1. Don’t laugh it off
You might think that this is a way of diffusing tension, but joking about the situation can be condescending and make the other person feel belittled instead of taken seriously.
2. Acknowledge his feelings
Be polite and compassionate to the other person – what if it were you bearing your soul to someone? You have the option of saying that you’re flattered and follow up with a positive comment about him so that the rejection is less intense.
3. Or gradually distance yourself
If avoiding him or giving the cold shoulder doesn’t feel like the right thing to do, slowly distance yourself and keep yourself busy with other people, your hobbies, and new adventures. Don’t respond to texts right away or seem too interested in their life. This sends a subtle hint without you needing to confront the situation directly.
4. Share feelings from your perspective
You can let him know more about the situation – maybe you see him like a brother, or maybe you already have a boyfriend. If he’s a co-worker, you can say that you don’t mix work and play.
5. Don’t be flirtatious, even if it’s naturally in your personality
This might send mixed signals even though you act like this in a range of social situations, but you don’t want to send the wrong message or a sliver of hope if there is none!
6. Avoid awkwardness by avoiding him
This might seem weird, but sometimes it’s better than trying to awkwardly salvage a friendship. If not permanently, just avoid him temporarily until the tension leaves – maybe give it a month or so and avoid common hangout places.
7. Move away from unwanted advances abruptly and say no
If a physical boundary is crossed, flinch and draw away for them. Tell them to stop and that they need to respect your personal space. Creating this boundary and reinforcing that inappropriate physical content is unacceptable is a good way to get the sentiment across.
8. Make it clear that it’s not personal
This will help protect their self-esteem, and also let them know that the situation doesn’t center around them. You can say something along the Iines of, “I know you like me, but I’m not interested. It’s nothing personal and I think of you as a valuable friend.”
9. Most importantly, deflect those guilty feelings
It’s not your fault that you‘re not attracted to someone, it’s just an unfortunately reality. Distance yourself despite guilty feelings – express that you’re sorry the other person isn’t happy, but know that it’s not your responsibility to make them happy.
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé