The phone is on its fourth ring. It could be your mother, or your best friend. Or it could be him – the man who boxed you into conversation at that party on Friday night. Was he sweet? Certainly. Were you attracted to him? No. So explain this – after you suppressed another yawn, he said, “I’d love to see you again. Can I take your number?” Every bone in your body whimpered, “Me? You? No, no!” but you said, “Oh, er, Ok. My number is…” So here you sit, glaring at the phone, a prisoner of your own social life.
For so many women, rebuffing that nice man with the sex appeal of a warthog is the social equivalent of sticking pins under your fingernails. Why agree to see a man you don’t like? “I don’t want to hurt his feelings,” a role statement. So is it cowardice or compassion that makes saying no so hard?
That said, faced with rejection, many men prefer a neatly wrapped white lie to blunt reality. But isn’t that deception? Who benefits when you tell a man you don’t find him attractive? You don’t want to say it and he certainly doesn’t want to hear it.
So what do men want to hear, if not yes? “I have a boyfriend,” takes top marks in the lie department. “When a woman tells me she has a boyfriend I think, ‘Well, if she wasn’t attached she’d jump at the chance,'” says Louis, 26, a solicitor. But what if the man in question knows you’re single? Try, “I’m sorry, I’m just so incredibly busy.” However, don’t elaborate with something like, “I have to get home to watch the paint peel.” He may volley back with, “Well, that shouldn’t take long. Let’s meet for coffee later.”
You could also make it your personal policy, never ever to give out your phone number. If a man asks, respond politely with, “I’m sorry, I just don’t give out my phone number.” If he persists, say, “Why don’t I take your number?” You’re saying you’ll take it. You’re not saying you’ll use it.
Above all, the key to brushing off a man nicely is just that – to be nice. “I’m busy” can sound either sincere or agitated, depending on your tone and expression. Following tips will certainly help you:
First, look relaxed, even if you’re stunned. Smile and make eye contact. Second, keep your voice calm and say something such as, “Thanks, I’m flattered, but I’m just too busy.”Don’t speak too quickly or you’ll look awkward. Third, respond with a downward inflection at the end of your sentence, while making eye contact. A dip in your voice when you say the word “busy” connotes authority and lets him know you mean it. Your smile, however, shows him you mean it in a no-hard-feelings way.
Virtually all men agree no matter what you say and how you say it, the sooner you let him down, the better. Rest assured, when you turn him down, he’ll get over it. If he has the ego to ask you out, he has the ego to move on. Now, answer that phone!
Dating Expert and Certified Coach
New York, NY
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