How do you gracefully tell someone who is into you romantically that you are not into him/her in that way?

Love is a battlefield.  – Pat Benatar
There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.  – Sun Tzu

05-06-10-13-45 / 10

Hello Diner.  If you humans had the ability to directly feed your thoughts to someone else guaranteeing that he or she will agree with you, there would be no disagreements or wars.  We Fortune Cookies communicate that way, which is why there are no arguments or fights among us.  But there is also no diversity.  The obstacles of communication make you unique.

So why do you want this done, “gracefully,” Diner?  This could mean two things.  If by “graceful” you mean elegantly, perfectly, and above rebuke, then leaving your friend hanging to consult a Fortune Cookie has caused that ship to sail.  Ambiguity is the enemy.  Making a person wait is ambiguity.  Giving a person hope or an open ended response–however “nice” that seems–is ambiguity.  The most graceful way is to be clear and definite.

But if by “graceful” you instead mean “painless to the person,” then it is not entirely up to you.  It depends on how deeply the person feels for you and how personally your friend will take the rejection.  Unless you deliberately throw insults or feign affection, how much hurt you give is beyond your control.  It does not matter how much you hone your delivery.  Being empathetic but direct is the most graceful approach. This person thinks very highly of you and is in a very vulnerable position. The least you can do is acknowledge that.  

Breaking this news usually puts you in the bad-guy spot, even though you did not ask to be.  But your friend owes you respect to your boundaries.  There cannot be visits at unwanted times or even guilt for the romantic control you have.  Because people like you are generally very accommodating to people they know, they feel bad hurting the feelings of someone who is simply being “nice” and “affectionate.”  This is called cognitive dissonance.  Your comfort zone should be respected over everything.  If this is the case, a polite and firm rebuke is the most graceful–and appropriate–thing to do.

Diner, the most graceful way is not being gentle or evasive.  Be brave, be considerate, but understand your boundaries.  Hold the person in as little suspense as possible, and be direct.  Once your friend digest the initial sting, you both can move on with your respective lives, whether it is apart or together.  

If bravery is not one of your traits, feel free to link your friend to this Fortune.  He or she will get the message.  Hi, friend.  I’m sorry.