Stop asking for No’s


Does this scenario sound familiar to you?:

*Guy meets girl, they go on a date, it’s perfectly fine, and the date ends in ambiguity. It wasn’t a bad date, nor was it a great date, so a second date is up in the air. Guy texts girl, she takes a while to respond, and because of this, the guy texts the girl again asking “So that’s a No?”


(* I used “Guy meets Girl” for ease of typing, but feel free to plug-in whatever gender identity/sexual identity you prefer when you read it)


I know I can relate, and I also know that my most popular posts are at their root about seeking definitive answers, so it’s safe to assume many of you can relate too. People want answers in dating, and sometimes they’d much rather get a definitive No, rather than an ambiguous Yes. Rather than leaving the door open for a Yes, we ask for a No, and sometimes we don’t even realize that’s what we’re doing. We’d rather have our worst fears confirmed, especially when it comes to rejection, rather than dealing with the uncertainty that comes along with so much of modern dating. I see this way of approaching dating a lot, especially among well-meaning, probably overly considerate people. People who try to own up to any mistakes they think they’ve made, but tend to be more cautious and more deferential in dating than they need to be. Asking someone if they still want to see you is fine, but where people go wrong is when they ask that same question in a way that prompts a negative response.

I’ve made countless mistakes in dating. Going in for the kiss too soon, assuming that her laid-back attitude meant she wasn’t interested, and dozens more, big and small. We all make mistakes in dating, but a great way to turn a simple mistake into a rejection is prompting someone to reject you. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I’m sorry”, where so many of us screw up is when we say “I’m sorry, I understand if things are over now”. I once went on a date with a woman who I thought was way out of my league, so I felt a little less confident than I normally do about whether or not there would be a second date after a decent if not stellar first date. Rather than just asking if there would be a second date, I asked if there would be a second date by asking for a No. I sent a text that basically said: “Hey, had a great time. Would love to see you again. It’s okay if you don’t want to”. She responded saying she would like to see me again , but what if she was on the fence?  Would asking her for a No potentially have changed her answer?

Don’t get me wrong, I wholly believe you should take a No for an answer when you get one, but you shouldn’t be going out of your way to get negative responses. By the way, when I use No, I’m not referring to just the word “No”, I’m referring to No in a broader, negative confirmation way. Anyway, here’s three reasons why you shouldn’t actively seek out No:

It looks like you lack confidence

Whether or not you seek a No because you lack confidence, or you’re just deferential by nature, asking for No’s is likely going to be perceived as a lack of confidence on your part. Confident people, especially people whose confidence is how they make a living (Salespeople for example) have a “I wont take no for an answer” air about them, because that’s general perceived as an indicator that you’re confident. While that’s not the best way to approach dating overall, it doesn’t hurt to be viewed as someone who is that confident. When you look at people who can walk into a room, any room, and pick someone up, their perceived confidence does most of the work for them. Odds are good that If you were drop-dead gorgeous but you hit on people by saying “I understand if you don’t want to give me your number” you’d be less successful than the person who doesn’t prompt people to reject them, who is slightly less attractive. I’ll admit, I do this from time to time because I’m more concerned with not wanting to pressure women into giving me their number than I am with appearing confident. That approach almost never works, by the way, but old habits die-hard. While my intent is one thing, how my actions are perceived are entirely different. It’s okay to be deferential in dating, but you have to be cognizant of how it might look. What you think looks easy-going might look like a lack of self-confidence to others.

It looks like passive aggressively pushing for a No

Has anyone ever talked you into breaking up with them? I’m guessing very many of us have been in a situation where we’re dating someone, and rather than them telling you that they’ve lost interest, they manipulate and coerce you into breaking up with them. They’ll say everything short of “we should break up” so that you’re the person who says “Wait, do you think we should break up?” so that they can reply “Well since you brought it up…”. First of all, if you’re reading this and that’s your way of ending things with people,  let me take a moment to tell you to please stop doing this. Back to the topic, if you can relate to this, surely you know that people can and will try to use passive aggressiveness to get what they want in dating. The people you date can’t read minds, so how can they know for sure if you’re asking questions because you want a No, or you just phrase things in a very pessimistic way? If I get a text the day of a date and it says “Do you think we should reschedule our date” I’m just going to assume the person sending the text wants to cancel, but wants me to be the one to cancel. That’s the risk you take by leading with a negative response prompt. If you ask someone “Is that a No?” they might just assume that’s the answer you want, but you’re just too chicken-shit to come out and say it.

If you give someone one option, they might choose it

Your opinions on Barack Obama aside, he’s got a pretty cool way that he asks his staff to help him facilitate decision-making . Were you to give him a memo that requires a decision, here’s the options you’d need to provide him with: Agree, Disagree, Let’s Discuss. It’s a great way to cut down on decision fatigue, and it’s something I’ve applied to my own life, dating included. If you’re dating someone and they’re picky and you’re trying to figure out plans with them,  A, B, Discuss is maybe the best way to do that. Should we go to Restaurant A, Restaurant B, or let’s discuss? This is a major key to picking places to eat, new bars to check out, what to watch on Netflix, or just about anything else you’ll decide if you’re currently seeing someone who is decidedly not go-with-the-flow. Seriously this method will make being in a relationship so much better folks, I cannot stress this enough. Anyway, you know what would be a terrible way to try to get decisions made? Obviously prompting someone with too many options, but equally as bad is prompting someone with only one option to choose from. If you ask someone “Do you want to go on a second date?” and you give them the options “Yes, No, Maybe”, or just leave it open-ended, you have a much better shot at getting a Yes or a Maybe. If you ask that same question but add in “No?” maybe they’ll just go ahead and pick No because it’s easy. The same way that having too many options can make it harder to make a decision, having too few options can make your decision fairly easy to make, so limiting someone to only a negative response could potentially put you at a disadvantage. There’s a reason that the old-school  “Will you go out with me?” notes had “Yes, No, Maybe” as options and not just No. Maybe we were all better at dating before puberty?

There are obviously people who will recognize what you’re doing when you ask for No’s and realize that you have the best intentions, but why risk it? Instead of saying No, or using language that sounds like you’re looking for a No, try to ask questions or discuss things in a way that’s neutral. “Would you like to go out with me?” is a complete sentence, no need to add a “No?” at the end. “Are we still on for tonight?” is a perfect question on it’s own, no need to phrase it “Do you still want to go out tonight?”. Accept a No when you get one, but don’t actively seek out No’s.

Good Luck Out There.

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