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Saying ‘no’ when you mean ‘yes’

Sindy writes
“I've been thinking about this guy for years. I know him from the school. 3 years after we finished the school, he asked me out. I wanted to look my best. I cancelled our first date and every time he called, I said ‘maybe next week’.
Finally we met at one of my friend's house. I got so nervous, and I didn't even talk to him. He tried to hold my hand and get closer, and for some reason I was kinda cold although I didn't reject him.
Next day he tells my friend that he is not interested in going out with me. I was very sad.
5 months after that he calls me again and says there was a misunderstanding, we should talk. We met, he took me out for diner, and after that he hasn’t called me.
It's been 5 weeks. I’d like to know what does he think about me, and why doesn't he call. I am afraid of calling him. I don't think I am ready to call him. My friends said he is having some difficult times because he got fired, and has to move from his apartment.
Please help me! I like him, I always liked him. By the way he thinks I am emotionally involved with my male roommate although I said that wasn't true”

Peta replies
Let me get this clear, a guy you have liked for years finally asks you out and you cancel a date and then say ‘maybe’ each time he asks you?
Then you meet him at a friend’s house and he tries to hold your hand and you reject him and are kind of cold.
Sindy, think for a moment. What signals were you intending to send? Were you in control of your signals? Do you think he interpreted your signals as your real message? What might he have thought?
If you had to guess whether the message was ‘I’m interested’ or ‘I’m not interested’ what would it be! Me, I’d guess he interpreted your signal as ‘not interested’.
What you are sending is a mixed haphazard signal. Could it be that you are trying to hide what you feel in order to protect yourself. Is it possible that you could have thought that if he knows you are interested you become vulnerable and open to being hurt?
When we open out our feelings to someone, we do become vulnerable. And the way we learn to feel OK about that is by developing a good feeling about who we are. We build up a sort of steel rod inside us, like something that cannot be affected by anyone. It’s who we really are. When we have this, we find it a lot easier to open out and be honest. We don’t mind because we know we’re inviting someone in.

What happens is that you played a game with this guy. You turned down dates. You say no when you mean yes. The poor guy is supposed to know this game and continue to pursue you. But he too may be afraid of opening up too much and when you are giving no signals, it takes a very confident person to say ‘she doesn’t mean no, she really wants me’ and even then they might not be right and they will have to face rejection.
If you want to pull a man to you, a little ‘come hither but not just yet’ flirting is in order. If you don’t want to accept a date straight away, say ‘no’ but say it in a voice that suggests you are very interested. Smile and look him in the eyes. And when you say to him ‘maybe next week, touch him on the arm and smile.
It’s OK to say no to some things that you don’t want to do. Saying ‘no’ when you mean ‘yes’ can make you more desirable but be careful that ‘no’ doesn’t become the main message. You have to do things that clearly say, as the main message, ‘I’m interested, but I’m biding my time, taking it slowly and we’re playing this game’. The way you smile, how you look at them, and the voice tone you use and sometimes a gentle touch carries a much stronger signal than words. .
Imagine how this guy feels when at your friend’s house, you are cold to him despite attempts to hold your hand and get close. I’m not surprised he told your friend he wasn’t interested. He probably has some self doubts and doesn’t want to appear as if he’s desperate. So he brazens it out by pretending he doesn’t care. He could be angry that you’ve said no and isn’t going to appear any more vulnerable by telling your friend he’s interested. He could be playing his own game now! You don’t know.
BUT 5 months later, this same guy calls you and asks you out saying it’s all been a misunderstanding. I’d like to know more about what happened that night.. and if he hasn’t called you it could be for many reasons. You don’t know and you can only guess. I do that, and I always regret playing silly making up motives for someone else’s behaviour games. I’m rarely ever right. It’s so easy for the stories to take hold until you start to believe your own creations.
The only thing I can see for you now is to call the guy and tell him you’ve not been truthful with him. Ask if you can meet for half an hour. Tell him that you realised you weren’t showing your feelings, and that you might have sent him the wrong message. Tell him you were nervous.. and tell him you like him [we’re not talking undying committed love here] and you’d like to hang out with him again. Ask if you can start again! Smile as you say it… and say it in a way that works for you.
If you are genuine and open and he is open enough to pick up those signals, things could work out. You won’t gain anything by waiting for him to call. I think he’s done a lot of the running, are you prepared to do your share? If he is playing a game with you to get revenge, then be prepared to accept that sometimes games go wrong and meanings get mixed and take it as a lesson for the next time.
If he is interested and you call him, great. Start being open and honest with him from now on. You don’t have to overwhelm him with tales of undying love, just don’t pretend one thing when you mean another.
As for the roommate – if you truly aren’t into your roommate and he’s just a friend, and he doesn’t have the hots for you, [I’m assuming it’s a guy] then be prepared to introduce your new guy to the roommate. Make sure to do whatever is necessary to give the guy his status. You can hold his hand, show you’re with him, touch him, kiss him on the cheek, look at him and smile at him when you introduce him to your roommate. This will give him confidence that you are indeed not interested in the roommate but in him.
It’s really your call. And remember whatever happens, be prepared to say, it’s OK. I’ve learned something and there are many many more guys waiting out there for me if this one doesn’t work out.

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