The other day I was on the bus and this girl awkwardly walked up to me and started talking to me. She then gave me her number. I wasn't really interested in interacting more with her, so I pretended to write it down on my phone. I don't think she noticed, but I feel really bad about it.

How should one handle this in the future? I am not particularly skilled in talking to unknown people, much less unknown women. This probably happens to women a lot more than men, but the same answers should apply to men.

  • I find the [rejection] tag ambiguous and unclear. I don't exactly have a suggestion though either :/
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 20:16
  • 8
    Are you sure she wanted to hit on you? She might just have wanted to be friends? Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 20:24
  • This question is of a kind I am calling "asserting your boundaries". Please edit this question to add details about the specific problem you are facing beyond learning to be assertive while polite. Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 6:44
  • @curiousdannii What "details" do you want me to add that aren't already here?
    – 10 Replies
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 12:46
  • 1
    How would you want someone to act if you gave them your phone number and they weren't interested in you?
    – kem
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 17:35

7 Answers 7


Personally, my policy is two-fold:

  1. If the reason for rejection is likely to upset the person, just generically and politely indicate that you're not interested. "Sorry, I'm not interested" works in 99% of the cases, and only rarely would the person pursue "why?".

    In your specific example (you rejected them based on looks), this may be a good avenue. If they aren't conventionally attractive, they already know that from experience, so hearing that from Yet Another Person will just be more painful. If they are conventionally attractive, they may just view your "different" opinion as insult.

  2. If the reason for rejection is less likely to upset the person, you may want to honestly state the reason. Frankly, that's rarely useful, as most people wouldn't see much benefit in such details. But it probably wouldn't hurt if you say "sorry I already am in a relationship"/"sorry I'm a Jedi prohibited to have relationships".

However, having answered your direct question, I must agree with other commenters - in this specific case, it may be worth giving the person a chance to get to know you. They either are already greatly attracted to you, and/or are courageous, or both - both those factors are worthy to recommend in a partner.

One thing I would NOT recommend is "ghosting" the person (just not calling the number/emailing). If someone took the courage to approach you, at least be courteous enough to not leave them guessing and hanging. You want to encourage that in people; not discourage.

  • Is it ok to text instead of calling? Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 3:09
  • 3
    @mindwin that's subjective. Some people like me prefer text or don't care. Some care about old time etiquette and consider texting worse than a call. Either way text is infinitely better than nothing
    – DVK
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 11:41
  • 2
    I think that because a) the involved parties are probably young people, b) text does not force a immediate interaction, c) texting gives you and the other party more control over emotional responses, and d) you said "old time etiquette" -- texting could be a safer bet than a call. Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 15:06

You don't have to totally "reject" someone like this in the sense of not seeing them. On the other hand, you don't have to fully "accept" a romantic relationship with them.

The solution is to "cap" the relationship at your desired level; you're willing to be a friend, but not a boyfriend. That's the way you should act, and if the question is articulated, that's the way you should answer.


This indeed does not happen to men too often. However, I don't think you should reject the person entirely. The woman may not be attractive, but don't count out the fact that you two may have similar interests. She took a lot of courage walking up to you and giving you her number.

To answer your question:

In handling future situations (albeit this might not happen often) like these, I would simply say thank you for the number - and then when she walks away, don't do anything about it. Trash the number and move on, and simply place that person in your mind as an acquaintance.

Or, if you have the courage - you could tell the truth and say you're not interested. It'll prevent any future awkwardness.


I disagree with some of the answers in that I don't think you owe the person anything, just courtesy. It's not your job to protect her from feeling rejection. It's not your job to make her feel attractive.

Be nice and courteous, don't lie or deceive her, and you have nothing to worry about. You can continue to chat with her as a friend, but it might be mean to flirt with her or lead her on. If she asks, you can tell her how you feel. Most women are more attune to emotions than men, for whatever reason, so she'll probably be able to tell very fast.

In fact, women have to deal with extreme rejection from men all the time around the world. If someone is rejected politely and earnestly, their emotions are on them, at the end of the day.

Article on why rejection doesn't have to be explicit


If a stranger starts talking to me and they're being genuine but I'm not interested, I'll slip in something about "oh yeah my boyfriend and I are going to dinner tonight" or "My boyfriend is interested in them too!" Whether or not I have a boyfriend or not, that has always been my go to. That way the other person isn't left feeling with low self esteem since I never responded to their message/gave a fake number/or wouldn't give them my number. After interjecting that I have a boyfriend, if they continue and ask if they can have my number, I can feel more justified by declining them because I'm in a relationship and that I'd feel off giving my number to another man, no hard feelings though.


Say "I never do ___ on the first encounter". Nicely and directly, looking the person in the eye, neither too assertively, nor apologetically.

You'll fell better if it's not a lie, and you keep to this policy. Of course, you may have a regret or two. If you want to allow yourself an exception, you can follow up with "..but if we meet a second time on this bus then the rule won't apply" (this will require quick thinking) or "if we meet again in 1 minute at the cafe on the corner.."

You can also say something funny like "My mother/grandmother/teacher told me not to ____"; you must be or look mature enough to be sure this will be taken as a joke.


Well, it's an awkward thing to not reply if you had accepted her number at first place.It happened with me and I was/am committed so what I did was, I said to her that she is a very nice girl, but I am committed and engaged. And she will get to know another good guy. In this way, she didn't feel sorry or awkward and nothing like "being ugly". So that's the best I can think of rejection without hurting anyone. And regardless of what people say, let's try as far as possible, not to hurt anyone.

  • 1
    I don't know. I think contacting someone who I am not interested in to tell them I am not interested in them defeats the point. Expecially since not calling/texting them conveys the same message and I don't need to awkwardly reject them via text.
    – 10 Replies
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 11:08
  • Well i totally agree with you, but my point is not to give false hopes to anyone that will hurt them later on.
    – Kylo Ren
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 7:28

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