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?

  • Skegeeace

    I used to have this problem a lot. If you’re 100% against cold pick-ups, you can always wear a fake wedding ring. If you still want to leave yourself open to pick-ups every now and then, just tell them you’re married, but you have no ring. LOL

  • Kenzy

    now this might only work for me because i am soooo not attached to my phone so it stays on silent and is never in my hands. Point being there is no risk for exposure doing what I do but ill give you the suggestion anyway. Get a google voice number. It will ring like a regular phone when they call and go to voicemail and that way you wont have to be bothered. I have what i like to call a “fake” google voice number that I give out. I am like you and cant say no so I always use that number. When they want to call and make sure they have the right number I always say (and hell for me half the time its true) “i dont have my phone on me” (hence my earlier mention of not being attached to phone and explaining that whole thing) because if they call the number in my presence it rings etc,but there is also no risk of my actual phone ringing or vibrating during this transaction and giving me away

  • Afrostyling

    “But there’s something about watching the eager smile drain off of someone’s face that always gives me pause.”

    Its not my job to make some man feel better about himself. If you cant take no for an answer you are a weirdo. I’m not about to wear a fake ring just to deflect unwanted attention. If a woman says no, keep it moving. Keep bugging me and i will call the cops on you.

  • African Mami

    I’ve always relied on being blunt-politely. I’m not interested in you like that. I’d hate to lead you on. The reaction, thus far has elicited a lot of laughs and comradeship! Still friends with this dude who is hell bent in pursuing me as his wife. JESUS! errm, [he does not meet the physical requirements, AT ALL]but it also helps that he also has an explosive sense of humor.

  • Marsh

    Fake numbers ? Fake wedding rings? Ohh I don’t got time for all of that lol ! A simple “I’m not interested” is enough ! Im not a cold person but i’ve been in situations where I was pressured to give my number to guys because I felt bad. But when they texted or called I would ignore it when I was better off passing up the offer than leading him on to childish games.

  • Patience

    Nearly all of the time when I am approached by a man, it is a cold approach. It never works out for them, because it is always a man who I am not interested in, so the conversation never moves into a direction where my phone number can be asked for.

    I couldn’t care less about a man’s ego, especially when there were never signs of interest from me.

  • Patience

    A lot of time a simple “I’m not interested” isn’t enough. Some men truly believe that they can convince a woman to like them.

  • MimiLuvs

    In my experience, I find “letting a guy down” the hardest task, after going on 1-2 dates and it is obvious (for myself) that I have no desire to go further along. What tends to happen is that I’ll end up playing the game of “what ifs”.
    But, I have no problem letting a guy down if it happens to be some random street corner-hugger, who’s trying to “holla”. Usually, I’ll ignore Bebop and T-Bone and keep it moving.

  • Marsh

    So playing childish games like giving out fake numbers or giving out your number knowing you will ignore him is better ?

  • Patience

    I can’t say if that is better, considering that I have never done either thing.

  • Nicole

    This article came right on time! Today I gave my number to a guy in one of my classes. He’s nice. Employed. In college. BUT…. I do not find him attractive at all. I know it sounds vain. He texted me. Im going to have to “let him down”

  • Mel

    Wow! This article is me!!! Whenever a random guy comes out of no where to flirt and then asks for my number, I have no clue how to react!! I always hesitate and give him “chances” in my mind like “He’s really cute” & “He seems really sweet” but really I have no clue!
    I wish this article came out 9 months ago because I gave my number(via facebook!) to some guy in my history class. He never talked to me only texted me, we were in the same class for a whole semester! He said he was shy thats why he didn’t talk to me. After about 5 or 6 months of that I just stopped texting him. I felt bad but when his ideal date is Lizards Thicket and a normal conversation turns into one about foreplay, thats where I draw the line.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    That is true sometime being blunt don’t work I have dodged plenty of men who refused to take no for an answer. Game playing isn’t necessarily better but these days you have to do everything but fipe short of a restraining order for some men to get the hint.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    why is there a white devil in the image?

  • Patience

    To suck your soul from your body.

  • ?!?

    Hmm. These are probably the same guys who say women like bad boys. It’s more like women like attractive men. This may sound bad but a lot of women want to be physically attracted to men just like men want physically attractive women. Have you ever seen an attractive guy hit on an ugly girl with a messed up body? I haven’t, and many attractive women don’t want an unattractive man either. I think it takes some time and a bad relationship with a looker for some women to start thinking looks don’t matter. A lot of nice guys will say they have no luck because they’re nice, but they’re probably not that attractive. I know attractive nice guys. They have no problem meeting women. At the end of the day, it’s best to stay in your lane.

    Rejection can be hard on men though. I think it’s best to just tell them right then and there in a nice way rather than getting their hopes up. Some dudes are crazy though. They will get loud and swear at you if you turn them down. Some women give out numbers to avoid situations like that.

  • Truth

    Yes, this is true! I don’t understand why men don’t just walk away. I’ve had guys use the, “Can you have friends” and “But you ain’t married” lines on me a few times. What has seemed to work so far was saying, “If I was your girl, would you want me in the streets making random friends?” They seem to back off with that. Although there was this one time I was late for class and I cut this CRAZY guy off while driving and sadly the light turned red before I could pass him. He rolled down his window like he was about to shoot at me. Instead he just asked for my number in a “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood” kind of way. So I thought to myself, “Hey…it’s either my number or my life.” I immediately had it changed 3 hours later.

  • Janelle

    That’s what sunglasses and earphones were made for!!! Ignore.

  • http://fourpageletter.wordpress.com fourpageletter

    usually i thank the person for the compliment and tell them i am very flattered – but am not interested.
    sometimes being nice can backfire though. it’s very frustrating.

  • KristinaT

    I’m actually married and I tell them that I am but for some of them that’s still not a good excuse…Sad.

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    SO glad I wasn’t drinking when I read your comment, Patience.

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