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If I turn them down I'm a bitch; if I don't, I'm "leading them on" and I'm still a bitch
August 7, 2011 4:58 PM   Subscribe

I don't know how to reject men! I just know I'm handling this all wrong, please advise.

I recently graduated from a school which was overwhelmingly made up of women, and moved to a larger city than I've ever lived in before. Now I'm going to all these new events and am getting hit on a fair bit and I have to say, I have never actually experienced this before.

The problem is, well, I don't want to date every dude who talks to me... but I have no idea how to gracefully decline without saying something like "Oh, I'm not interested right now" or "Oh, I have a boyfriend." I used to use those at school (because I am a coward) but, well... if I'm at a freakin' singles night, or in a large group of new people in which I might like to ask someone ELSE out, I can't say that.

But what am I supposed to say? Sorry, you're too boring/clingy/unfunny/likely to use internet memes in real life, I am not attracted to you, please stop talking to me so I can go hit on that other guy? Of course not!

The thing is, though, the guys I'm worried about NEVER ACTUALLY ASK ME OUT. They just... hang around me. A lot. And butt into conversations I'm having with other guys. And ask me to do stuff "as friends" when that's clearly not the case. But since they don't ask me out, I can't reject them. But "hey I've noticed you hanging around me a lot and giving me the puppy-dog eyes, please be advised that I will never sleep with you" is... not an ok thing to say. I mean, I am trying to meet new people in a new town here, I'm not trying to burn bridges. I don't want people to think I'm mean.

So what do I do? How do I firmly express my lack of interest in a specific guy without being a colossal bitch? So far I have gone with "pretend you don't notice until they actually ask you out" but that can't work forever.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why are you under the impression that "hey I've noticed you hanging around me a lot and giving me the puppy-dog eyes, please be advised that I will never sleep with you" is not an OK thing to say? Why are you worried about what people you do not want to be around think about you?
posted by kindall at 5:15 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


So far I have gone with "pretend you don't notice until they actually ask you out" but that can't work forever.

Why not? But pending an answer, my constructive suggestion is to somehow give away that you have interest in someone else. Less than ideal, but if you rule out "be direct" and "do nothing," that leaves us with "communicate indirectly" and "communicate nonverbally."
posted by salvia at 5:18 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


f>"Listen, (guy), it was nice to meet you. Good luck with (the rest of singles event/meetup/whatever)". Walk away with purpose.

I reckon you're overthinking this. You're not a bilch for saying good-bye and joining a different group of minglers.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:23 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


If they're not already friends, be blunt if you have no interest in them. It's a kindness to be clear in this circumstance.
posted by inturnaround at 5:29 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're not a bilch

Sub "There's nothing bitchy"

My kingdom for an edit window and the abolition of auto-correct.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:34 PM on August 7, 2011


Why are you under the impression that "hey I've noticed you hanging around me a lot and giving me the puppy-dog eyes, please be advised that I will never sleep with you" is not an OK thing to say?

Because guys like that can then say, "But, but, no I wasn't! I was just trying to be friends!" and wuss about and deny what was going on. It doesn't work to be flat out honest with someone who hedges like that. Unfortunately, you can't really pre-emptively reject a dude before he actually asks you out. Unless you do the ol' "My boyfriend and I..." crap in conversation, they don't tend to take hints that you don't like them either.

I wish I knew the answer to this one, because I've dealt with it since I turned 18 and I still don't have a good, trouble-free way to hurt someone's feelings. Unfortunately, you do have to be "the asshole" when you turn a guy down, even if you are nice as you can manage about it. And some dudes will call you a bitch and go all unhinged about it. There's really nothing you can do to stop that reaction from happening if the one who asked you out is crazy. The only way to make it less bad is to turn them down for date one when they ask. Do not go on a first date to give them a chance and then you have to deal with the same situation all over again-- because then you are leading them on.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:39 PM on August 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


Men acting like you are a bitch for turning them down is THEIR misbehaviour, not yours. Be honest, and don't feel bad. I like the approach of saying, "Hey, I get the feeling you might be interested in me, and I just wanted to let you know that I'm interested in someone else, so no hard feelings, okay?"

