Getting to no
June 18, 2010 12:28 PM   Subscribe

How do a get an honest rejection at a bar?

This may have been a isolated incident, but it's shaken my confidence more than I'd like: I chatted up a woman at a bar, things go swimmingly, we get along well, I buy her a drink, she needs to run, we exchange numbers, excellent.

I try calling in two days, get a text back "Dude, she gave you the wrong number."

I'm nearly certain I got the number she gave me at the bar right and she gave me a full name- one that is not around on facebook or anywhere else, actually. So I'm thinking rather than saying no, she gave me fake information.

I'd much rather have her tell me to buzz off. I gave her a couple of opportunities to explicitly say "no" to further contact, but all signs pointed to good.

I'm ok with getting turned down. It took me a while to get there. I'm not so ok with having a pleasant evening and finding I've been fooled.

So how do I make it so that women who aren't interested simply say no to me? The idea of facing this again has drastically diminished my confidence with talking to random people everywhere. Up until this, I was on my way to earning a reputation for being fearless in talking to people. Now, I feel like I've lost some of that ability.

And if this is honestly an unusual event, please let me know.
posted by Hactar to Human Relations (60 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So how do I make it so that women who aren't interested simply say no to me? The idea of facing this again has drastically diminished my confidence with talking to random people everywhere. Up until this, I was on my way to earning a reputation for being fearless in talking to people. Now, I feel like I've lost some of that ability.

1) You can't, without coming off as passive aggressive or resentful of women.

2) This is one person, one time. Get some perspective. "Fearless in talking to people" means not caring if you occasionally don't get the reaction you're expecting.
posted by availablelight at 12:31 PM on June 18, 2010 [16 favorites]

Agreeing with availablelight -- it's pointless and damaging to spend any more time thinking about this. In fact, after reading the first few responses to this AskMeFi question, you should forget you posted the question and not click the link again (no matter how many people end up responding after me).

Just get back out there, meet more people, and stop worrying about why a certain individual you hardly know behaves the way she does.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:35 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Let it go.

This is tantamount to the "I already have a boyfriend" line, which may or may not be true.

It is, however, a legitimate non-confrontational way to communicate "not interested" in a society that supports fear mongering and grants women way less power (physical and retributional) than men.
posted by plinth at 12:37 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

And if this is honestly an unusual event, please let me know. No, you tell us. Does this happen to you a lot? If so, then you need to examine how you go about things. If not, write this off as a one-off and let it go.

That being said, this woman did say "no", albeit in a passive and somewhat mean way. But that was how she did it. Part of dating is learning to interpret message from people who communicate differently than you do. You can go around insisting that women reject you the way you want to be rejected (and that's not going to happen), or you could try to learn to read between the lines.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:37 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is just going to happen sometimes. It's not a reflection on you (well, apart from the fact that in the end she wasn't interested in you). Some people just avoid confrontation and rejecting someone to their face is too difficult. You have to go forth with a positive attitude. Maybe she was happy to chat at the bar and that's all: you should feel good about the positive interaction you had, you're doing something right there.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:38 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

agreeing that you can't. here's the dark end of the spectrum: some people get off on this kind of thing. i once briefly dated a guy who would tell me stories he thought was funny about how he used to string girls along at bars and then would give them fake numbers/info/etc (additional info: i did not meet him at a bar). it was the beginning of the end and a pretty huge red flag about the kind of person he was. just be aware that this happens due to bar culture and it happens a lot less if you meet people outside that culture.
posted by raw sugar at 12:41 PM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

No, it's not an unusual event. Cultural conditioning has trained many women to not anger men they don't know, and who are potential stalkers (or worse). Rather than risk making a stranger angry, they will provide false data.

If a woman is really interested, she'll ask for your number. Alternately, you can say: "Hey, I've really enjoyed talking to you. Here's my card, give me a call sometime if you'd like to go do something."
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:42 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

If a woman is really interested, she'll ask for your number.

She may do this. And, yes, "here's my info, call if you want to get dinner" is a good idea. But it's not like a woman who gives you her contact info is necessarily uninterested; conversely, asking for your info might be her rejection, eg, she's never going to call.

At the end of the day, sometimes you're going to encounter deception when dating, especially at the very earliest stages, and there's really nothing to do but grumble and forge onward.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:47 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep, it happens, and there's no magic phrase you can say to make all women, everywhere, never do it again in your presence under any and all circumstances. It's just one of the risks of being out there and meeting people. Sure, it stings, but... let it be a sting, not a crippling injury. The amount of space this takes up in your psyche is up to you.

(That said, if you want to assume the best, you could always consider that maybe, after a drink or two, she accidentally gave you the wrong number. My cell number and my work number have a funny similarity whereby I can easily transpose two of the numerals in my cell number if I'm not thinking about it. I do think this is the less likely scenario, but it's not literally beyond the range of all possibility. It doesn't change the fact that you don't have her number -- and I DO NOT mean to suggest that you should keep trying to track her down by any other method; you should definitely let it go -- but, you know, if you're inclined to want to give people the benefit of the doubt, there it is.)
posted by scody at 12:49 PM on June 18, 2010

You should be glad if women act like this to avoid the unpleasant confrontations that could be spurred by men getting publicly rejected/humiliated. (I'm sure you'd never get into such a confrontation, but some men would, and she doesn't know if you're one of them.) If these women were worried that every time they weren't interested in a guy they were talking to at a bar they had to explicitly reject him on the spot, they'd be much less inclined to go to bars or get into conversations with strange men there. You're still in the same position no matter how the rejection is delivered, so you might as well accept it if this is how women have decided to make the bar scene most convenient for them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:50 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Or, she did give you the right info and her friend had her phone and played an evil trick on her. For me, the best way to deal with dating and picking up people in bars and so forth is to assume that they are not being excessively assholish or nice because of you, it's shit that's going on in his or her head. She may have liked you at the bar, but then thought better of it later or just chickened out. She may have really dug you at the bar but her boyfriend found her phone and saw the calls. She may have thought you smelled funny and didn't like you at all, but didn't want to be rude to your face.

