Men who’ve turned me down

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

It’s hard to talk about rejection without sounding like you’re looking for sympathy. What’s more, it’s almost impossible to make rejection sexy. So on this sex blog, I very rarely talk about times when I was dumped, or when a hot person greeted my clumsy ‘fancy a shag?’ with a ‘no.’

But I think it’s important to talk about rejection. Firstly because I don’t want to give the impression that my life has been an unending sex-fest with anyone I choose. I hate to think I’d feed into the myth that men will fuck anyone who asks, because it’s total bollocks, as most people who’ve tried to fuck men will tell you. Secondly, there are often great things that come out of rejection: friendships made, lessons learned, disasters averted.

So, with all my love and thanks to each of them: here are three guys who’ve rejected me.

Men who’ve turned me down: The lesson learned

This was an older boy I met when I was thirteen. He was graceful, beautiful and infinitely cool – mostly because of the age gap. I fantasised about telling my friends I had a boyfriend who was so much older, and anticipated him getting a car, then driving me around so I could show off.

He was fourteen.

We met on Saturday mornings, at a club a friend of mine went to. We didn’t do much – just hold hands for hours. No talking, either, because we were kids, and we had absolutely nothing to say to each other save a mumbled ‘hi’ then a ‘see you next week’ when we parted. But for three glorious weeks in a row I’d put on eyeliner, go to the club, hold hands with this boy and ache for him to kiss me.

On the fourth Saturday I got a phone call from a friend of his telling me I was dumped. I was frigid, apparently, and he wanted a girlfriend who’d kiss him.

Lesson learned: If you want something, speak up. Pretty obvious now, but at the time I was in the throes of intense lust for almost any guy who paid attention to me. Skater guy cracked my heart a tiny bit, but I’m bloody glad he did: from that point on no matter how sad a ‘no’ made me, I could still take comfort in the fact that I’d asked.

Men who’ve turned me down: The friendship

I knew him very vaguely on Twitter, and we went for drinks. We had a lovely evening chatting, and I totally failed to read any of his ‘no, thanks’ signals, because I am a fool. When I texted him the next day he gave me the most honest, straightforward ‘no’ I’ve ever had, and it was lovely. Something like ‘you’re a lovely girl, but I just don’t fancy you. I had fun though, so shall we be mates?’

I’d like to say it made me better at reading signals, but I don’t think it did. However it did let me experience what I always thought would be the harshest rejection, in the nicest possible way. I was online dating at the time, and I’d heard (and offered) excuses ranging from the practical (“You’re in zone 6 and it takes too long to get to your house”) to the bizarre (“You remind me too much of my ex and I can’t deal with that right now”). These excuses are all usually there to mask the awkward truth: I just don’t fancy you.

I always thought that to hear it straight out would hurt, but I was surprised to find it didn’t. Perhaps because he was such a nice bloke, or because I had nothing riding on it other than a vague desire to shag him. Either way, though, it was refreshing to get the most honest answer, and learn that it wouldn’t break me.

We still see each other around occasionally, and it’s always nice to say hi.

Men who’ve turned me down: The almost-disaster

This one happened at University – I’d gone out with a flatmate and we got wobbly drunk. The kind of drunk you only get when there’s a deal on cheap cocktails and a deal on shots and you can’t decide which to do so you have both. Every round.

He was with another bloke, and both of them were much older than we were. Old enough that they stood out, on a Thursday night at a student-heavy nightclub. She asked them to buy her drinks and I helped hold her hair back while she was sick in the toilet.

The oldest guy – forty five, maybe – was leering and stood far too close. His eyes were all over my friend and his wallet was open and eager to give her more of what she asked for. I chatted to the younger guy and he explained that his ‘friend’ was actually his boss. He tried to keep the look of disgust from his face, but failed. Horribly.

When it came time for us to leave, Boss offered to pay for a cab to get us home. This was an offer we should have refused – not least because my mate was vomiting in roughly fifteen-minute intervals, and it was touch-and-go whether we’d make it home before the next explosion of pink-cocktail sick. But Boss insisted. And he continued to insist, and although his mate tried to just give us £10 for the fare, Boss bundled my friend into a taxi before I knew what was happening, so me and Other Guy leapt in too and I gave the taxi driver the name of our halls.

By the time we got back, I was convinced that we’d got into a weird ‘this one’s yours, that one’s mine’ situation. I thought Other Guy would take me, while his creepy Boss fucked my drunk friend. So I leant in to kiss him.

“No,” he said, firmly, pushing my shoulders away.




“Because you’re drunk.”

I think that was the first time I’d ever been turned down for being drunk. It’s not the only time by a long shot, but when I was nineteen it had never occurred to me that ‘because you’re drunk’ would be a reason to turn someone down. On the contrary – drunkenness had usually been good enough reason for some twats to take advantage.

He eventually managed to steer Boss outside, and heave his drunken arse into another taxi. I pushed my number into his hand, and the next day he texted me to check that my friend was OK.