A nice guy at that point will either get embarrassed and avoid you for a bit, or pretend he wasn't interested in the first place, which you let him do to save his feelings. An arsehole will call you names or just be generally nasty, which gives you the right to be rude back if you like, although sadly you are probably better off just walking away and avoiding him.

I only recommend having these conversations in public, with friends of yours nearby. Unfortunately some arsehole guys can get physical when their ego feels threatened.
posted by lollusc at 5:50 PM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


To the puppy face: "Hey, let me ask you a guy's opinion. That guy I was just talking to is [hot, looking at me, laughed at my joke]. Do you think he's into me? Because I'm going for him. Thanks for the advice!"

And walk away, towards aforementioned other guy.

Worst (best?) case scenario, they'll think you're a bitch and stop hanging around you. You've got to be clear, because needy people hear and see only what they want; indulging "friendships" with guys who clearly want more is how you end up wasting an askme question on whether to file a restraining order. Trust me.
posted by motsque at 5:55 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


No one is entitled to your time and attention, ever. Repeat that to yourself until you believe it.

If someone is hanging around you that you don't want around you can always say "Hey ____, it was nice to meet you but I'm going to go now. Have a good day/night." But as others have commented, some guys are assholes and won't handle the rejection kindly so make sure you're not by yourself with said guy.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:56 PM on August 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


If they're not already friends, be blunt if you have no interest in them. It's a kindness to be clear in this circumstance.

As one of those puppy-dog eyed guys the sooner a girl is clear with me that she's not into me the sooner I can move on.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:07 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some guys will call you a bitch no matter what, because you're not following their narrative. ("I'm nice to her so she should have sex with me.")

So stop worrying that you're being a bitch. The guys who are constantly hanging around you, biting into your conversations with other guys, asking you out as friends even when it's clear you're not interested? They're taking advantage, consciously or unconsciously, of your desire to not be seen as a bitch. There's no need to be rude to them, but there's also no need to let them push you into something you don't want.

If there was a girl who was behaving this way, what would you say? Probably something like what Ufez Jones and MaryDellamorte are suggesting. Polite meaningless statement, disengage, walk away. If they keep asking you out, "I'm afraid I can't," is a good response. No justifications, no qualifications. Keep saying it until they get the message.

And if you're called a bitch, just see it as proof that you made the right decision.
posted by Georgina at 6:11 PM on August 7, 2011 [24 favorites]


If someone asks for your number or asks you out, ask for his number and tell him you will call him when you are available/ready. He will get the hint.
posted by AugustWest at 6:13 PM on August 7, 2011


Understand that the guys are likely trying this because they're scared of rejection, and "the friend route" seems like a safe way into a relationship (and, to be fair, a lot of relationships start that way). They're typically guys with low self-confidence and maybe lacking a few social skills.

Be honest, but tactful. Inadvertently destroying a man's self-esteem while he's at a singles night is not a good thing (not that you're trying to do that, but some of the approaches suggested so far seem a little brutal to me, as a guy who's most comfortable with the friend approach).

First rule: don't let people who you're not interested in buy you drinks. Safety aspect aside, they are buying you a drink to gain and retain your attention. A lack of reciprocity invites anger.

"I'm sorry - you seem like a really great person for the right girl, but I'm not the one" said sincerely, clearly, and with eye contact is probably the right tone in a singles bar. Be kind but firm. If they keep insisting, you can bring it up a notch.

Even better, divert their attention to another girl who you think might be interested in them, i.e. provide another target. ("Oh, you're an investment banker? I know Mary-Beth was taking an MBA - you should totally go talk to her.") That also prompts you to learn more about all of the other people around you, and divert attention with grace.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 6:17 PM on August 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Send him straight to the friend zone. Call him by his last name, point out other girls you think he should hit on, etc. He'll get the hint, and you're not a bitch. Sometimes you can only fight passive-aggressive with passive-aggressive.
posted by TallulahBankhead at 6:18 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do you have a friend (probably a female) who is good at this? Practice with her. First you be the most annoying, persistent guy you can imagine and let her handle it. Then you be the woman and let her play the guy and you practice actually saying the words, getting a negative response and dealing with it. At least once, play it as brutally honest and blunt as you can (things you are thinking but wouldn't say in real life to a real guy) - it lets you hear yourself and lets you experience what it is like to strongly stand up for yourself. You can this over the phone if you need to but it will be better (and more fun!!) if you and your friend can do this in person.
posted by metahawk at 6:22 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Inadvertently destroying a man's self-esteem while he's at a singles night is not a good thing (not that you're trying to do that, but some of the approaches suggested so far seem a little brutal to me, as a guy who's most comfortable with the friend approach).