A thousand things can happen between an interaction at a bar. All you can do is try again and enjoy yourself. It'll happen again and it won't. That's life.
posted by teleri025 at 12:56 PM on June 18, 2010

I think what this woman did was mean, immature, and inexcusable. It is the way I treated boys when I was young, inexperienced, and cruel, and when I did not know what else to do. Recently, I even had a guy do something similarly misleading to me--he drove a long distance to have dinner with me, after messaging a few times on OkCupid, and we had what seemed like a really nice dinner. We went for a walk afterwards and had an interesting conversation, and said that we wanted to see each other again. Then he left, and didn't contact me, so I messaged him and said that I had a great time and would be open to seeing him again, if he felt up to the distance (about 40 miles). And he never wrote back, even though I gave him a very easy out. I find this kind of behavior ridiculous in people over 20 years old (and not that much better in people under 20).

What can you do to discourage it in the future? Like the posters before me, I am not sure you can. But one thing that might help is if you make a concerted effort to not be pushy at all. Offer your number rather than ask for hers.

The thing about meeting people in bars, or meeting them online, is that there is no context and no one is beholden to anyone else insofar as treating them decently. If you'd met this woman through friends, or through work, or through any more organic means, she would not have been able to do this--she would have had to be forthright in her rejection. Meeting people in the contextless aether can be a terrifying exercise.
posted by millipede at 12:57 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just remember that it is just as hard to be a straight-forward woman as it is to be a straight-forward man. As much as there are jerky ladies with self-esteem issues who will dress a man down for deigning to approach her (therefore making men afraid to approach even the nice ladies), there are jerky dudes out there who will really do what they can to insult, humiliate or just plain threaten a woman whom they perceive as unfairly rejecting them.

I don't give the fake digits out, I haven't done that since I was a teenager, but politely declining is a scary proposition sometimes.

I'm sure you're not one of the kinds of guys that would do that; and you shouldn't take it personally if a girl acts as though you might be -- there are scuzzballs out there who have perfected the art of seeming nice and reasonable and friendly until you tell them "thanks for the offer, but I'm not interested in dating you."

Don't take it personally - and don't try to make the world adhere to your standard of behavior in this regard. You will only go insane trying!
posted by pazazygeek at 1:00 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not to be all pollyanna about this, but THANK GOD because who wants to waste time on someone that fucking wimpy?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:02 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could offer your number instead of asking for hers- that way, the ball's in her court, and she doesn't feel pressured to make the choice right there. A lot of women have been socialized to be nice and nonconfrontational, even if it means doing something that's meaner in the long run. I know I've had trouble in the past telling people "I'm not interested" when I've been otherwise friendly and I'll be witness to their disappointed reaction.
posted by emilyd22222 at 1:04 PM on June 18, 2010

The trouble is, most women have encountered a few men who didn't take direct rejection well. Either they'll redouble their efforts in an attempt to get a "yes," or they'll lash out with YEAH WELL FUCK YOU TOO BITCH. It's a lot safer to play along, duck out, and then reject from a distance.

Don't take the fake numbers personally. It's possible a woman could like you fine, but doesn't trust strangers at bars. The one time I gave a guy at a bar my real number, he called ten minutes after I left the bar, and several times each day for a week after. I wasn't too keen on giving out my number to anyone after that.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:05 PM on June 18, 2010 [19 favorites]

The reason that some women do this is because some men become psychotically angry and sometimes even frighteningly stalkerish when rejected directly. By giving you fake information, the woman was doing what she needed to do to feel safe.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:14 PM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]

What she did was pretty silly, but can you imagine how obnoxious actually dating her would be?

Nobody likes being lied to, but maybe she's had some bad experiences with rejecting men. You never know. She's still being avoidant, passive-aggressive, and rude, but I wouldn't take it personally (which is easy for me to say). All you can really do is to try to up your reading people skills and keep the faith.

Also try throwing out a bunch of hints that you would like to do something interesting with her. Be more specific. Does she seem genuinely interested in going to, I don't know, the National Bottle Museum with you some time this month, or is she polite but vague?

Offering your number isn't a bad idea, but it could result in you just waiting for a phone call that will never come. Why not trade numbers?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:16 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Offering your number isn't a bad idea, but it could result in you just waiting for a phone call that will never come. Why not trade numbers?

If she doesn't call, she's not interested. I have had multiple bad experiences with trading numbers then getting a text 2 hours later and near-daily texts/phone calls for weeks, even after I've made it clear I'm not interested. If she wants you to have her number, she'll enter yours into her phone in front of you and then call you so that you have yours too.
posted by emilyd22222 at 1:19 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Unless you can make every member of your gender handle rejection perfectly smoothly, you can't change this behavior.

