Women don’t owe men an apology for rejection

apologise no more


Here’s my story, a short and no-doubt familiar one: I was asked out by someone and I turned him down. I turned him down more than once, because he asked me out more than once. I found myself apologising. Why? I didn’t do him any wrong. I wasn’t denying him something he was entitled to. No one is entitled to anything from another person, not even respect.

We’ve all been taught manners since we were old enough to speak. We say please and thank you, address adults by their appropriate titles and apologise when we’ve done wrong. Examples of wrongdoing include when we say something unkind, for example, or take someone’s belongings. Saying no to a date or romantic advances is not one of these examples.

It seems as though a simple ‘no’ results in a verdict of guilty for some kind of  unspoken ‘crime’, but why should we feel that way? There’s no crime involved in not being attracted to someone. Saying ‘no’ frees both of you to continue on your way. In my situation, I thought it to be kinder than saying ‘yes’ with no intention to invest in a potential relationship.

None of us are entitled to a date, nor a smile if it’s forced, and it’s time this was taught. Too many men seem to struggle to respond with basic human courtesy to a rejection, like this man’s escalating response to Huffington Post editor Emma Grey when she rejected his advances.

There should be shame in saying no to someone’s romantic advances, even if it’s not the answer they were  hoping for. Whatever our answer is, it should be taken as it stands.

It’s not acceptable to turn the rejection into a bartering contest or try to shame us into submission. Men: If we turn down an offer, we have given our response and that should be respected. It works both ways, but it’s often men who make the advances and it’s men in particular who need to learn how to accept a rejection and move on with no retaliation. It’s not like women are the main perpetrators of street harrassment.

We’re still stuck with the idea that women must always be the ones to apologise – and it’s time to stop.

I realised all this as I walked away – after apologising, of course. If I hadn’t been tired, I would have walked back over to him and retracted my apology. After all, I made it very clear the first time that I. am. not. interested.