How To Say No To A Marriage Proposal (9 Amicable Ways)

Last updated on June 8, 2022 by April Maccario

So this guy you’ve been dating for some time now finally summons up the courage to ask you to be his in his life forever. 

You notice that he’s trying to figure out your ring size, and secretly making phone calls about a surprise proposal. You’ve probably searched yourself, looking for that feeling that would tell you you’re ready to get married to this person, but it’s not surfacing.

You may think that it’s weird to feel this way, but it’s actually not, many guys have proposed to their girlfriends and gotten turned down. 

Some people may frown at this, and maybe even throw jabs at you, but marriage is a serious business. Maybe if some ladies or even men, had turned down their marriage proposals, there wouldn’t be so many divorces today. 

Being in a relationship is one thing, but taking things a step further and fully committing is another. Both parties have to be ready, plus, it’s better to turn down a marriage proposal before plans, money, and major commitments have been put into the actual wedding ceremony.

9 Ways To Say No To A Marriage Proposal

So let’s rewind a bit, do you think your boyfriend is planning to take the relationship to the next level? Or do you suspect that he’s planning a surprise proposal that you don’t feel excited about in the least bit? Are you afraid you won’t be able to give him the answer he expects? Then it’s time to figure out exactly what to do if you’re in this situation.

I’ve been doing some major research on the subject, and have some helpful tips that should get you out of this fix without too many hearts getting broken.

1. It’s okay to say no

It’s okay to say no

Let’s get this out of the way first, ask yourself this; ‘is it compulsory to date every guy that asks you on a date?’ what’s your answer? No right? The same applies here; it’s your life, and saying no to a marriage proposal doesn’t mean you’re wicked or rude. Personally, I think that a guy has to be at least 95% sure his girlfriend wants to marry him before proposing.

Both of you should have discussed it before, or some hints should have at least been thrown around. Now, this is when saying no would be mean; if you were sending him signals, suggesting he should put a ring on it, then finally bail when he does so. Remember, I said it would be mean, cruel even, but we can’t necessarily say it’s wrong. 

Seeing that marriage is a life-long decision, you still have the right to reject his request, but I can’t assure you he won’t be heartbroken, or even resentful.

2. Do it before he proposes

Okay, ladies, you know how we are, we sometimes know when a guy is getting ready to pop the question. He starts having those secret phone calls, asking about our favorite colors and all that. This is the thing, the best time to tell him to press pause on his plans is now! Don’t keep quiet and let him go ahead with it, then make him look like a fool.

If you suspect he’s going to propose, and have no intention of saying yes, please do the right thing and tell him you're not ready for that kind of commitment yet. He may think you’re at that stage in your relationship where things should progress to the next level, but you’re not on the same page. 

That’s totally okay, preferably in the night when everything is calm, hint, or plainly state that you’re not ready for a committed relationship. 

3. Do it discreetly

Okay, so maybe you didn’t notice all the planning and scheming going on behind your back, and you walk into a room full of flowers, balloons, and all that, then what do you do? Cool your nerves, there's no need to get angry or walk out, if you actually love this man, you’ll find a way to pull him aside to a quiet area and tell him you need to talk. 

It doesn’t even have to be immediate, once you tell him you guys need to talk, he’ll know something is up. The good thing is, he’ll know that away from the cameras or the crowd if there’s one. Yes, he may be expecting you to give him an answer there, but insist to have that talk first. 

4. Do it empathetically

Alright, please keep in mind that this is someone’s child you're saying no to, he’s a human being with very real feelings. Yes, he may be a macho, extra-masculine man, that doesn’t matter; rejection could break any guy no matter how manly he is. So you’ll want to do this as empathetic as possible.

The first thought that should cross your mind is how you feel when you’re being refused of something or by someone. It hurts, and it’s generally not a nice feeling, so cut him some slack, it takes real courage to come out and ask you to marry him. Don’t get mad, or yell at him for proposing without letting you know. 

Of course, if you had told him in very clear terms that you’re not going to marry him, or if he decides to propose to cover up for something bad he’s done (like cheat) you’re allowed to have less mercy.  

5. Be simple and direct

Some guys know how to weasel themselves around situations; the eye contact, the ‘baby don’t embarrass me, my parents are here.’ Of course, this person means a lot to you, and you don't want to break his heart, but it will happen sometime. If you don’t think you’re ready for that type of relationship, you have to let him know. 

You may have known this person for a long time, but that’s no excuse to pity him and respond in the affirmative. That’s the worst thing you can do; ‘pity-love someone. If you get the chance, ask him if you guys can step out for a moment, even though there are many people around. Tell him in very clear terms that you can’t say yes to his marriage proposal. 

Both of you can discuss the ‘why’ later on, try not to make a scene, or argue about it. Insist to ditch the party or maybe still have fun if that makes sense, but get home and talk things out. It’s a bad idea to talk at the venue, one person may end up shouting, angry, or causing a scene. 

