How to Decline a Relationship Graciously

{By Samantha Roose}

Dear Friend,

I heard you are encountering a difficult situation and I wanted to share some rare advice.  Please read the following with grace and understanding, realizing that these are situations and thoughts I have stumbled upon.  I am in no way an authority on the following subject. It is merely my hope to present what I have found as I have sought the Lord. So, take what you can and leave the rest. I’m under the strong opinion that guys and girls can in fact be ‘just friends’.

However, what should you do when you learn that one of the guys whose friendship you greatly enjoy as ‘just a friend’ is actually madly in love with you?!

how to decline love graciously

It’s not a situation any of us look forward to or one that gets easier the more you walk through it.  However, it is an opportunity to glorify God and practice selflessness. In fact it is one of the most selfless situations I have ever encountered.

Here are some key points to remember:

1. Fix your focus.

Look ahead. Don’t avoid. Walk faithfully. 

I once heard a story about driving a race car.  A young man received the opportunity of a lifetime to drive a race car on a racetrack.  Coming around the first turn at break neck speed he turned the steering wheel but his eyes were riveted to the wall of the track speeding toward him.  Suddenly, his driving coach turned the wheel and shouted, “Look where you want to go!”  The car corrected itself. They were approaching the second turn. This time he turned the wheel and fixed his eyes far beyond the sharp turn. No near-death encounter this time.

Moral of the story: look where you want to go. Focus is everything.

When I want my dancers to leap higher I tell them to look up.  It’s simple and it works every time.  As I have walked through graciously declining attention I focus on two things: 1) how can I glorify God most; 2) how can I serve the young man best.  If your goal is to bring God glory and point the young man in your life to Christ that’s what you need to focus on.  Even if those things are your goal, but you’re focusing on not causing him pain you’ll cause pain anyway just like the “racecar” driver the first time around.  His goal was to get around the turn, but he was focused on not running into the wall.  Don’t look at the problem, or even attempt to avoid the problem.  Fix your focus on where you want to go.

2. Communicate clearly.

Don’t delay. Don’t sugar coat it. Be honest. 

As women we innately want to lessen the impact or significance of any pain we might inflict.  So, when faced with a difficult discussion or sticky situation we sometimes procrastinate, hoping that the attraction will fade away.  Other times we beat around the bush and hint at our feelings in order to let them down gently. However, men are programed differently than women and grasp onto any shred of hope we leave.  A good friend of mine once told me of a conversation with her brother.  She mentioned that if “blank” guy was ever to get in a relationship then she would know he was not her guy.  Her brother looked at her and said, “What do you mean?  There’s definitely still a chance.  Nothing is final until they are engaged and even then there is still a little bit of hope.”

My friend and I laughed over this story, but through it I realized when we do not communicate clearly with the young men in our lives we are not serving them or saving them from pain.  Instead, we are serving ourselves.  Clear communication is the most selfless choice we can make.  Honest and prompt communication although difficult is one of the best ways we can respect and honor the men in our lives.

3. Intentionally Affirm.

Be respectful. Don’t degrade. Speak truth.

Regardless of the situation gentlemen are children of God as such they deserve respect.  Graciously declining love does not include stepping on the men in our lives, putting them down, or shredding their masculinity.  If anything it is an opportunity to point them toward Christ. Do NOT take this as an opportunity to paint a picture of all the inadequacies you see in him.  Instead point out the strengths in your admirer. Essentially you are saying, “I do not want to be ‘more than friends’ with you, however you are good guy whom I respect and believe will do great things.”

Being respectful and encouraging with your communication is selfless. When you are admired “against your will” it’s tempting to tell them all the reasons why they aren’t who you want as “more than a friend.”  Guys lay a lot on the line when admiring a lady.  Your goal is to communicate that you are turning down their attention/affection, not them as a person.  Setting aside your frustration and acknowledging the young man as a child of God is selfless and brings God glory.

Finally, trust God.  Trust God with his heart.  Trust God with your heart. 

Trust God with you future.  And trust God with all the heart involved.  If you are being obedient and seeking God’s will and glory above all He will do exceedingly, abundantly, above all you can ask or imagine.  He is a faithful God who does work all things together for His children.



What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced a friend wanting to be more than friends? Comment below! 


  1. As a male, I agree with most of what you are saying, except with: “I do not want to be ‘more than friends’ with you, however you are good guy whom I respect and believe will do great things.”
    The second part is very neat and all, but most likely we men already know our qualities, and reinforcing that is what probably is helping us stay in =the dreaded friend zone=.
    I think it would be more efficient to be told the reasons for =why not more than just friends=, maybe it’s just me, but i personally want to know where I’m failing so I may improve, for my next time (since this one’s a lost cause).
    Yes, maybe if I get to know why this girl is not interested I might start hoping again that by improving she might be interested!
    But not if she makes it absolutely clear why not. If I get told “i don’t want to be more than friends because you have a weird laugh” or “you have a weird looking face”, I’ll deal with it, and move on. I’ll understand that ‘my soulmate’ will get to love me as I am, no matter what. (And especially not physically, since we humans tend to look more at the physical, and think that the psychological will be alike, and looking deeper inside the other fellow is “hard”).
    I prefer a hard blow low kick where it hurts the most, than years of fear (of losing her), uncertainty and doubt.
    Other than that, we should just wait, ask in prayer, and wait some more, until He shows who is destined for me.
    Seek and you shall find, but seek properly asking The One who knows best, and do not waste time with dates and mind games of attraction and lore of that sort.

    • Thank you so much for your reply and male perspective. I appreciate you taking time to not only read but also share how we can best communicate and navigate grciously.

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