The only behavior you can change is your own, and it sounds like yours is fine.
posted by nat at 1:24 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

She's a bad person, or she would have been honest with you. Move on.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:24 PM on June 18, 2010

Responses I have gotten when I have not wanted to hand out my number to a man at a bar, no matter how politely I have said "No".

1) "Well fuck you too, bitch, who wants to date your fat ass?"
2) "Why do you have to be such a bitch?"
3) "I was just bored, I didn't really want to go out with YOU"
4) "Wow, you think you're better than me, don't you? Snotty bitch."
5) "Hey guys, this little lady thinks that I'm not worth giving her number to. Help me convince her." (Which sounds worse than it was, but it was still not comfortable)
6) "But why not? You said you don't have a boyfriend. What's wrong with me?"
7) "Oh, I get it, I'm not good looking enough. Okay, thanks, nevermind."
8) (big sigh) "What can I say to make you go out with me? I'm not good at rejection"

It's not about immaturity. It's about getting out of the situation with the least amount of collateral damage, whether physical or just dude being a PITA. I wish that every man would be so polite to say, "Thanks for your time, have a good evening" but there's at least an 80% chance that won't happen, so you are damn right I am going to give you a fake number instead of a reason you can continue to campaign against. You are not entitled to my phone number, no matter how good our conversation might have been, whether or not I have a boyfriend, whether or not I've gotten laid in the last six months, or whether or not you're handsome. I don't have to give you my phone number, but unfortunately, you guys don't make it easy for me to tell you no. Get over it.
posted by micawber at 1:28 PM on June 18, 2010 [78 favorites]

Women like attention.

Some women get a lot of attention.

Some women get so much attention that they think of bar guys as the flavor of the minute, but no way in hell want to keep some sot of relationship going - otherwise they'd end up with thousands of people calling them.

If you really want her number "call my cell so I can get your number" and get her to dial your number then & there. We live in the instant gratification age - if she feigns not having her cell phone "Oh, my battery is dead" take her number, but treat it with a grain of salt.

I have friends like this & it's just part of their psyche. They like going out to bars & meeting people & genuinely enjoy talking with them at the time - and the guy ALWAYS has a great time talking to them because they're charming, but they've collected enough friends and are just having a good time and don't want any kind of future relationship with the people they meet.
posted by MesoFilter at 1:30 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Also +1 micawber. Women are constantly skirting what could turn into an ugly situation & getting out of it in the way that causes the least damage - to themselves, in that moment. It's not being selfish, it's "this guy is a creep, how do I get out of this?" - and they take those skills and apply them all over the place, whether the guy is a creep or not.
posted by MesoFilter at 1:32 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

She's not a bad person. She's tactless, but not a bad person.

She was probably afraid for her safety. Please, do not be like cooguymichael and assume that any woman who rejects you is a bitch. That way lies madness.
posted by slow graffiti at 1:36 PM on June 18, 2010 [10 favorites]

It's not being selfish, it's "this guy is a creep, how do I get out of this?"

And it's not always "this guy is a creep" -- it's very often "this guy doesn't seem like a creep, but I don't know that for sure."
posted by scody at 1:39 PM on June 18, 2010 [12 favorites]

Right - I mean they pick up the skills in the "this guy is creepy" situation and then just apply them all over to be on the safe side.
posted by MesoFilter at 1:41 PM on June 18, 2010

Reading the other women's replies on this thread makes me feel like the minority in that I am not afraid to say no to a guy. So what if he then says something like "who wants to date your fat ass anyway?" The answer to that question is "apparently, you did." Bars are public places. Chances are, he's not going to pull out a gun and shoot you. He may say something snippy. A woman is entitled to say something snippy back, then, or smirk at his case of sour grapes, or ignore him, or walk away. There is no reason to punish a guy who didn't do anything wrong by humiliating him by having him call a wrong number. Women are not fainting petticoat prisses who can't speak on a level playing field with men. I, for one, refuse to be cast as a fragile pre-victim. A guy hit on me last week at a karaoke bar. I said thanks, but I wasn't interested. He kept talking. I mentioned I was seeing someone (which wasn't a lie. I do not think lying is necessary). He then reached out and touched my tattoo on my back. I turned around, stared right into his eyes, and said, loudly and clearly, "Do not fucking touch me." He was about 6 feet tall and I am 5'2". He walked away, terrified. I was not afraid he was going to touch me again, or follow me home, or anything. Carry yourself as a person who cannot be intimidated and there is no reason to cower and live your life in a cocoon of murmured lies and excuses.
posted by millipede at 1:58 PM on June 18, 2010 [11 favorites]

What Micawber said.

You may not have done anything wrong, projected any kind of threat or anything. She just had no way of knowing how you would react. She was being cautious. Passive aggressive and kinda lame sure, but you have no idea what led her to react that way. It likely wasn't you, yourself it was you "an unknown man". (See Schrodinger's Rapist)

Your solution, give her your number and leave her with a "no pressure pitch". Something like, "I enjoyed talking with you tonight, and I'd like to hear from you again" and hand her your card. If you don't get a call, her answer is no.