6. Be clear about what you want

Be clear about what you want

If your answer to his marriage proposal is no, then you have to state it in clear terms. Don’t beat about the bush; it’s possible you’re not just ready to graduate into that kind of committed relationship, let him no. Saying no to a marriage proposal doesn’t have to be the end of that relationship, but it could be if you handle things badly.

People don’t like to be played with, especially when they are feeling involved. So after giving him your answer, let him know what you want. Do you want to end the relationship? Do you want to continue dating for a while before giving him the answer he craves? Lay it all on the table. 

This in no way means you should lead him on, don’t give him false hopes that there'll be any wedding plans in the future if you know there won’t. 

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7. Treat them with respect

Alright, so he goes down on one knee, gives a heartwarming speech, and asks you to marry him, but you’re so thrown off, you immediately say a loud ‘no!’ Hold the brakes for a bit, did this guy meet you and then propose three weeks later? If yes, then maybe he does deserve that no, but if he’s been in your life for some time, and you really do love him, then he deserves some respect.

Yes, marriage is a life-long decision, and you ultimately have the right to say no, but you can do it respectfully. This guy was expecting a positive answer, he thought you’d say yes and agree to be his life partner. Storming off or cutting him mid-sentence isn’t a nice way to get your point across

Don’t fake your emotions for him, but don’t be too cruel as well, talk gently but emphatically and be as kind as possible. 

8. Applaud their effort

There’s really little you can do to prevent him from being upset, you just said no to his marriage proposal, it would be weird if he was indifferent about it. You can politely applaud him for all the effort he put into the engagement arrangements. If he did a great job, let him know. He probably invited your family members and put a lot of thought into this proposal.

Tell him how much you appreciate him for even considering you to be his life partner, and compliment him on the effort he put in. It’s your own way of saying thank you, even though you said no. Remember, if you love this guy, no one has to know about how you turned him down, respect him enough to deal with the situation, and move on. 

9. Don’t give unreasonable excuses

“You’re too good for me, I wouldn’t make a good wife, I don’t deserve you,” Please don’t say any of these things. It’s so cliche and basic, it’s almost more hurtful than a simple no. This person is no idiot, he’ll need a real and honest reason why you think getting married to him is such a bad idea. 

People are touchy like that, and if you’re being honest, you would react the same way. It’s different from being turned down at the beginning of a relationship, both of you have probably dated for a while and gotten to know each other. So now he’s wondering ‘if I’m so bad and unsuitable, why did you stick with me all this time?’

Don’t lie to him or give flimsy, scripted answers, let him know that marriage is an important life decision, and you can’t get married to him having doubts, or out of pity/pressure. 


How do you decline a proposal?

If you notice your partner is planning a proposal, try to send him some signals to make him understand that you’re not ready for that kind of commitment. This will save him the stress of actually proposing and getting turned down. If he surprises you with a proposal, take him aside and let him know you’ll have to say no to his request.

How do you say no to Rishta?

It’s the 21st century, and while culture and traditions are still very important, your happiness should also be considered. Rishta is an arranged marriage, and some families would respect their children's wishes not to go ahead with the marriages. In more urban areas, it’s not as easy as this, rejecting an arranged marriage could mean some harsh consequences, especially when the couple involved are still dependent on their parents. 

How do you respond to a marriage proposal?

If you have no intention of marrying the guy, the right thing to do is to pull him aside and explain that you can’t marry him. Yes, he thought you’d say yes, but marriage is a serious business, so if you don’t think he’s the one, discreetly let him know you can’t marry him.

How do you reject a proposal without hurting him?

The truth is, rejecting a marriage proposal is one of the most heart-wrenching things to do, regardless of how difficult and cruel it seems, it needs to be done. He may still feel hurt, but he’ll feel more wounded if you humiliate him. So try your best to tell him you can’t marry him as respectively and empathetically as possible. Don’t rub it in his face or mock him, clearly let him know that you can’t agree to what he’s asking. 

How do you politely reject a project proposal?

Ask him nicely if you can speak to him outside, and maintain a respectful distance, don’t send him mixed signals, and try to be as direct and clear as possible. Let him know the real reason you don’t want to get married to him, don’t lie about it. Try to keep your emotions in check and try not to express any anger, if you want the relationship to continue, let him know. However, if you don’t see any future with this guy, don’t lead him on. 

To Sum Things Up

Rejecting your boyfriend's proposal can be very emotionally difficult, but it’s the right thing to do if you’re not on board with his marriage plan. If you do it right; respectfully and empathetically, he might feel less hurt or dejected about it. Remember, marriage is a lifelong decision, don’t cower and agree to marry him because you feel bad for him, you might regret it in the future.

I hope you enjoyed reading through this list, if it helped you, please share it with a friend, family member, or neighbor that may need it. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the topic, kindly leave your comments in the section below. 

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April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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