Her First Instinct is to say "No"

by Eric Disco
May 31

In our attempt to minimize emotional pain and discomfort, often times we as men are too ready to abandon an interaction with a woman.

We do this assuming that she’s not interested because she hasn’t taken initiative or opened up yet.

But I see it over and over again in coaching sessions: a guy will start talking to a woman and she’s smiling, interested and welcoming, but he doesn’t see it.

In a recent conversation with a gorgeous woman I’m dating named Beth, we got to talking about our high school crushes.

Beth tells me the story of RJ Wilson, her high school crush.

She was sitting on the carpeted floor in her living, watching Jeopardy on TV with her father. The phone rings.

Upstairs in the kitchen, her younger brother answers it. “Beth, it’s RJ!” he yells down to her.

RJ had recently transferred to Beth’s school from Notre Dame, a catholic school.

She sat behind him in Spanish class. Their Spanish teacher, Mr. Swinson, called RJ “Bob,” although everyone else referred to him as RJ.

Mr. Swinson had given a homework assignment to work on in pairs, and had paired RJ and Beth to work together on it.

RJ was calling about the homework assignment, but he also had other plans.  He liked Beth and planned to ask her out.

Beth herself had been harboring a secret crush on RJ for two weeks now. He was fun, played lacrosse and always said Hi to her with a smile when she got to class.

As she picked up the phone, she glanced at her father sitting on the sofa a few feet away from her. Her feelings for RJ coupled with the presence of her father started to make her a little nervous.

They talked a bit, although her responses were clipped as Alex Trebek prattled on announcing answers to Jeopardy questions.

Finally, he asked her if she wanted to go out with him.

The next word that came out of her mouth was loud, clear, unequivocal, and impetuous:


“I liked him, that was the worst part!” she explains. “I felt horrible after I hung up. I thought about it an awful lot. I was just nervous with my father there, so my first instinct was to just say no.”

For the next four years she tried to win his interest back without any luck. Even as they graduated and she asked him to sign his yearbook, he wrote, ““I forgive you for not going out with me four years ago.”

While Beth admits that she doesn’t often say No to guys now if she really does like them, this is a great example of how women often decline initiatives from men for so many different reasons.

Social anxiety tends to make us read the negative signals women are giving off.  A hesitation or a lack of initiative on her part makes us think that she really doesn’t like us at all.

We’ll start an interaction and not see the kind of interest we’d like and so we walk away, when in actuality, she was just unsure rather than turned off.

Or she wasn’t comfortable enough with the stranger she’s just met.

Or she’s just used to saying, “No.” Beautiful women get approached enough that this usually their first instinct.

Anxiety can make us feel like everyone else is socially more adept than ourselves–particularly attractive women.

We expect that if she liked us, she would take things to the next level.

In actuality, she may simply not know how.

“Have you ever been in a situation where you had to ask a guy out?” I ask her.

“I’ve never had to,” Beth admits.

She’s not saying this in a cocky way. She’s a gorgeous woman. Guys take initiative with her all the time.

Besides, the fact that they can take initiative with her is part of the charm of the men she likes.

Next time you begin talking to a woman, instead of leaving right away at the first sign of disinterest, try to hang out for a little while.

A huge part of confidence is not crumbling at the first sign of trouble.

When you do hang in there for a bit, you just may be surprised at what develops.


posted in Initiative and Inhibition, Self-Improvement Strategies

26 responses
KL says:

This is a great point. Women are very sensitive to the social conditioning against flirting or enjoying one’s sexuality. It’s easy as a guy to take anything less than an enthusiastic response as a “no,” but that’s really not fair. You’re not giving yourself a chance. And anyway, especially in a big city, there would probably be something wrong with her if she wasn’t a little hesitant talking to a stranger!

My question is, when do you say enough’s enough, and just leave or move on?

Kevin says:

Yes there are some good points here. I just think that some women just like to say “no.” Its like a sport to them. The more attractive the more likely they will say “no” and I think many enjoy it. Its power. They have no power over their job or say family matters but they can say “no.” Its a game to them.

Ariel says:

This really hit the spot for me. I am trying lately as an exercise to say in set until there is some clear sign that she’s ending the interaction. I’ve done the suggested approach a day for 9-days in a row now, and really feel a process going on.
A good experience I had in this context – the first girl I approaced last week with `just wanted to say Hi’ seemed non-responsive so I bailed pretty fast. She’s on my campus and I assumed if we run into each other she will make sure to ignore me. But I ran into her yesterday and she remembered me, and was happy to talk and we had a nice conversation.

