Girls can be placed in an awkward position when they are asked out.
How should a girl turn down a guy? Can a woman serve her brother in Christ who goes out on a limb to ask her out on a date? The apostle Paul tells us that whether we eat or drink, we should do everything to the glory of God. This does not exclude the moment when a girl is faced with the decision to say no to a pursuer. Thankfully, there is a biblical way to turn a guy down for the glory of God. Christ can help us even in the most uncomfortable of moments.
Compassion: Decline as you would want to be declined
One biblical truth to apply to this situation is “love your neighbor as yourself.”
I believe it is the biblical role of the man to pursue the woman. Women should not be asking out guys on dates. Ladies, if a guy doesn’t have the courage to ask you out in person, he is not worth your time. But reverse the roles in your head for just a moment and ask: “how would I want to be rejected?”
If you were nervous and your voice was cracking in the moment you asked out the person of your dreams, how would you want to be turned down? Graciously? Harshly? Flippantly?
If you are in the position to be asked out, it is likely because the guy found you attractive and enjoyable to be around. This is an honor! With the power of Christ, you can reject a romantic offer in a way that is gracious, kind, and shows that you are truly flattered that he would ask you on a date.
Declining a date doesn’t have to involve only pain. It can also be an opportunity to build one another up. There is a way to build up your brother when you decline his date. Even if he totally caught you off guard when asking you out, let him know that you appreciate the offer and are thankful for him.
Clear Intentions and a Concise Response
Many girls feel badly they are saying “no” to a guy. In order to lessen the blow, they will often leave the door open for the future. I know of some very kind girls who unintentionally offered hope that romance might be kindled in the future even though they had zero interest in a future relationship.
Even though it is hard, it is loving to seal the door shut if you are not interested in the guy romantically. When declining a romantic relationship, it is important to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:25-29).
If you are really not interested, then do not give a hint of a future possibility. Be clear with your intentions state that friendship is the only thing you are interested in. If you are tempted to keep talking in order to break the awkwardness of the moment, talk about something else besides romance. God is kind to give us wisdom and grace to be slow to speak.
Being clear and concise is like ripping a band-aid off quickly – it may hurt but it is only for a few seconds and doesn’t leave any gooey residue. You don’t want to an awkward saga that drags on for weeks when it could have been handled in a few seconds.
Ask for grace from God to be honest in your communication. It is important not to hide behind an excuse that really isn’t truthful.
“It is not God’s will for me right now” – While this statement may have good intentions, it actually places the blame on God and dodges ownership. It is more helpful to be upfront and say that you are not interested in romance and friendship is the only option on the table.
“It is not the right time” – Only say this if you want to be asked out again next month by the same guy. It would be more helpful to say that you are grateful but it is not going to work out.
“I’m not ready to date anyone yet” – If this is true, then it is good to be humble and admit this. However, this can also leave a kernel of hope for the guy to nurse on for the next several months. If you truly are not ready to date yet and also happen to know that you would never date the guy who asked you out, you should be upfront and not use this as an alibi. It is better to tell him you are not interested in a relationship with him.
What if they ask for a reason?
This is inevitably going to happen: A guys asks you out and catches you a little off-guard. You agree with everything I just said above and try to say something that is compassionate, clear and concise.
You say: “I am thankful for your offer. That is very kind that you would ask me. I am going to say no, but I am thankful for you as my brother.”
There is an awkward silence and then the guy asks for a reason. He wants to know why you are turning him down. What should you do?
There is a time to speak and there is a time not to speak. It depends upon what would be most loving to tell him and what would serve him long term.
Depending upon the situation and the nature of the friendship, we can image a scenario when it is loving to explain why you are not interested. Perhaps he is immature in a particular area spiritually and could really benefit from hearing a compassionate reason why you are not interested in him romantically. You will need to exercise wisdom before responding. Does the guy have a soft heart and ears to hear? Would he benefit from knowing about a particular area so that he can grow and be helped? If so, this may require an extra measure of boldness, but you can treat him as your brother in Christ.
Let’s say the issue is that he is undisciplined and doesn’t manage his time well. If he is asking for clarification, you could say something like: “I am honored you would ask me out, but I have actually noticed there is a particular area in your life that gives me pause. I have noticed that you devote a lot of time to recreation and I wonder if you are neglecting responsibilities at work or in your spiritual life. From my perspective, this is an area that needs attention before a relationship can be considered. I say this not as a superior, but as your sister in Christ. You should also know that I am not sharing this reason with others, but only tell you this because you asked for clarification.”
There are other times when it would simply be more loving to remain clear and concise without offering the specific reason.
One example might be: If you think he is ugly, then you don’t need to share that information with him. It would be obviously unloving to say, “Well I just think you look like the hunchback of Notre-dame.” Instead, you can stand your ground and simple say, “Thank you again for asking, but I am not interested in a romantic relationship together. I am thankful to be your friend, but that is all that is available.” If you shower him with kindness and repeat yourself again, it is likely he will get the point and conclude that it is best for him not to know the reason.
No one wants to be turned down, but everyone wants to be treated with compassion and truthfulness. If you are going to turn a guy down, God will give you grace to do so in a way that glorifies Christ. Ask the Lord for help during those uncomfortable moments and seek to honor your brother. They will appreciate your kindness and value you all the more as their sister in Christ. Whether you eat, or drink, or decline a date – do it all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
The content for this post has been expanded into Letters to a Romantic: On Engagement which will be released in 2017 by P&R Publishing.