I don't think any of the responses in the thread have been out of line. Women are not responsible for men's self esteem. If some men have self esteem issues, that is their problem to deal with, not ours.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:36 PM on August 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


If someone asks for your number or asks you out, ask for his number and tell him you will call him when you are available/ready. He will get the hint.

The so-called hint can also be interpreted as, "Since she's asking for my number, she must be interested. Why else would she ask for my number?"
posted by ShooBoo at 6:58 PM on August 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


If it were me, I would probably wait for them to invite you to do something "as friends", and ask them point-blank: "are you asking me on a date?"

If they stumble around and say "oh no, just friends"! you can then say "good, I'm not interested in dating, but I'd love to just hang out with you (if that's actually the case), and then they hear straight from you that you're not thinking of it as a date and don't want it to be a date.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:08 PM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


They just... hang around me. A lot. And butt into conversations I'm having with other guys. And ask me to do stuff "as friends" when that's clearly not the case.

If you're not interested in their company, just don't pay any attention to them when they're hanging around. And butting into a conversation you're having is incredibly presumptuous -- give them a sharp look and a curt "excuse me?!", and then turn your back or otherwise dismiss them. As for the offers to do stuff "a friends," just ignore the "as friends" bit if you feel that it's disingenuous -- this your opportunity to say "look, no offense, but I'm not interested in you."
posted by desuetude at 7:54 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anything to accelerate "the conversation". Say something about how it sure would be great if you met someone awesome and fell in love. Ask what they think of other guys. Not to rub it in, but to try to draw out an actual date offer. Something to get them to say "what about me?" If they ask you out as friends, say something like, well, I was hoping to get a date.

Then, your line is, "you seem like/are a great guy, and I don't want to hurt your feelings, but you aren't really my type, sorry. [subject change]" You can be vague about what "your type" is. You know it when you see it. But at least the question has been asked and answered.

As someone who tends to want to know you a while in group settings before I even KNOW if I want to ask you out, I'd appreciate you saving me some time and possible eventual disappointment.
posted by ctmf at 7:57 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also like MaryDellamorte's tactic. "I'm going to go talk to some other people now. See you around." I'm not good at getting hints, but after THAT, I'd definitely know to let you be the next person to initiate contact, if you wanted to.
posted by ctmf at 8:05 PM on August 7, 2011


These guys won't get a hint. If they're at the stage where they butt into your conversations, follow you around and ask you out but in a friends way, you cannot be subtle with them. Don't tell them you're interested in someone else or dating a fake boyfriend, they'll think that once that guy is out of the way you'll come back to them; don't tell them you're gay, they'll think they can be an exception.

You have to be direct. "Hey, sorry to tell you this ___, but I'm not interested in you romantically."

Will they call you a bitch? Maybe. That's not your fault. Their behaviour and insults after you turn them down is not your fault, it's them trying to turn their rejection from something about them to something about you. That doesn't make it any easier on you but it's the truth.
posted by buteo at 9:01 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


While much good advice has been rendered, you should bear in mind that some of these guys, perhaps a significant subset, don't actually want to go out with you. If they're chatting to you but not asking you out, that might be because they really do want to be your platonic friend. In fact, from most guys, 'let's go to see that thing, but just as a friend' is a pretty unequivocal signal that they like you, but not that way.

I am a very, very married and boringly monogamous guy. I have occasionally had trouble being politely, but firmly, rejected by female acquaintances only to find out, through the grape vine, that they thought I was passive-aggressively refusing to ask them out on a date. Of course I was doing nothing of the sort; I was just being friendly and smiley, as I am with everyone. But some people, especially those who get a lot of unwanted male attention, or who haven't had much experience being in platonic relationships with guys, can over-generalise friendliness to mean covert hitting-on.