Bonus points: work towards a society where a woman's right to privacy, and her opinions of men as potential dates is respected and not threatened with possible violence.
posted by fontophilic at 2:04 PM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]

I also agree with Millipede's attitude, but everyone is going to have different experiences, or different attitudes towards safety. (Personally mine fluxes depending on how much Law and Order SVU I've watched recently.)
posted by fontophilic at 2:10 PM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

You have no idea what happened. It could be she gave you the fake digits on purpose. It could have been a tipsy accident. They could have been the right digits and she decided to pretend they were wrong later. They could have been the right digits and someone else is playing a practical joke (this seems unlikely to me, but still possible).

Considering the cases where she is actively deceiving you, there are a number of possible explanations. One is that she is is fearful of rejecting you outright. Another is that she thought she wanted to go out with you again (or hadn't made up her mind) but changed her mind once she had thought about the situation some more. Another is that she was no longer available (she got back together with an old boyfriend or became exclusive in a previously non-exclusive relationship). Another is that she Googled you and realized she didn't like what she saw. Or talked to a mutual acquaintance who warned her off. Another is that you pursuing her would make her feel better about herself but she didn't want anything more than that (because she's unavailable or isn't attracted to you). Another is that she gets a thrill out of doing this to people. Another is that you bungled something at the end after she gave you the phone number. There are more possibilities than I can think of. Which one is it? You don't know and you probably never will.

Not only can you not avoid this while hitting on people—you can't even avoid it when not hitting on them. Once a girl and I struck up a conversation and later in the evening she came up to me, thrust her business card into my hand, told me I should look her up on Facebook and left. On Facebook she was single. Somehow not much came out of my attempts to get together with her later, but then nine months or so later, I found out she was now engaged to a guy she had mentioned at the time as a friend. In hindsight, it seems like things probably hadn't gotten too serious yet with the other guy when she hit on me, although it was totally bewildering at the time. Doing this isn't that cool, in my opinion, but it's just something unavoidable. But I don't think it happens that often. It's only happened to you once, right? Go back out there and keep doing what you've been doing.
posted by grouse at 2:20 PM on June 18, 2010

[comment removed - meta-discussion that's not answering the OPs question needs to go to metatalk]
posted by jessamyn at 2:26 PM on June 18, 2010

While some people are linking to the Schroedinger's rapist thread, I would also point you to some posts on masculinity. Basically, I just want to say that she is doing nothing wrong but you are also doing nothing wrong and I'm sure most guys can relate.
posted by anonymuk at 2:57 PM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

She could've been immature and just messing with you, but I'm inclined to think that it was what micawber said - you just don't know how well a virtual stranger is going to handle your phone number or how he'll handle rejection, and even if you're not afraid, sometimes you're just tired and want a non-confrontational way to go leave. Not wanting excessive drama in your life does not equate to playing the victim.

In the future, I'd suggest giving women your phone number or email and/or point out she could friend you on Facebook. I think privacy-problem-riddled Facebook's the best, actually, because it's low key, lets her know you'd like to talk to her again, yet puts the ball entirely in her court. If you just give her a number, she may feel weird about texting a stranger that she can't really remember, but someone checking FB the next day when they're sober is probably a given, just to see who they were talking to all evening. She can decide if she wants to friend or message you from there. You don't really need any information of hers, you just need a way to express your interest.

I never give out my phone number unless I know you (and I don't give out fake ones, either), but I do inquire about FB or email to ward off "You're not interested?!" responses. If you turn out to be creepy, it's a PITA to change your telephone number, but defriending or ignoring or filtering is much easier and less intrusive feeling.
posted by wending my way at 3:00 PM on June 18, 2010

Eh, sometimes it takes too much emotional energy to reject somebody outright. I save my emotional energy for the people and relationships that really matter to me -- the ones I've known for longer than an hour in a bar. That said, my MO is more likely to be to give you my real number then ignore your calls. Don't take it personally.
posted by yarly at 3:10 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

So how do I make it so that women who aren't interested simply say no to me?

But they do - only you are not listening. If she gives you the wrong number - she said no, so what's your issue? The "simply" part? Understand one thing: women are not a species of bird for whom you have a set routine in order to get desired results. They are individuals, just like you. Would you behave like some men do? No? You'd be offended if someone thought "all men" behave in a certain way. Same here. So what you are asking for is impossible - there is no rule or behavior that will make all women do x, y, or z.

The best thing to do, is to look at it completely differently, and all such problems, including yours, will be resolved like magic. The secret formula is: "every response is a blessing". By the way she interacts with you, she is imparting valuable information. If you like her, and she's accepting of your overtures, and gives you the right info, great. If you like her, but she doesn't accept your overtures, great, you were apparently not matched well, for whatever reason... she just spared you heartache down the road. She gives you wrong info - she rejects you, but also gives you additional info that that's how she rolls... very valuable info, so be grateful, and move on.

In other words, every interaction is a blessing - a self-winnowing process, a selection process, a process that always is in your favor - always: either by bringing you together with someone who may be compatible, or sifting away the troublesome ones. But this is the easy part. The hard part is what if she says "yes" - then both of you must figure out if this is the real deal, or another incompatible mirage. You really should not get hung up this early in the process. Move on. There's a million trillion fish in the ocean. Every second spent thinking about the one that got away is a second wasted, and steals that second away from your eventual soulmate.
posted by VikingSword at 3:16 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just yesterday I wrote my number down as -96 instead of -97. I have no idea why I did it. Others have mentioned it but just repeating that it's a possibility she wrote it down wrong.
posted by madred at 3:26 PM on June 18, 2010

There's a reason that "CT" means both "cock tease" and "cunt tease" - it's because it's a cross-gender trait. Some people get an ego boost from leading on potential sex partners, with no intention of following through AT ALL.