Eric Disco says:

My question is, when do you say enough’s enough, and just leave or move on?

There are two sides of the coin when it comes to persistence. One side is losing outcome dependency. You want to be able to walk away from a woman and still feel good about yourself. You want to feel like you don’t have to continue every interaction. If it seems like you have too much riding on every interaction, if you’re trying to make every single interaction work, you will seem outcome dependent. If you are too dependent on her reaction, you won’t display confidence in yourself.

On the flipside is commitment. If you walk away from every single interaction, you will never get the experience staying in. There are plenty of reasons why guys leave interactions early. They get the number and run. And as I talk about in this article, you may be missing out on a lot of good opportunities.

In the long run you should practice doing both. You should practice walking away from a certain number of women–even women that like you. And you can also practice staying in interactions as long as possible. Let her end the conversation. Both of these are important skills to have.

Start with losing outcome dependency. Get comfortable walking away from women. And then start staying in longer.


Lee says:

Man, do I ever disagree with the conclusions of this article! The observations are all correct: Weathering the storm is definitely a valuable skill, and not just in pickup. Girls do have a natural inclination to say no. Guys shouldn’t leave a set just because it becomes uncomfortable to stay in. But the conclusions – that it is better to stay in and try to weather the storm – are not correct. Making some assumptions about the costs of competing strategies – the probability of getting a date when there is early resistance compared to the probability of getting a date when there is not, the number of minutes it takes to find the next girl to approach, the probability of finding a girl who will not give you early resistance, the probability of HAVING a good date with a girl who gave you early resistance, etc – a guy in a densely populated urban environment or bar would come to the very opposite conclusion. Knowing nothing else, he is always better off walking away from a set that starts with resistance. Of course, it’s different if you live in Bismarck, North Dakota. There, the costs of finding the next girl are so high that it is always better to play it out. I am going to write a longer piece on why and when it may be better to move on and share all of the calculations I used.

Eric Disco says:

Man, do I ever disagree with the conclusions of this article!


the conclusions – that it is better to stay in and try to weather the storm – are not correct.

My conclusion isn’t that you should always try and stay in and weather the storm. My conclusion is that it’s worth, for a period of time, practicing staying in interactions as long as possible. Most guys–especially guys starting out–exit interactions far too soon. Out of his own fear, a guy will over-read signals of rejection and disinterest.

For example, if a woman doesn’t smile when you first talk to her, would you consider that a sign of disinterest? If she continues to look at her book when you speak to her, is that a sign of disinterest? If she says nothing in response to you, is that a sign of disinterest? While the last may be more obvious, there is no clearly designated line of interest/disinterest. There may be some more obvious signals of interest or disinterest, but there’s probably no line that you could draw, Lee, that you could say to a guy, “Here’s when you need to leave and here’s where you should stay.”

A guy’s calibration of a woman’s interest and disinterest is a factor of his own personal confidence and experience. A guy with low-confidence feels like he’s bothering the woman or taking up too much of her time. He ALREADY has it in his mind that this woman is disinterested even before he talks to her. This is the very definition of social confidence: expecting a person to like you before you talk to them. If he’s low-confidence, he expects the woman to dislike him. There is no way for him to convince himself that women like him by telling himself things, he needs to PRACTICE certain things, like staying in longer in order to get physically comfortable doing that. Only then does he become calibrated enough to truly know when a woman is interested or if he’s wasting his time.

For example, when I first started doing this stuff, I would banter with women and when a woman bantered back, it caught me off guard. I would read that as a signal of disinterest when in actuality it was the opposite. I had too much anxiety and was too caught up in my own head to be able to read her signals and realize that she was actually having fun with me.


Lee says:

Put this way, it kinda leaves me little to argue with :-) Part of the problem is that we haven’t fully defined what it means to stay in there and weather the storm. Let’s make this concrete. Suppose we are looking for some tried and true indications of interest: Body language (such as stopping what she was doing and turning towards you), asking you questions about yourself, and engaging you in friendly banter. How long should a guy wait to see these indications of interest before deciding to drop it and walk away? Depending on the costs of doing another approach (and some other criteria which I can fully explain), that time may be relatively short – a minute or less.

