How to tell a guy that you’re not interested…in the beginning

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Let me set the scene for you…

Men, you’re out with the fellas.

You’re at a nightspot where the music is amazing, the weather is great, you don’t have to go to work the next day, and in attendance are some of the most aesthetically impeccable women you’ve ever seen.

It’s your night and you can feel it! And because you’re surrounded by your closest male peers, you have the confidence to approach any woman in attendance at this party.

…Or, maybe you’ve managed to gulp down enough liquid courage to make you invincible.

Whatever the case, you’re scanning the room with the homies to see who stands out and catches your attention. After about 45 minutes, you notice a group of women enter the venue.

But one woman has caught your attention.

You watch from afar to study her body language–is she friendly or does she have an attitude?

Then you continue to admire from a distance just to make sure that she doesn’t have a significant other.

After a round of verbal affirmation from your male crew, it’s all academic now: It’s time to approach her. You make your way over to the admired damsel, you make eye contact, introduce yourself, have an exchange of pleasantries, and she agrees to dance with you. You dance together for a series of songs and then head back to her table to chat a bit more. Then you ask for her phone number so you can give her a call.

She responds, “I’m sorry—I’m not interested. But thank you for the dance.”

In that moment, in your mind, it’s as if the DJ has stopped the music, the lights are turned on, everyone in the club has ceased dancing, and all eyes are on you. And her refusal to give you her number feels emotionally as if she got the mic and the volume is adjusted to the max so she can convey her thoughts.

Ladies—pay attention to this scenario. And men, we will come back to you.

I’ve personally asked lots of women, “How do you tell a guy that you’re not interested when he asks for your phone number or out on a date?”

Here are the responses I’ve gotten.

• “I’m sorry—I’m seeing someone,” or, “I’m married.”
• “I’ll give them the wrong phone number.”
• “I’ll give him my phone number and when he calls, I won’t answer.”
• “I’ll ask him to give me his number and I won’t call.”
• “I’ll give him my number. When he calls, I won’t answer. But once I verify it’s him via the voicemail message, I’ll store his number in my cell phone and either block it, assign a ringtone that alerts me not answer, or just lock the number in under the name, “Don’t Answer—Weirdo.”

Just for the record, these responses all came from women 35 and older. Believe it or not, none of the women I surveyed were teenagers or undergraduates in college.

Now what you will notice, in every response listed, is not one of the women told the truth. Well, maybe except for the first response… and in that case, we have a different issue to tackle. Nevertheless, the truth is, THEY JUST AREN’T INTERESTED.

And so, men, the prevailing question is: Why won’t a woman tell you that she simply isn’t interested?

Glad you asked.

What I’ve learned is that women are very concerned how you will handle rejection. When I asked if they ever told a guy directly the truth about their interest, they have been questioned further about why they feel that way, cursed out, physically attacked, laughed at, or in some way, disrespected for sharing her true thoughts. And, to my surprise, many of them have experienced some form of hostility far more than a man accepting their response.

Then I asked if they ever take time to assess if the guy appears sane. One response I got was, “You know, it’s just easier to tell the guy a lie and keep it moving.”

Men, in case you didn’t know this, women are very high on their sense of protection. It’s their first instinct. And if they have had a series of men respond aggressively to relational rejection, just like Pavlov’s dog, they aren’t likely to continue down that road when the bell rings.

Ladies—here’s what you need to understand: We men have very fragile egos. But most men are hunters as well—meaning, even though we may be rejected, most men enjoy the process of taking a chance. And in taking that chance, if you give us your phone number, it is as if we’ve won the lottery. Maybe not necessarily to those men who collect numbers for sport; I’m talking about the brothas who are genuinely interested—particularly if we perceive you to be a woman of extraordinary quality. And, imagine how we feel once we call, and never get an answer. At some point, it becomes painfully clear that you were never truly interested.

We have a dilemma here. Women certainly have a point about legitimate concern for their well being when approached by men in the public. And men should not always have to be the sacrificial lamb enabling a woman’s safety concern. So—what do we do? How should a woman handle her response to the guy that she isn’t interested in?

Men—here’s what you got to know and learn. NO is a complete sentence. If a woman tells you no, that’s it. Particularly if she just met you, she owes you nothing else—no deeper explanation, etc. Yes—I know—it’s hard hearing a no. And it can often be embarrassing. But we must “man up” and even anticipate her response may be no. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

Women—stop lying to men. Be honest. And how do you handle giving an honest response about your lack of interest when you are honestly concerned about potential physical harm? Here’s a suggestion. If you are approached by a guy that you know for a fact that you have zero interest—AND you’re concerned that he might be a bit cray-cray—just ask him for his number. And if he asks when you plan to call, just respond, “We will see.” This way YOU have the power now and it diffuses the situation of a possible blow up based on rejection.

In closing, my suggestions are to silver bullet by any stretch of the imagination. This is sort of a wicked problem. But one day, we will come to a place in our society where a woman can look at a prospecting man in the eye, and say without concern of harm, “Thank you but I’m not interested.”


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  • Stephanie L Farmer

    I like this topic and the content as well…very interesting that the women that we’re surveyed were 35 years of age and above. To be honest in my experience and perhaps I have been lucky… When men approach me and show their interest they give me their numbers and do not ask me for mine. The assumption is that they are being respectful since they know I am just meeting them and they give me the option to call if I am interested.

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