular - have a difficult time saying no when asked out on a date. For most of these people, they're not only afraid of hurting the person's feelings, but also perhaps apprehensive about making the person angry. It's important in this scenario to remember two things:
- You are not responsible for other people's feelings.
- Anyone who responds to being turned down for a date with anger is not someone you want to date in the first place.
"No, thank you."
Being asked on a date is a form of flattery, so there is nothing wrong with thanking someone for asking you on a date - even when you're declining. If you want to expand beyond the response of "no, thank you" you can add reasoning, but make sure it's authentic and doesn't leave the door open for a date in the future if that's not what you want.
- Good: "No, thank you. My work and school schedules make it too difficult to add dating into the picture."
- Bad: "No, thank you. Right now my schedule's too hectic...but maybe some time in the future when things slow down."
When the Problem Is Them
It's not always a hectic schedule that compels a person to decline a date invitation. Sometimes, you simply don't want to go out on a date with that particular person. When turning down the date, you don't have to insult the person. There are indeed some people who need to be told clearly that you're not interested, otherwise, they'll persist. It's possible to tell someone you're not interested in them without being mean. "I just don't see you that way" or "I don't want more than friendship from you" are both appropriate as long as they are true.
No Via Text
Ideally, telling someone face-to-face that you aren't interested in a date is most impactful since there's no room for interpretation, but if your only option is to tell them via text or online message, it's easy to be clear with your words. It's appropriate to go this route if your primary means of communication isn't typically face-to-face or if you have apprehension about the person's potentially-visceral reaction to the rejection.
If you agree to a date in a face-to-face conversation and then, after taking some time to think about it, decide that you don't want to go after all, it's fairly inappropriate to text or message the person to back out. Changing your mind is fine, but hiding behind a screen to back out is rude. Give the person the courtesy of talking to them face-to-face about not wanting to go. Try something like, "I was thinking about our date on Saturday and I'm sorry, but I've decided to not go. I just don't think it's a good idea."
Explaining Your Reasoning
Even if you try to keep your reasoning non-specific in an attempt to spare the person's feelings, the conversation will likely lead to them wanting specifics. You need to decide, based on what you know about the person, if you want to be brutally honest in not being attracted to the person, not wanting to spend time alone with them, or whatever the reason may be. Though it may feel hurtful to the other person, it may eventually prove to be a learning experience for them that they can apply to future relationships. On the other hand, you don't owe an explanation to anyone as it's your decision to decline a date.
No to a Second Date
Perhaps you realized on your first date with this person that things weren't clicking and you didn't want a subsequent date. In this instance, it's important to not give a vague answer if they say, "We should go out again sometime." You can say something simple like, "I don't think we should have another date." While it may seem harsh initially, it's actually far less potentially damaging than giving the person false hope of future dates and then "ghosting" them.
Stay True to You
Dates can be a great way to get to know someone better, but if your instincts tell you to stay away from someone, listen. Accepting a date you don't want just to be nice can lead to further hurt feelings eventually for everyone involved.