How to Politely Turn Down a Workout Friend Date

How to Graciously Decline an Invitation

Here are some tips on how to turn down an invitation in the most polite way:

  1. Don’t ignore the invitation. Putting the invitation aside to deal with later isn’t good for you or the person who sent it. The host needs to know whether or not you’ll be there. Ignoring the invitation shows that you don’t know proper manners, and you might be left off the guest list for the next party. 
  2. Don’t wait. As soon as you know you’ll be unable to go, let the person know. Most events require planning and budgeting.
  3. Be thankful. Always sincerely thank the person for inviting you and let them know that you’re honored that they think highly enough of you to send the invitation.
  4. Be honest. You don’t ever have to come up with false excuses for why you’re unable to go to the event, but you also don’t have to go into detail. Let them know that you already have plans. That should be enough.
  5. Ask for a different time. If the invitation is exclusive to you, let the person know you’re unable to make it at the time requested, but you’d love to get together at another time. This is obviously not an option if it’s a group get-together.
  6. Don’t over-explain. If you can’t make it, keep your explanation short and to the point. Doing otherwise will make it sound like you’re just trying to come up with excuses.
  7. Send something. If you would typically bring a gracious gift to whatever event you were invited to, such as a birthday party or baby shower, go ahead and send something with a card attached. Mention something about wishing you could be there and add that you look forward to seeing them soon.

Illustration: The Spruce / Chloe Giroux


8. Set some boundaries

If someone you know quite well has asked you out, you might want to set some boundaries with them.

Maybe they thought they had a chance with you because of how they’ve interpreted your behavior, in which case you may want to evaluate how you act around them.

When you think someone is just a friend, you might be more likely to be tactile with them – after all, if it’s just friendship, you don’t need to worry about mixed messages.

If the friend is misinterpreting your actions, however, you may need to set some boundaries and make sure you’re acting as a friend in their eyes too. 

3. Tell them you have plans already

This excuse kind of only really works once or twice, so use it wisely.

Again, it’s hard as you don’t want to just keep pushing someone away, but they’ll probably get the message anyway.

Most people ask someone out when they’re pretty sure they’re going to get a good response, so, if they don’t, they’ll quickly realize that they were on the wrong tracks.

Just make sure you don’t then post loads of photos of you home alone complaining about having no plans the night they’d planned a date.

How do you say no gracefully?


I’m honoured but I can’t. . … I wish there were two of me. . … Unfortunately, now is not a good time. . … Sorry, I’m booked into something else right now. . … Damn, not able to fit this one in! . … Sadly, I have something else. . … No, thank you but it sounds lovely, so next time. . … I’m not taking anything else right now.

Follow Up Later

After the event, it is fine to call the person and ask how the event went. You may want to express your regrets about not being able to make it, but if you do that, have a positive attitude. You might want to say something like, "It sounds like you had a wonderful time."


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