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?

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21 Comments

  1. 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.

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  2. Janelle

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

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

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