This is a comment to a post written by the awesome Miri at Brute Reason discussing the troubles with navigating persistent propositions. My comment ended up being a longer story than I thought it would be, so I’ve posted it here, to document the memory of the incident.
I had a persistent suitor just a few weeks ago; a classmate who overheard that I play video games for entertainment and struck up some conversation. I explained how I require a minimum of 6 hours daily, that I intentionally don’t go anywhere (both by desire and for the fact that I live with elderly parents – so I have no private space for guests), and described the last 3 boyfriends I had were met playing video games. I said something to the effect of “Guys meet me playing video games then wonder why I want to spend all my time playing video games…” and chuckled about how I had ultimately dumped them because I didn’t want to devote much attention to them. (I’m not exaggerating – I once told a guy, after sex “Yeah I’m done, I’m gonna go play now. You can hang out and watch if you like, or go home *shrug*”.) So for every explanation of exactly why I don’t go anywhere or have anybody over, he had some idea of how to get around it. When I said I couldn’t go anywhere because I am not my own ride (which is 100% true, and like hell am I bothering to take a bus to go out when I don’t even want to be out at all), of course he offered to pick me up (which is, of course, a perfectly nice thing to offer) and when I countered that with “well but I’m still on my parent’s schedule, I have to serve dinner, do chores etc” he says “Oh that’s okay, you can just spend the night!”. Which makes me repeat the “no I don’t go anywhere”, which gets the response “How bout after school? I can give you a ride home and we can stop for a burger on the way” and I say “No, my mom is already scheduled to be here then” so I get “well call her and tell her not to come” so I say “no she’s not good with schedule changes” and oh god this went on for 5 days in a row. Not once did he attempt to get to know me any better than “she plays video games”.
Finally, on a smoke break during class, amongst a large group of colleagues, he starts on it again. Opens with the assumption that I have indeed agreed to go out with him, but we only need to sort the details; “I got my xbox in the truck, I figured I could just give you a ride home and we could hang out.” (And to me, this is borderline offensive. If he knew anything about me even as merely a gamer – let alone a person, he would have known that bringing me an xbox is like bringing a bicycle to a hotrod race. PC 4 lyfe, yo!) So, being fed up I repeat with an exasperated tone that I intentionally don’t have friends I meet anywhere, that THIS (being at school) is the extent of me going out, and no I don’t want to go anywhere after class. When I finish (with several people watching in silence) he looks dejected and I turn away to walk back into the building, hoping to avoid any response. I return to my seat and a few moments later the lady who sits next to me returns as well, having witnessed the whole incident. She tells me as she sits down that when I walked away he said “I just lost all respect for her” and I rather loudly snort “It’s clear he didn’t have any in the first place! He just proved my “no” right! Hah!” and she laughs along with me (whether out of social graces or genuine understanding I have no idea, as this is a pretty nuanced interaction).
He hasn’t spoken to me since, outside of sharing a lighter on break or whatnot. I certainly don’t expect him to continue to pursue, and am grateful that he hasn’t, but I’m amazed that he never even attempted to approach me on a friend level. Get to know me on any level. The only point of relation we had was the video games, and he didn’t even try to have games-centered conversations. Did he know I hold the world’s record for Tomb Raider 2 completed with the harpoon weapon only? Nope, and maybe I shut him down too hard to have had the chance. Or maybe 5 days is plenty of time, my world’s pretty tiny (again, intentionally so). I just think it’s pretty damn telling.
When mom picked me up that day, I told her about it (knowing it wasn’t the best of ideas but whatever). Her first response was “well you gotta think how hard it is for guys to gotta be the one to ask…” which made me burst out with a “HAH that’s HIS expectation, not mine!” I was equally amused as I was outraged, because I don’t expect a progressive or feminist view on anything from my mother. She did however concede that since I wasn’t wanting a relationship, it’s hardly my responsibility to give him one. Plus my relationship with her is much better when I’m not trying to have relationships with people anyway.
This whole scenario played out pretty benign; everyone walked away only slightly miffed (as far as I can tell). But this is what happens when you say no but remain friendly. I spent a few days afterwards debating to myself “so which is it, am I supposed to be a bitch right off the bat?” I’m still fuckin confused; what was I supposed to say, that first day, to protect this man’s ego? Was there ANY thing I could have said that wasn’t “ok, got condoms?” And why is it my problem how this random person’s ego feels?!?!?!?!?!
Moral of the story: Damned if ya do, damned if ya don’t