Forget about her.

Also, I'd advise against the advice of emilyd22222:
You could offer your number instead of asking for hers- that way, the ball's in her court, and she doesn't feel pressured to make the choice right there.

It sounds great, and all empowering and enlightened and PC and stuff, but in reality I've almost never known a girl to follow up the next day, regardless of how into me she was that night. My theory is that it simply goes against societal norms enough to discourage follow-through.

Caveat: I'm 46. If you're 22, maybe your generation is different. But I doubt it. Get her #. Expect some liars. Treasure the rest, for they are treasures.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:33 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am not intimidated by dudes hitting on me persistently, being skeezy, catcalling me, or whatever, 95% of the time. It is not okay--but for whatever reason, it doesn't bother me, a la millepede.

HOWEVER, about 5% of the time when for whatever reason, I'm tired, they creep me out in an extra-creepy way, I kinda liked them before and would have to do a huge about-face to convincingly say "no", they hurt my feelings somehow (actually the most common of all of these scenarios) and I end up thinking it's easier just to bluff my way out of it.

Once or twice this has included a fake number. This doesn't make me a wilting Victorian flower (wtf) it makes me an individual who feels perfectly free to do what I need to do to ensure my personal safety and mental health.


At least she didn't enlist the help of another guy to tell you to back off. I have felt the need to do that before when I was stranded in a bar with a dude who was giving me the creeps. That kind of tactic would have turned out a lot worse for you.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:39 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been physically assaulted as a result of politely declining to give my number to a fellow at a bar.

Not all men are violent jerks. But he had seemed nice enough to chat with about a specific narrow topic, if not someone I wanted to date.

This is part of why I'm such a big fan of a guy listening to me in conversation well enough to say, 'hey let's go grab coffee this weekend/go birdwatching on Sunday/see Rachel Goodrich play at _____' those things are all more or less public and they're an indication that I'm a person, not an object.

I'm not a number dispenser, and since as a woman on record as fashion inept I don't expect to get by on looks.

Since I want a relationship with substance, I filter the guys I'll stand around and chat with.

Not all women know what they want. Not all women know how to filter for the qualities they admire, and not all women know how to clear that filter, so to speak.

I was jumpy enough without a guy pushing me up against a bar and asking me what my problem was, who did I think I was, snobby stuck up bitch.

Now I excuse myself from one on one conversations with men that don't ring my bell.

But I will admit that after getting shoved I did panic and give a fake number one time. I wasn't expecting the ask, and I didn't have a plan.

So, my current self apologizes on her behalf. She probably wasn't trying to be mean. There is an aphorism about 'don't attribute to malice that which can plausibly be explained by ignorance.'

My fake number giving was a result of ignorance. I had my back to the bar again, I didn't see that he was getting ready to ask, and I was ignorant of this new guy's inner nature - would he shove me too? As you can guess, I wasn't looking for an education on that count.
posted by bilabial at 3:46 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

The last time I gave someone my actual cell #, he called me - sometimes once, sometimes five or six times within 5 minutes - at random hours and in the middle of the night for six months, including on Christmas Eve. Sprint doesn't offer individual number blocking. It has completely turned me off giving my number to anyone with whom I don't have mutual friends, unless it's my Google Voice number which allows me to block individual numbers.

That one guy screwed it up for any normal guy I meet in a social environment. It may have nothing to do with you, OP, but with some guy she met once who ended up scaring her.
posted by catlet at 3:47 PM on June 18, 2010

So how do I make it so that women who aren't interested simply say no to me?

Here's what you do:
First, forget about your goal as stated above. Women do this exact thing all the time. It doesn't mean they're bad or they deserve your wrath or whatever. They just do it. Why? More often than not they smile, have a "good" time, give you a number, and say, "Call me," with no intention of carrying it further simply because there was no spark and they don't want to come across as a b*tch. They want to be nice (a noble intention) but they also want to live their life as they see fit (not as YOU see fit--remember that).

Second, you're planning for failure. You are almost saying, "How do I get women to say 'no' to me?" I understand what you're really saying but I also understand how you might be coming across. What it sounds like is, "Please, just say 'no' and let me get on to the next attempted hook up." That's what's going through your head. And it's important to remember is that it is pretty difficult or impossible to mask that broken mind set. You betray yourself in your appearence, body language, and lack of confidence. . .AND. . .women pick up on that incredibly well, and so they see that for what it really is (lack of confidence, weakness, needy clingy personality) and lo and behold there is no spark.

So what do you do? The best thing to do is lower your expectations. You don't really neeeeed this woman, do you? You met her in a bar, fer Crissake! Go out and meet another one! Revel in the game! The chase! Be a man! Make a goal of, say, five numbers in one night! Chances are you're not going to meet your future wife so the pressure's off. Just relax and play!

