Don't Say 'Yes' Unless You Mean It: Why You Should Always Be Honest While Dating


I’m not a behavioral psychologist so I can’t scientifically tell you that everything I say is accurate. However, I can tell you what I’ve observed from five years of dating and meeting people – both in-person and online.  The verdict is: people can be attention whores, both when you’re single, seeing someone, or exclusive with someone. I’ve seen it all. And now it’s time to get real.

If you’re a hopeless romantic like me, and want your life to be a Nora Ephron movie, you’re always just trying to meet the Harry to your Sally. You will try anything once to find love. A friend of mine recently said to me that people who are members of free online dating sites aren’t looking for anything serious because it’s free.

I get it; the whole idea is to put your money where your mouth is. Usually I would agree with this statement, but given that I’ve dated online on paid and unpaid sites, I’ve seen no difference in the crowd. Sometimes creeps will go the extra length to find more women, so they don't mind throwing down $40.00 bucks a month, which touches on my worries every time I meet one. I always wonder: “Did I just meet my future stalker?”

I recently explained to my friend how guys who aren’t serious about me throw money down all the time. In a city like New York or Los Angeles, drinks and dinner can cost $100.00 and up. That’s almost the cost of three months on a paid online dating site. But when it comes to dating, I don’t think it’s ever really about being serious or not serious. You’re not going to be serious about something or someone until you decide that you are.

When I first moved to a new city, tons of guys would ask for my number and never call. There were plenty of guys who I was very attracted to and felt I had a strong connection with. In this situation people always think, “Oh he’s definitely going to call me – he has to, we’re going out!”. In my experience, it’s the attractive, “fast-talker” who asks you out to a future date and never follows up because he just wanted to see if you’d say yes. Girls can do this too, but why?

Why does this happen?

People need attention; it’s that simple. They don’t always know what the appropriate vehicle to get that attention is. But I realized that in dating and in life people are likely to make promises they don’t keep, ask for numbers they will never call, and text someone while they’re in an exclusive relationship or almost in one.

These people just like to hear “yes.” If you’re a person who doesn’t hear that a lot or needs to feel better about yourself, you’re going to be more likely to take part in these flake-out opportunities.

How to stop? Get Real.

Start saying what you mean and start doing what you say you will. The key here is to have good communication skills. If you’ve said something but don’t mean it, be honest and take it back. A couple of months ago, I met a guy who asked me out and asked for my number. I said “sure,” but he never called.

I texted him about something funny we spoke about, and he wrote back and we had a good banter. After a week of silence, he told me he had just become serious with someone and wanted to let me know. I was stunned by his honesty, but I was also grateful for it.

Part of me also felt like saying, “Oh well then why the hell did you ask for my number to begin with? You knew were close to being in a relationship, I doubt it happened overnight.” But at least he was honest. Maybe he just wanted me as a backup in case his other relationship didn’t work out, or just wanted to see if I would be interested in him.

Sometimes all of us need to hear “yes,” but sometimes saying “yes” isn’t always an option. Single life can be isolating, but it’s ok to be lonely sometimes. It builds character. People who have the luxury of constantly hearing yes aren’t going to take “no” that well. There is no way to get everything that you want and hear everything that you want to hear.

So when you can, say, “yes.” When you can’t or you are uninterested – say anything but yes. It will do wonders for your integrity, which happens to be closely related to your confidence level.

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Top photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Smith