An Open Letter to the Guys Who Don’t Take No for an Answer

Ever since we were kids, we’ve been taught that persistence, ambition, and determination are admirable qualities. The American Dream means never giving up. Work as hard as you can, and you can make your dreams come true. That’s the kind of person we should strive to be: someone who always pushes the limits, someone who won’t take no for an answer.

Those qualities may be useful in some aspects of our lives, but dating is not one of them. Our society makes jokes about rape and is quicker to defend an alleged rapist than to consider the side of the accuser. We live in a culture that teaches, “Don’t get raped,” instead of, “Don’t rape,” and creates a mentality in which a victim of sexual assault can never win. (What was she wearing? She shouldn’t have been out that late drinking. If she’s had sex with him before, why would she say no this time?).

We live in a society where guys would sooner back off when a girl says she has a boyfriend, out of respect for another male, than to simply leave a girl alone. And even then, some guys don’t stop.

It’s even more confusing when the media romanticizes harassment, masking it as persistence. It’s everywhere: in rom-coms, sitcoms, books, magazines, and music.

Consider every girl’s favorite romance movie, The Notebook. It’s incredibly sweet and romantic and we bawl our eyes out at the end.

But think about how Noah met Allie. In the scene when they first meet, Noah will not take no for an answer. He risks killing himself in front of Allie just to coerce her into going on a date with him. Throughout the scene, Noah repeatedly asks Allie to dance with him or go out with him. Meanwhile, she’s on a date with another guy. She repeatedly responds, “No,” and, “Because I don’t want to,” but he refuses to accept her answer. She doesn’t give in until Noah dangles himself by one arm off the Ferris wheel and forces Allie to scream, “I wanna go out with you!” and then repeat then statement, just to prevent Noah from killing himself for a date.

And we all want to think, “Wow, I wish a guy would see me and risk his life to ask me out—it’s so romantic!” But it’s not romantic. That would never ever happen in real life. If a guy actually did that in real life, he’d probably be more of a stalker-ish sociopath than a romantic boyfriend.

In real life, being overly persistent is not romantic. It is called harassment. Sure, sometimes a little persistence is necessary to win someone over, but incessant badgering to the point of making a girl uncomfortable is not going to get you anywhere. If a girl smiles politely and says, “That’s very kind, but no thank you,” she is not playing hard to get. She does not want you to “get” her. She is simply not interested.

Perhaps the worst part about persistence is when a guy realizes his defeat, refuses to accept it, and still subjugates a girl to unwanted attention. Let me make this clear: if we reject you, WE. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. HUG. YOU. Don’t try to play the good guy. Don’t act all sweet or ask us to press our bodies against yours. Not only is it humiliating and extremely uncomfortable, but it makes us look like heartless bitches if we say no. We do not want to give you a hug.

We are not bitches and psychos for giving you a fake number, or for ignoring you. You are not entitled to our bodies or our companionship. Imagine that you’re doing your thing, minding your own business, and you see a salesman coming up to you. He wants to sell you a book, but you don’t want that book. He offers again. You refuse again because you have no interest in the book. Maybe you don’t like the genre or you don’t like the cover or you simply don’t like reading. Again and again, he pushes you to buy this book. It’s very uncomfortable, isn’t it? It’s annoying, right?

So, to all the males who refuse to take no for an answer: there is no use in persisting when a girl doesn’t want to accept your offer for a date. There’s a difference between casual disregard and blatant refusal. If a girl brushes you off and you ask her again, then sure, she might come around. You could still win her over. But if she says no, (and you know that she means it) you need to back the f*ck off. In dating, persistence is not a virtue.