When does no really mean no?


You have had a date. It was ok, nothing special but the guy was sweet. You agree to give him a chance and agree to a second date, well he seems shy and another opportunity might allow him to come out of himself. The second date is fine but you are returning to your initial gut instinct that this is a ‘no’. There is a flurry of messages like the first sign of snow, promising a lot but actually delivering little and ultimately being short-lived. You respond politely but give closed responses that suggest a sense of detachment. You allow the messages to wane as you do the cowardly thing of letting your communication drift off into the ether, never to be repeated or reconciled. As Enrich Maria Remarque would say, it’s all quiet on the western front. You seem to have strategically manoeuvred your way out of that one.

A week passes and there is nothing, but then why should there be? It’s not like you are a celebrity or a gorgeous model. However, the second week after the date heralds the arrival of a new drive, it is as if the other person has been in a comma for the week and seems to pick up immediately after the last date. The messages are probing yet complimentary; ‘I think your really sexy’, ‘do u still fancy me’. The lack of appropriate punctuation and grammar is a little annoying but you are now living in the 21st century and realise that such interactions do not need to follow the rules of correct punctuation (or indeed spelling as the texts demonstrate). You opt to ignore the messages, thinking that they will pass as they had done previously; a foolish mistake, as you will quickly learn. With no responses given the sender tries a new offensive, the greeting. By that I mean ‘hi’, ‘hello’, ‘morning’, ‘evening’ a combination of texts that seek to foster communication. You feel uncertain, you really don’t want to deliver a reply but a natural instinct tells you that it is rude not to, after all you know the rules of conversation and recognise that a greeting must be reciprocated. Relenting, you send a response, ‘Hi’.

When a dam breaks it does so with spectacular consequences, flood waters gush through submerging everything and moving at a pace that it so rapid it engulfs all in its path. That is how I felt. The flood waters had opened, a barrage of messages proceeded, ‘do u still fancy me’, ‘give me chance’, ‘can we date’, this was not what you expected. You berate yourself for having replied but realise that you have now created this. You should have let sleeping dogs lie and not replied. A battle ensues, your aim is to get out of this unscathed, allowing the other person to retain a sense of dignity without you being critical or offering a damning judgment. They seek that date, to establish a line of clear communication that will lead them into a relationship (perhaps merely your bed). Your responses are thoughtfully crafted, the lexis carefully chosen so as not to be critical, ‘it’s me, not you’ sort of responses. You say that things became too complicated and you want to have some time to yourself to think and decide what you want. They know what this means, they realise that any significant time apart causes apathy to set in. Their best way forward is a relentless attack. When you hold firm to your single response they become angry, confrontational, ‘ur wasting my time’, ‘why r u being like this’. You feel bad but realise that responding is the wrong thing to do, you go silent and deep, hoping to go undiscovered. They revert back to the ‘hi’ greeting, they ask you how you are. Like the March thaw, your cold exterior begins to melt and you give way to a reply. You opt for closed responses that answer the questions without opening up further communication. A futile action, they simply read the texts but do not READ them, they are unable or unwilling to accept the truth. Despite feeling uncomfortable with being so forthright and cruel, you make it clear that you are no longer interested. They respond by asking you to give them a chance, to meet them once more. Again silence is the only response and the reply to the subsequent plethora of messages. Eventually all seems to have gone quiet. Then the pathetically familiar ‘hi’. Shaking your head you wonder why this person does not have the self-respect to simply bow out, to move on, they have even implied acceptance of this in an earlier message when they say ‘should I give up, to which you reply ‘YES’, capitalisation intended to make this as emphatic on the screen as it is in your mind.

For me the current end has been indicated by my two most recent responses to the message ‘thought you’d lost interest’ to which I replied, ‘I have. Stop wasting my time and stop contacting me.’ and ‘Sorry, I’m not interested any more. Good luck in the future with dating and work.’ It seemed pretty definitive to me that this was it, a clear conclusion, a line drawn under this whole sorry affair. Even the response confirmed this, ‘thanks I feel valued’ and ‘I won’t contact you again’. That was until a message came thorough, ‘am I forgiven’ followed by a second ‘am I forgiven’. The evident echo so indicative of this situation, it’s inescapable and relentless as it repeats over and over, ad infinitum.

Thus you return to that inevitable question: When does no mean no? If my experience is anything to go by, it rarely does.

Author: Ralph

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