Look at this site and the questions that typically arise on it. Some guys are looking to just tune up their game. Let’s leave them out of this and focus on the hard luck cases. Suppose we have to categorize the problems of this group into one of two buckets: 1) Those who approach a lot but don’t stay in long enough to get an answer, or 2) those who hardly ever approach and put way, way too much effort into gaming one girl, those who sometimes spend months going after girls that never really gave them much interest to begin with. Do you really think that 1 is the more important problem? I say it’s 2 hands down. Guys who are approaching a lot but getting out too early are already harvesting 80% or more of the fruits of the game. Even if they are getting out too early, they are doing enough sets to almost guarantee that they will improve quickly. That is just not true of the guys who invest heavily in one girl.

The problem of staying in too long is even more detrimental for guys who are already good. Provided the costs of doing another approach are low, putting some simple numbers to this makes it obvious that it is better to make the decision quickly.

There are also psychological costs to making this a negative experience. What kind of experience with women do you want to put in your head? Do you want the experience of confronting girls who don’t like you so you can get some small number of them to change their minds? Do you want to go on dates that, on average, are not going to be quite as satisfying as the ones you have with girls who clicked with you right away? Or do you want to take the other route, the route of finding people who, at every step of the way welcomed your approach?

Stephen says:

This Saturday just gone I was at a party with some others. I sat next to this girl who struck my interest. There was another guy there talking to her but I just sat there. I got her attention and eventually she faced me and got talking. (Yeah, I did cockblock the other guy and whilst I’m not an advocate of it I have had so much happen to me in last month I thought fuck it, some revenge).

We eventually connected and after some time my mind was telling me go for the kiss. So I did: I grabbed her face and went straight in. I was trying to make out with her for five seconds and she was trying to wringle out of it. She eventually said “No I’m not ready”….I stuck in there and a minute later I did the same and she was receptive.

Eric’s right, just hold out for a little longer.


Eric Disco says:

those who hardly ever approach and put way, way too much effort into gaming one girl, those who sometimes spend months going after girls that never really gave them much interest to begin with.

Yeah, whenever you tell a guy to be persistent, there is always the possibility that a guy who’s become an orbiter will read that and think that it means that he needs to take even more initiative with the woman.

The main problem for guys is that they do not take initiative in starting conversations with women they don’t know. Secondarily, the problem is that they are too inhibited to continue to take other initiatives, like bantering, getting sexual, transitioning into personal conversation or simply hanging in interactions longer.

At the relationship stage, the problem tends to be that they take too much initiative. At certain in-between stages, like dating, a lot of this could go either way. The problem later on is that guys tend to invest too much into one single woman and not know when to call it quits. To continue to take initiative involves more investment. If he can’t go out and start new interactions with women, he tends to invest too much into a bad situation.


Lee says:

@Stephen Yours could be a success story or not. How long were you sitting there before she eventually talked to you? How many other girls were at this party? What will be the effect on your long term power dynamic with this girl given that she initially rejected you without any cost to her? You have to consider the alternatives to chasing women before you conclude that pushing against resistance is always the right choice.

Stephen says:


I couldn’t give a fuck. I was fingering her during a band performance but that’s besides the point I was raising…All sober I must add.


Lee says:

@Stephen Ha ha! More power to you, dude. You figured out a really labor intensive way to get your finger wet.

Cameron says:

It wasn’t that labour intensive Lee, he just waited about a minute…….

Ariel says:

Great story Steve:-) Another perspective on it I think is that trying to kiss hermake out get’s her thinking about it and thinking about it get’s her in the mood. It’s not as automatic for her to think about it as it is for us, so it’s good to do something to start the warming up process inside her.
Once I sat next to this girl on a plane and tried to kiss her shortly after we met, she was like `are you crazy?’ but when I tried again a few hours later – just on the cheeck – she turned her head to kiss me on the mouth..

Stephen says:

Well done ariel; I like that story.

Go hard or go home guys :)


Lee says:

@Cameron About a minute is the right amount of time. Being aggressive is good. Almost without exception, more aggressive is better than less aggressive. What I am saying is that it is generally a bad strategy to wait beyond some short period of time for a woman to respond positively, especially if there are other women around and the cost of finding another opportunity is low. Everyone has a story of a spectacular success that initially looked like a failure. But if we were to do an analysis of approaches that initially looked like a failure, they in fact turn out to be failures more often than approaches that initially looked like a success. So, where do you want to be, battling to turn the failures into successes, or repeating the process often enough so that the successes are plentiful? I always choose the latter.

Stephen says:

“So, where do you want to be, battling to turn the failures into successes, or repeating the process often enough so that the successes are plentiful? I always choose the latter.”

I would choose the former because it enforces persistence and proves the person isn’t wussy though you make it out to be optional which it isn’t: it is a structure: you begin with the failures and eventually you get success through the amount of times you do it. Sure you will eventually get more successes than failures but, like I said, there is nothing to choose about it. You just got to take action and learn through experience.

I don’t know what you mean by “repeating the process” but I tend not to choose scripted material. Rather, I would improvise and just go along with the flow of the interaction. Even with repetition to your approaches you cannot guarantee “plentiful” success.


Lee says:

@Stephen It’s really just a matter of a little math, bro. If you assign some realistic numbers to this, you would come to the same conclusion. It all depends on your probability of success with those who don’t give you resistance, your probability of success with those who do, the cost (in terms of time) of finding another target, etc. Provided you live in a densely populated area or go to bars with lots of sets, for almost any set of assumptions, you are better off moving on quickly if you get some resistance.

Stephen says:

with respect, I don’t doubt you’re the plato of pick up, but all this philosophy is too intricate and furthermore not needed.

I think we can say we are different in our fields: you look at maths and calculatedd risk I just go out and fucking do it regardless of reaction or what she does.


Lee says:

@Stephen I get it. This is a little too abstract for you. Let’s make it really simple. Don’t know if you live near NYC, but if you do, we should get together for a little experiment. We’ll each do some large number of sets with a tape recorder in our pockets. You get to ask girls for numbers only if they give you shit in the first three minutes, and I get to ask girls for numbers only if they don’t give me shit in the first three minutes. Does that sound like a fair bet to you? :-)

Stephen says:

like I said, we’re have different games. You seem to get more success than me, more knowledge that every man combined and get more shags than me. That’s cool with me.

You do what’s comfortable for you and I’ll do what’s comfortbable for me.

And I don’t have competition because I’m unique and my approach to game is unique. So you’ll have to give your tape recorder to someone else who thinks gaming is about “maths”.


Lee says:

Have to agree with you there. In the end, it’s what works for you that counts. Peace.

chris says:

Haha. Good choice Stephen. You don’t want to battle with Lee..that dude is a beast! :D But either way you make a great point. There was a girl I kissed closed on our first encounter. Then when I took her out on a date I got kinda shut down when I tried to kiss her and never tried again. I felt so discouraged I didn’t even ask her out again. She seemed out of it the whole time and told me she had stayed up late the night before and was tired but I think my own anxiety got in the way and I was blinded because I really liked her. I don’t know I guess a little persistance can do wonders. But too much might not be worth it..depending on the circumstances like Lee points out.

Axel says:

A female friend of mine has told me an almost identical story. She once said ‘no’ to this guy who asked her out, who she really liked but just felt she didn’t have the time to start dating right there and then (the key word here is ‘felt’, obviously). Some months later they met again and he told her that he was planning to move abroad, and at that time they actually went out together a few times. But even though she fell deeply in love with him he would no longer commit very much or change his plans, and he moved out of the country soon after. She has told me that she deeply regret saying no to him the first time he asked, before he took a job in another country, as she realize that she missed her chance with him right there and then. And she has sworn that as long as she is single, she will never again to say no to any man she find even just slightly attractive because of this.

Dogmael says:

@Lee, this is interesting advice. Due to my own scarcity mentality (working on it), I’ve tended to invest too heavily in one girl at a time, and often it’s a girl who puts up initial resistance. The last girl I steadily dated was like getting blood from a stone, trying to get her to go out with me the first time. Once we started dating, things were cool, but in retrospect I think she was always a bit lukewarm. Probably why there was a lack of enthusiasm from her at the beginning.

sn says:

Man! I so wished i read this article yesterday!
I got so anxious with Her I let her walk away when i told her i wanted to tell her hi.
She gave me such a pretty smile and i can still picture her smile.
Unfortunately, i just let that be the end of it. I strongly believe if i kept cool and asked her to wait, while she was about to walk away, i would’ve AT LEAST got her number.

I will surely remember this article next time.