Bless that Meghan Trainor.
First, she gave us “All About That Bass,” which always gives me a little pick-me-up on days I’m feeling down about the size of my booty et al.
She’s had some other good ones over the past couple of years, but lately I’ve been jammin to “NO.”
If you’re unfamiliar:
The song is about being able to say “No, thanks” when a guy wants to chat you up or get your phone number — something that might be a no brainer for some of us, but for whatever reason has been a MAJOR CHALLENGE for me, even in my adult life!
There are a myriad of theories as to why this is so hard. For me, I’m not sure what it is. I think one part is that deep down inside me there’s still a geeky, pimply, awkward girl with glasses and braces asking, “Who, ME?!”
But anymore, I think it’s just that I HATE awkwardness. Hate it. It just seems easier to say “OK” and deal with it later than to face the unknown confrontation/awkwardness of saying no. Plus, I’m a highly-sensitive and empathetic person, so I don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings.
Also, the game has become more complex, my friends. While ladies could once smile and say “sure thing!” while giving out the number of their favorite Chinese takeout, now we all have cell phones, and the norm when exchanging digits has shifted to one person dictating their number, the other person texting and voila! — we’re connected.
The worst, though, is when you’re not sure of the intent of the relationship.
The challenge of men and women being “just friends” could be the subject of a whole other entry. Perhaps I’ll tackle that sometime. For now, I just want to say the ambiguity of that really becomes clear if you just met someone, and they want your phone number.
I mean, I don’t want to automatically assume they’re interested in me in that way, you know? Particularly depending on the context, which I’ll get to shortly. I mean, we would probably find it obnoxious if men began to immediately volunteer their relationship status each time we acknowledged or interacted with them.
So that sort of thinking leads me away from simply declaring, “I have a boyfriend.” Sure, there are times I try to work it naturally into the conversation so they know, but that’s not always easy to do.
Am I supposed to just say, “OK, sure, but I have a boyfriend, OK? So we’re just going to be friends.” Some of you may call that simple and direct, but it causes me a ton of anxiety. I feel like that is just…. whoa.
So, here comes the NO. I should be able to just say no, right? No thanks, I’m not interested. But guys, again, what if I’m just not interested in the person in that way, but I wouldn’t mind chatting sometime or meeting for a beer or coffee? What am I supposed to do then?!
Truth be told, in almost all of my cases with this situation, I have been interested in none of the above. So again, use the NO. I just need to say no! But it’s so hard. It doesn’t come naturally, and I panic, and it just seems easier to oblige. Especially when we have these damn cell phones attached to our hips 24/7!
Related to the ambiguity issue, my most recent run-in with this problem was about a year ago at the GYM, where I was completely caught off guard. It’s one thing if I’m at a bar in a low-cut top, maybe chatting someone up or attempting to get a free drink (shameless, I know, and no, I don’t do that anymore… often).
I don’t consider myself “gym sexy.” I’m not the type to wear some cute little tight clothes (in part because, well, I can’t), I don’t have makeup on unless I’m coming straight from work, and I’m huffin’ and puffin’ and lookin’ the sweaty, red-faced fool. I do not expect to be HIT ON in this circumstance.
Last year around this time, however, I was. At least I think I was, because as I stated, it was AMBIGUOUS. I’d seen this man at the gym several times before, a neighborhood regular. One particular day he said hello and started talking to me and noted he’d seen me there a few times. The conversation seemed innocent enough. I figured he was just being friendly, as a regular, and acknowledging a fellow, new “regular.” I live in a city — and at the time, especially a neighborhood — where that sort of open, friendly chit chat is really, really normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
He talked to me for way too long, though, and that’s just a pet peeve. I’m at the gym to work out, not chat. I wanna get in and out of there! But he was nice enough and somehow we ended up on the topic of me “knowing” Spanish and having studied abroad, and since he was from the country I studied in, I started to light up a bit, because I’m always excited to meet someone from there. I can’t help it; it’s cool. So then he started throwing Spanish into the conversation and I said, “Whoa, I’m pretty rusty, haha,” and from there, this smooooooth operator said we should get together sometime to chat and work on my Spanish because it is such a gift to have the ability to speak another language.
As an objective observer, you’re probably rolling your eyes, but I actually thought that was sort of a cool idea — in theory. The theory being yeah maybe I’ll see you at the local coffee shop sometime and we can try to speak Spanish and this is just as friends and no big deal. I mean, he just had a very soulful way of talking about this and I like to see the beauty in everyone, that’s all. Plus, I often miss that part of my life, that culture.
Then he whipped out his phone and asked for my phone number.
I was like a deer in headlights. For one thing, I wanted to get back to my workout ASAP. For another, this wasn’t someone I would never see again if I said “no” or gave a fake (and a fake isn’t really even an option anymore with the aforementioned texting confirmation) — this guy was there ALL THE TIME. Thirdly, I didn’t want to assume he was hitting on me because I was GYM UNSEXY, and fourthly, he was nice and interesting! What to do, what to do…
Spoiler alert — I gave it out, and immediately felt like that was a bad idea. Sigh.
Maybe he won’t even call…
When I got home and relayed the experience to Todd, he was aghast. And not like, jealous, because I made it clear I wasn’t interested in that way, but simply:
“WHY did you feel compelled to give out your PRIVATE cell phone number?! You don’t have to do that!”
I did just do that, didn’t I?!
Cuz a baby probably would have had more sense, amirite?!
With those 2 simple phrases, Todd blasted away any and all excuses I had for what I did. I have absolutely every right not to give my private cell phone number out to a complete and total stranger!!! What was I thinking?!
Maybe he won’t even call…
He texted, quite a long message, the next night, about getting together, and it came after 10 p.m.
The jig was up.
What ensued was me freaking out to a couple girlfriends, one of whom actually knew who this was and declared him “such a flirt,” which made me feel a little better because it just made me feel like he didn’t really single me out or anything and he probably does this every other day. So I’m nothing special, and I can decline his invitation to go out, and life will go on.
So I sent him a nice message saying it was nice to meet him and perhaps I’d see him around but I was premature about giving him my phone number and had a boyfriend and just wanted to keep it casual at this time. Something like that. He wrote back to sort of try to convince me one more time to hang out but ultimately left it alone.
So that was that. Because yeah, saying NO just would have been tooooooo awkward, guys, and all of that wasn’t. NOT AT ALL.
From there, I was afraid to go to the gym for awhile. I really wanted to go the next day, though, and I tried to convince Todd* to come with me as a buffer just in case.
He all but did this…
…and basically said, “You’re a big girl; you can do it!”
Amazingly, I never saw him again, and now I live in a different neighborhood and go to a different gym. Good story, huh?
In summary, ladies, just say it! Nah to the ah to the no, no, NO! Noooo thank you! Meghan Trainor has given me inspiration!
I can’t believe I’m gonna be 33 in a few weeks. I should probably just be flattered anyone wants my number for any reason…
*Special shout out to Todd… that man puts up with a lot of ridiculousness, and he does it with patience and grace.
How do you handle it when someone wants your number and you’re not interested (probably like a real adult)? Drop me a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!