Every woman knows it’s no picnic having feelings for a guy who just doesn’t return them for whatever reason, but sometimes it’s even harder on the other side of the fence. It’s rough knowing someone you’re seeing is totally into you while knowing you’re just not feeling it on your end and that you’ll need to do something about it eventually.

After all, no one enjoys hurting someone else’s feelings. But the longer you allow the situation to continue, the more into you the guy is likely to become. Thankfully, there are right ways to go about things. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1.      Don’t wait too long.

Tough conversations are easier to avoid than people realize until they’re actually facing one. Of course, there’s always another “good” reason to put things off one more week or a couple more days. But the longer you wait, the more challenging it will ultimately be.

Once you know you’re not into someone you’re dating, you owe it to both of you to end things as soon as possible. Then you can both move on with your lives and start maximizing opportunities to get to know others who might be better matches.

2.      Do it face to face.

The ubiquity of modern technology makes it tempting to simply say what you have to say from behind a screen to take the edge off, but resist that urge. Whether you like a guy you’re dating or not, keep in mind that this is another person, and people deserve the respect of an in-person conversation. Plus, you’ll be able to use body language and facial cues to help you best navigate your way through the interaction.

Don’t worry. It’s totally acceptable (and even advisable) to prepare a little bit first. Take some time to figure out what you really want to say instead of simply going in cold, hoping that it will come to you in the moment. Write down a few notes if you think it will help. Then just get right down to it.

3.      Stick to honesty.

Chances are, the guy will expect to be given some reason as to why you don’t want to keep seeing him. And it will be really tempting to think of a polite-sounding lie just to spare his feelings. However, there are many good reasons to simply tell the truth instead.

To begin with, people tend to know when someone is simply massaging their feelings and telling them what they think they want to hear. Plus, the truth has a funny way of coming out later, especially when two people have mutual friends or acquaintances, and you don’t want that. On the other hand, you don’t want to accidentally lead the person on, so honesty is the best policy.

4.      Be kind but firm.

Once you’ve said what you need to say – that you’re not into him and don’t wish to keep dating – the guy is likely to have a few things to say. Of course, you don’t want to put up with any abuse or emotional blackmail, but there’s nothing wrong with listening to what an emotionally mature person has to say and hearing them out. If you do have positive things to say about him, you can let him know if you think it will help.

However, you’ll also want to be prepared to be firm. If he really likes you, he might try to talk you out of going your own way and into giving him another chance instead. Don’t let him succeed. He may not yet be able to see that this is best for both of you, but you know your own mind and need to stick to your guns.

5.      Be prepared to end the conversation yourself.

Often when someone has just heard that the person they’re into isn’t into them in return, they might want to get a few things off their chest or ask a few questions for the sake of closure. But after that, they’re generally ready to walk away from the situation and start licking their wounds someplace else. This isn’t always the case, though.

Sometimes guys who have it bad will go on and on in an attempt to get the conversation to go in another direction. And if that happens, you’ll need to be the one to end the talk. Again, just be clear and firm. Let him know you’re sorry he’s feeling this way, but you’ve already thought about this a lot, and talking more about it isn’t going to change what you know is best. Declare the conversation over, wish him well, and leave if you have to.

Of course, it’s never easy to tell someone that you’re not into them or don’t love them, but it is the right thing to do in the long run. After all, life’s too short to spend it with people you know just aren’t a fit.