Adulting with Erin: When 'no' isn't enough

By Erin Bothwell | January 18, 2018 9:25pm
by Brennan Robinson / The Beacon

Here on The Bluff, we are an absurdly good-looking bunch of people. Look around and you’ll see pleasant faces, bright smiles and many heads sprouting voluminous manes like human chia pets. It’s sort of miraculous that we all manage to be so beautiful and so intelligent at the same time. It’s unfair, really.

But with great beauty often comes unwanted and unwelcome attention. When you’re least expecting it, you might catch someone’s eye. This someone might be a classmate or a complete stranger. Of course, it’s often flattering for someone to approach you and ask for your number or to buy you a drink, but if you’re at all uncomfortable with the attention, you do not have to accommodate the person’s requests. No matter who that person is. Yes, even if they’re a dead ringer for Ryan Gosling. 

Although “no” is a wonderful word (Only two letters say so much!), UP students are often reluctant to break out the big “no.” As our professors have often lamented, UP students are generally impossibly polite and afraid to say the things that need to be said if they aren’t exactly nice. But there are times when we need to put our big kid pants on and say it like we mean it, because we do.

The truth is: “No” should be enough. Whether you say it in a quiet voice or screech it from the rooftops — “no” means “no.” You shouldn’t have to repeat yourself when you don’t want to accept a stranger’s advances. Yet, sometimes people just don’t take “no” for an answer. Sometimes “should” doesn’t work and “no” isn’t enough to ward off another person who may or may not be convinced they’re in looooovvvvvee.

If a person refuses to accept your “no,” you have options. The sky is the limit. Rejection can be frighteningly simple or bizarrely outlandish. 

Try lying in the most unsubtle way possible. The person hitting on you definitely has no right to call you out on your outrageous lies. You may look like a college-aged adult, but you’re really a shape-shifter wearing another person’s face. You have five invisible arms. You believe you are George Washington reincarnated. Lying can create the illusion you are completely batty, and batty tends to scare people off. 

If straight-up lying isn’t your forte, trying expressing “no” in another way. Try hissing like an angry cat. Bare your teeth, widen your eyes, scrunch your nose and hiss away. If you are nervous about your hissing skills, you can practice in private before the big hiss comes. For all you cat haters out there, switch out the hiss for a loud and robust bark. Ruff! You can always alternate between barking and hissing to keep things interesting. 

Or if you are truly incapable of saying “no,” don’t say anything at all. Stare the person down like you are Eleven. Do not stop until they laugh nervously and slowly back away. You have the power. Wield it. 

To completely avoid someone, you may end up in an embarrassing position (i.e. crawling out of a bathroom window). If life was fair, the person harassing you would be the one sneaking out since you’ve done nothing wrong except for be utterly charming, and since when was that a crime? You should be the one strutting out the door with your head held high. 

Some of these suggestions may strike you as ineffective, humiliating or downright silly. Which is fine. You don’t have to use any of them. Ideally, a confident “no” should be all you have to say to reject someone. But there’s that tricky should again. A lot of things should happen. That doesn’t mean they do.