By Nathalie Pye
For reasons I can’t explain, within the last few weeks I’ve been asked for my number a lot. Maybe I’m giving off a I-don’t-live-at-home-anymore vibe, or maybe the warmer weather is making men more bold. I’ve been asked for my number before, but never this much.
In the past I’ve almost always gone with the “Sorry, I have a boyfriend” excuse. I know I’m not the only one who’s done this. It’s easy, it stops the conversation immediately, and it lets the asker down easy.
The last time someone asked me for my number I was work, which is problematic in its own regard but that’s another point. It was the end of the night and I was so tired that I just said ‘no’, plain
and simple. I didn’t want to bother with excuses, or try to justify my answer. I just repeatedly said ‘no’. The guy tried to get me to feel sorry for him by saying how much I’d disappointed him but I just kept saying, “Sorry, but I’m not giving out my number.” Maybe this isn’t the best reaction from someone in customer service but we were already closed, I was tired and I just wanted to go home.
In that moment I realized that I really didn’t care that I disappointed him, and why should I? I don’t know him. He’s a stranger who asked for personal information and I am not obliged to tell him. When I came to this conclusion with this one guy, I realized that underneath it all, the other number-asking incidents were the same, even if they didn’t feel like it at the time. I never knew the guys; I didn’t owe them anything.
For some reason we believe that we need to let these guys down easy. I’m not saying we need to be mean, but there’s no reason to hide the truth: I just don’t want to give you my number. The fact that we don’t use this more often in our culture creates this weird idea that saying, “I just don’t want to,” is not a good enough reason. Our needs and desires should be our first priority and anyone who’s struggled with any kind of mental illness like myself knows how important putting yourself first is. Not wanting to do something is a good enough reason to not do the thing.
I’ve made a vow that I’m no longer going to use an excuse for not giving out my number. I don’t want to give you my number and I’m going to let you know that’s the reason why. And I’m definitely not going to use the boyfriend excuse.
The boyfriend excuse creates the belief that if a woman is not in a relationship, then by default she is up for grabs to the first guy who comes around… which is absolutely ridiculous. I know so many women who actively choose to not be in a relationship. Giving the excuse that you have a boyfriend implies that you don’t want to give out your number because you are “spoken for” and not as an act of free will. Another reason this excuse seems to work so well is that even if men do not respect a woman’s right to free will, they will typically respect another man’s ‘territory’.
I’m taking a stand. I’m not going to try to let these strange men down easy, sacrificing my own beliefs. I cannot put their feelings and desires over my own. I have been shy and overly concerned with other people’s feelings for too long.
I’m not giving you my number because I just don’t want to.
Nathalie Pye is currently studying event planning at George Brown. When not studying, working or running off to a foreign country she likes to read, spend time with her friends, and sit on the internet for longer than she should. Nathalie has suffered from anxiety and depression and has recently become interested in feminism. You can find more of her writing at nattypye.wordpress.com.