[Disc] Soft rejections and politeness

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Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Nov 28, 2014 5:30 pm

'Nother Paging-related thread. The article and comments have both once again brought up the idea that women are socialized to give a "soft" no and be solicitous of other people's feelings.

So, maybe this is just another way I don't register as a man or something, but the idea that "when you ask for her number you will almost always get it" has not matched my experience at all. The majority of women I've asked out (and no, it's not like I was trying to do it completely out of the blue) have seemed comfortable enough just telling me "sorry, I don't think so" or "I'm already seeing someone" or "aren't you a little young for that" (maybe not phrased that nicely). With warmer approaches, they'd declare a celebration of Frieeendship and how great it is that we're friends, in the middle of me trying to work up to asking, which is...not at all subtle or soft, as signals go. When I did get an awkward "soft" no, it was so soft it went all the way to answering my phone calls but then standing me up at the actual meeting place.

Is this really that unusual?
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Post by kleenestar on Fri Nov 28, 2014 6:10 pm

It sounds to me like you are coming off as a safe, decent human being, so that you're getting blunter responses than you otherwise might. This is a good thing, I think!

That said, I would definitely call "I'm seeing someone" a relatively soft no; ditto heading you off (by declaration of friendship or anything else) before you can ask.

Also, bah, getting stood up is the worst.
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Post by eselle28 on Fri Nov 28, 2014 6:40 pm

I agree with kleenestar that you've actually listed a semi-soft no (the "seeing someone" objection) and an extremely soft no (positive statements about friendship designed to ward off invitations). That's a good thing in a way. It means you're reading people's social signals correctly.

A lot of the discussion on this site tends to revolve around situations where people misinterpret soft nos, so I could see that leaving the impression that these statements are both almost universal and tend to be so subtle that no mere mortal could decipher them. In reality, people do use hard nos as well as soft ones, and most people understand the soft nos most of the time. If soft nos were misunderstood the vast majority of the time, they wouldn't be very effective social tools, after all.

I'm sorry you were stood up, by the way. I'd call that rudeness more than some sort of extreme soft no.
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Post by Dan_Brodribb on Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:52 pm

As others have said, what you're experiencing isn't unusual. I think it says more about their own communication style than about how you register as a man.

I've had all those things happen to me. Some 'no's are subtle, others direct, others compassionate, others ambiguous. I've gotten to the point where the no is the only relevant part, not how it's delivered. Getting upset about it feels like someone declining a gift I've offered and then me complaining because they didn't gift wrap it to my standards before giving it back.

Subtle is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

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Post by Mel on Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:00 pm

In addition to the above, I would say that a soft no that involves giving the person your phone number is relatively unusual. I know if I was nervous to say "not interested" outright to someone for whatever reason, there's no way I'd want them having my actual contact info, so even if I didn't tell the truth I'd be much more likely to go for a "I have a boyfriend" type excuse. I guess some people give fake numbers? But to have one ready you'd have to be the sort of person who gets asked a lot.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:47 pm

Dan_Brodribb wrote:As others have said, what you're experiencing isn't unusual. I think it says more about their own communication style than about how you register as a man.

I've had all those things happen to me. Some 'no's are subtle, others direct, others compassionate, others ambiguous. I've gotten to the point where the no is the only relevant part, not how it's delivered. Getting upset about it feels like someone declining a gift I've offered and then me complaining because they didn't gift wrap it to my standards before giving it back.

Subtle is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Sure. I don't think I've been upset; just kind of confused by the fact that the general rhetoric on Paging has once again not remotely resembled my own observations/experiences, maybe worried that there was yet another obvious thing I've never noticed and need to work on before I try Step 1 again.

I was using my phone earlier and so had trouble quoting, but:
DNL wrote:Now it might have been nice if she was more upfront—it would've saved you some heartache and her some annoyance—but unfortunately, shit happens and you can blame society for this one. As I've said many times before: women, even in the 21st century, are socialized to be indirect when it comes to turning men down. They're taught that they should be as solicitous of men's feelings—even to the point of sacrificing their own—and as a result, frequently couch rejection in softer terms like "I just want to be friends" or "I'm not in a good place for a relationship right now". What they mean is no, but saying "no" directly is frequently a risk—occasionally a physical one when the men take things badly.
dovo wrote:You don't even have to worry about being rejected in front of people. When you have a little bit of conversation and ask for her number, you will almost always get it. If she is not into you, she will just not text you back or make an excuse to not meet up again... So you have nothing to lose, just ask her number :-)

Not that I trusted this "dovo" character all that much, but I've seen DNL's rhetoric before and...well.

It's good to know this isn't that weird. Thanks, folks. Smile
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Post by Werel on Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:34 am

Agreed with all the above, especially this:

kleenestar wrote:It sounds to me like you are coming off as a safe, decent human being, so that you're getting blunter responses than you otherwise might. This is a good thing, I think!

Just a note on "I have a boyfriend" as a soft no: I'm pretty sure I've had dudes wonder if I was lying as a soft no when I said this, but sometimes it's just the simple truth, not a response to your desirability or worthiness. There have certainly been instances where it was "sure, I'd have a drink with you if I were single, but I am not" rather than "I would not actually like to have a drink with you, and here is a convenient way to avoid saying that."

And standing people up is "hard jerkass," not "soft no." Sorry that happened. Neutral
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