The A – Z of Christian Dating
N is for No – The Art of saying No and using the No’s you receive to your benefit
The dating skill we’re focusing on in this letter – the letter N – stands for the skill of saying No and accepting a No you receive in the right way. This is a very important topic.
It’s one that if you don’t spend some time thinking about and getting right, then your whole future could be at stake. It’s also a topic that applies to other areas of our lives and not just dating.
How do you react when someone says No to you – or a door in your life is closed. Do you give up or do you carry on the stronger despite of it?
When you join an organisation like friendsfirst whose whole purpose is to help you make new friends, you are going to find situations that may take you out of your comfort zone. Knowing how to deal with these is an essential part of ensuring your membership goes from strength to strength and ultimately leads you to finding the friend or soul mate of your dreams.
This article is going to focus on how to say No to people who’ve either contacted you or whom you’ve met and at some point, made a decision that you don’t want to take the contact or early friendship any further. This is guidance for early stages of friendship and not for relationships that are well developed (although some of the principles will be the same). It’s important that you can say No without ruining the other persons experience of having contacted another member; and without feeling so bad about it yourself that you are prevented from having further contact with other members.
You too are likely to contact people who might give you a ‘No thanks’ for any number of reasons – and they might do it in the right or wrong way. Either way it’s important you their No to you does not have a detrimental effect on your future!
Saying ‘No’ to others
So, let’s assume you’ve had contact from another member – by letter, phone or email and from that you’ve decided that you don’t wish to take the contact further. Firstly, make sure that you’ve made the decision for the right reasons, and are sure that if you invested a little more time in the person, you might not find reasons to stay in touch.
If you have truly made that decision, then you must contact them to let them know where they stand with you – so that they can move on. There is nothing worse than someone developing a friendship with another person, only to find weeks or months down the line that the other person had made the decision long before that the friendship wasn’t going anywhere. That is wasting another persons life and it’s important to realise this and be responsible.
You may think that to ignore them will send them a message – and that is correct – but it’s a) extremely rude b) it’s hurtful and damaging to them and c) it doesn’t help you move forward because doing this is a cowardly action rather than a skills and life enhancing action.
You may fear upsetting them as perhaps you think your No will come as a rejection. The reality is that done in the right way, your No does not need to be a damaging rejection. Done in the wrong way, or not done at all and you are very likely to be emotionally affecting the other person. Done in the right way and you will help the other person move on and help them with their future contact with other people.
Be honest, but gentle and kind in your feedback. Once you’ve given your reasons for not wanting to pursue the contact, try hard to give some words of encouragement to the other person. Do not try and ‘soften the blow’ by saying untruths such as “I’m seeing someone else” (unless of course you are); “it’s me, not you”; “you’re a wonderful person but just not for me” – which sounds like a very poor excuse for not revealing your true feelings. You don’t need to make your explanation lengthy at this point, but you do need to give them enough reasons for them to understand why the reasons they thought you might be friends are different to how you see the situation.
It will take courage to do this, but as you practice saying No to others that really aren’t suitable to you, you will find it easier, and your respect for yourself will grow.
When others say no to you
Now other members may not be as good as you at letting you down gently if you’ve contacted them and they decide that a friendship with you is not something they want.
Firstly, the important thing is not to take offence at how they’ve said no to you. Don’t take it personally (unless of course you’ve been rude to them or something similar in which case you do need to look at your own behaviour). Instead, if the No you’ve received isn’t very nice, think about it as reflection more of them and not of you.
Do not think that because you’ve had one person say No that everyone else will. Do not let this ‘No’ affect your self esteem. If this No has come at an early part of your contact or friendship, then the other person does not know the full you.
Secondly just as you don’t ‘take’ to all the new people you meet, so not everyone is going to take to you. This is not a reflection on you – it’s just how life is – so don’t dwell on any negative thoughts about yourself as a result of the No you’ve received – let that contact go and move on. If you dwell on it, the only person it’s hurting is you – and you are only hindering your future.
Hopefully the other person has given you some honest feedback – and if this is the case then reflecting on that would be a good thing to do. Were you too pushy, too talkative, or did you do something that might have put them off?
If you have taken a good look at your actions (and reflected on the contact you had with them – e.g. the copies of the letters/emails you sent) and can’t see anything you’ve done, then let this person go and move on. You may never know the real reason the contact didn’t develop. Sometimes it’ll be because of something that is absolutely nothing to do with you. Perhaps the person contacted you and then had a bereavement in their life and suddenly they can’t face being sociable. You just never know. So don’t take it personally – just move on.