Once you lower your expectations you must build your confidence. Just meet women. Do it. Screw it up, make mistakes, don't worry about it, and carry on. Dive in. If you screw it up, so what? There are billions more. Have confidence that you'll get it right. The faster you learn the faster you'll get it right.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 3:53 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

As for has to how avoid this problem in the futures, some advice that I have pointlessly put into a list form:
  • You can't control others' behavior.
  • Don't take it personally when people do seemingly rude things. There may be a perfectly understandable reason for it that has nothing to do with you, and if there isn't that reason, then whatever.
  • Bars are really, really, really crappy places to meet people.
  • Buying drinks for women will not make them "like" you.
  • Buying drinks for women can make them feel obligated to make small talk, but that doesn't mean they "like" you.
  • As such, unsolicited drink purchases are just a sort of creepy, sort of annoying way to rent women's time. Solicited drink purchases occur in 1940s detective novels and strip clubs.
  • I have a number of female friends who make it a private game to collect drinks from strangers at bars, because they can. They collect drinks, not boyfriends.
  • So: eliminate "buying drinks for women" from your repertoire. Do the cheesy "you get the first round, I'll get the next, that's what I do with *my* friends" thing if you absolutely have to.
  • While you can't control others' behavior, there are two things you can do here: get better at telling earlier on when someone doesn't really "like" you, and get better at having conversations with women such that they'll be interested in you and not creeped out or uninterested or whatever shade between.
  • That said, you didn't necessarily do anything wrong with the woman you met at the bar.
  • At any rate, as far as schmoozing advice guys, the whole pick-up artist thing is too stupid to explore without bursting into inappropriate laughter and buying a set of fuzzy top hats. Instead, read Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People, because all the non-crazy parts of the whole pick-up artist thing are basically lifted from that anyhow.
  • Really pay attention to the conversation you're having. Is she merely being polite, or is she really having fun?
  • Float the idea of specific future plans. What kind of reaction? Is she's interested, then she'll say as much. If she's merely being polite or placating you or whatever, then she will, at best, be just sort of cheery and vague.
  • Trading contact info is less risky than merely asking for a number or offering your own. Trade phone numbers or friend one another on Facebook or whatever. Also, since trading info is a somewhat longer process, this is your best opportunity to really gauge your new friend's reaction. Again: is she merely being polite? Is she really into the idea of meeting you again? Is she secretly hoping that you won't stab her in the neck? Has she mentioned her boyfriend 50 times in the last few minutes?
  • "I've forgotten my phone / my phone is dead" means "no" unless she starts scrambling for a piece of note paper or something.
  • Instead of trying to meet women at bars, take up hobbies you find interesting and take life from there.

posted by Sticherbeast at 3:55 PM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]

What micawber said.

Women don't owe you anything - and that includes not owing you a rejection to your face, with the potential danger or unpleasantness that that entails.

They don't owe you a to-your-face-no-I-won't-give-you-my-number that might result in them being harassed, touched against their will, insulted, the guy attempting to change their minds...

It is quite possible that you might not behave that way, but they don't know that. They don't know you.

Giving out a fake number is a perfectly valid safety strategy.

It's unfortunate for you... ...but it is well within her rights.

It's not mean, or cruel, or immature, or being a bitch... it is a woman protecting her safety, which she has every right to do.

Instead of asking for her number, if you're interested in a woman, give her your number or your business card. If she never calls you, there is your "No."
posted by Year of meteors at 4:54 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

I can imagine this situation from my past. I never gave out fake numbers, but I had a really hard time saying "no" directly to someone.

Okay, let's say, we're having fun chatting, but I strongly doubt I want to hang out in the future. You say, "this is great! we should do this again sometime! what do you say?" I wouldn't have wanted to "be mean," so I'd've probably either said "oh, I don't know" or maybe even "nah" while giving closed-off or shy body language, but then smiled again like it was a joke. I might've also just ignored the question. To someone like you who has perfected the ability to be told no, this is probably endlessly annoying! And I'm not saying it isn't. It's actually funny (and sad) to me in retrospect how strongly I felt I couldn't be rude, and how scared I was that I might anger someone. Let me take this opportunity to apologize to people who dealt with my mixed signals at age 19.

What I really meant was "we can still have fun chatting now, I think you're a nice person, but this is going nowhere beyond a fun one-time conversation." But in my experience, when given the light and smiley "nah," a majority of guys would assume this was the time to up their salesmanship. I bet 7 out of 10 would say "oh c'mon" or (more likely) "why not?" And then where are we? We're back at "naaaah," so as to keep our fun bar conversation from turning into "you had three shots of tequila, I'm guessing you're kind of an alcoholic," or "well, you said you're not interested in graduate school, so I'm doubting our goals are similar," or something silly that made sense only to my 19-year-old self. WAY too much drama and work, and that's even ignoring the potential real drama as described above. Same reason people hang up on telemarketers, because why get into a discussion about it? So, fake phone numbers do make a little sense to me, though I never did that myself.

If you want to modify your style to be sure you're not getting secretly turned down, here's what I'd do. Somewhere as the night starts winding down, say, "hey, this is great. I'd like to hang out again, if you'd be into it -- we should exchange numbers before we leave." That way, she can say "no" without ever having to say no directly. But never make a direct request. You could even re-open that conversation as you're parting, with something like "hey, I hope to see you again sometime!" (kinda leaving the question hanging). She can either say "yeah, sure, me too, bye!" or "oh yeah, I forgot we were going to trade numbers -- here." In other words, put the offer to trade numbers out there in the world, but leave it there for her to either pick up or just keep on walking.
posted by salvia at 6:46 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing all the women that have said not to take it personally. You're probably not doing anything particularly wrong, it's just that other men that are assholes (or at least just clueless) have made the world harder for you. Everyone has pretty much covered the awful kinds of responses women get when they try to reject guys, so I'll just say yeah, that's been my experience too many times to count. Not always -- thank god -- but usually (really) it goes poorly and results in the woman being in an uncomfortable situation for far longer than if she just pretends to go along with it.

