Let a Girl Down the Right Way

let a girl downA reader writes in:

Hi Chase,

Just a quick message to say I've learnt a lot from your insights and blog over the last year. I decided to improve myself after hitting an embarrassing rock bottom with a girl I had been chasing after for over a year and your website has helped me do just that. These days I know I can go out and acheive high success with very attractive women of my choosing.

The problem is, I have now reached a point where I would like a girlfriend and I currently have two 2nd dates and 3 first dates with potential girlfriends. I am at a point where its almost too easy to get girls highly interested even past the first date. You teach a lot about how to get girls interested but I wondered if you had any advice about how to let girls down easy without coming across like an asshole. I enjoy having a choice of women for the first time in my life (!) but I don't like the idea of just enjoying the 'sport' of it.

I know there's probably no easier thing to do than to just to pick the one I like the most and dump the others but I just thought I'd ask your thoughts anyway,


No doubt, that can be a tough one: how do you let a girl down without being a bad guy or a total heartbreaker? It can make you feel like a pretty underhanded guy – maybe even like you were just leading her on – when you have to turn her down when you know she was hoping to be with you.

But, in fact, there is a right way to do it.

Things to Keeping in Mind About Letting Girls Down

It's important to realize that people experience a range of emotions during a romantic let down. These can include:

  • Surprise or shock
  • Sadness or disappointment
  • Anger or resentment
  • Incredulousness
  • Panic
  • Relief

Each of those emotions – or sometimes multiple emotions from that list – is felt by women with different personalities and different kinds of attachments to you. For instance, a girl who was under the impression that everything was going amazingly with you and that you liked her as much as she liked you is going to feel surprised or shocked, or she'll refuse to believe it and be incredulous. A girl who's a little more of a spunky, fiery girl and is used to getting what she wants might resent you or be angry with you for suddenly bowing out.

A girl who's more resigned to her fate in life might feel disappointed or sad. A girl who very much wanted to be with you and thought you were 'The One' is going to panic; and a girl who really didn't want to date you for whatever reason is going to be relieved.

You should also realize that a majority of women are going to feel "cheated;" any time anyone invests a chunk of time and effort into building their relationship with a person, he or she feels cheated when that relationship is suddenly shuttered. If she's gotten to know you over the course of the past few weeks, it's going to feel very unfair to her for you to suddenly announce, "Okay, show's over, no more spending time together, no more chats, it's a wrap."

It feels like a bait-and-switch.

So any time you deal with how to let a girl down, you're going to be dealing with a host of emotions that can potentially mess with her mind quite a bit. Most women are still going to stay in control, but you should always be ready for the occasional emotional meltdown – and you should always do the best job you can to take care of the emotions of the women you let down, both to avoid those meltdowns (for your sake) and to make sure she walks away from you feeling good, not bad (for her sake).

let a girl down

How to Let a Girl Down Easy

Those reactions and emotions in mind, you'll want to focus on letting girls down the right way – easily. To do so, you'll want to keep these principles in mind:

  1. Be straightforward. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Women despise men beating around the bush – they want people to be straight and direct with them. So if you're going to tell a woman you've met someone else, tell her that. If you want to tell her you're focusing in on your business right now and you just don't have the time to be a proper friend or companion, tell her so. Have your reason, know it, and let her know it too, in clear, direct language.
  1. Be firm and absolute. No hemming, hawing, and if/maybe'ing. You don't want a woman to feel like she has a chance when... she doesn't. For your sake and for her sake. If you leave the door open a crack, and she spends time trying to see you again in the future, then suddenly you've got to deal with letting her down all over again, which is a headache for you, and she's also wasted time chasing after a guy who simply isn't available to her, which isn't fair to her. If you're firm with her the first time you let a girl down, you avoid having to come back and do a do-over.
  1. Be broad in your reasoning. I just wrote up a quick outline of some of my backstory for a girlfriend of mine who needed a quick way of understanding me better, and one of the things I remembered while writing was a girl I turned down for a date in 8th grade. She was actually a very pretty girl, but I wasn't interested in her for one reason or another, and when she pressed me for why, what I said to her was, "I don't find you personally attractive."

    I look back on that now and realize I must've given her ego a big smack upside the head when I said that, and that probably explains why she hated my guts ever thereafter. If you want to avoid a similar mistake, do not, under any circumstance, blame the girl or anything about the girl for why you're letting her down. Otherwise, she'll hate you for making her feel bad about herself (as well as for not realizing how amazing she is).

    Also do not blame yourself, otherwise she'll view you as weak or flawed for having these foibles that made you unable to be with a woman. Instead, blame circumstances outside your or her control: you just ended up meeting someone and everything happened so quickly and you hadn't expected it, or your time has just suddenly gotten too densely packed and you just aren't able to be doing dating right now.

