Show me your ‘no’: the falsification principle of dating

Image by the fantastic Stuart F Taylor

One of the inherent difficulties with dating blog readers (and I should note here that I have not done much of it) is that by the time you’ve asked GOTN on a date, there is very very little I can do to make you not want to fuck GOTN. I can turn up, as I always do, looking like a bag of shit. I can get messy drunk and say things that are awkward or uncool. I can sweat like a horse at the Grand National because we’re no longer in the depths of winter but I enjoy a lovely jumper nonetheless. And yet still… you’ve read my blog. You liked my blog. You enjoyed the filth I post so much that you invited me out on a date. So I have a dilemma, which is that I can never really tell if you genuinely like me, or like GOTN.

This isn’t a problem many people will have, but it’s a concentrated version of what I think is a broader problem with straight dating in general: men tend to get fewer responses to messages than women do, and thus fewer dates, and thus fewer chances. It’s unequal and unfair and it leads to some pretty harmful behaviour. Not just blokes being pushy, but blokes working hard to try and ‘win’ at dating (i.e. escalate to the next level) rather than actually learn what the other person is like, and establish whether they might be compatible. And women (hands up, I’ve definitely done this) acting rudely because there are so many fish in the sea they forget that each fish is also a person. The online dating game is skewed, and because of that, there are lots of guys on dating sites who’d happily date me even if we were wildly unsuited for each other.

This calls for some kind of theory. Allow me to introduce you to: the falsification principle of dating.

The falsification principle

In philosophy, the falsification principle was proposed by Karl Popper, to distinguish scientific activity from theories that could never be scientifically proven. In order to be truly scientific, something must not just be verifiable but falsifiable – i.e. you had to be able to state the conditions under which your theory could be proven false.

So in science, this would work like:

“I believe that the Earth orbits around the Sun. This could be verified by calculating angles of movement using maths and shit. This could be falsified by observing planetary movements and predicting orbits and learning my prediction is wrong.”


“I believe the Earth is moved around the heavens by the hand of God. This could be verified by calculating angles of movement using maths and shit. This couldn’t really be falsified because the hand of God is entirely unobservable and even if my calculations turn out to be wrong that’s just cos God works in mysterious ways.”

So. In order for something to be useful scientifically, we have to be able to state the conditions under which we might be proven false. Then if we keep trying to prove ourselves false and it turns out we can’t, we’re probably good to go ahead and trust our theory, at least for now.

The falsification principle of dating

When you’re dating someone, it’s not massively exciting to know that they’re going to want to bang you no matter what. Part of the joy of sex is anticipation and desire and learning how you fit together. If there’s someone who is convinced – even before they meet you – that they will definitely want to fuck you, any date you go on is likely to consist of them simply trying to impress you, without ever actually showing you their true self.

I am firmly of the belief that your duty when you date is to present as ‘real’ a picture of yourself as possible, so you and the person you’re with can get an accurate impression of whether you’ll really work. You shouldn’t try to be the person you think they want, you should try to be the person you are. It’s impossible to do this perfectly, of course – you’re never going to be as natural on a first date as you will be with friends you’ve known for years, but you can still try. This is why I turn up on dates looking scruffy and sweaty, get drunk and swear and sometimes make jokes about anal: I need men to understand that this is who I am, so they aren’t shocked three dates in when the woman they thought was wholesomely cute suddenly morphs into the human embodiment of a back alley fuck behind Wetherspoons.


Dating people who know about the blog means dating people who already want to fuck me. Except it’s not ‘me’ they want to fuck, it’s GOTN. And although we’re very closely tied, we are not one and the same. GOTN fucks like… all the time. She’s also wittier and cooler than I am, because she has time to edit her words, unlike Real Life Me who just spaffs them out of the hole in her face after too much gin has gone in. When I meet men, usually what I’m doing is trying to be as ‘me’ as possible so that the things about me that annoy them will put them off early, and neither of us has to waste too much of our time.

Hence: the falsification principle of dating. On a date, I want to know not just what turns a guy on about me, but how I could turn him off. If the answer is ‘nothing’ then his desire to fuck me isn’t real. It’s unfalsifiable.

Why don’t you just accept the shag, GOTN?

Call me a precious princess, but I don’t want just any shag. I want a shag with someone I get on with reasonably well, who I can share a pint and a laugh with afterwards. While I occasionally joke about my horny credentials here, and am definitely up for the odd casual bang (or a threesome with two hot people who are already banging, good God I’m a lucky fucker), I genuinely do find it easier to get hot for someone when there’s a connection – friendship, jokes, shared experience, familiarity, whatever. It’s why I find sex way easier if I’m doing it with a good friend rather than a stranger. I don’t have to be in love with you (and I won’t be – I have sworn off that forever now, thanks), but I do need to know you a bit as a person, and I need you to know and like me.

It’s why it fucks me off when randoms on Twitter respond to my horny tweets with ‘I volunteer as tribute!’. My dude, I am not short of volunteers. I don’t think it’s arrogant of me to say this, because they aren’t queuing out of genuine admiration and desire for me as a person – falsification, remember? These are people who would fuck me – fuck GOTN – no matter what. Just as I wouldn’t crow over ‘scoring’ a job if it was a volunteer position open to anyone, so I’m not crowing about the fact that some men want to cum on my face despite never actually having seen it.

