Dear 100 Hour Board,
I was recently asked out by a guy that I have absolutely no interest in. I knew that I wouldn't enjoy even a date with him so I told him no. When I told this story to my friends they gave me a hard time and said I should have given him a shot. What constitutes giving someone a shot? This guy and I were in the same ward for about a year and I was pretty good friends with his roommates. This amount of interaction was enough for me to tell that I didn't want to spend any time alone with this man. Am I being harsh or am I justified in following my own feelings?
Dear Yes, It Does,
This is gonna be a long answer, but the short version is that your friends are wrong. It sounds to me that, not only are you not interested in dating this person, you feel that you would be uncomfortable being alone with him. You never have to say yes to any date, especially if you don't feel comfortable with the person who asked you. It's not fair to expect girls to say yes to every first date, because guys don't have to ask every girl they know on a first date. If guys get to choose who they want to date, why don't girls?
Not only are you justified in saying no, I think that it was the kindest thing you could have done in this situation, and I would even extend it to situations where you like a person just fine as a friend, but aren't interested in dating them. Let me tell a few stories to illustrate this. I've told the first one before, but I'll give more detail this time. The other two are more recent.
A little over a year ago, I asked a friend on a date. I was pretty good friends (though not super close) with her and her roommates, and had hung out with her semi-regularly for several months. I called her and asked her out to lunch, and she said yes. We got lunch, and I had a good time*. We had a nice conversation, we both laughed, etc. A few days later, I heard about an arts event on campus and decided to invite her to it. She told me that she wasn't sure if she would have time to go, but that she would let me know.
I didn't hear from her for another six days. And I don't mean that I saw her around and she just never mentioned whether she was available that day. I mean that I saw her at church but she just looked right through me. I mean that I continued to do things with her roommates, but she mysteriously had other places to be. When I say I didn't hear from her, I mean that it felt like she was pretending that she didn't know me.
Now, at this point, I figured the answer was no. It was a pretty rude way of communicating that "no", but if she had just acted as if nothing had happened, our friendship could have continued as normal. But did she act as if nothing had happened? Of course not, or there wouldn't be a point to this story. Apparently she felt bad** for never getting back to me, and she asked the day before the event for me to remind her what the details were. This wasn't one of those things where the tickets were only $6 and you could get them any time, and hadn't gotten tickets because I didn't know if anyone was going with me, so I told her that that wasn't going to work out after all.
Should I have just left it there? Probably. Should I have asked her on another date? No, but how was I supposed to know that? All indications that she didn't want to go on a date with me had been erased from my mind by the fact that she finally asked again about the event I had invited her to. The only thing she had ever actually said to me was that she might have been too busy. I've always advocated taking what people say at face value, and she had never actually said that she didn't want to go on another date with me.
So what did I do? Well like the moron I am, I asked her on another date, and somehow I did it in a way that she said yes again. Once again, as far as I could tell, everything went well. But once again, it seemed like she was avoiding me afterward. By this time, the avoidance didn't mean anything to me, because she'd done it before and then still gone on a date with me. I asked her out a couple more times, but she always said she was busy. I started to suspect once again that she just really didn't want to go on any more dates with me, and that suspicion was eventually confirmed when I talked to one of her roommates about it.
Let me tell you, I felt like an idiot. Not only had I been unable to tell that she just wasn't into me, I had destroyed a valuable friendship, as far as I could tell. I was really depressed about the whole situation for a week or so (I even asked the Board this question) before I realized that none of this was my fault. I had done the best that I could under the circumstances, and really, this was all her fault for not being able to communicate like a mature adult. I decided that I didn't need that kind of person in my life, and I could avoid her at least as well as she was avoiding me.
The happy ending to this story is that she reached out to me once she figured I had realized how she felt. A few weeks later, she was venting about some other guy who continued to pursue her despite her being very clear that she wasn't interested, and I was able to call her out for not always being very direct in the past. We had a good conversation, there was closure, and we stayed good friends until she moved out of the ward about six months later.
Last October, there was a cello concert on campus that I really wanted to go to. As part of my efforts to give myself external motivation to date (because it's the one thing I want to do but don't really have any innate motivation for), I bought tickets about a month in advance, thinking I would find someone to go with me during that time. I did end up inviting someone to go with me, and she said yes. Then, less than two days before the concert, she texted me to tell me that she had a family emergency, and asked if we couldn't do something a few days later instead. Now, this was the first time ever that a girl had proposed an alternate time for a date, so I thought it was a pretty good sign.
Unfortunately, when that day rolled around, she told me she was still really busy dealing with a lot of stuff, so we never ended up going out. I wanted to give her time for her life to get straightened out again, so I didn't call or text her for a few weeks, hoping instead to run into her in person and casually mention doing something together, but that never happened. Eventually I texted her, and she replied that she would rather not go on a date, because she just wasn't feeling it and she didn't want to give me the wrong idea. While it took a longer than would have been ideal, that was definitely the best response that I got out of these three stories.
This story was the most recent (it happened in the past month), but it kinda started at the same time as Story #2. When I was left without a date for the cello concert, I tried frantically to think of anyone else I could ask. I thought of a couple of girls, but I didn't have a phone number for either of them, so I sent each of them a message on Facebook. They both told me that they were busy that night, but one of them seemed to respond really positively. I ended up asking for her number and getting it, but didn't invite her to do anything else last semester.
Fast forward to last month, I was on one of my periodical motivational highs, so I called her to ask her out. She didn't answer, so I left a message. She texted me the next day to say that she was really busy that weekend, so I replied that maybe we could find another time. I got no reply. By then, I had gotten better at telling when I should stop (or maybe just more jaded), so I realize that that basically means no.
Story #1 shows why I don't even try for a second date anymore unless the girl shows some level of interest (and not just neutrality) in it, and all three stories illustrate that there are plenty of ruder and more inconsiderate ways to respond to an invitation to go on a date than just saying no.
*One of the biggest flaws in my strategy of asking people out that I already know is that we tend to get along as friends, and I get pretty good at inviting them to activities that they'll like, so I have no way to judge if they think it was actually a good date.
**Stories like this one are the reason I tell people (especially girls) not to feel too bad about hurting other people's feelings. It's gonna happen eventually no matter what you do, so it's always better to pull off that Band-aid quickly and move on.
In general, I think our culture needs to get better at seeing first dates as just a way to practice getting to know people and develop our social skills to prepare ourselves for a future relationship. Because of this, I don't really think people should turn down first dates because they've already decided they don't want to date the person, but I recognize that the fact that the other person might have different expectations for what a first date means makes that a little complicated.
However, your situation is different. As Ento noted, you also already knew that you wouldn't even enjoy one-on-one time for a date with this guy. Going on a date with someone you don't even enjoy one-on-one time with isn't going to do anything to prepare you for exclusive dating. So I agree with Ento; you were perfectly justified in saying no to the date.