In other words, you can't undo all the bad stuff that the woman has had to go through before you talked to her. That means when stuff like this happens, it's not your fault. Keep being a decent person who's willing to take rejection well and you'll be doing your part, even if women will often be too wary to outright reject you. I can absolutely understand feeling a little deceived or like she wasted your time, but hopefully understanding what she was trying to avoid will depersonalize it.
posted by Nattie at 6:48 PM on June 18, 2010

Actually, the "no pressure pitch" suggested above, where you already have a number written down (like a card or whatever) and give it to her and don't ask for hers, is something I would personally appreciate. I would also think a guy that does that is considerate and savvy. If I were single and looking for a guy, I might actually call someone who bothered to do that.
posted by Nattie at 6:58 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

"I'm ok with getting turned down. It took me a while to get there."

I suspect that you're missing a key point: The woman in question might not be ok with turning guys down. Maybe THAT is why she lied.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:42 PM on June 18, 2010

Damnit, I had a long thing written out, I marked a favorite, it disappeared. So this will be shorter, to the point and probably a bit more direct than the first.

Point A: It was an exchange of numbers. I always exchange numbers, I try to never just give my number (I have a habit of ignoring unknown calls) or just getting theirs.

Idea 2: I'm a little bit annoyed by the perceived ignorance on my part here. [unnecessary rant deleted, but honestly people, I only need one, perhaps two comments telling me I'm an privilege exercising, ignorant asshole for looking at this from a perspective of my hurt feelings instead of her considerations for her safety]

Consideration gamma: from what I'm reading here, I should expect about 50%+ of all contact information I'm given to be false. I'm actually ok with this, as it gives me a baseline to work with and lowers my expectations of honesty in a situation like this.

Quartic conception: I'm getting a smart phone soon, I'll be switching to asking for email addresses.

FIVE GOLDEN RINGS: Not much more to say except that wow, I didn't realize that the majority of honest rejections led to guys being assholes. That said, I still reserve the right to be annoyed by passive-aggressive behavior, no matter how warranted. (I hate the sound of smoke alarms, but I realize they're necessary to save lives.)
posted by Hactar at 5:48 AM on June 19, 2010

I'm a little bit annoyed by the perceived ignorance on my part here.

People tell you what they really think and you're annoyed? I didn't get the impression people were calling you an asshole. There is an illustrative disconnect here, I think.
posted by grouse at 8:15 AM on June 19, 2010 [6 favorites]

I only need one, perhaps two comments telling me I'm an privilege exercising, ignorant asshole

Not a single person called you an asshole. The fact that you are so dramatically (and angrily) mischaracterizing what people have said here, as grouse said, may be illustrative of some sort of broader communicative disconnect that you might want to work on. I say that without any malice or unkindness, just as I say the following without any sarcasm: good luck.
posted by scody at 12:35 PM on June 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm a little bit annoyed by the perceived ignorance on my part here. [unnecessary rant deleted, but honestly people, I only need one, perhaps two comments telling me I'm an privilege exercising, ignorant asshole for looking at this from a perspective of my hurt feelings instead of her considerations for her safety]

Every comment I've seen here has been trying to help you, not calling you privileged or ignorant or an asshole. You seem to be reading references to women's general fear of men acting badly as veiled accusations that you would act like that. The point isn't that you're one of those bad guys; it's that the bad guys are out there, and some woman who's just met you in a bar may be rationally playing it safe if she assumes (even incorrectly) that you might be one of them. (I say this as someone who generally has a pretty low tolerance for comments that glibly dismiss any concerns of men as being the product of unenlightened "privilege.")

Look, I'd love to live in a world free of stereotypes and preconceptions where everyone could treat everyone else as equals. But if I, as a 20-something man, am walking down a dark, isolated street, and a woman conspicuously changes course to move away from me, there's a real limit to how upset I can be with her if I can understand how she's reacting to actual statistical facts about the world. I'm much more upset with the men who have caused those facts to be the case.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:02 PM on June 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

Actually, I can kinda see where the offendedness is coming from:
- "You can go around insisting that women reject you the way you want to be rejected (and that's not going to happen), or you could try to learn to read between the lines." [But I'm not insisting anything!"]
- "Women don't owe you anything - and that includes not owing you a rejection to your face" [I'm not saying they OWE me!]
- "Don't take it personally - and don't try to make the world adhere to your standard of behavior in this regard. You will only go insane trying!" [I'm not trying to MAKE anybody do anything.]
- "You are not entitled to my phone number, no matter how good our conversation might have been, whether or not I have a boyfriend, whether or not I've gotten laid in the last six months, or whether or not you're handsome. I don't have to give you my phone number, but unfortunately, you guys don't make it easy for me to tell you no. Get over it." (60 favorites) [I KNOW I'm not entitled to it.]

