The phone is on its fourth ring. It could be your mother, or your best friend. Or it could be him – the man who boxed you into conversation at that party on Friday night. Was he sweet? Certainly. Were you attracted to him? No. So explain this – after you suppressed another yawn, he said, “I’d love to see you again. Can I take your number?” Every bone in your body whimpered, “Me? You? No, no!” but you said, “Oh, er, Ok. My number is…” So here you sit, glaring at the phone, a prisoner of your own social life.

For so many gay men, rebuffing that nice guy with the sex appeal of a warthog is the social equivalent of sticking pins under your fingernails. Why agree to see a man you don’t like? “I don’t want to hurt his feelings,” a role statement. So is it cowardice or compassion that makes saying no so hard?

That said, faced with rejection, many men prefer a neatly wrapped white lie to blunt reality. But isn’t that deception? Who benefits when you tell a man you don’t find him attractive? You don’t want to say it and he certainly doesn’t want to hear it.

So what do men want to hear, if not yes? “I have a boyfriend,” takes top marks in the lie department. “When a guy tells me he has a boyfriend I think, ‘Well, if he wasn’t attached he’d jump at the chance,'” says Louis, 26, a solicitor. But what if the man in question knows you’re single? Try, “I’m sorry, I’m just so incredibly busy.” However, don’t elaborate with something like, “I have to get home to watch the paint peel.” He may volley back with, “Well, that shouldn’t take long. Let’s meet for coffee later.”

You could also make it your personal policy, never ever to give out your phone number. If  someone asks, respond politely with, “I’m sorry, I just don’t give out my phone number.” If he persists, say, “Why don’t I take your number?” You’re saying  you’ll take it. You’re not saying you’ll use it.

Above all, the key to brushing off a man nicely is just that – to be nice. “I’m busy” can sound either sincere or agitated, depending on your tone and expression. Following tips will certainly help you:

First, look relaxed, even if you’re stunned. Smile and make eye contact. Second, keep your voice calm and say something such as, “Thanks, I’m flattered, but I’m just too busy. “Don’t speak too quickly or you’ll look awkward. Third, respond with a downward inflection at the end of your sentence, while making eye contact. A dip in your voice when you say the word “busy” connotes authority and lets him know you mean it. Your smile, however, shows him you mean it in a no-hard-feelings way.

Virtually all men agree no matter what you say and how you say it, the sooner you let him down, the better. Rest assured, when you turn him down, he’ll get over it. If he has the ego to ask you out, he has the ego to move on. Now, answer that phone!


  1. I always find it easy to be honest and hope for the best. So many guys online just ignore your existence or just delete you. That’s OK. It tells me that I don’t want to meet these people anyway. I admit to having a tough time saying no because I hate to hurt someones feelings. To compensate for this I say no as soon as I know so that the other guy doesn’t have enough time to have made enough of an attachment to be hurt, and I’m honest. I just say that I don’t think this will work out because…….and even give him a chance to rebut, to let him get any anger off of his chest. Take the high road, you will hurt the nice guy on the other end a lot less.

  2. There really is no way. Yes, he’d get over it, but the awkwardness of the moment hurts both people. I find that when I’m rejected I’d rather have the truth, then some story that I know is contrived. Contrived stories when picked up by the receiver are an insult to the person getting the excuse. It doesn’t have to be “You don’t turn me on” but a simple, I’m very flattered that you asked, but, truthfully I’m really looking for another type (you can make up the type). If he’s thin say you are looking for someone with a stomach, or something like that. In that way, perhaps, it’s believable and you would spare the other guys feelings. Everyone has their own taste, and I’m sure the rejected has done some rejecting of his own, so he may just understand and not feel like he was put down.

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