Saying no, the right way

Most of the time, it’s girls that are being approached by guys. This means that it’s usually the guy getting turned down and the girl having to do so. It seems that as I’ve gotten older, girls really haven’t figure out how to turn a guy down politely but firmly. So please, ladies, read this post carefully.

Guys put a lot on the line to ask you out. They’re basically putting themselves out there knowing that there’s a possibility that you’ll say no. For most guys, the fear of rejection is so great that they won’t even dare ask directly, but rather try to figure out some way to create a pseudo-date. The ones that do ask you out directly deserve some respect for having the guts to state their intentions. Given that, try to be nice to the guy no matter how disgusted you are by his eating habits, personal hygiene, or attire.

Next, if you really have zero interest in the guy, tell him that. Any response that leaves a little bit of hope is the same as leading the guy on. For instance, “I don’t really want to be dating right now,” implies to him that if he asks at a later date, you might say yes. If you have no intention of ever saying yes, then you need to say that. You can do so politely, as in, “I’m sorry, I’m just not interested.” That answer states clearly and without doubt that the answer is no.

When you turn a guy down, make sure you’re telling the truth. All guys will remember any shred of a chance that you’ve given them to be in your life. “Let’s just be friends,” means stick around for a while and we’ll see what happens. “I don’t want to date right now,” means ask again later. “I don’t date co-workers,” means that when one of you leaves the company, he’ll ask again.

Whatever you do, avoid non-commital answers such as, “I’m not sure it’s a good idea.” To us, that’s an indication that we need to try to convince you. Either you like us or you don’t. Also, don’t ask for some time to think about it. If you need time to figure it out, then you probably don’t like us so spare us the decision-making process.

Really, it all comes down to having respect for the guy that’s asking you out. Appreciate that he’s putting himself in a difficult position and give him an absolute answer. You may hurt him initially but it’s far better than kicking off a game of cat-and-mouse with him that will ultimately leave him more hurt than if you’d said no in the first place.

6 thoughts on “Saying no, the right way”

  1. Now, normally, i love your posts, but i am calling BS on this one.

    Women have a hard time saying flat out “NO” because we rarely feel a definitive NO about a guy. Usually there are some things you like or you have a feeling it wouldn’t work out but you just aren’t sure. And sometimes, we do just genuinely want to be friends with the guy – we think he is nice, we think he is sweet, but we are not attracted to him.

    Women just say what they are thinking – I don’t date co-workers, I am not ready for a relationship – it’s not our fault you men are one dimensional and don’t hear what we say.

  2. @Potted Plant: Hmmm. So do you buy into the book “He’s Just Not That Into You”? That book argues that guys who offer shades of gray, who are not able to give a girl a definitive NO, are the kinds of guys a girl should drop.

    Just last night, a buddy told me about the best rejection he’s ever had. He was having a pleasant conversation with a girl at a party, when he asked, “So do you want to hang out sometime?”

    She said, “Um, no, I don’t think so.”

    He was surprised. Then told her, “Thank you. That was very open and honest of you. I’m glad you told me the truth.” He stood up, told her it was nice meeting her, and walked away feeling happy and respected (and a bit bummed too, of course).

    I’m generally of the mindset that the direct, honest approach is the best one. Personally, I hate to be left wondering in the gray. I’ve seen enough friends who’ve fretted and wondered and worried about whether that guy or girl likes them that… I can’t see how being noncommittal is a good thing.

    But I have a feeling you’re actually agreeing with Zack’s post. “I don’t date co-workers, I am not ready for a relationship” – that’s pretty much a definitive NO in my book. Maybe you’re just saying guys shouldn’t wait for a firm NO and understand that a non-definitive answer really is a definitive answer in disguise.

  3. @Potted Plant – I’m glad you’re being definitive in your disagreement. As Mr. Write said, you’re actually validating what I wrote. Feelings can’t be turned off, if he wants to date you, being just a friend or colleague will rarely be enough.

    If you’re having a hard time saying no, then perhaps you should be telling him what he can do to make it a yes instead of putting all of the decisions on him. Something along the lines of, “I’m not ready to date right now, but why don’t you ask me again next month” or “I usually don’t date co-workers, if that situation changes, I’d gladly accept.”

    The problem is that you think you’re being straightforward when, in fact, you’re not. You’re leaving out vital information. Include the vital information about how we should react if the situation changes and you’ve fulfilled my personal desire for clarity.

  4. Okay. The two of you are going to make me dust off my high school debate skills. Here goes: There is this thing called “the grey” – for a guy he may be in the black or the white and therefore decide to ask a girl out. For the girl, she may be in the grey and not be 100% sure of the answer. You boys are asking for perfect star alignment and lunar eclipses if you think that men and women’s black and white align in such a way that a man will ask for a clear answer and get it or vice versa. Just because you work up the nerve to ask a girl out (which don’t get me wrong, is a great thing) doesn’t mean that you are going to get a definitive answer – it may not exist. And tell me the last time you responded favorably to a girl that said “Right now, I think of you as a friend, but flirt with me some more and try harder and let me see how it turns out?”

  5. If you’re not prepared to be up front with a guy who’s asked you out, then you also lose the right to complain about the guy hanging around and constantly flirting even though you said you just want to be friends.

    If you’re in the grey, as you put it, then it’s a yes. You know if there’s no possibility; if you could go either way, then just go out with the guy. Part of the point of a date is to figure out if you like the other person “that way.” What better time is there to flirt?

  6. @Potted Plant: Fair enough, I agree there can be a gray zone. But that gray zone applies to both men and women. It’s not a gender-specific zone. If you could be a fly on the wall every time a female friend has complained to me that a guy is being “gray” with them, you’d be one tired fly.

    So I totally don’t mean to make this sound like a Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Mars debate. Both sexes are guilty of being unsure about their feelings for someone.

    Hell, I’ve been guilty of being wishy-washy and unsure about a girl. I’ve strung girls along, feeling somewhat interested but not enough to give them a definitive answer. Hell, isn’t the stereotype that guys are the ones who are notorious for being non-committal?

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