I’m from Minnesota and so, like it or not, I’m fluent in “Minnesota Nice”. Not familiar? Here’s a typical thing we Minnesotans do:
“Can I offer you a cup of coffee?”
“Oh no, you don’t have have to do that.”
“No really, it’s not a problem at all.”
“But I wouldn’t want you to have to make a new pot.”
“I actually just brewed a fresh one.”
“Well, gosh, I guess I would like one, if it’s no trouble to you.”
I’ve got all sorts of theories as to why we make what could have been two words (Coffee? Sure!) into some sort of awkward dance/chess match/passive aggressive staredown. But it’s safe to say that we Minnesotans tend to communicate vaguely at times.
Of course, we do that just because we’re so very “nice.” Heaven forbid we give a straight answer, we might hurt somebody’s feelings.
Hopefully you think this is absurd. But if we’re honest, I think many of us get strangely Minnesotan when we have to tell someone we’re not interested in them.
For instance, Jack asks Jill on a date. Jill is not interested. What should Jill say? “No, thank you,” would be just fine. But what does Jill say?
“I’m just not ready for a relationship right now.”
Whoa, nellie! Me neither, Jack says, I just asked you on a date, not a honeymoon, for crying out loud. But what if this Jack had asked you out? Would you be ready then? Then there’s…
“I don’t like making plans more than a few days in advance.”
Me neither, but if it’s important enough, I’ll do a lot of things. Hell, I’ve got to put my dentist appointment on the calendar six months ahead of time, and I’d rather take him to a three-star restaurant than let him pick away at my gums. But I still put that gum-picking date on the calendar, and yes, it’s more than a few days in advance. But my personal favorite…
“Oh gosh, I’m just so busy with work right now.”
Really? Busy with work? I do suppose some girls’ advances would make me think only about my overbearing work schedule. On the other hand, for the right girl, I would find room even in the busiest of schedules. Like her, for instance.
I could go on. And I get it, nobody wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. When a guy is asking out a girl, he’s taking a risk, and he’s vulnerable to being hurt. But I’m here to say, as a guy, we can take it. Go easy on us, but we can take it.
When a girl declines a date by way of some vague (and lame) excuse, it might seem easy and simple but it actually only complicates things. Furthermore, as much as you might want to be vague so as to not hurt someone’s feelings, you very well might contribute to greater pain down the road by not being straightforward.
Think about it this way: What does, “Oh, I’m really busy with work right now,” imply? “As soon as my schedule frees up I would love to.”
Should I interpret her “I’m busy with work,” as, “I don’t want to go out with you even once, I’d rather pretend I’m ‘busy with work’ than spend my daily 45 minutes sipping coffee with you instead of my dog”? Yes, I should. But will I? Probably not, and her vague answer will very likely just serve to keep my hopes up. In fact, I’ll probably ask her out again in two weeks, especially after I see her post Instagram photos doing all sorts of fun stuff with her supposedly non-existent free time.
So what’s the solution? Tell the truth no matter how hurtful it might be? No. You don’t have to say, “Go on a date with you? No way! You’re weird and gross and you stalk my facebook page. I’ll never go out with you, don’t ever ask me again.” While you might actually be thinking that, there are some things that are better left unsaid, even if true.
If you do feel the need to say more than, “No, thank you,” consider the following: “I am very flattered, but I will have to decline.” If he presses the issue, don’t feel obligated to elaborate. Trust me, we may be curious as to why you won’t go out with us, but we don’t actually want to know specifics.
But hearing that you’re not interested is a clear message to the guy for him to move on. Then if he doesn’t, that’s his own fault. But you’ve done what you could to be honest and straightforward, the least you can do to respect a man who just paid you a pretty significant compliment.