Please don’t put me on a pedestal it’s too high and I’m scared

There’s something else behind this, I think. When men make it clear that there’s little I could do to turn them off, who’s to say it’s even me that’s turning them on? They have put me on a pedestal, and while I’m up there I can never be real. In the short term, this is a little bit irritating, because it means that all the responsibility for working out whether we ‘fit’ falls on me. The responsibility to ask questions, to establish connections or points of contention, and eventually – yeah – the responsibility to say ‘no, thank you’ if we don’t gel well. From a straight dude’s perspective this might look a little like dating privilege, and there are certainly some aspects of it that put the power in my hands. But in the longer term that ‘power’ melts away and I’m left holding crumbling promises and self-doubt and a man’s disappointment. The guy who’d initially shag/date/marry/lick-me-from-head-to-toe will at some point have to confront the fact that I’m not a blank canvas onto which he can project his desires, I’m a person. And there’ll be things about me that will do his head in.

Usually the ones who pedestal me early on are the ones who’ll later tell me that I’m loud, opinionated, ‘intimidating‘. I don’t dress pretty. I drink too much. I smoke and I swear and I’m not interested in ever being a parent so if they desperately want children then I am not the right person for them to pursue. The ‘power’ that I have with these men only translates to a very simple, short-term power to maybe get a shag if I want one. If what I want, though, is for my opinions and desires to be taken seriously – to be listened to and heard and understood and told to fuck off if I’m not what this man’s after – then I have as much power as a lump of rock balanced on a pedestal.

When these men have shagged me for a while, and eventually the message about ‘who I really am’ filters through, what then? What if I’m really into them now, so by the time they decide that actually my penchant for singing showtunes at full volume while I do the washing up is an absolutely dealbreaking activity, I love them so much that their gentle nudges into being quieter, smaller, less me, feel like reasonable requests to which I should acquiesce? What if they fuck me for six months, and only at the end of those six do they start trying to correct me on how I dress, how I speak, or whether I wear make-up? I’ve known many men in my life who have told me I’m not right – personality-wise I am always ‘too much’, and looks-wise I’m never enough – so I aggressively show off these aspects of myself when I’m looking to find someone new. I’ve known a lot of men who said ‘yes, I want you’, when what they meant was ‘you’ll do’, and it was not good – for either of us.

Or at the other end of the scale, when someone keeps me on the pedestal indefinitely there’s a real danger that I’ll lose perspective. For how long might someone keep treating me like a precious, fragile princess without ever challenging me on the things I’m doing wrong? For how long do they put up with an imperfect version of me, the real-life human who isn’t what they want really, but who may one day morph into the woman they’ve pictured in their head? How much of a raging arsehole do I have to be before this man decides to bow out? How monstrous must I become before he decides that ‘no’ seems a viable option?

‘Yes, I want you’ vs ‘Yes, you’ll do’

The reason I am applying a falsification principle to dating is because I find it deeply uncomfortable if your answer is ‘yes’ no matter what. I am frightened of both ends of the scale laid out above. I don’t want to ever be a monster, and I sure as shit won’t be an angel either.

That’s why I’m actively seeking your ‘no’. Trying to find the things I might do that annoy or frustrate you. If they’re tiny things that I can hold off on doing when we’re hanging out, irritating habits that my friends have told me to stop too, or things for which you have equally irritating counterpart habits that we can take the piss out of together? Great! I just found your ‘no’ and can breathe a sigh of relief that I know one exists somewhere. I’m not on a pedestal – we’re broadly at the same level.

If I find your ‘no’ and it’s for something that’s fundamentally not going to change about me then… also great! I’d far rather know now than months down the line. So, like a sideshow hustler yelling “ROLL UP ROLL UP! Be aware that I am a feminist and I wear ratty old trainers and I drink far too much and I frequently cry at reality TV!” I will try to put you off – to find your ‘no’ – because if you’re wedded to a ‘yes’ no matter what, at some point you’ll realise you don’t want me specifically, and instead of just giving me the ‘no’ that makes so much sense, you’ll do your best to keep me on that pedestal. Trying to mould me into the kind of person you think deserves to be there – the person you imagined was standing there in the first place.

As with some of my previous rants about dating, I don’t want to shag men who simply want ‘a woman’, I want to fuck men who want me. So: the falsification principle. It will annoy the men who are only interested in escalating to fucks no matter what, but it’ll put a bit of power back into the hands of the men I’m genuinely interested in meeting. Ones who won’t just shag me because I exist and have tits (and/or am some pedestal-dwelling fuckblogger), but who know what I could do to turn them off.




  • David says:


    This is to both GOTN and the woman/writer/normal human behind GOTN. Your write-up on the falsification principle of dating is really a wonderful read. Both of you (GOTN and the human) really shine here because it’s about the two of you and it’s also a useful essay to both women and men. Pedestals are a terrible place for any of us to place people, and you articulated that better than I’ve ever done in my years.

