How to Ask Someone Out – Persistence is Not Key
Tade went on one lunch date with Ayo. In the end, she decided she didn’t want to date him or be friends with him; but Ayo feels she’s just being shy. He’s left her multiple messages on WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram. He comes to her house at odd times, unannounced. He posts her pictures on his social media: “my love “. He tells their mutual friends to talk to her on his behalf and they do. It’s been 2 years of her saying NO. Yet, he won’t stop.
I love persistence. I want to pursue my goals persistently and relentlessly so that I can get the life I want and I’m sure you do too. Every successful person will probably preach persistence. Persistence is cool, but not in all cases. We need to draw the line somewhere.
There are some things you absolutely should not be persistent about: in asking someone to date you, to marry you, or to have sex with you.
Women are taught to be shy and timid, especially when it comes to dealings of romance and sex. Never say yes on the first ask. Wait for him to ask you. Don’t initiate the move. Wait. Be shy. This and that. Ultimately, not only do we teach women to take the back seat in relationships with men, we generally end up teaching women not to practice confidence in other areas of their life as well.
Persistently asking a woman to date you is borne out of the belief that a woman should never accept a man’s proposal to date her on the first ask to show that she is not “cheap” and is hard to get. Men, on the other hand, are taught to put in the work in “going after” a woman they like. We’re taught that a persistent man is one with true feelings; he knows a woman’s worth. We expect men to try and try and try and try again. Because of this system, men have come to expect “No” on the first ask, except the woman is “cheap” and women have come to expect that a man will not simply give up after the first try. “If he likes you, he’ll be back.”
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash
This system, skewed as it is, has worked for several people. We have people who are genuinely in love and happy who used this (for want of a better word) shitty method and it worked for them. Perhaps obviously, nothing has a 100% failure rate no matter how poorly set up. It has even become some sort of bragging rights in certain circles: “Oh Tunde asked me 10 times before I agreed. We’ve been together for 16 years and now have 6 kids, 5 dogs, and 2 cats. Okay, cool. Sincerely happy for you people o.
Why am I such a hater?
Maybe it’s because this culture has become the reason why people don’t want to accept ‘No’ when women say it. Maybe it’s because this culture has contributed to male entitlement such that some men have hurt and killed women. After all, they couldn’t take no for an answer. Maybe it’s because this man stalked a woman for 25 years, was arrested and in jail but keeps coming back. Maybe it’s because we all have that one man who asks you out and you say No and he says “It’s you I will marry”; and he keeps coming back and coming back and you’re tired.
Maybe I’m a hater because this month is sexual harassment awareness month and I want to highlight all the things that lead to sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
Did our noble and wise patriarchal teachers think about what happens when a woman says ‘No’ and means it? Or did they never envisage that scenario because, how dare a woman say no to a man? Seriously, what happens when a woman says “No” and the man won’t take it?
A man knocked Gabrielle Walsh unconscious when she, an 18- year-old, told him, “I’m sorry, I’m not interested.” Mollie Tibbetts was murdered by a man because he was angry she rejected his advances. Men will catcall you in the street and then insult you when you ignore them. Men have done this to me countless times. The list is endless and it goes to show that: men don’t like it when women say no to them and most times, they will lash out at the women who deny their advances.
Slowly but surely, we have created men that won’t take ‘No’ once they decide on a particular woman. They won’t take an answer that does not suit them and their persistence can lead to aggression and violence. Sometimes, they are so conceited that they pretend or make themselves believe a woman’s ‘No’ means ‘Yes’. This is the kind of belief that helps promote rape. She says No but she means Yes.
Also read: When Rape Happens…
Okay, heads up. Times have changed, drastically. Welcome to 2020 where the majority of women have unlearnt the teachings that held them back from expressing feelings in the name of coyness. Now when women say No (and they say it a lottttt), they mean it. It means, “back off, bro” (see? You’ve been brother zoned. Sometimes there isn’t any zone, just back off).
Men should learn to respect women enough to respect their Nos. Men should not feel entitled to the time and attention of women or other people, the person freely gives it to you. If they choose not to, please respect them and take several steps back.
Women, please learn to be confident in your No. Say It With Your Chest.
And if you want to say yes, please do, even on the first ask. And guess what? You can do the asking and he can also say No.
Ohotu Ogbeche is a writer, lawyer and feminist advocate. CA is also on Facebook & LinkedIn as Coloured Africa and on Instagram & Twitter as @coloured_africa.