When A Woman Says No, It Does Not Mean Try Harder

Brooke Cagle
Brooke Cagle

A week ago, I was with a few friends at our local bar. We hadn’t seen each other in months and were bursting with stories about work, adventures in dating, and embarrassing mishaps. It was a night for us to laugh and complain, to remember how wonderful it is to celebrate your girls and friendship. It was needed.

We were approached a few times by men. This is to be expected in a bar. I don’t fault anyone for saying hi. It takes guts to talk to a stranger, especially someone who could easily reject you. I can understand that.

But if a woman makes it clear that she is not interested, you immediately respect it and back off.

Most dudes nodded, said something polite like, “Totally get it! Have a fun night, ladies!” and that was it.

Except for one man. Let’s call him Paul.

Paul kept glancing my way. At first, I told myself it was just in my head. It was self-absorbed of me to assume. He was probably just looking in my general direction. I rationalized it and assured myself he wasn’t staring at me.

But he was, because he approached and let me know, “I’ve had my eye on you all night.” (Men, that’s a creepy line. Always.)

I let him know I was here with my friends who I hadn’t seen for a while and was just looking to chat with them tonight. He smiled as if he hadn’t even heard me. “So where are you from?”

I was confused. I just said no, right? I just made it pretty clear that I wasn’t hoping to strike up a conversation, right? I tried a little firmer.

Instead of walking away, he said, “There’s something about you. My gut tells me not to give up.”

Maybe his gut was telling him to keep going. Maybe everything inside of him was shouting, “SHE’S THE ONE!” More likely, “She’s the one I want to have sex with tonight!” Whatever he thought he was hearing, there’s one thing he was refusing to listen to.


He was so preoccupied by his own wants, his own desires, that he completely disregarded my comfort level. He didn’t take into account what I wanted (despite telling him exactly what that was – for him to leave). No, he just listened to his gut.

When a woman tells you no, that is the end of the conversation. It does not continue. You don’t find a loophole or think it just means you’ve got to try a little harder.

When a woman tells you no, it means no. You don’t get to negotiate the terms. You don’t beg and plead and try to find some way to make it work.

You listen. You absorb what she said. And you respect it.

And if only more people understood a concept as mind numbingly simple as that. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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