For a week or so I waited – hoping he’d text again to arrange a date. A sober date, where we could chat and flirt and joke. It wasn’t until years later that I realised he’d never intended to sleep with me. He was only there to make sure his Boss didn’t fuck my friend.

So when people tell me that guys will fuck anyone, or that rejection is inherently awful, I think of these blokes, as well as the countless others who’ve told me ‘no’ for various reasons. Rejection hurts, for sure, and I’d never want to diminish someone else’s sadness if they’ve been turned down. I just wanted to highlight, for the sake of honesty, that I’ve had quite a bit of rejection too. And sometimes, despite desperately wanting a ‘yes’, I realise that ‘no’ was the best possible answer.


  • south coast fan says:

    Thank you for this post – sometimes a bit of unsolicited advice is just what’s needed, and I have to confess I have sometimes thought ‘GOTN must be made of magical, constantly-being-said-yes-to stuff, unlike the loser stuff I’m made from,’ so it’s reassuring to know (even though you’ve never said otherwise) that you’ve experienced rejection too.
    I’m in a happy relationship now, but the times I’ve misread an ‘I like you’ signal as an ‘I’d like to get in your pants’ signal still make my guts clench in shame, even years later. Time does make it better, but the Theatre of Shame is still open for business in the middle of the night sometimes.
    And yes, you do learn things from each rejection, even if it’s simply ‘I have survived this one.’
    Thanks for yet another wonderful post. xx

  • The quiet one says:

    Fear of getting a ‘no’ stops me from even asking, which is crazy because that’s automatically a no. Maybe I should just bloody ask rather than waiting for them!

  • Pat Bateman says:

    Glad I’m not the only person that doesn’t shag anything that moves (I’m pretty sure I’d shag you though…) A LOT of guys can’t grasp it that I’d say no to something that is offered on a plate. Interesting that you encourage women not to wait- a lot of the women that I’ve dated have approached me, so that’s been the norm from 17-26 kinda. Now I’m in my 30s it’s not happening so much and I’m having to step forward more. But thank you for busting apart this particular man myth!

  • I can’t work out if the girl in the cartoon is pissed, or has pissed herself (possibly both).

    Yes, we men can, and do, say no. I have done so on numerous occasions: I was in a relationship, She was in a relationship, I was too drunk, She was too drunk, I just didn’t fancy her, She was a mate and I didn’t want to fuck things up for the sake of a fuck.

    There are as many reasons for not wanting to have sex with someone as there are to want to have sex with them. Women do not have a monopoly on the word “no” (and I’m in no way insinuating that you are insinuating this), and men, contrary to popular myth, can and do use the word.

    At the end of the day, I’ve always believed that, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Yes, ok, so if you do ask, you may still not get, but asking at least turns a sure fire “no” into the possibility of a potential “yes”.

    Sex is, at the end of the day, just sex. Bloody great (sometimes) if you can get it, but not life or death. Rejection is simply an assertion of everyone’s right to say “no”. It can be a “Sorry, no” a simple, straight-forward “no thank you,” or even a “Fuck off! No!” but it’s still just a word. Their may be disappointment, possibly in some situations, even resentment, but it’s not world ending. We live to fuck someone else (or in some strangely bizarre circumstances, the same person) another day.

    I just wish I could reply to your posts without all the pontificatory drivel.

    Anyway, bang on the money as always.


  • Jo says:

    This is brilliant – I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic as of late, as I’ve been sexjected by two guys (one of whom would have been a one-night stand while travelling!) in the past month. It drives me crazy when men say to me, “You’re so lucky you’re a woman – you can bang anyone you want.” Nope – I can’t. You’re right about honesty being the best policy – I’d much rather have someone say to me, “I’m just not into you” than give me a flimsy excuse; when I’m not into someone, I tell them as much, and usually their reaction is positive (thanks for your honesty) rather than defensive.

  • Dan says:

    In my 50s and a guy, I learned “say ‘no’ kindly” in a group workshop; had to in turn ask four women to have sex with me and be told no. Then I got to say no to four who asked me. Wow.

    I later dated a gal some 6x who said on the first date, “If we aren’t planning on doing some serious boot knocking pretty soon, I’m out of here.” We had some very fun times leading up to “no”. She said I was the first man in her life to turn her down for sex. It was a powerful experience for both of us. I still count her a friend.

  • Cheryl says:

    I have ever been rejected for sex. Rejected quite a few guys but have never been on the receiving end. Still I love this discussion. Never thought about it until now.

  • Debbie says:

    At one point in my life, I joined a dating site. I’ve lost count as to the number of men who would openly propositioned me for the more “horizontal” forms of interactions. There was this guy I went on a date with who thought he was way too handsome for me. Told me so even… Something like he would only entertain a friend with benefits, with emphasis on the benefits of course. I supposed that was the one time I got rejected, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As for him, he’ll never know the quality of these “benefits” he would have gotten with me, had he been more chivalric.

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