Here's an example of what that might look like:

"I've met someone. It happened fast; I didn't expect that to be the case, but everything just clicked. I just wanted to be straight with you so we don't end up having one of those weird or awkward situations where I'm concealing things and you're trying to figure out what they are and that sort of stuff."

Actually, to tell the truth, I'm a fan of leaving out the "I've met someone" part of it altogether, because even that can have a negative psychological impact on women. When you tell a woman you were seeing you've met someone (and, by implication, can't see her anymore), you communicate these things:

  • "This someone I've met is better than you; otherwise, why would I be dating her and not you?" and
  • "I'm now part of a couple, and you are still single and lonely."

Obviously, not good things to communicate to a woman, so you can understand why personally I prefer not to go the "I've met someone" route most of the time, unless a woman is really pushing me or she's really irked me for some reason (I am, after all, still human, and guilty of the occasional, "Haha, so there!").

I'm also a proponent of leaving out the following words and phrases:

  • "I'm sorry."
  • "I hope you won't hate me, but..."
  • "I feel really bad..."

Really anything that might imply you pity her. She'll feel insulted, and her feeling insulted definitely is not a part of letting a girl down easy.

So here's one I'd most probably use myself to let a girl down:

"Can't do anything right now, I've just been swamped with work and all kinds of stuff so I'm scaling back my going out time to virtually none. I don't want you waiting around for me or anything because I'm pretty much taking myself off the market, so by all means, don't worry about that. Hope I don't seem rude for having to up and disappear, I've just been hammered with stuff lately."

For me personally, I really am just about always hammered with work to do, so this is a very valid thing to say. In my mind, actually, it's easier to get girls and easier to let girls down when you're very busy. You don't have much time to waste, so you're forced by the nature of your life and schedule to make everything run more smoothly and efficiently.

Make sure you keep in mind the three essential elements to letting a girl down right way, and be conscientious about it, and you'll do fine. Mind her emotions, and make it as painless an experience as possible for her. That's how you build goodwill with people, and keep your bridges intact without burning them like a lot of folks do. Because, in the end, you never know when you might need to go back across one of those bridges...!


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Mason's picture

Chase you have great insight into the psychology of human interactions and I would like further insight into the following statement "keep your bridges intact without burning them like a lot of folks do. Because, in the end, you never know when you might need to go back across one of those bridges...!"
To me it comes from a state of fear, that, if at somepoint in the future I come across this person and I need their help or support to accomplish a particular goal I will not be able to, since I have already burned that bridge, and I may "need" them in the future.
If you need to burn a bridge then so be it and one should be resourceful enough to work around the burnt bridge. This is my take on it but it may be misguided. I would like hear your thoughts.

Chase Amante's picture


Hey Mason, good to see you again. You raise a fair point; the way I put that does sound a little fear-based and alarmist.

I actually tend to be rather efficiency-focused and utilitarian in a lot of ways, and connections with people get that treatment too. I'm warm and friendly, but I'm still very practical in my dealings with others, too. Generally speaking, I view maintaining bridges as an important element to all manner of success, and I've seen it borne out in a variety of ways in my own life. People I could've cut ties with, ignored, or been cold to but didn't ended up coming back later and contributing to my life in all kinds of ways.

It probably is a little scare-tactic-sounding to caution people to avoid making enemies, but, well... people can do crazy things sometimes. Usually you don't know how someone will help you (or hurt you) down the road.

What I'll say is this: I have a lot of friends who burn bridges, and I see enemies they've made work to get back at them later on, or people they've gone cold with who could've helped them but choose not to. Meantime, I keep my bridges intact, and I get people helping me out in unexpected, highly beneficial ways later on.

I suppose I would've managed had I not maintained the bridges I did with various people that I didn't necessarily need to maintain them with along the lines; I would've made do had a guy from my past not helped me relocate to California all-expenses-paid and get a good job there when I was on the verge of being laid off; I would've been all right if my ex-girlfriend wasn't still on good terms with me and able to manage my affairs back home while I travel abroad; I would've survived had I not had various people to step up and fill in the blanks for me on running successful businesses when I had no idea what I was doing. Probably.

Would I have done the things I wanted to do or lived the life I wanted to live? Hard to say. And not all bridges are created equal... but I do think you get a net benefit toward your life by at least staying on friendly terms with people, or if you must end things, ending them on friendly terms.

Just my take on it, and different people may have different experiences. I've just had a lot of people from the past pop up again later on and end up having an important, beneficial role in my life, and I've caught myself more than a few times thinking, "Wow, I almost cut ties with that person. Now here they are making my life so much better!" Diplomacy's one of those things I think it's easy to undervalue, because you don't see any immediate impact usually, but it ends up being like a snowball rolling downhill as life progresses.

