eHarmony pleasantly surprised me today with a thoughtful e-newsletter that in no way, shape or form offended me, made me feel as though I should put on my pearls, vacuum the house and have dinner and slippers ready for my man at 5:00 pm sharp, or that everything I'm doing in regards to electronic pursuits of romance are wrong. I'm impressed... and lately that's been quite a task for anything involving online dating.
Well, to clarify I technically wasn't impressed with eHarmony's articles, but the fact that they actually posted a relevant and engaging topic for discussion and allowed people to comment. In today's installment, a female eHarmony member lamented on the frequency of which she is asked out by men she's not interested in (poor baby) and her difficulty in rejecting them. She told of how she'd meet men at parties who interested her at the time, but didn't necessarily inspire date-worthy feelings. She'd spend time engaged in conversation with them and they'd inevitably ruin it by asking her out, so she said. Because they'd usually ask non-specifically with generic "can I see you again?" requests, she would "try to be polite" and say "sure," completely knowing that she intended to put them off and give them excuses until they eventually gave up. She said she tried to be subtle and would tell them how busy she was that day, week or month and they'd always continue suggesting other times and dates. She said she felt like saying "no" outright was rude and insensitive, so would often lie to end the torment and tell them that she was seeing someone or that she had plans the night in question with her "boyfriend" or other date.
I was talking to a male friend about this same topic just a few weeks ago and honestly was looking for a way to incorporate it into a post. He asked me why some women have a hard time hearing and comprehending the word "no" or "I'm not interested." I didn't really have an answer for him at the time, but after reading eHarmony's recent contribution to the dating written-word, I've come up with a theory.
I think the majority of people in the world fall into one of two categories: those who can't say the word, "no" and those who don't hear the word, "no." I know where I fall without hesitation. I'm the girl that can't say the word, "no." Although everything in me wants to run away from the situation, screaming "NOOOOO!!!!!" at the top of my lungs, arms and legs flailing about, and eyes bugged, I stand sheepishly in front of my predator and coyly say "Okay, sure," handing him whatever form of communication means he so desires. Case in point: Mr. Gunslinger. My mother has obviously instilled in me the highest level of social courtesies and oftentimes I can hear her in my head during these torturous moments of awkwardness, reminding me to be polite and consider the other person's feelings before my own. Another problem of mine is solely based on years of poor self-esteem. As someone who hasn't had a lot of men interested in doing anything other than watching the game and drinking beers with her, it's hard for me to reject the ones who do show a glimmer of romantic interest because I get that silly, desperate, "this might be my only chance!" type inner monologue. Today, after years of self-improvement, I know this is ridiculous, but things like Dr. Phil's "Mr. 80%" argument don't help me realize that I don't have to settle for someone so far from the mark that I am immediately repulsed by the idea of doing anything with him other than high-tailing it out of there, heading straight for the nearest running vehicle.
impenetrable to rejection. Because they "know" they're so great, everyone else must be dying to date them. Therefore, the word "no" does not exist as a response to their advances.
I will say that I was highly impressed with not only my friend's ability to say "no," but his willingness to stand firmly and not give in to the temptations of "politeness." Not that saying "no" is impolite (Would you say "Well, sure" if your neighbor asked you to paint their house for them without paying you? Probably not.), but we're not taught to say it. We're taught that we should never say or do anything that might make someone else feel uncomfortable and unfortunately, in the dating world, that throws the awkwardness and discomfort into our own laps. Why? Nobody benefits. In the long run, both people end up aggravated and potentially hurt, when one two-letter word could have prevented the whole thing. And by saying "no," my friend not only put value into his own feelings, but respected those of the girl in the long run as well. Commendable. And rare.
eHarmony's advice follows along the same lines. They, as well as other members who commented on the post, make no bones about saying "no," and most of the men who contributed said that guys need to actually hear the word, "no." Don't beat around the bush or be subtle, actually say "I had a good time talking to you tonight, but no, thank you, I think I'd like to just stay friends" or "No, I don't think a date is a good idea, but it was nice to meet you." Easier said than done, I know, when faced with someone who is referring to you as the "love of my life" three times in your first conversation (see Mr. Gunslinger again). But just think of how much easier the dating world would be if we were all honest with each other?
How about you, Singletons and Marrieds? What's the worst way you've ever been rejected? Has someone been overly obstinate when you actually said "no" to their pursuits? Have you ever regretted not saying "no" at the very beginning of the dating dance?