As a person that has been socialized since birth to people-please (aka a woman) I understand how difficult it is to say no when someone asks you on a date. Today I’m going to talk about turning someone down via text message/Facebook messenger/email/etc. because turning someone down in person is a much different. When you’re in person and you’re a girl being asked out by a guy you have to worry (unfortunately) about your safety so that will be a different post.
This all stems from a man asking me out via text recently who I needed to maintain a positive relationship with for professional reasons. I think this comes up a lot when you’re asked out by a work colleague or a Starbucks barista or friend of a friend that you’re going to run into a lot and it gets tricky. If you give a creepy stranger your phone number so he will leave you alone you have my permission to never respond to him ever and block him if he harasses you. Same goes for a guy on a dating website who you have barely chatted with- no response necessary. Another twist comes when you’re not sure if someone is asking you on a date and you don’t want to presume they are and be incorrect because that’s awkward. For example, a single work colleague of your preferred sex texting you “Hey want to grab drinks?” Here’s how to handle it if the answer is “No.”:
1. Be as straightforward as possible. If you want to ease into it somewhat gently you could say “Are you asking me on a date? Because I think you are a nice person, but I’m not interested in going on a date.” This person didn’t have the guts to actually ask you out in the first place which is why they sent you this ambiguous invitation, but now you’re giving yourself an out in case by some very minuscule chance they weren’t. Whether they were or they weren’t you’ve told them the most important part- you’re not interested.
2. No excuses. You don’t have to tell them you’re too busy or you’re not really dating right now or you have a boyfriend. You’re not interested in a date and THAT’S ENOUGH. We want to give them this because it feels like you’re sparing their feelings, but what they hear instead is “but if I WASN’T busy/not dating/in a relationship then the answer would be yes!!!” Obviously if you do have a boyfriend you can just say “I’m not interested in going on a date I have a boyfriend” or a more passive aggressive “Sure! I’ll bring my boyfriend. What time?” I’m saying that telling a white lie about a fictional boyfriend is unnecessary.
3. Don’t say you’re sorry. First of all, you shouldn’t be sorry. You don’t have to make yourself available to every man that’s interested in you. You also don’t need to show them pity. We want to say “sorry” to be polite, but remember you did nothing wrong so there is no reason to apologize!
4. “No” is the end of a conversation not the beginning of a negotiation. After you’ve said you’re not interested a guy will likely be embarrassed and might respond “I wasn’t asking you on a date! I just wanted to hang out (as friends).” This is the part where you can stop responding. They asked, you answered, the end. If they press on and try to sell it under the guise of just wanting to casually chat or talk about your career or whatever you still have the choice of not responding because you do not owe them anything.
If it is someone that you want to make a better business connection with I recommend doing it in a professional setting (like at work). If you’re out of town (i.e. a convention) or you don’t work at the same place I suggest doing it over coffee (no alcohol) somewhere public and during daylight hours. You may think “this person could be really important to my career and I want to network with them and going to drinks might be my only chance!” but I’m going to go ahead and say it’s not your only chance and you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Even if they laugh off the thought of the invitation being something romantic think to yourself “would my married with children female coworker go to a bar for drinks with this man to network?” Probably not and you don’t have to either! Get their contact information and follow-up later on via e-mail or a phone call. On a related note asking yourself “would my coworker who is married (with children) agree to this?” is a great way to figure work boundaries when you’re a young single lady.
If this guy seems cool and you do want to get to know him but you know you just want to be friends then ask them out to the next group activity so it’s not just the two of you and try to spend more of your break time chatting. If they seem cool and you want to date him then by all means just say yes in the first place!
I hope these tips help you become more assertive and avoid being on dates or “not a date”s. I’ve been on these dates before out of politeness or because they basically bullied me and they never end well. Opt-out of a date right away and save yourself time, energy, awkward feelings, and being uncomfortable.