The Cruelty of Kindness: Guest Post

Please enjoy this guest post by Andy Bodle on why we need to say NO when we’re not interested in someone.  We aren’t doing anyone any favours by letting them down lightly.

Here’s a scenario you may be familiar with. The phone rings. It’s the guy you met at the party last weekend – the one with the Transformers T-shirt and the personal hygiene problem. You only gave him your number to get him off your back. And now he wants to meet up.

You could pretend to be busy. You could arrange a date, then cancel the day before, pleading a family illness. Or you could agree to meet,then not turn up. Surely he’d take the hint then?

Well, newsflash ladies, men don’t take hints. (Not negative ones, anyway.)

Biologists have discovered that human males suffer from what they call a sexual overperception bias. In other words, it’s our nature to infer sexual interest where there is little or none. (There’s a good explanation here)

The situation is complicated by the fact that men and women communicate in different ways. Essentially, men express themselves in blunt, direct terms, while women prefer to break things gently. (Again, this is based on sound research)

The result? Unless you make your feelings crystal clear, the guy in the Transformers T-shirt will stretch logic to breaking point before he realises you’re not that into him. If you say you’re busy, he’ll suggest another date. If you cancel, he’ll try to reschedule. And if you stand him up, he’ll more than likely alert the missing persons bureau. The only salient fact for him is that you gave him your number, which, to his primitive brain, means you must be champing at the bit to champ at his bits.

Some of you may remember a self-help book called The Rules. Some swore by it; others swore at it. Its central tenet was this: “To get yourself a husband, treat the men you like the way you treat the men you don’t like.” That is, if you don’t show any interest in a man – if you let him make all the running, don’t call him, don’t admit that you like him – you’ll have him eating out of your hand.

Can you see the flaw here?
1. In order to make men you like fall in love with you, you must play hard to get.
2. You are treating the men you like exactly the same way you treat the men you don’t like.

No wonder unsuitable suitors are so hard to shake off. They have no way of telling whether you want to marry them or whether you think they’re pond scum!

The solution is simple – but it ain’t easy.

No one likes being rebuffed. But believe me – and I’ve been there far too often – getting a quick, straightforward rejection is hugely preferable to getting a maybe, being cancelled on, being stood up, and allowing your hopes to creep up, only to have them dashed two weeks later.

As Emily Dickinson put it: “Except the heaven had come so near/So seemed to choose my door/The distance would not haunt me so;/I had not hoped before.”

So, ladies, next time the guy in the Transformers T-shirt asks for your number, save yourselves some time, save him some heartache, and just say no!

Andy Bodle is a journalist and scriptwriter based in London. He blogs about science and sex at Follow him on Twitter: @Cotquean. He has never worn a Transformers T-shirt.

Your Sister in Dating Bliss,

Single Dating Diva

Copyright Single Dating Diva


  1. I did this on my last date. Normally I have no problem saying no when it comes to going out with someone I’m not interested in. But this guy, he was cynical the whole way through the date, and complaining that women give him their number but then when he calls they never want to go out again. I think I thought I was being kind and also didn’t want to be lumped into the group of women he was talking about. Sheesh. Doesn’t ‘that sound awful? I promise I’ll call and let him know I’m not interested in dating him again. Thanks for this reminder.


    • Thanks for the comment and it is a real reminder that we’re dealing with real people with real feelings. Even though we think we’re being nice, really, we’re not.


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