Whether a stranger is hitting on you in a bar or you get a date request on your online dating profile, turning it down isn’t always easy. If you care about being polite and not hurting anyone’s feelings, here’s how to turn down a date in the best ways.

Being unclear about your rejection doesn’t help, but being mean is also a bad idea. Find out how to say “no” to a date without adding any humiliation or other negative emotions to the rejection.

Never Say “Maybe” If You Mean “No”

Turning someone down easy doesn’t mean sneaking in a “maybe” when what you’d really like to say is “no”. Take a moment to get your thoughts together and be honest. Blurting out anything that sounds like a “maybe” might make him redouble his efforts to convince you and make the final rejection even more unpleasant for everybody.

Be Blunt, But Not Mean

When you’re wondering how to turn down a date without hurting his feelings, go for short, even if it’s not sweet. The shorter you make it, the sooner he can move on. Make sure that you’re not mean or rude, just honest. If you’re going to get wishy washy with your answer, you’re stringing him along and that’s not pleasant to anyone. Sometimes a simple “No, thank you” does the trick without any complications.

Turn Down A Guy Nicely

Don’t Make Up Lies

If you really care about his feelings, lying becomes a big temptation. However, saying that you already have a boyfriend or you just went exclusive with someone else is a really bad idea when there’s a big chance he’ll find out the truth. It might be the quickest way to end the moment with a stranger in a bar, but if there’s any chance he finds out the truth, then he’ll feel even more hurt that you had to lie just to get away from him.

More: Good Excuses to Get Out of a Date

Add a Compliment

When you’re struggling to turn down a date in the most positive way possible, simply add a compliment. If you don’t know him very well, compliment his clothing, or just something nice after turning him down. When you turn down a date, that can soften the blow without giving false hope. Also, make sure that you mean it.

Don’t Imply There’s a Possibility You’ll Reconsider

Going for the “I’m really busy right now” approach or “I’m not ready to date again” is rarely a good idea, since it pretty much amounts to leading him on. The quick way to say “no” may not be completely painless, but at least it doesn’t give false hope. Be particularly careful to avoid this is you have any common acquaintances.

Avoid Shoving Him in the Friend Zone

If you’re wondering how to turn down a date with someone who seems great, just not for you, don’t instantly friend zone him. That’s another way of creating false hopes. Many men will take on the friend role in the hopes of convincing you they’re dating material later on.

Offer an Explanation... If You Feel Like It

Some men need genuine help when it comes to dating. If the guy you just turned down asks you for a reason or explanation, you’re in no way obligated to give it to him. “You’re not my type” is a nice way out, but if you feel like giving more detailed info and he seems to be up for constructive criticism, go for it.

Declining A Guy Nicely

Don’t Send Mixed Messages

Smiling is a good way you can sugarcoat your rejection when you want to know how to turn down a date without any hurt feelings. However, touching or certain kind of smiles could be interpreted as flirting. Keep it short without being extra nice to him afterwards, or he’ll think he might have another shot and keep pestering you.

See also: 5 Myths About Men

How to Turn Down a Date Online

Turning down a date on a dating site is a lot simpler. You have the perfect alibi: his profile! Just be nice about it, add a compliment and be clear that you’re not interested. Saying “no” politely is much easier online.

How to Turn Down a Second Date

If you’ve already agreed to a pity date or just a regular one that didn’t go as well as you thought it might, then speak out at the end. The right way to turn down a date after you’ve already had drinks and he wants to see you again is to simply say you had a nice time but you didn’t feel like you really connected and you want to keep dating other people.