It’s something we don’t talk about often, and I really think we should. Everyone expects you to do it, but you don’t owe it to anyone. I’m talking about saying yes…to going out to coffee.
Okay, maybe that’s not where you thought this was going, but it’s a conversation we need to have. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it seems like there’s an unspoken rule that every guy deserves a chance. It seems like we’re supposed to believe women owe it to men to say yes when asked out, especially if he’s a “nice guy.” It doesn’t matter if she’s not interested in dating or just not interested in him—if she says no, she’s being cruel.
I remember what it was like. It happened to me in high school. I would ask someone to go to coffee and an excuse would be made or I’d just get a straight “No.” I had friends, great guys, who went through the same thing. We all felt the hit to our ego and the real pain that comes when vulnerability isn’t met with acceptance. Some men even get angry. Angry because deep down we’ve internalized what society teaches us to believe: that we deserve a “yes.” We deserve a chance.
Now, stay with me and let me clarify. I’m not saying that all men are bad, that you should never go out on a date or that the guy who just asked you to coffee isn’t a great guy—he probably is! But that doesn’t mean you owe him anything. You don’t have to say yes.
I know from talking with my wife and female friends of mine that, whether conscious or not, there is often some fear about what might happen if you say no. If someone’s persistence is making you uncomfortable, tell someone. Trust your gut. If you get that queasy feeling, listen to it. This fear is not unfounded. Stats show that women ages 16 to 24 have a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence, and you don’t need to put yourself at risk to simply appease someone’s ego.
We, as people of faith, bear the burden of kindness and managing what we say and do, but that shouldn’t most uniquely fall to you as a young woman. The work that is still to be done, and should be started by the church, is to unravel the toxic kind of masculinity that automatically converts hurt into vulnerability. Know this: The burden for how someone deals with your rejection isn’t yours to bear.
There are so many great ways to say “Yes,” “No” or “I’ll think about it.” The best course of action is always to be honest and sensitive in your communication, and you deserve to feel safe in doing so.
Finally, know this: You are a magnificent, whole, entire reflection of the image of God, not an incomplete, partial picture. You have value and worth and do not need to give anyone access to yourself that you don’t want to have access. Ultimately, it’s up to you.