I think I can speak for most women when I say we’ve all been in the same awkward, obnoxious situation: some guy has been buying you drinks all night, trying to dance with you or get to know you better. After last call, he tells you he’s ready to head back to his place and you get to break the bad news that you’re not interested. If he’s a good guy, he’ll understand; if he’s not, he’s probably pissed. If the latter’s the case, you seriously dodged a bullet.
A DRINK ISN’T CONSENT. It’s sad that I even have to bring this up, but it needs to be noted. Accepting drinks from a guy at a bar doesn’t equal your consent for sexual content of any kind. I don’t know where some guys got the idea that this is the case, but it’s just not. You’re in a public place mingling with lots of people—there’s not some contract that you belong to him now. Don’t be afraid to stand on that fact, girl.
YOU’RE NOT AN ITEM—YOU CAN’T BE BOUGHT. On to my next point, you’re a person, not an item. You didn’t walk in with a price tag on your forehead and he doesn’t get to lay claim to you just because he spent a little cash at the bar on you. Any decent guy understands that and won’t make you feel obligated to sleep with him or exchange numbers if you really aren’t interested. He doesn’t have a receipt at the end of the night—you get to make your own decisions about what you’re okay with.
YOU DIDN’T COME WITH HIM. Before tonight, you didn’t even know this guy existed. You came on your own terms, with your own people and didn’t make any promises to anyone by giving them the time of day. You barely know him after a few beers, shouting over the DJ and other bar-goers. Getting to know someone is fun, but it can be just that—getting to know someone. You had your own ride here and you have every right to leave the way you came if that’s what you want.
YOU CAN BACK OUT AT ANY TIME. Let’s say this guy buys you some drinks and you dance all night. You get a little carried away and almost feel like you want to leave with him, but when the lights come on and everyone’s taking off, you change your mind. That’s your right. Sure, he’s allowed to be disappointed if things don’t work out, but he’s still not entitled to your body or your heart. Consent has nothing to do with your clothes, how much money he spent on you, or what you said a few hours ago. You always have the right to walk away.
YOU’RE YOUR OWN PERSON. You get to make your own decisions. If some guy buys your drink, you don’t even have to talk to him if it makes you feel uncomfortable. You don’t owe anyone your time because they try to buy their way in. You didn’t ask for him to do that— it’s totally cool to just do your own thing. On the other hand, you can strike up a conversation and let it continue all night if you’re comfortable with him. It really is all up to you.
BUYING YOUR DRINKS IS JUST COURTESY. At the end of the night, guys buying drinks for girls is literally just a courtesy thing. If he wants to try to meet a girl across the room, a good bet is meeting her at the bar and picking up the tab. It’s an opportunity to get your attention and potentially start a conversation, but it was never a guarantee or some kind of payment for interaction. The quicker guys understand that it’s really that simple, the better off we’ll all be. It’s just not that serious.
HE NEEDS TO RESPECT YOU. It doesn’t matter what environment you’re in—church, walking down the street, or in a club—you deserve respect. Just because the room’s dark and your smoky eye makeup is slaying doesn’t mean the expectations changed. You don’t have to take anything less than respect just because of what’s going on around you.
YOU’RE ALLOWED TO STICK TO YOUR BOUNDARIES. If you came into the night just wanting to hang out with your girls and dance, that’s totally cool. It doesn’t matter if there are 10 drinks waiting at your table when you get back—you don’t owe anyone a conversation. You don’t have to change your plans or feel obligated just because someone spent a few dollars on you.
YOU’RE ALLOWED TO HAVE YOUR OWN PREFERENCES. If some guy is trying to talk to you and you’re just not into it, that’s okay. It seems like it’s always the “nice guy” who buys you five drinks while you’re trapped in a conversation, then gets pissed when you walk away. You don’t have to entertain a conversation, a physical encounter or even a smile to anyone because they think they deserve it.
IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY TO GET AWAY FROM THE GUY. Guys who think girls lead them on at the bar probably don’t understand how hard it can be to walk away from an uncomfortable conversation. I know I’ve spent plenty of time having a conversation with some guy looking for my polite way out and it never comes. Why do they think we have friends to stand on the side and grab us when there’s no way out of a doomed conversation? It’s not always easy to just say bye and leave, but you absolutely can and should do it.
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