You might want to give some of these young men a chance. If they seem like friend-material, perhaps they really do just want to do something 'just as a friend'. If not, then 'I'm really busy at the moment' is a good and (almost) universally recognised signal that most gents will understand and accept.
posted by Dreadnought at 9:02 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel this song may be helpful

And yeah, if guys aren't being straight with you, it's your role as someone with a clear head to be straight with them.
posted by shii at 9:09 PM on August 7, 2011


Oh man, I know EXACTLY what you're talking about. It's also clear to me from the answers here who does and who doesn't.

This happened to me just the other day in an especially egregious way, and I had the same thoughts about the best way to deal with it. I was so tempted to just say "I know you're hitting on me, let's skip to the chase, the answer is no." but that would have been bitchy.

What I did, in this painful long drawn out conversation, is a combination of a lot of tactics mentioned above. I played dumb that he was hitting on me and tried to talk to him like I would any stranger. I tried to keep a sense of humor about it and play with the conversation a little, and learn something from him, so that some value was gleaned and it wasn't a total waste of time. I tried to think in a cosmic sense that they was something to be gained by talking to a given person even if their intentions were transparent. But I also made it pretty difficult to find rapport. I was opinionated, I acted offended when he said something that I disagreed with more than I normally would in conversation, and I tried to lead him to a conclusion that we had less in common than he thought, organically, just by presenting myself that way, while still being honest. This is easier than you'd think-with most people you have to try to smooth over those edges, and I just refused to.

He sort of came to the conclusion on his own that I was more difficult than he'd bargained for, while at the same time it was out of my hands and I hadn't bluntly rejected him. It worked pretty well. Then, he finally got around to asking for my number and I said I was busy. He asked what I was doing right then and I said I had plans. He then walked over to a woman standing next to us and started hitting on her and I made a hasty exit!

If it had gone on much longer I planned to say I had an important meeting and had to go. Asking straight out, "Are you hitting on me?" also strikes me as pretty clever, especially if you can pull off a silly tone of voice and then be mock contrite. But he might come back with "Why do you think that?"

But yeah, it's something that there's no easy answer to. If you can spare like 5 minutes, it might become an amusing story later on, and it's really not that much of your time. Walking away too soon or being blunt WILL get you labeled a bitch in a way that a lot of people aren't thinking out.
posted by Nixy at 9:39 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Walking away too soon or being blunt WILL get you labeled a bitch in a way that a lot of people aren't thinking out.

Then some of us will get labeled as a bitch and I don't have a problem with that, nor should anyone else. We shouldn't have to dance a dance or strategically play some game where the prize at the end is to not be labeled as a bitch. If I'm a bitch for not letting others' unwanted attention invade my personal space, then I'm proud to be a bitch. Being labeled a bitch shouldn't fear anyone into a submissive role.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:47 PM on August 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


If I was ONLY getting worried about calling a bitch by someone who I won't see again after the next five minutes and will go away after that, I wouldn't really care, you know? It's the possibility of the dude getting crazy on us after that that makes us worried.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:00 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jenfullmoon, you can still be tactful and disengage without having to bend over backwards. I was commenting that just merely being labeled as a bitch shouldn't fear anyone into doing more than they want to do. I'm plenty aware of the fear and danger that is strange men.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:06 PM on August 7, 2011


If they aren't actually addressing you, then it's difficult to say something to them, so use body language. If you're in a group and you're interrupted, turn your back to the interloper and continue your conversation, unless he's totally dim he will get the message.

But men tend to work on speculation - it's not their fault, and give 'me en inch, well bless them, they'll take a mile. So cut them off before you show even a chink of attention, otherwise they will be walking home that night convinced that you're in love with them.

Don't worry about the bitch thing, that's chalked up to acceptable losses.
posted by the noob at 10:13 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


If they aren't actually addressing you, then it's difficult to say something to them, so use body language.

Some of us don't get body language. A polite 'hey, you're nice and all but I'm not into you' saves the guy time, angst, and blogging bandwidth.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:19 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few years ago (2) I made an effort to tactfully disengage from a guy at a bar. He pushed me so hard that my back slammed into the counter.

I've also been hit in the face after politely declining to give my number to a stranger.