Keeping people in your corner seems to me to be good planning. Sometimes moderately more difficult in the short run, but often immensely rewarding in the long run.


Jeremy's picture

So I met a girl at a club tonight, and we had great conversation, and everything was great. She said we should hang out and asked for my phone number. No problem there, I like making new friends. She went in for a hug. Awesome, I think hugs are excellent.

Then she kissed my cheek, and that has distressed me a bit. She seems like a wonderful person. Smart, attractive, kind. I already have a girlfriend, though, and I have for two years. I wasn't trying to lead this girl on, but I think through my own ham-headedness I did just that, and now I'm not entirely sure how to deal with it. I don't want to make her feel stupid, and I also want to minimize my feeling like a jerk, if possible.

Is there any particular way to work this? I would like to be friends with this girl, I just don't want to make anyone feel like they've been cheated.

Any help would be appreciated.

Chase Amante's picture


Hey Jeremy,

Always a bit of a sticky situation. Generally, if a girl digs you, she'll get pretty ticked off / cold the moment she realizes you aren't going to go for her, unless you help her understand why that is.

It depends how bad you want this girl as a friend. If you really want her as a friend, what I'd recommend doing is working to integrate her into your circle before telling her you have a girlfriend or letting her find out.

As an alternative, one of the EASIEST ways to clear the air on this one is to add her on Facebook if you're on there, and let her see all the pictures of you and your girlfriend. She'll figure it out. Then you can follow up with her a week or two later and invite her on a friendly outing of one sort or another.

Also, don't get carried away internally -- girls kiss lots of guys on the cheek that they like as friends. Personally, when girls try to kiss me on the cheek, I kinda pull my head away and look at them like they're crazy -- none of that "nice guy friend stuff" for me!

Chances are, you're probably okay, and I'd read it that you both have the same intentions -- you like her as a friend, and she likes you as a friend. That's not to say it couldn't become something else if you were a single guy and moved things forward, but I'd reckon you'll be A-OK proceeding with her as a pal, rather than a paramour.


Azahn's picture

Have you ever let a woman down being firm and absolute on more than four occasion to show you are not interested? I can't seem to get my horny female co-worker to stop chasing me by letting them(seven in total) easy Chase. All seven are in auto rejection now, and they have targets on my head. I have above average presence for my age, I'm 21. It wasn't all ways like this, this took me months to get my presence right. I looked to you for advise back then, It worked to! Women in every form flirt with me, my teachers, managers to work, women twice my age. I not interested in my boss, nor horny co worker, nor 45 year old women. I need the Atomic Bomb on how to let women down easy without them going into auto rejection like these seven horny(angry and hostile) women. They assume I'm playing hard to get, when I wasn't interested at all.(To be their boyfriends and husbands). The other men at work worship the ground they walk on. So when I really and true don't show them interest, Bam, their already in auto rejection. Gossiping and trying to conquer me. What would you do If she just can't get the hint Chase?
I don't want revenge nor punishment, I just a point of view or a solution, from a man who loves women as much as I do.

Chase Amante's picture


Ha, that's a fun one, Azahn!

Try this: get a photograph of you and some girl together, frame it, and put it on your desk. When they see that, they'll know you have a girlfriend, which'll alleviate some of their hostility -- at least they'll have a reason to pin your disinterest on.

Aside from that though... sometimes you really just have to flirt, and that's the way the game is played in the corporate world. I used to work with flirtatious older women too, and I'd just flirt back and all'd be fine. They'd get the self-esteem boost of knowing that a young, sexy guy was (in their fantasies) into them (they still "had it," so to speak), and I'd get a peaceful office environment and coworkers ready to go to bat for me (if you were a 45 year old guy and that 21 year old girl you liked always flirted a little with her, you'd sure do your best to help her out and defend her when necessary; works the other way, too).

So, maybe give flirting back a shot, and get a picture on your desk. Rather than shoot these old gals down, maybe build them up a little bit -- just because you're flirting doesn't mean you're agreeing to a roll in the hay, you know? ;)


Eddie's picture

So just wanted to say that due to your advice, I pulled a girl in one conversation. Didnt expect it but she was really digging me and I told her I liked her at the end of the conversation and she felt really honored by that for some reason and I told that dating could be a viable option for us but not immediate. She liked that idea as she doesnt want to take things too fast. It's one thing getting her in bed fast but a relationship in one conversation is kinda nuts.

Anyway, since I told her it could be a viable option, I've definitely left myself an out but at the same time, I'm a bit unsure what to do about it.

