Darren Ho finds out, when does ‘no’ mean ‘no’?

no means no

It’s a confusing dictionary in the world of dating, doubly so when we live in a country of imperfect English and a love of text messaging (it sounds almost like we’re slowly turning into Japan, culture wise). I recently had the experience of having been asked out by someone for a movie, and the difficulty of turning it down.

Not because I wasn’t interested – it was a good movie – but simply because I didn’t have the time to spare for a date. Plus, I had no idea how the person had gotten my contact, and that slightly freaked me out.

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I had to spend the next 30 minutes repeating ‘no’, and explaining that my reply of ‘no’ didn’t mean ‘I’m playing coy, try harder and maybe I’ll consider it.’ I don’t do dating games. In fact, I generally don’t date, simply because I don’t have time to. Ask my editor. He’ll be the first to tell anyone what a pain it is to get me to turn in an article on time. Life is too short to waste your hours doing something you can watch on DVD – like whisper sweet nothings to each other.

But the experience got me thinking about the word ‘no’. It’s amazing, but there aren’t too many words in the English dictionary that are so simple and clear, and yet so obscure. To me, ‘no’ means ‘no’. It doesn’t mean ‘maybe’, or ‘I’ll think about it’, or even worse, ‘ask me about 15 more times and I’ll say yes’.

I don’t like indecision, and when I have a situation when I sit in indecision, I generally try to give myself a tight slap and tell myself, ‘make up your bloody fricking mind, fool’.

Relationships are an entirely different manner, particularly when it comes to girls and the word ‘no’. The body language and tone of voice, as well as how much foreplay has gone on, amongst other various factors, all come together to give that two-lettered word brand new meanings. And sometimes, these meanings draw the line between getting a big house together, or living in the big house at Changi, with a couple of strokes on the bum for extra measure.

Since when did dating and relationships get so complicated? The old days of whacking a girl over the head and dragging her back to your fireplace to procreate were by far much more convenient and headache-less. Of course, this is bound to irk ladies who read this article, but isn’t it true? Pushing your luck isn’t something anyone would encourage these days, although some might argue that it’s precisely what I’m doing right now.

So apparently, the way to go is to assume everything is a ‘no’, and then cheer up when something goes from ‘no’ to ‘no but actually I mean maybe’ and jump for joy when it becomes ‘yes, yes yes!’ Not only does it boost your ego, it also means you don’t get disappointed. But seriously, for the ladies who read this, it would help us a lot if you don’t send mixed signals to us guys.

After we buy you a couple of rounds, and are making out with you on the balcony of One Rochester, anyone would think that it’s all systems go from then on. But apparently your engines are far less reliable than ours. It’s no wonder the birth rate is declining.

But we’ve worked out some pretty accurate guesses for what ‘no’ means in the dating game. Generally, if the girl is giving a lot of coy smiles, alcohol-ed up to her brains and slurring, ‘no’ means ‘yes, but get ready cos I’m about to discharge the contents of my stomach anytime, and you don’t want it in your Alfa’.

If she’s just making out with you at Phuture and drunk like a cow, she’s likely to bail. Especially if you’re younger than she is. And most importantly, ‘no’ means ‘no’ when you see her police badge in her wallet. And if you’ve just bought her a Valentine’s Day dinner at Shiro (cos Japanese food doesn’t give her bad breath), she’s probably going to say ‘yes’.

Which bring me to my next point. Holidays. I’ve known hundreds of girls who all say they don’t care about the holidays and presents from dates/boyfriends/husbands/toyboys. It’s all a lie.

‘No I don’t want you to waste your money cos everything costs triple on Valentine’s/Christmas/any other special holiday’ is a big fat lie, kept and preserved until the right time for use against you, and then all those years of ‘no’ will turn into ‘Just because I said no, you didn’t get anything for me. So why do you still watch soccer when I tell you not to?’ Always get something.

And even if it is cheap, put it in a Hermes box, and give her the joy of the year. It’ll keep all the fights far away, especially if you put out the boxes prominently on the bedside table.

The conclusion? Do what you must, but make sure that when ‘no’ means ‘no’, you’ve got a backup ready. That way, ‘no’ won’t be as big a deal as you think it might.

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