So. My advice is to be very aware of your personal space. Don't get backed into a corner, literally or otherwise. Maintain some eye contact with other people in the room. Don't be alone with people who creep you out.

Do not be wishy washy. You're not 'busy' or 'looking for a different type' or 'getting over a breakup.' You might take comfort in a fake phone number. I have an email address that I use for 'stuff'. It's real, I check it, but it's not an account that I really care about. So when I meet guys in bars who want my phone number, I give them my email. You can say you have limited minutes, or pay as you go.

That said, a number of these guys may still be deciding if they like you that way. Or trying to figure out if you like them. If you want to be pre-emptive you might do as above - friend zones, ask about other guys, mention they'd be a great match for your friend who lives in Chicago. Don't give them opportunities to fix something about themselves, or to fill a void in your life.
posted by bilabial at 10:34 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a guy, I'd just like to throw this out there: some of us are dangerous, some of us are clueless, and some of us are both -- so any solution that allows you to move to a position of safety before politely but firmly setting boundaries is probably your best bet here, and so there's lots of good advise above.

And again, as a guy: if the guy will be calling you a bitch for rejecting him, then you've made a good choice in rejecting him. He might think you rude, but that's a whole different thing, and that's just part of normal social interaction. If we're not getting the polite hint, well, ffs, be rude (in that aforementioned safe location), and don't sweat it, because he was rude to impose that pressure on you in the first place.

Having said that: all of the above applies to non-singles-oriented locations. In a singles-oriented location, you can be more straightforward, and you (hopefully) have to worry less about your safety. You can also ask "are you here with any friends?" and if he says no, you can say, "well, I came with a friend, and I need to go find her -- it was nice talking to you. Good luck!" and if he says yes, you can say "so did I -- and I need to go find her, she asked me to check in on her once in a while. It was nice talking to you. Good luck!" And if he follows you -- instant creep territory, behave accordingly.

I hate that some guys require lies to get the message, but some do.
posted by davejay at 10:45 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yikes, bilabial, that sounds awful. Um, forget my comment about hopefully worrying less about your safety, and just make that priority number one. Guys suck.
posted by davejay at 10:47 PM on August 7, 2011


The tact is a bit different depending on whether the guys are complete strangers or connected to your circle of friends. If you'll never see them again, especially if it's a venue where people are evaluating as many potential prospects as possible, "Nice to meet you. I'm going over here now" is perfect. You each move on to people with more dating potential.

If they're friends of friends, you might need to integrate them into your acquaintance-socialization. The friends zone ideas are great. Basically, treat them like a brother's buddy who you would never date but can banter with/fix up with your girlfriends.

Of course, if someone pushes your boundaries in any creepy way, a direct "no way" is entirely appropriate. Your comfort and safety are paramount.
posted by SakuraK at 12:03 AM on August 8, 2011


Think of these guys as telemarketers. You're not a bitch if you tell the telemarketer, "Sorry, I'm not interested," right?

They have a product you don't want: them. Feel free to tell them you're not buying.
posted by inturnaround at 5:19 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


If someone asks for your number or asks you out, ask for his number and tell him you will call him when you are available/ready. He will get the hint.

The so-called hint can also be interpreted as, "Since she's asking for my number, she must be interested. Why else would she ask for my number?"
posted by ShooBoo at 6:58 PM on August 7 [12 favorites +] [!]


Agree 1000%. Asking for a number you aren't intending to use is not nice. Never give the appearances of furthering a relationship you don't intend to actually further.

The hanger-on is a hard beast to tame, because usually they have built up a narrative in their heads that has no bearing in reality. To reject them, you have to shatter this somehow. That's hard, because when someone has this mindset going, they will overlook all kinds of things. They have mistakenly decided you are "the one" and anything they might not normally be attracted to they will overcome in their minds. (These are the people that other bad people use- they let them buy drinks for them, get them to get drugs for them, get them to pick up their dry cleaning, etc.)

It is the intersection of hormones and a lack of confidence. They hang around hoping for some kind of miracle to occur that will somehow get you to like them. Also because they enjoy the fake narrative, they won't actually do anything to invite rejection and break the fantasy, like asking for your number or something.