If you are super sensitive to criticism or rejection, it might be helpful to think about why you are that way. Do you feel that you have been unjustly criticised, perhaps as a child, and that you now give criticism more weight in your life than perhaps you should. These are not things you can correct overnight but understanding that this might be your way of thinking is the first step to changing.
It is possible to turn your thinking around and see criticism as constructive. You can also change the way you feel about rejection. Just because someone doesn’t want to contact you again does not necessarily mean they have rejected you. See it as their decision (for any number of reasons) and not as a personal rejection. You can’t reject someone if you hardly know someone – and you can’t get to know someone from a few letters or phone calls – even from a few meetings.
A new perspective on No
Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t take ‘No’ for an answer”? Or perhaps as a Christian you know how the Bible advises us ‘never give up hope’. Well most of us that is definitely easier said than done! It’s all too easy to set our hearts on something and then get one or two knock backs, and think “Ah well, it obviously wasn’t meant to be”, or “I’m just not suited to this” or “I might as well give up now”.
Actually, there is great wisdom to be found in the phrase “Don’t take No for an answer” or holding onto God’s word not to give up hope. The wisdom is perhaps this: It’s only as we push sufficient numbers of doors open that we get the result we want. But with that comes the fact that some doors won’t open. That’s just how it is. In the same way as a new horse rider is told they won’t be a good rider until they’ve fallen off seven times, we could also say the same about many areas of life. You aren’t trying hard enough until you’ve had at least seven no’s (or shut doors). This way of thinking can really help because, rather than seeing a shut door, or a No as a reason to give up, one can count it as progress on the way to our chosen destination.
It’s just the same if you are single and looking for a soul mate – someone special to share your life with. Perhaps you are scared of branching out to meet others because you fear rejection. Well, with a new outlook, you can see this sort of No as your route to success.
“Fall down seven times, get up eight times.” Japanese proverb
Tracy, one of our members confirmed this when she wrote saying:
“I had been looking for someone for a number of years and had almost given up hope. Nevertheless I continued to pray, asking God to prepare me for marriage. I joined friendsfirst and met James. We got married in September! God knew the type of person that I needed and James and I work so well as a team.”
In fact, friendsfirst has story after story of people who’ve persevered – through the No’s and disappointments – and then find happiness when they find the right person.
So in conclusion, look back at your dating ‘history’ so far and see if you’ve taken the No’s you’ve received in the wrong way. Could it be that you’ve taken the No’s in the wrong way? Have you let them make you feel rejected? Was this a truly reasonable assumption to make? Have you let this so called ‘rejection’ stop you from making contact with others? If any of these are the case, then you’ve let the person who’s rejected you effectively impact your future – you’ve let them affect you and that is not a good thing.
Review your past and determine to change your attitude to the No’s that are part of life. Change your thinking and let them become a building block to your success. You’ll be amazed at the difference this makes.
Why is Christian dating so hard?
Christian dating is so hard for many reasons. Quite simply if you are looking to meet a fellow Christian then you are ‘fishing’ in a smaller pool than your non-Christian friends. Also if you’re looking to meet a Christian, then it can be hard to find them – because unless you’re finding lots of eligible people in your church, then you won’t necessarily know if someone is a Christian when you meet them elsewhere. Christian dating is also hard because doing it right means putting God first – first above your desires for a relationship, and above your own opinions about who is the right type of person for you.
Don’t despair though. Although it’s hard, it’s not impossible – and there are plenty of people and organisations about there to help you. Friends1st is one.
But best of all – you have a loving Father in Heaven who wants the best for you – and you can ask for his help and be assured of his hearing your prayers and working things out with you for the very best outcome.
How to get better at saying or hearing a No?
Practice makes perfect so to get better at saying No you need to practice. Find an area of your life where you always find yourself saying Yes. It may be that friends ask you to do something simple and you always say Yes. Just try saying No and you’ll find that their reaction isn’t half as bad as you might have thought. Keep practising this until it becomes easier. Then you can try it in more complex situations – even in a dating sphere when you want to say to someone that you don’t think they are right for you.
To get better at hearing a No, you need to set yourself a target in something. So perhaps you’ll set a target of asking 10 people out and ‘wanting’ to get 9 No’s. Now although you don’t want to get a No, if you view it as progress towards your target, your thinking will be different – ie you’re reaching a target – rather than thinking it’s all about rejection. It’s funny how we can trick our brains but it does actually work. And here’s a promise. On the way to getting your 9 No’s, you’ll most likely find you get some Yes’s as well.