DR. WALLACE: Like most girls, I sometimes get invitations for a date from guys that I really don't want to go out on a date with. Sometimes they are just not my type, and other times I just don't feel comfortable with them or with who their friends are.
I'm usually pretty quiet and easygoing, so I really don't want to hurt their feelings when I decline their invitations; I usually reflexively make an excuse about why I can't go. I'll say I've just started to feel sick or that I have already made plans or something like that. I try to let them down easy and hope they won't ask me again.
But now I'm finding that they will double back and ask me out again! This makes me really feel uncomfortable. I have to say no again, and I have to think up a new excuse, too. It's all so mentally taxing and I get all sweaty and nervous trying to get these guys to just get the message on their own.
Is there a better way I should say no so a guy won't ask me out again? — Shy Girl, via email
SHY GIRL: You shouldn't lie! When a boy asks you out, simply say "Thank you very much for asking, but I'll politely decline your invitation." Go on to say, "I'm flattered that you've asked me, and I admire you for being direct, so I feel you deserve a polite and direct answer back." This will be a bit more uncomfortable for you to say at first, but it will carry the benefit of eliminating follow-up requests days or weeks later.
If, by chance, a particular boy starts to ask further questions along the lines of wanting to know why you're declining, simply smile and say, "It's ungentlemanly to ask me that, and I feel you're a nice gentleman, so please respect my wishes." Smile and thank him and move on.
The best part of an answer like this is that you'll be telling the truth in a direct but very diplomatic way. You won't have to feel pressure to think up stories or excuses as to why you won't be available. As a young lady, you're likely to be in a position to have to decline some dates over the next several years, so the sooner you feel comfortable with this type of direct approach, the better you'll become at achieving the goal you mentioned: to let them down easy in one short, honest, diplomatic conversation.
KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON HIS BEHAVIOR
DR. WALLACE: My boyfriend and I are both of drinking age and we have been dating for about a year. I really like this guy a lot and we get along great together. All of my girlfriends like him too, and he's just nice enough and respectful to them without being over the top sugary, if you know what I mean. He often tells them he only has eyes for me, and he even mentions how lucky he is to have met me. One of my girlfriends actually told me the other day that he's the perfect guy.
Yes, he's intelligent, has a good job and is nice-enough looking. But I will admit to you that he's not the perfect guy, because he does have one flaw that worries me a lot from time to time.
What is his vice? He sometimes drinks a lot of alcohol and I feel he gets a touch out of control. Fortunately, he has never tried to drive after drinking, but his personality does change a bit. He's not a terrible drunk, and not especially mean or anything like that, but he does become stubborn and he always wants to stay at a party to drink even more once he has "wet his beak" with a few alcoholic drinks.
I'm not really sure if he's alcoholic or if he is simply going through a phase. Is this flaw one I can just hope he'll grow out of? — My Nice Guy Drinks a Lot, via email
MY NICE GUY DRINKS A LOT: Alcohol is a powerful and addictive force that can indeed become a big problem for some individuals. Since I have not met him, I can't opine on whether or not he has a problem, but the fact you've already noticed and are worried about his behavior is a potential red flag.
I suggest the two of you plan to avoid alcohol for a month or two and see how that goes. Perhaps he can step away from alcohol with no problem at all and keep himself well in control of his actions.
If you do notice that he finds himself needing to drink to the point of becoming drunk, then you should suggest he visit a medical professional and a counselor who can help him evaluate what type of hold alcohol may already have over him. The good news is that some individuals can realize early on in life that they may have a propensity to partake in too much alcohol, and they can make important lifestyle changes that will benefit them throughout the rest of their lives.
Since you obviously care a great deal for him, please keep a close eye on him and do your best to guide him toward professionals who can potentially help him if he comes to realize that he needs it. If you reach the point that you feel he needs help and he won't seek help, then you will have some tough decisions to make.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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