As women, we’ve all been there. You’re at the bar with your friends when some dude offers to buy you a drink. Sometimes it’s someone super cute you’re actually interested in (if your life is like the movies). More often than not, it’s either a guy skeezing on your group of girls or someone creepy that you definitely don’t want anywhere near your cocktail. Whether you go for it or hard pass, just because he bought you a drink doesn’t mean you owe him anything — that might mean your conversation, your time, or your feigned interest — but know that you can always walk away without repercussions (even if he’s mega rude about it).
- Exchanging money for a drink doesn’t mean exchanging a drink for sex. If you’re exchanging a product (drink) for a favor (chatting, gentle flirtation), it’s not an SAT question that automatically equals going home together. Even if you’re at a bar that’s famous for its Take Me Home Tonight mentality, you can still be happily single and not so ready to mingle.
- If you buy your friend a drink, you don’t expect anything from them. Whether you’re buying a cocktail for your bestie because she had a bad day or grabbing beers for your guy friends during a game, it’s because you feel like it. You wouldn’t expect said best friend to stay out with you when she felt like going home, and you certainly wouldn’t want your platonic male friends to follow you home post-game.
- Life is not a T-Pain song. Despite the fact that T-Pain describes buying a woman a drink with the knowledge that he will then take her home, you’re not the star of a rap video. If you were, you would have better clothes and hair, and you would probably have Drake on speed dial (a girl can dream). Until you’ve mastered booty shaking for an MTV audience, you don’t have to pretend you’re guaranteed a la T-Pain.
- Guys don’t hold all the power. There’s no reason to feel bad about bouncing or try to maintain a conversation that’s very obviously going absolutely nowhere. If you don’t feel comfortable walking away, you have to wonder why you feel like you owe a stranger your time and company.
- If a guy makes you feel bad about not talking to him, you don’t want to hang out with him, anyway. If you walk away mid-convo because you’re just not feeling it and face a loud grunt or an angry harumph, that just confirms that the guy you’re chilling with doesn’t deserve your company. You shouldn’t have to fake anything in your dating life, ever.
- Meeting a boyfriend at a bar isn’t exactly romantic. Even though finding the love of your life at a bar is more romantic than finding him on Tinder, it still isn’t exactly a rom-com worthy meet-cute location. While you might imagine meeting the man of your dreams when you’re sidling up to the bar three vodka sodas deep, the reality is usual guys you definitely don’t want to be talking to… or guys you won’t remember talking to in the morning.
- You would probably rather be hanging out with your girlfriends. Despite what dudes think, if a girl’s at a bar (or even a nightclub) it’s probably not with the intention to meet her one true love. In fact, she’s probably more focused on spending time with the friends she came with than chatting up the Axe covered/Ed Hardy wearing roid-ridden stranger approaching her from behind.
- You don’t actually know what’s in the cocktail you’ve been offered. In college, everyone accepted free drinks because poor students are always looking for cheap — or free — alcohol. Now that you’ve graduated, you probably think twice before consuming a stranger danger beverage that you didn’t have to pay for… or you eagle eye the bartender as he pours it.
- There’s no need to feel obligated to come up with an excuse. Every single girl who has ever spent a night out has mastered the perfect excuse to escape an awkward conversation. There’s the feigned lesbianism, which never really works. There’s “I have a boyfriend,” which just seems to convince creeps to continue creeping. But at the end of the day, it’s not your responsibility to appease an aggressive guy. If you want to walk away and he’s not letting you, it’s not your job to placate him.