So you've got to break their hearts. They *know* they are failing, and they *know* it will never work, but all the same, they have invested in the fantasy and it will hurt them to have it taken from them.

The answer is devilishly simple. Never give them an "in", never make excuses that seem to put off the decision into the future or leaves some hope. Like aggressive salespeople, they will bargain (with you, or just in their minds) and try to overcome objections. So, you treat them like you would an aggressive salesperson. You start with polite but firm, and escalate to impolite but firm.

This has two purposes. First, it clearly rejects their advances. Second, if you DO have to get firm with them and they start to call names, you can walk away with a clear conscience knowing that you did nothing to invite their advances. Being called names is no fun and you don't deserve it, but it's a little easier to take when you know there is no truth in it.
posted by gjc at 5:39 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and for the people who don't actually make ANY kind of pitch, and just sort of sidle up and make small talk, you may have to overtly tell them to get lost. Start with friendly but clear and firm, ("Nice to meet you Kevin, but I don't feel like talking [to you] right now.") move on to swatting away a petulant child, ("Dude, go find someone else to talk to.") and finally with whatever seems appropriate. ("I'm sure you mean well, but you are making me uncomfortable and I'd like you to stop trying to talk to me. I'm not interested.")
posted by gjc at 5:50 AM on August 8, 2011


At some point, failing to develop tact is limiting in many ways. For me, that is at about age 20, and were I to observe tactless behavior in a social setting from a woman, she'd be out of consideration for a job, let alone a friendship or relationship. Same thing for a boy. I'm unbiased in this regard, and decidedly old school. People are people, first, not hookup targets. I treat them like I want to be treated.

By the time you are an adult, if the folks didn't get around to handing off some social graces, it might be time to study them independently. It all depends on what kind of person you want to be... a kind, open, diplomatic, patient, direct gradually-escalating type of adult or a blunt, uncaring, insensitive, dismissive snoot. Male or female, the choice is the same.

Metafilter is not perhaps, the best place to learn to be a good human. How you deal with unpleasant, unwanted attention is a skill requiring some ongoing field work, and you'll fall flat on your ass sometimes and/or run into completely unreasonable jerks. Neither absolve you from being unkind and uncaring. If you don't want to be kind and caring, that's OK. The world needs folks as examples of what not to be. Soldier on. Gotta fill out the normal curve somehow.


Remember, you are resorting to 'singles only' venues looking for a mate. You are rubbing elbows with your cohort of folks who can't find one elsewhere. Having ovaries doesn't make you more special any more than testicles make someone a jerk. Why not set a good example for people around you?

Books abound on the subject, as do personal development programs. All it takes is a desire to achieve a certain kind of competence and the relevant work. No post on metafilter is going to give you a magic, one-size-fits-all answer to an entire category of possible interactions. The challenge is to develop optimum responses, based on behavioral, moral criteria. It takes some work. The payoff is that IF you do snag the boy of your dreams, you'll be prepared to do more with him than simple sex. That doesn't take any brains at all, and if you need proof of that statement, look around a bit. Re-read some of these answers.
posted by FauxScot at 6:01 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, don't ask for their number to escape giving out yours. They will then pester you about why you didn't call. (And you will wonder, are you seriously wondering??)

If they ask, say "No." If they say, "Here's mine," say "No, thanks. I would not call you if I had it."
posted by motsque at 6:11 AM on August 8, 2011


If they're a random stranger, be blunt but safe. The last two rejections I got, I actually thanked the woman in question for being straightforward about it and am attempting an honest platonic friends thing with one (I told her I'd nix the friendship if I found myself building up a narrative in my head). A lot of guys are idiots and build up the concept of rejection in their head as a scary horrifying prospect. I think they just need to be rejected a few times to realize it's not the end of the world. Of course, a lot of guys are complete morons, so YMMV.

I posted a question a while ago to AskMF about trying to get honest rejections, so I applaud you for your effort. However, some of the stories I heard as answers to that led me to a couple of things:

1.) You don't owe them anything. If you have to, you can get up, tell them to leave and walk away. Be safe about it, but they're wasting your time and having a penis does not give them a right to your time.

