One of the most difficult parts of dating is having to deal with creepers who just won’t take no for an answer. Whether it’s an aggressive dude that approaches you at a bar and refuses to leave you alone, or an online match that continues to message you despite the fact that you’ve made it clear you’re not interested (I once had a guy send me the message, “How was your weekend? You should reply to me. You might be glad you did” 57 times until he eventually realized I was never going to reply and gave up. I rest my case.) When you’re interacting online, it’s relatively easy to ignore persistent and unwanted messages. But what if you’ve breached the “real life wall?” and felt compelled to give them your contact details?
Back in the day (before online dating was the norm), I remember it wasn’t uncommon for my friends and I to hand out fake names and phone numbers to guys that we met when we were out. We weren’t interested, but it just seemed easier and safer to give them something than to try and explain (which usually involved yelling over top of a Nelly track played at max volume) that we just weren’t that into them. However, even this strategy can backfire — years ago, I was at an event when I actually ran into a guy I’d faked out on. He spotted me and started calling out my (fake) name from across the room. It was awkward – especially when he brought up the fact that I’d “written down my phone number wrong.” Ugh.
So, what’s a single person to do when they’re faced with rejecting someone who just won’t take no for an answer? Well, the new Mary Sue Rejection Hotline offers one solution for frustrated daters. When the person dials #(646) 926-6614, they will hear this lovely message:
“Oh hello there. If you’re hearing this message, you’ve made a woman feel unsafe and/or disrespected. Please learn to take no for an answer and respect women’s emotional and physical autonomy. K THANKKS.”
And because no one seems to pick up the phone and actually call anyone anymore anyways, there’s also a text option. The hotline will send the following message an hour later, giving you just enough time to peace the scene.
If you’re a reading this as a man and are wondering, “Is this really necessary?” the answer is yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Not only is the Mary Sue Rejection Hotline amusing, it’s needed.
From pursuing your dream job to re-negotiating your cable bill – we we live in a culture where not taking no for an answer is encouraged in so many facets of life. It’s understandable that the signals get crossed and people think that it’s OK to apply a similar approach to their online dating lives. How many Hollywood movies have we seen where the hero/heroine gets their love interest because he or she simply refuses to give up, despite endless obstacles?!
While sheer persistence may work in the realm of romantic comedies, in real life it’s just kind of, well, creepy. Whether you’re approaching someone or being approached, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Make the other person feel safe.
If you ask someone for their phone number or to hang out with you and they seem hesitant or just straight up refuse, respect their decision and don’t pester them. None of us are entitled to anyone else’s contact information or personal time. Period.
2. There’s nothing wrong with simply ignoring someone’s unwanted online messages.
It may seem like the cowards way out, but if you’re dealing with someone that’s clearly message bombing the female population of an online dating site (like Mr. “How was your weekend?!”), don’t feel like you even need to respond. These kinds of online weirdos should know better and probably aren’t going to get the message even if you do call them out on their behavior. Save your time and your sanity.
3. Politely let them know that you’re not interested.
If you feel like dolling out the digits to the rejection hotline is a bit harsh, why not just tell the truth and let them know you’re not interested? Be polite, but be firm. Hopefully they’ll get the message.
4. Utilize the block function.
Most online dating sites and texting apps offer an option to block unwanted callers and messages. If all else fails, use this option whenever needed.
My wish for the future is that we’ll eventually evolve to the point where things like the Mary Sue Rejection Hotline are no longer needed. But until that happens, respecting your personal boundaries and the boundaries of others is the first step.