I dont want to leave her in the cold. We could end up dating but I haven't made up my mind yet. These events only just occurred last night so we'll see as time goes on. I'm just thinking in the case of if we don't date, how I choose to break it to her. Two main things that are important to accomplish is 1) being straightforward with her and 2) making sure she understands so she doesn't feel dumb about it.

I guess my question is how exactly do you put a positive spin on the situation so that we can end up staying as friends if it ever comes to the point that we aren't going to be dating? I dont like burning bridges either so I'm looking forward to what you have to say.

Chase Amante's picture


Hey again, Eddie-

Well, the cool news here is, you're under no obligation to actually start dating this girl OR to let her down, unless she's SUPER hard up pressing you to do so.

When you haven't slept with a girl yet or haven't spent a lot of time on her, she isn't going to have the kind of strong, built-up emotions that a girl who's been intimate with you or who's invested a great deal in you has, which means she might have fantasies of the two of you together, but without you taking action those fantasies will be fleeting.

If you just want her as a friend, just spend time with her like a friend, and do nothing more. She'll get the hint pretty fast, and she'll look for someone else to fill the role of boyfriend or lover in her life.


Anonymous's picture

Hi Guys ,

Any advice you can give for ending it with a girl after 5 years?
It has been a long time coming and I have done the dirty on her a few times before but she just keeps coming back and I know she loves me. I just want to let her down easy. cheers

Nick's picture

Hey just wondering if anyone s responding to these posts anymore because I see the date stamp is 2011 and it is obviously 2012 now and I do have my own predicament that well I've talked with friends about but close friends even can only give to a connected view and while I want advice on a further out scale in order to see what someone with an aerial view of my situation would tell me but I don't feel safe asking advice of not so close friends because the rumor factor is a chance that I'll end up inadvertently hurting someone by simply asking advise on how not to, anyways I did have a question but first I wanted to post this just to get a feel for if your even still reading your responses chase, I don't know you so I don't intent any harm by asking just I have my own blogs and I don't always have time to catch and reply to all posts so if your still out there please reply via the email I gave and I'll post my predicament

Jake's picture

ok i have a big problem with a good friend me and her got into a short chat and out of no where comes shockung news she has a crush on me i dont feal the same for her but can say i dont like you that way (shes got a soft heart) and then i can get into a relationship with her im trying to stay single but its hard on me i dont know what to tell her bo i be mean and say the truth just ignor it or just go for it and hope for the best i just want to know how to say i dont like you that way with out crushing her soul plz help chase (you may be my only hope)

Anonymous's picture

Isn't this being dishonest? If you really met someone else that you hit it off with and that is the reason you are leaving this girl, it is dishonest to say, I'm just too busy with work, so I can't see you any more.

Anonymous's picture

I read your article and couldn't help but notice that #1. and #3 pretty much totally contradict each other.

I would have to say that as you stated in 1. & 2. you always want to be direct and honest with a girl. Sometimes you do get a vibe though that a girl won't be able to handle the truth so maybe if she pushes for an answer you could have said "I don't think our personalities match".

To be truthful though, I don't think I or anyone else knows how to simultaneously be honest without ever hurting someone's feelings. If a girl asks for your reason then she obviously thinks she can handle it, so I think a good goal would be to tell her but in a way that's as tactful as possible.

Eli's picture

Hi Chase,

So the situation goes, I am 17 years old, currently studying, and on my campus is a very sweet girl (18yo) who has taken a liking to me, we chat frequently, whether in class, via text, fb, etc. And she is forever pushing for me to meet her outside of schooling hours, and spend more time with her, and seems very smitten, so much so that I go so far as to say she's rather infatuated. At this point in time, I wish to focus on my studies, and that alone, I have made an attempt at writing my own let down letter for her, please, any insight as to how I might improve it would be greatly appreciated, or even better if it's fine. (note that I have a firm belief in Buddhism and hold it's ideals in high regards)

So, the letter goes,

"I'm not one for letter writing,

The Buddhists say if you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soul mate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation. I enjoy spending time with you, and I value you and I as friends. I am someone who when they invest their mind, body, and soul into something, my devotion for that one thing is absolute, and right now that thing is my studies. Being involved with someone at this point in time would come at a price to my concentration. I appreciate that you are able to express to me how you feel, it was cool receiving your letter. Mikayla, I am not one for letter writing, but I hope this conveys clearly, how I feel about things, that you don't feel any animosity towards our relationship.



Your thoughts?

The Cheat's picture

Be honest. I would never buy the broad reasoning and it would cause me to feel belittled intellectually. Tell a girl what she's doing wrong or she'll think a thousand things that may not have been the reason. So what if she hates you. She'll respect you. And not blame herself.

Buck Sergeant's picture

There ain't no bad guy
There's just you and me
And we just disagree