It’s a relatively collective desire to want to please someone you’re dating. Whether that’s laughing at a joke that wasn’t that funny or splitting the calamari when you really wanted the mozz sticks, going against the status quo or saying “no” to someone can make you feel like you’re being difficult. Newsflash: You’re not.
“A lot of people fall into the ‘yes man’ or ‘yes woman’ category, because they want to be [seen as] easygoing and for the [other] person to like them,” says Cher Gopman, NYC Wingwoman and dating coach. “Going into that category isn’t a good thing. You have to have a point of view — if you always say yes, there’s no challenge, and you don’t end up having your own identity. Easy is okay, but after a while that fades out.”
It’s important to be comfortable enough to share what you really feel, which is why we whole-heartedly support expressing your very valid opinion on a date, especially in these scenarios.
When You Don’t Want Another Drink
I hit a tipping point on every date when I know the next drink really won’t be a good idea for my stomach. But if I like the person, I’ll order another tequila soda anyway and deal with the digestive repercussions later. I’m (literally) sick of the tummy aches.
“You can just say, ‘No, I’m good,’ and then go right back to the conversation and keep it flowing,” says Gopman. “As long as you’re continuing that conversation and making it fun, it’s OK [to turn the drink down].” Heads up you may need to be the one to ask that next question in order to avoid a dead silence, the awkwardness of which might prompt your date to ask for the check.
The next time I’m in this situation, I’m just going to say, “You know, I’m actually good, but I’m down to keep hanging if you are.” Seems innocuous.
When You’re Tired
I believe that claiming you’re tired when someone asks you to go to another bar is the cop-out of all cop-outs. I’ve been within a single digit number of minutes of falling asleep but stood strong so that the other person didn’t think I wasn’t into them.
Gopman wants me (and you) to just tell the truth. “They’ll respect you more for telling them how you’re feeling than going to the next place and being exhausted and not fun.”
But, in order to make it clear that you’re not just politely excusing yourself because you think your date sucks, plan for the future. Say something like, “I had a really busy day, and I’m so tired but next time I see you, let’s do karaoke. I want to hear you sing that song you were talking about.” Not only are you planting the seed for a second date, but you’re also nodding back to something they said, which shows you were listening and find them interesting.
When You Don’t Like The Restaurant
The person you’re into texts you saying they want to take you to dinner to a new seafood spot. Only problem? You really effing hate seafood. (Mussels, I just don’t get you.) But it was so nice of them to even think of taking you there that you feel bad turning them down.
Tell the truth now — don’t save it for when you’re scanning the menu in horror. Simply say you’re not feeling or are not a huge fan of seafood, and ask if they’d be up for Mexican (or something else) instead.
“Always give them a different option,” says Gopman. First of all, it’s good manners. Second, it sets you up for the future. “If you don’t tell them that you’re not into seafood early on, it’s going to come out later and they’ll wonder why you didn’t tell them from the beginning,” Gopman adds.
When What They Want To Do Sounds Awful
Similar to the restaurant scenario, give another option and be honest about the fact that the activity they are suggesting is not really your vibe. Think along the lines of: “Ah, I’m really not the bowling type. But we should totally go mini-golfing.” If you begrudgingly go along with whatever, this person is not going to get to know the real you, says Gopman. Plus, if you’re doing the thing that you think is the least fun in the world — shocker — you’re not going to have fun, and that fun-sucking energy will shine through on the date.
If you’re feeling anxious or hesitant about saying “no, thanks,” remember that how someone reacts to micro-rejections says a lot about them as a person and whether you two might work down the line. Are they the type who always wants to be the one to make decisions? You won’t know that unless you stand up for what you want. And that information might mean you’re not so compatible, according to Gopman. ”If you always do whatever someone wants, you end up thinking ugh, they’re always picking what we’re doing and [feel] a little bit of resentment. If you don’t speak up early in a relationship, then they’re going to expect you won’t later on either.”
So, go ahead sing “no no no no no no” from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” or, you know, say it, maybe just once, the next time you don’t want to do something on a date. It’s a good word.