Episode 131: "What if someone keeps asking me out after I said 'no?'"Support the show
Jessica: On today’s episode of Ask Ava, we’re answering a question from local teens about asking someone out over and over.
My name is Jessica Skultety. I’m an Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.
So, today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, What if someone keeps asking me out after I said ‘no?’”
And today we’re joined again by Ella Blank, Safe+Sound Somerset volunteer, who goes to the University of Maryland. Hi Ella, thanks for being here today!
Ella: Hi! Um, so how many times have you watched a TV show or movie, where one character really wants to go out with someone else? They ask them out and then Person 2 says “no” or they’re unsure. What usually happens next? Person 1 thinks, “Well, if I could just convince them, we would be such a great couple. I know that they would say yes, and I’m not going to give up.” Then, we see that person try to change themselves, prove themselves, buy gifts, or perform grand gestures just to get that person’s attention. And at the end of the episode, what usually happens?
J: Person 2 realizes that they want to date them after all, and they live happily ever after.
E: Right. But is that really what happens in person? Because I know I haven’t seen that.
J: Me neither. I don’t see that in person with teens, or adults really. You know, our organization has worked with over 15,000 teens in the past 6 years, just in Somerset County and whenever we get questions about this, which is pretty often, people are usually upset, or anxious, or feeling unsafe because they really don’t want the attention from this person.
This is actually a form of sexual harassment that a lot of people don’t know about. They don’t realize that it’s sexual harassment – asking someone out over and over after they’ve said no. At first glance, in, like, those TV shows you were describing, it might feel romantic and exciting, and many movies and TV shows make it seem that way.
E: Mhm. At first glance, it can definitely seem that way. But imagine if you are Person 2 from the beginning. You said “no” for whatever reason – maybe you aren’t attracted to that person, you don’t want to go out with anyone, whatever reason. So, you don’t even have to have a good reason – you can say “no” and that is 100% your right to do so!
E: Sexual harassment is when someone makes unwelcome and/or inappropriate sexual comments or physical advances. It can happen in any situation, whether two people are alone, or they are at school, or work, at a party, the store, on transportation, on the street, or anywhere else. When someone says no, it doesn’t mean keep asking until they say yes! Because that’s harassment.
J: Right! If someone says yes after saying no, they might be giving into pressure. And that doesn’t feel good, now or later. In this situation, some people will say, “Okay, fine, I’ll go out with you,” right? Just to get the other person to stop asking.
They might feel annoyed or unsafe, and see the actor’s behavior as a threat to their safety if they DO say no, so they say yes, right? That doesn’t set up the relationship to be an equal, healthy one! Giving into pressure and saying “yes” isn’t true, free consent if you’re just giving in. Um, so this also counts for sexual activity. If you’re being threatened and you say yes, that isn’t true, free consent. “Giving in” does not mean you used your free will.
E: Yes. Anything that makes you feel pressured, violated, or uncomfortable, it is not okay. It’s not your fault if you’re being pressured or forced to say yes to going out. You’re allowed to ask yourself if you truly want to go out with this person, or not. And then you make your decision and you set your boundaries. If they keep bothering you, that’s their choice. They are now ignoring your boundaries.
J: Right, and at this point you might choose rethink your relationship with them and set more boundaries if you need to. As the person being pursued, it’ss not your responsibility to comfort the other person or tell them “yes” just to get them to stop. Tell them to stop, loud and clear – you don’t have to give them a reason if you don’t want to.
E: Right. Get a trusted adult involved if this person continues to try to talk to you, sends you messages, gives you unwanted gifts, or shows up in different places unwanted. They are stalking behaviors and they are not okay. You also might want to change how you get home from school or work.
J: Yeah, and those stalking behaviors have also been really normalized and romanticized in a lot of media, and like you said, Ella, they are not okay. Um, you can actually create a safety plan on our website or with our advocates on our helpline, to help you feel safer if you’re being pursued by someone and they keep asking you out. Call or text 866-685-1122. Thank you so much again Ella for being here today, for helping us out!
E: Of course, thank you for having me!
J: To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.