Relationship Tip #3: Be Okay With “No” (Update)

One of the gloriously challenging things about being me, writing this blog, is taking my own advice.  Seriously.  It’s one thing to write these fabulous relationship tips and quite another to practice them in my own life.  Today, I’m sharing a success story with you.

Last week, I was knee-deep involved in a day-long task that required my focused attention along with quick reaction time.  In the middle of my shouting directives came a quiet, male voice behind me, “Chrissy, would you like to have dinner sometime?”  Looking over my shoulder, I saw that it was someone who had asked me out before only that time I gave him a false excuse, commonly known as a lie, for declining his offer.  I did not want to go out with him.

This time, without thinking about it I gave an automatic response, “Yeah, sure.”  Before I knew it, other pressing matters demanded my attention and I returned to hollering commands.  In all my busyness, I forgot about this brief interaction.

Hours later when I was lying in bed processing everything I didn’t have a chance to during the day, I was startled to perfect consciousness when I realized what I had said to him.  All I could think is, “Oh, great!  What have I done?  What am I going to do?”  Faced with the reality that I would see him again and have to deal with this fueled my anxiety that night. To avoid the situation, I actually started to generate all the reasons it would be a good idea for me to bite the bullet and go on the date:  he’s a great guy (he truly is), athletic, courteous, kind, on and on.  The bottom line for me is that there are several ways he is not aligned with my values and what I’m seeking in a future husband – meaning our dating would be a waste of time for both of us.  I was clear about this and I knew it.  Even though I had told him “yes,” I was really a “no.”

When I saw him a short time later, he came over to me to talk.  His face shone with excitement.  After a deep breath, my heart was racing.  I said, “So, when we last talked I was really busy.  I didn’t give you my full attention.  When you asked me to have dinner with you, I said ‘yes’ when I should have said, ‘no.’  I just don’t think it’s a good idea for me to go out with you.”  In that moment, I saw disappointment wash over his face.  My heart was aching that I hurt him.

“I don’t really know what that means,” was his response.

My mouth opened as I was about pour out my bucket full of reasons.  Remembering that I don’t need to give him my reasons, I stopped myself and looked at him directly, although gently, in the eyes.  What came out instead was, “Thank you.”  There was a long pause as I tried to figure out exactly why I was thanking him.  Meanwhile, he looked back at me in hopeful anticipation.  Without thinking, I continued, “Thank you for thinking enough of me to ask me out.  I really appreciate that.”  Knowing that I would see him in the very near future, I smiled and nodded my head with encouragement, “I’ll see you later.”  Then I turned around and walked away.  Although I still felt badly having watched him hurt, I felt relieved that I had told him the truth;  I felt lighter.  Really.

When I saw him next, he approached me with a big smile on his face.  He looked really happy, not at all what I had expected.  “Chrissy,” he said, “I just want to thank you for telling me the truth.”  I stood there dumbfounded as he continued, “So many girls will say ‘yes’ when they really want to say ‘no.’  Then they’ll be mean to us to make us go away,” (he used “us” to refer to men in general).  “I really appreciate you being honest with me.  Stay sweet.”  Later on that day, I saw him again and I was surprised at how light the atmosphere was.  There was no tension, anxiety or weirdness.  What I saw was possible for us was friendship – real friendship.

There you go, ladies, proof that you can say “no” to a guy.  Be nice about it and he’ll actually appreciate you – perhaps not on the spot, but after he has time to sort out his thoughts.  Tell the truth; be real; be nice.  The rewards are great.  At the very least, you’ll have a clear conscience knowing that you did.