As a woman in my 40s who knows what she wants, I’ve gotten really selective when it comes to finding a partner. I want to meet someone, and I want to fall in love. I deserve it. But it can’t be just anyone — they have to be exceptional. I’m not just dating for me, I’m dating for my three kids too.
I say “no” all the time — I’m talking about anything from them asking for a sexy picture, texting me, a kiss after a date, walking me to my car, or coming to my house to “surprise me.” It’s my right and I’ve gotten used to saying it. Saying “no” may have been hard for me in the past because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’ve worked on boundaries and I’m pretty fucking good at busting out NO now.
But there’s something I have not gotten used to: men’s reaction to when I say no.
A few months ago, a man asked me out for a drink via Facebook. We’d never met in person, but we had mutual friends and went to neighboring colleges. He and his lovely wife and three kids had just moved to the area.
“You mean with your wife?” I asked. “I’d love to meet her!”
He responded by telling me he wanted to meet with just me. “Things are really bad,” he told me, going on to say they’d probably be separating soon.
I told him absolutely not and he should focus on his marriage and stay off Facebook. I thought he’d get the hint, but he didn’t.
After hearing from him again a few days later (he “just wanted to say ‘hi'”), I told him to stop messaging me. He started to argue with me and I ignored him. A few days later, I got another ping and blocked him. I’d told him “no” three times.
Last spring I was chatting online with a very handsome dude on Bumble, a popular dating site where women get to make the first move. After getting to know each other for a few days, we exchanged numbers. I was feeling hopeful. He was polite, accomplished, and seemed to be very involved in his kids’ lives.
After he asked what my “ideal body type for a man was,” I told him something about arms and tall men. He responded by sending me a naked picture of himself holding his penis that said, “Is this big enough for you?”
Now, I’m all for sexy pictures, but let’s meet first, test our chemistry, and see if we even like each other. Also, if someone sends you a picture like that after a few hours, guess how many other people they’ve shared that with? A shit-ton. No thanks.
He told me he didn’t just send them to any random person, then somehow thought my comment telling him never to do that again was an invitation to send another. I reminded him I was, in fact, a random person he’d just met online and I wasn’t interested in talking any longer.
He called me uptight and a prude, saying he was glad he knew how I really was early on. Then texted me two days later as if nothing happened. I’d told him no twice.
I had a first date a year ago with a nice man I ended up not having a romantic connection with. We left the bar and he kissed me. I pulled away and said good night. He sent a message asking if I’d made it home okay, which was sweet, and then asked if he could see me again. I said no, saying that I didn’t feel a romantic connection. He responded by telling me that I didn’t feel a romantic connection because we didn’t go to “naughty town” and had only talked about family.
I said no thank you. He sent me another four texts telling me I’d definitely change my mind if I went out with him again followed by a gif of two people sloppily making out.
His texts continued until I told him “no” for a third time.
I met someone last Christmas I really though I liked. We’d talked for a month online and on the phone. After a month of dating, it was clear this man was a gaslighting narcissist. I told him I didn’t want to see him again. He asked me to meet with him anyway, telling me he thought we should be in a relationship. I declined.
His texts blew up my phone for a week. I told him to stop. After getting 44 messages from him in a single morning, I told him I never wanted to see or hear from again.
A week later, he showed up unannounced at my house while my kids were home. We’d been dating long enough so he knew my kids’ schedule and when they would be at my house and not their dad’s. He also knew I didn’t introduce them to anyone unless we’d been dating for at least six months.
I saw his car in the driveway and sent him a text to leave six times, and threatened to call the police before he actually left. I’d told him no at least 20 times.
These men who have problems accepting the word “no” are smart and educated. They work hard. They own their own businesses. They coach hockey and go to father-daughter dances. They are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
His texts blew up my phone for a week. I told him to stop. After getting 44 messages from him in one morning, I told him I never wanted to see or hear from again.
And upon hearing the word “no,” instead of taking it to heart and listening, their gut reaction is to try to convince me my feelings are not only wrong, they aren’t valid.
In no way do I think these reactions are exclusive to me. I’ve heard other stories, worse stories, from other people who are dating men. It seems they don’t like to hear the word “no” in any shape or form and have a really hard time understanding what it means when it comes out of the opposite sex’s mouth.
Will it ever get better? I hope so. In the meantime, I have two sons, and I’m determined to do my part to make sure they never behave this way. I’ve told them (leaving some details out, obviously) about these situations so they learn NOW the importance of hearing and accepting the word “no.”
And so that they know it is important to let the word sink in the first time they hear it. Not the second time. Not the third time a woman tells them no. And God forbid, not after a threat to call the police. THE VERY FIRST TIME.
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