Anyway, I can see where indignation might come from, but I don't think the intent of these comments was to say "your personal problem, OP, is that you are..." I don't want to speak for the commenters nor am I criticizing them. If I read them with a defensive lens, I can see where you might be coming from, but without that lens, they don't actually seem to be attacking you. To me, they seem more abstract (straw men, directed at the stereotypical annoying guy, describing the bad far end of a certain spectrum that you'd want to continue to move away from, an exaggerated image of a behavior you might be doing subtly). So, while I can see where some defensiveness might come from, I also wish that right offhand I could think of a pile-on thread to contrast this sort of abstract statement with comments where people ARE really telling the OP that they think (s)he has problems. Also, the other 40+ comments have almost nothing that could even be taken as an insult; in fact, many say explicitly that it's not about you, that you are behaving fine.

So, I agree there's an interesting parallel here. You want the imaginary bar woman to know you're a nice person she can say no to safely, and you want us to know you aren't a privileged asshole. But she wasn't necessarily thinking that, and neither were most (or all) of the commenters.
posted by salvia at 2:09 PM on June 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Argh, that comment needed more better editing, basically to avoid implying criticism of the comments I was quoting much less the people being quoted. No criticism intended, just "hmm, I can kinda see where I might get defensive, too, but nevertheless, I really don't think any commenters were trying to call the OP an asshole."
posted by salvia at 2:14 PM on June 19, 2010

Hactar: "From what I'm reading here, I should expect about 50%+ of all contact information I'm given to be false."

Once you switch to asking for emails, I think you can expect those odds to improve vastly.

From a sample size of me, I am way more likely to give out my email address in a bar than my phone number for exactly the reasons catlet described here.

I am also much more likely to respond positively to a "Hey, so I had a great time talking to you last night, want to go do [thing]?" if it comes by email rather than phone, just because it reduces the odds I will spontaneously say something completely stupid/embarrassing. (A fairly regular occurrence in any phone conversation with a man I'm attracted to.)
posted by the latin mouse at 6:20 PM on June 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I can understand being hurt and frustrated by receiving a wrong number from a girl that you really liked.

But, as a lady, I must emphasize what other posters have mentioned: you are going to have a tough time making women reject you to your face.

Do you know why? Because it is forcing women to do something that is very uncomfortable, awkward, and frightening. You are fighting an uphill, painful battle here. It may not be hard for you to do, but please listen to the other women here that confirm this.

So I would recommend you switch tactics. What is your end goal here? To go out with a woman who is interested in dating you, I imagine. Adjust if necessary. How do you reach this goal after a round of drinks and conversation with someone you just met? I liked the business card idea ("Hey, it was a lot of fun talking to you, here's my card, text me if you're available on Tuesday for dinner") as well as the email thing (it's much less confrontational).

But what if you get an email address and you send your love note and it comes back MAIL UNDELIVERABLE. Same boat as now. That's why I would recommend both giving out a card with your information as well as getting an email address. That way, even if she may have possibly written down the wrong email address or what have you, she still has a way to contact you if she wants to.

And if you never get that call? It's probably because she did not want to. And I know that you do not want to go on a date who isn't into you, right? It's painful when you put yourself out there and there is no response, but that's just it - everything in dating is a response. Not calling is a response - it means "I'm not into you". Short, terse emails are a response - they mean "I don't want to take this further". Nothing is certain 100%, of course, but every point of contact and non-contact you have with potential dates can help you decide whether or not it is worth pursuing further.
posted by amicamentis at 12:02 PM on June 20, 2010

After reading micawber's comment, my immediate thought was - Wait, so if I don't make a deal out of you not giving me your number, then I'm more likely to get to hook up with you?

Which I guess highlights just how right she was, and possibly how much of a passive-aggressive dick I am.
posted by seanyboy at 2:13 AM on June 22, 2010

Don't ever ask for her number - give her yours. That way if she's genuinely interested, she'll call you. You've completely taken any kind of pressure off her but you've still provided a channel for communication. So, if she gets in touch, bonus. If not, well, at least you're not going to feel like a noob by texting Barry's Mobile Plumbing Service and telling Barry the mobile plumber that you had fun at the bar the other night and he has a nice smile, because I'm telling you, Barry doesn't appreciate texts like that.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:25 PM on June 23, 2010

There's a tendency throughout the thread to give the questioner the benefit of the doubt. We don't know nearly enough about the context of this event to assess its subtext. But it's quite possible the OP *elicited* the deception by actually giving off a too-intense-for-the-context vibe, one that the question above also gives off slightly in its tendency toward the dramatic voice.

And don't tell me you think men are any different in the way they game flirtation. You think no man has ever inflated his real-world identity in the act of attempted conquest?

There's an old Bellamy Brothers song (I think it was them) called "I'd Lie to You For Your Love" that had the lines:

I'm a doctor, I'm a lawyer, I'm a movie star
I'm an astronaut and I own this bar
And I'd lie to you for your love . . .

All part of the same game, and determined on a level far deeper than you can consciously control.

Best bet -- most likely to succeed in the long run -- is not to go in with any sort of strategy or script, but really try to connect with someone. (This is true beyond romantic situations, I think. It's essential to good salesmanship and teaching too -- both forms of seduction.) If there's a reason -- an attraction, shall we say -- for her to want to call you or to want you to call her, you'll both know it. It's not really a game. It's a form of inquiry. And the zen of this (from a good salesman's perspective) is to actually just fully be in the moment with someone, to see that as a valuable end in itself. Otherwise, you come across as insincere, as instrumentalizing your interlocutor.

In short, dude, you failed to earn her trust. She didn't fail to trust you.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:58 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

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