2.) I don't know how this will fly with the majority of guys (I'm always the one who first goes to talk to women among my group of friends because I'm ok with being brushed off), but outright asking them if they're looking for a date/a night with you/a relationship might not be the worst idea. The woman I'm trying a friendship with flat out asked me that when we talked on the phone. When I said yes, she said that she wasn't, but because we were getting on marvelously I decided to try for a friendship.

3.) Given 2, if they say yes, you can reject them, if they say no, you can use this as an opportunity to leave them be "I'm not really looking for new friends right now, but thanks," or something along those lines. This may be my bias against passive aggressive behavior, however.

4.) Similarly, if you give a fake number, please make sure it isn't anyone's real number. Not being called back is one thing. Being texted back with "dude, she gave you a false number" is kind of cruel.
posted by Hactar at 6:34 AM on August 8, 2011


if I'm at a freakin' singles night, or in a large group of new people in which I might like to ask someone ELSE out, I can't say that.


If it's a single's night or a group thing, doesn't that leave you the best out?

"I'm not interested, and I'd rather not waste anymore of your time or mine, since there's a group of people to mingle with."

It's graceful and it's true.
posted by FJT at 7:05 AM on August 8, 2011


We shouldn't have to dance a dance or strategically play some game where the prize at the end is to not be labeled as a bitch.

If an old grandmother started casually chatting you up, you'd probably give her a courteous three minutes or so of harmless conversation before the socially acceptable time limit kicks in and you can look at your watch and move on. Now, maybe there are people out there who really are too busy to talk to anyone, and they would ignore the grandmother or keep walking, and that's fine-in that case, ignore the man or keep walking! But at a party or a place where it's clear you're not in a huge hurry, you typically can spare about three minutes of chat, and that's sort of generally socially accepted.

My policy is that if I would talk to a grandma, I should probably give a man the benefit of the doubt and talk to him. I mean, even if it's obvious he's hitting on me, there's a certain skill in being able to disentangle the thread of friendship and comradeship from the hitting on thread that I sort of enjoy in a weird way. The man is using that to his advantage, sure, because he wants sex, but you can also use it to your advantage right back if you're savvy, to force him to give up his cover or get nothing.

Also, some men aren't even really sure- I mean, they like the way you look, of course, but they might not know that your political views are diametrically opposed or you have some specific hobby they can't abide or something, and that can come out in a few minutes of conversation. I find that if you have a sense of humor about it, you can even turn his cowardice back on him. It's a double bind game that people play in social sitations, and it's annoying if you're in a hurry and just want to be honest, but it's also just sort of the way the game is played, and especially in certain situations, there's an advantage to realizing that.
posted by Nixy at 10:40 AM on August 8, 2011


I'm with bilabial. My most memorable failure-to-disengage was with a young man who approached me in the street as I was walking home from visiting a friend in hospital who had nearly died in a car accident. This young man did not take my distracted brush-off kindly. He lunged at me. I pushed him away, set my teeth and kept walking.

When I got back to my flat, my best friend said: "...but you're bleeding." He'd scratched my back with his fingernails.

There is no easy answer to OP's question. But I am of the party that believes a woman's right to her physical safety trumps a man's right to not have his feeling's hurt.

See also: Schroedinger's rapist.
posted by rdc at 11:55 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Ugh. Rogue apostrophe in "feelings." That memory upsets me and perturbs my spelling.)
posted by rdc at 11:57 AM on August 8, 2011


Learning to reject guys gracefully is a skill. The situation you're in is your chance to practice and learn your way to gracefulness.

Don't worry about being a bitch. Focus on being polite but truthful in a kind way. Rejection is a normal part of life, and these guys that are hanging around you but not asking you out? They're often really shy guys who don't have a lot of experience socially interacting with other people and are afraid of rejection. Just as you need to practice rejecting people, they need practice in getting rejected and seeing that it's no big deal.

Allow yourself to get asked out by these guys. Being open and approachable is a good thing. And, when they ask you out, say "no, but thank you for asking." And, only if you're genuinely interested in being their friend, should you say so.

It took me a long time to work up the courage to just say, "No, but thank you for asking." I instead worked on ways to not be so approachable, which was... the wrong approach.
posted by vivzan at 3:27 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


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