    May both of you find the friendships and shags that you desire. Snd please keep up the writing. You are imho one of the best at this.

  • fuzzy says:

    Good expression of one of the basic reasons i hated dating “back in the day”. My default activity between the ages of 18 and 30 to meet someone was to get a book and go to a bar and sit down on the end next to where the waitresses pick up the drinks, where the bartender and I could chat as desired and I could sip something exquisite and read.

    Inevitably, some female would come along and go “why are you reading at a bar and not picking women up” or some derivative, and I would point out that it is women who make that decision, so unless a woman shows interest in *me* it is hardly in my best interest to wander around in a random search, and if something ended up happening it would be because we hit it off, and would she like to sit down and chat?

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    I think this is a sensible attitude to dating! Maybe particularly for you, if a lot of guys reach out to you through the blog, and you’re always looking for reasons to reject them. But for people more generally as well. Dating isn’t just about finding your compatibilities with people; it’s also about finding your incompatibilities with them, and working out how major those are, as you describe here. You want someone who likes the ‘real you’.

    (For example, I’m supposed to be having a date with someone tomorrow, and from our chat I already have a feeling it’s not going to work out… she said she is ‘not a feminist’, on International Women’s Day no less! Sigh. But it’s better to find these things out early on than too late!)

    And also, yeah: ‘please shag me, I’m desperate for someone!’ and ‘you’re a perfect goddess, let me put you on a pedestal!’ are probably not going to be the basis for a healthy relationship…

    • Girl on the net says:

      “Dating isn’t just about finding your compatibilities with people; it’s also about finding your incompatibilities with them” – this is such a fab and succinct way to put it, yes!

      And I hope you have fun on your date! I totally get why ‘not a feminist’ might be troubling, but I have known a fair few people who don’t want to identify as a feminist because so many self-proclaimed feminists are embarrassing and/or awful (i.e. White Feminists who only care about white middle-class issues etc). Either way, I hope you both have a lovely time and find out if you click together!

  • BlogWriter says:

    This “reading a book at bar” sounds like a really great idea. I actually had a somewhat similar(?) experiment – not reading a book at a bar, but writing a blog at a dating site. I might say the blog was quite good (not on the GOTN-level, but on the level of that dating site). I managed to write one post per week, the blog had a lively comment section due to its many readers (the owner of the site even gave me a discount on the monthly fee) – and I got exactly zero messages from females in six months (although in fairness I have to add that I did get two messages from blokes who wanted nothing but suck my dick).

  • farry says:

    I admit I was(?) one of those guys who’d fuck anybody who has a cunt. My desire was next to impossible to falsify (never was actually falsified). I’m not really proud of this. I thought about this recently with my wife and my current theory is that because I did not have sex before I turned 30, I consciously and/or subconsciously was afraid that if I miss an opportunity to have sex, I won’t get any in the next 30 years. I felt this even when I used to have sex at least once every 2-3 months (if nothing else worked, with a sex worker). I hope I’m a better man now, but I didn’t have the opportunity to actually verify this in the past few years.

    I don’t know why other guys do this – maybe there’s some cultural (or even biological) pressure on us, men to fuck everybody we can.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “I consciously and/or subconsciously was afraid that if I miss an opportunity to have sex, I won’t get any in the next 30 years” – I fully understand this, and I don’t think it’s necessarily anything to be embarrassed/ashamed of. I understand that scarcity can lead to ‘you’ll do’ and the imbalance in straight dating (which imho is predominantly a cultural thing) does exacerbate this kind of problem.

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    Hey, thanks! As I’d guessed, we were pretty much not at all compatible as partners, but still had a nice time. :)
    Best wishes with your own dating endeavours!

  • Mathmagician says:

    How can women have more dates than men?

    Thats not really possible.

    • Girl on the net says:

      I am not sure if you’re joking but… it is a known fact that straight women get significantly more messages on dating sites than straight men.

  • Mathmagician says:

    Yeah but every time a man goes on a date with a woman, a woman goes on a date with a man.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ah I see. I thought you were making a useful point but it turns out you just wanted to be pedantic in a way calculated to try and make me feel silly? In future you’re welcome to just say ‘hey GOTN, I think you could probably do with adding ‘opportunities’ to that sentence, as otherwise you’re implying that women get more dates than men which doesn’t really make sense.’ I am always up for people pointing out things like this, because I churn out a huge amount of copy each week and I can’t afford to hire editors to read over what I write. There’s nowt wrong with mentioning it, and I’m always grateful when people do, but the way you’ve done it is petty and weird.

      Making your correction/suggestion kindly is also gonna make you feel less silly when I point out that you’re actually wrong here. I could maybe edit that sentence to read ‘women get more date *opportunities* than men on dating sites’, which would fit with what you’re trying to say, but it wouldn’t accurately describe the problem. Your point that women and men get the same number of dates via dating sites is wrong, because you’re not taking into account all the info. There are far more men than women who get *no dates at all*, because men usually significantly outnumber women, so the men who are getting zero dates via the site will change the average. It is more than possible for the average woman on a straight dating site to get 1 date per week, and for the average man to get <1 date per week. Maths is fun, right?

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