Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just Say/Hear "No"

Even though I've decided to take a self-induced online dating hiatus over the course of the next two months (at least...please God I find someone who wants to hold my hand in the real world between now and then), I like to keep myself abreast of the latest dating trends, philosophies and theories.   Usually my go-to victim for criticisms, 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.

Then, you have the other side of this ugly coin with people who can't hear the word, "no."  They refuse to accept the fact that someone could really be rejecting them.  Honestly, I think this also stems from poor self-esteem.  I know that sounds contradictory so let me explain.  My male friend that I was pondering this issue with had recently told a girl outright and unequivocally that he was not interested in dating her.  Her reaction was total shock and awe.  He eluded that it was even a bit over-the-top.  I've heard girls react like this, that obviously there is something wrong with him if he doesn't automatically love her and want to throw himself at her feet upon her admission of feelings for him.  As if it is somehow a privilege and an honor to be pursued by her (or him, but in the cases I've experienced, it's almost always been a female) and to reject that honor is a reflection of the man's shortcomings.  Well, funny he didn't seem to have that many faults when you were head over heels for him moments before!  My thoughts are that this stems from an over-inflated ego, brought about by poor self-esteem.  To combat their own low self-esteem, these people have tooted their own horn to themselves so many times that they view themselves as 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?


  1. Ha ha lets just say not saying no has led me to do some stupid things, because using any words other than no equals encouragement in most guys brain. I would pick up a mirror and start practicing saying the word no it also comes in handy when u become a parent:)

  2. I can say and hear no. What good does it do to lead people on? I try to say no in a nice way, to start with. But sometimes you got to do, what you got to do. And believe me, I've been told no many times. But again, I think it's better than having false hopes.
    People who don't hear no, go around living a fairy tale. They make excuses for why that person doesn't act or do certain things. When the truth is, they have no interest in them.
    So I guess I'm trying to say is no isn't a bad word.

  3. This could NOT be more true!! Somehow, I don't know if I'm some sort of an anomaly, but I think at different times I fall into both of these categories. I definitely can't say no, and it's gotten me into sucky situations more than once. But also, on occasion when I set my sights on that one certain guy who turns out not to like me, I can't hear the "no" he is giving through his signals/attitude/complete lack of asking me out.

    Also, I just found your blog today but I LOVE IT so far. :D

  4. @Joanna, ha! That's probably very true...I'd imagine most people who have a hard time saying "no" lose that hesitation once they become parents!

    @Anonymous, I'm jealous of your wisdom! I completely agree with you, but for some reason falter when confronted with it face-to-face. I guess I don't think about the long-run and more in making sure the other person isn't uncomfortable in that moment. I need to work on that!

    @Stacy, I'm so glad you found my blog and that you like it! I'd love to hear what you have to say about other posts that you like! I know that I've fallen in and out of the "can't hear 'no'" category several times, but I don't think I live there. I've definitely been in the same place with the not being able to hear the non-verbal "no's" that I'm getting from a guy I'm interested in, so you're not alone!


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