by Gena Kaufman
Kate Powers A reader recently wrote to ask me if she should turn down a guy she thought was really great but wasn't physically attracted to, and if so, how should she do it without being too harsh? For the first part of her question, I'm including links to past discussions of the issue at the end of this post.
But I've contemplated the dilemma of how to turn a guy down without being awkward or plain old cruel a few times myself, so I consulted some men in my circle of acquaintances for their take on the issue. If they have to be rejected--sorry guys!--what's the way they'd prefer it to happen? Here are three ways to do it:
Just say no. Not to bring up '80s anti-drug slogans into the conversation, but sometimes, the simplest answer is the easiest to stick to. In fact, it was the most common response from the guys I informally surveyed. It's hard to come right out and say it, and sure, it probably doesn't feel great to hear, but it's ultimately the best way. "I can't tell you how many guys I talked to in college who were hopelessly strung along because the girl wouldn't be blunt," said one of them. "Blunt is not equal to mean."
A standard, slightly gentler line. Think, "You're a nice guy, but I'm just not into you in that way." It's clear and not wishy-washy, but it's not quite as blunt as actually stating that you find him unattractive. One not particularly thin-skinned guy said, "I've been on the receiving end of that, and it's fine."
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If you're going to make up an excuse, make it one with no holes. The guys I talked to made it clear that they favor the direct approach, even if it hurts, but if you really can't bring yourself to verbalize the cold, hard, I-just-don't-wanna truth, you can at least honor their wishes to not string them along. This means no excuses that make it seem like dating is still an option in the future. So, don't say things like "I'm really busy this week" or "I'm not ready to date right now," because those can string the guy along to next week or that magical time when you are ready. Stick to things like "Sorry, but I have a boyfriend" (or "I just decided to be exclusive with someone else" if you've already gone out with him but don't want to keep doing so). And although there's always a danger he'll find out the truth (which is why you should probably just tell it in the first place), definitely don't use that if it's a blatant lie he'll be able to confirm with friends the same day. That's just cruel.
How do you turn guys down? Are you a truth teller or an excuse maker? How have guys handled your rejection?
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