On her way back home from a business trip, a good friend of mine met a man on the plane. As they chatted during the flight, she couldn’t help but notice how humorous, thoughtful and generous he seemed—all qualities she found important in a man.

She quickly learned that he was in town for a friend’s wedding and less than an hour later, she had become his date. It was the kind of spontaneous, romantic encounter only Hollywood could produce, but something was still missing.

On paper, he was perfect for her—so why didn’t she have feelings for him?

Maybe you’ve been there—stuck in a situation that just doesn’t feel right. Sometimes the signs are starkly apparent and other times you just can’t put a finger on it. Either way, it’s important to know when something’s not right so you can say “no” before it’s too late.

There are numerous signs that indicate when something is off in your relationship, but these common ones are easy to spot early on:

Being a conscious and proactive dater means being able to say “no” when things don’t quite line up. By recognizing when something’s not right, you can avoid feeling stuck in your relationships.

There are a few different ways you can respond to the signs of an unhealthy situation:

  • Be honest. If you’re not interested in seeing someone again, tell them. Don’t walk away from the date without communicating where you stand, leaving the other person guessing. If you don’t think you’re a good match, say that you appreciate his or her time, but you don’t feel that you’re compatible. Don’t waste your time and your date’s if you know he or she is not the person for you. Your time is valuable and every minute you spend with the wrong person is time you could be spending meeting the right person.
  • Be respectful. Each date should be treated with the utmost respect—even if you don’t think the person is right for you. People deserve and appreciate respectful and honest communication. Instead of telling your date that he or she doesn’t have anything to offer you in a relationship, consider introducing them to your friend who may be a better fit. Recognize that, like you, your date is valuable and has a lot to offer in a relationship.
  • Be realistic. Don’t force yourself to feel something that was never there to begin with. No matter how great he or she appears to be, sometimes you just have to trust your gut instinct—only you can decide if a person is right for you.

Don’t let saying “no” discourage you in dating. By learning how to acknowledge signs that something isn’t right, you can save yourself—and your date—a lot of trouble in the long run.

Make every effort to be honest, respectful and realistic so that when the right person does come along, you’ll be ready to say “yes!”