The Guysexual’s Guide To Saying No

The Guysexual’s Guide To Saying No

Kartik* has always been a 'yes'-man.

Second helpings at dinner? Sure. An airport pick-up for a friend? Always. Overtime at work? Obviously. A kidney to spare? He’s getting his vitals checked, but it seems like a match.

Kartik might say that agreeing to plans (or avoidable commitments, like spare organs) gives him an adrenaline rush, but I know that he’s lying. The truth is that he just doesn’t know how to say no.

Over the years, he has dragged himself to countless parties and pointless dates, just because he can’t let down a friend or reject a party invitation.

What if he misses out on the love of his life just because he skipped his roommate’s birthday party? What if he lucks out on a job offer simply because he bunked happy hours at work? Kartik’s whole life is a series of what-if’s and what-not’s – he thinks that every missed opportunity can be his golden ticket to glory. As the quintessential millennial would say, Kartik suffers from a serious case of FOMO.

He just can’t seem to say no.

And then the writer matched with Amrit* on Tinder a few weeks ago.

As the editor of an internationally reputed magazine, Amrit ticked every possible checkbox. He was distinguished, well-settled, eloquent, charming, self-aware, funny, and sexy-in-a-salt-and-pepper-beard-kind-of-way. Did I mention that he was also the editor of a famous magazine?

Amrit was clearly a lot of things. But he wasn’t…Kartik’s type.

For someone who had spent years writing jingles for brands that sold everything from instant noodles to insurance policies, Kartik wanted to write more. He wanted to be more. So even though he wasn’t technically attracted to Amrit in the conventional sense, he swiped right.

It’s a networking opportunity, Kartik told anyone who would listen. It was just him. Was he actually interested? Not really. Did he find Amrit attractive? Just a little bit. Was there potential for something romantic? He hoped not.

This Tinder match was strictly professional. So it was only obvious that he would dodge Amrit’s flirtations every chance he got. The messages and memes poured in, and casual references to drinks and dinner were made multiple times over. Kartik dodged every single one of them.

He couldn’t be too rude (what if he didn’t let him pitch a column?) or too friendly (what if he wanted to pitch something else instead?), so he kept up with a tirade of hi’s and hello's and banter about the weather. Everything was going really well.

Until that one fateful day, when Amrit asked him out for a date. Point blank. Kartik never saw it coming. For a man who believed in always saying yes, how could he say no?

This was a personality test. He could try one of these four options:

A. Be firm, and come up with a polite version of ‘Sorry, but I am not interested’

The option seemed brutal, but no one should sit through a date they aren’t into. What Kartik needed to remember was that when you are saying no to a date, whether you’ve met them or not, you are rejecting them.

You don’t want to seem mean, so if you want to say ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ to someone you’ve met online; you want to do so sensitively. You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no. And if that doesn’t work, you need to know that one day, you are going to be the person at the receiving end.

B. Ignore all his messages

But also, live life as a spineless coward. Ghosting someone is never a good idea, but it’s also the easiest exit route to avoid an excruciating conversation. Kartik thought this was the fastest way to make all of his problems go away, but he would have also have to say goodbye to all his column pitches.

C. Lie, and come up with an excuse

Or multiple excuses, in this case. Over the past few weeks, Kartik had tried every excuse in the manual. He had made up meetings and feigned family emergencies. He’d faked deadlines and on that one occasion, even faked the symptoms of a deadly disease. Was it the best solution?

Not really. Kartik needed to learn the art of saying no. Not lie. Not come up with excuses. Not over-explain himself, just simply decline.

D. Throw the question back at him

An alternative to avoiding the question was to throw the question right back at Amrit. When would he like to go out on a date? Countless first encounters (or dates) had been nipped in the bud because men couldn’t commit beyond the initial text-dance of asking each other out. We have this incessant need to play a ping-pong game of questions till we wear each other out.

Kartik thought about it for a really long time, and he decided to go with option E.

But more on that next week.

*Names changed on request

Illustration courtesy of Amrai Dua

Aniruddha Mahale