Because we were all kids once, when we hear the word “no” we can easily make it mean that we’ve done something wrong, there’s something wrong about ourselves, we’re not good enough or any number of other things. I have a different take on the word: it’s an answer as good as “yes.” How often do we stew in our own frustration because we’re left in limbo not knowing what’s going on? How satisfying is a “maybe” or a “we’ll see how it goes”? What about plain. . .old. . .silence. Those are hardly responses in which anyone can rest soundly. In fact, these responses tend to prey on our deepest insecurities as it allows our imagination to run wild by pouring over every possible “what if” scenario. It’s pure, self-torture. Indeed, when we put ourselves out there and open our hearts to get to know someone new it’s a tremendous risk because the other person may not reciprocate in the way we would hope. Worse yet, they could reciprocate with a “maybe,” or “we’ll see how it goes,” or . . .silence. Does anyone like to be left hanging?
The most common reason I hear for someone not telling someone “no” is because they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. I find that interesting. And it’s an all-out lie. What hurts more, to hear a clear-cut answer or to be wondering for weeks or months on end where you stand with someone? Visit any dating forum or books on dating and relationships and you will read the same painful question over and over again. “Why hasn’t he/she called?” I’ve even asked that question more than a few times myself. I have a better question, “Why should I be left guessing where I stand with you because you’re a cowardly, wimp and can’t tell me the truth?” Some say the truth hurts. I say the truth stings for a little bit and then you heal; lies create long-standing hurt. When you don’t say “no” out loud to another when in your heart and mind you’re really saying “no,” you’re lying.
Whether you’re a man or a woman on the dating scene it’s okay to say, “No, thank you. I’m not interested in dating you. You’re very sweet for asking.” If a guy asks you for your number and you don’t want to call him, “I appreciate you asking me. No. I would rather not give you my number.” After a first date, if you’re really not feeling a connection and you really don’t want to go out with that person again, it’s okay to say, “No, thanks. I don’t feel a romantic connection with you.” It’s honest. It’s polite. It’s straight-shooting. It’s clear. It honors the person on the receiving end. It may sting at first but it will set the other person free to pursue other things. There’s no room for misinterpretation. The other person may not take it well at first because they could make that “no” mean any of that junk I mentioned in the first paragraph.
The key for delivering a “no” is to be kind. There’s something to be said about someone thinking enough of you to ask you out in the first place. That’s a HUGE compliment to you as a person and should be taken as such. So, be nice. Acknowledge your potential suitor for putting his heart out there to take a chance on you. Be gentle. Everyone’s ego is often as fragile as their heart.
Keep your reasons to yourself. You could create a list of a 100 or more reasons for anything, including your “no.” The trouble is that reasons tend to sound like a run-on sentence. The result? Your intended message gets lost in the chatter. What that does is open the door for misinterpretation, which leads to misunderstandings, which leads to someone getting his or her feelings hurt. Say your “no” and shut up. Let the other person do the talking while you sit still and earnestly listen. If there’s anything in what you’ve just said that is misunderstood, clearly restate your position and close your mouth.
Make this your habit and you can walk away with a clear conscience. Over time, you’ll find yourself moving around with less baggage. When the right person comes along, you’ll be ready.