Something happened to me recently which does not happen to me that often, which is to say that a boy asked me out on a date. I won’t go into specifics here, for fear that someone reading this would recognize him, especially because I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to talk about someone else here without their permission. The part that has to do with just me and nothing to do with him is that we were texting for awhile, I was dreading every text and pretending I really never texted to get away with the fact that I didn’t want to talk to him, avoiding him in places where I could see him, and one day I got so worked up about it that I cried so hard I made myself vomit. (I may have had a virus. Irregardless.)
And still, when he asked me out, I said yes, because he was a nice guy and not unattractive and I felt like, “You’re 26 years old and never had a boyfriend. How many nice, not unattractive guys are going to ask you on a date?”
It took a week, or a week and a half, and a lot of coaching from friends for me to text him that actually, sorry, I was not interested. And I immediately freaked out and started thinking I made the wrong choice, and felt terrible, like I was the worst jerk in the world for breaking this guy’s heart, even though he probably had like six other dates lined up that weekend.
It’s got me thinking about how I think particularly as women, it’s sometimes hard to admit to not being into someone. As women we have a whole book called He’s Just Not That Into You where we learn how to read signs that a guy is just not that attracted, but there’s no book for telling you what to do when you’re not into him. I wonder if we worried less about which guys liked us and more about which guys we liked, whether we wouldn’t be happier.
I have a friend who is one of the smartest, kindest people I know, and her guy friends are perpetually falling in love with her. Every time I can remember this happening, she has slept with him before finally realizing the feeling wasn’t mutual. Not because she’s at all promiscuous, but because she doesn’t trust her gut feeling that she’s not interested well enough to say no outright. And I’m not saying she wasn’t interested in these guys at all, just that sometimes it’s hard to tell. I mean, why can’t we just say, “No,” to nice, well-meaning, normal-looking guys?
Maybe it happens to guys too. I don’t know anything about boys and I’m sure some of them have the same problems. But it seems to me as ladies, it’s particularly hard to just say no without feeling like some horrible monster. Why is this? Is it because of the nice guy myth, that if a guy treats you respectfully and empathetically, you owe him something for it? Or is it because the narratives we read are always framed where we’re something desired, and not something that desires? I don’t know, but I’m tired of it.
Related, why do most guys think it’s acceptable to text to you, “Hey, how are you?” whenever they are bored? Step up your text game, boys. I will from now on only accept pictures of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and obscure facts about Ezra Koenig. This is the only way to my heart.