When it comes to warding off unwanted advances, I’m a bit of a wuss. Okay, that’s putting it mildly. I’m a kiss-off coward. To be clear, I’m not often a recipient of the “cold approach,” which is when a complete stranger/would-be suitor rolls up on you at the mall or the grocery store or a red light and tries to spit his best “smooth brother” game. But every once in a while, when I’m out and about and minding my own business, someone steps into my path with a smile and a cell phone “new contact” screen at the ready, asking for a number.
Because this happens so rarely, I’m always caught off guard. I never have, for instance, a fake number to give out. I rarely think to say that I’m seeing someone unless I’m asked–and even then, that doesn’t often work as a deterrent. At the old “I’m seeing someone” chestnut, a persistent stranger will quip, “That’s cool. We can just be friends!” or “But y’all ain’t married, though, right?!” While most sane, rational, quick-witted, or assertive women would just say, “Step.” at this point, I always get flustered, then hem and haw and eventually wind up giving my number (since he’s going to dial it back to make sure he entered it right and if it’s fake, my subterfuge would be exposed before I even had a chance to walk away).
Then, when he calls, I never answer the phone. This has a 100% success rate, even if it takes him a few missed call attempts to get the hint and even if, as in one weird case, I get an angry parting text about how, “That’s what’s wrong with y’all women. You don’t take a good man’s phone calls, then complain you can’t meet anybody!”
These experiences would be so much easier if I were direct enough to look the brave pursuer in the eye and say, “No, thanks. I’m not attracted to you. I don’t give my number to people I don’t know.” But there’s something about watching the eager smile drain off of someone’s face that always gives me pause. And, though it’s unlikely that someone who’s approach is more friendly than off-putting will suddenly turn hostile, I rarely want to risk it.
Similarly, when I go out with someone once or twice (who I met under more natural circumstances, like work, church, or through friends) and I can tell his interest is increasing while mine is waning, I have the same reluctance to be the one who says, “Let’s call the whole thing off.” If he’s gotten to the first or second date point, he’s probably a decent, well-intentioned guy who I don’t want to insult, hurt, or alienate. And I have a hard time finding just the right, tactful words to say, “I don’t want to go out with you again. Ever.”
How do you go about letting a nice guy down without wounding his ego? Or is wounding his ego not something you factor into a refusal of someone’s advances?