We’ve all been there. You’re in a bar, at a party, walking down the street, and a man (or woman!) approaches you and starts up a conversation. The only thing is, you have a nagging feeling that they’re flirting with you, and while you might be flattered, you’re taken. How can you tell them that you’re taken without seeming rude or presumptuous?
The problem is that most of us don’t want to assume anything about the other person’s intentions for stopping and talking to us. What if they really just wanted to stop and talk? What if we’re just reading all the messages wrong? What if by telling them “I’m taken,” we’re coming across as completely conceited? It’s hard to know! The struggle is very real. So, in an effort to save face and manage this sometimes awkward social situation, here’s how you can indicate that you’re taken without being a total bitch about it.
Continue the conversation in a friendly manner.
Keep the conversation light, but completely in the friend zone. Make a conscious effort not to flirt back, but simply carry the conversation on as you would with anyone you’re simply friendly with.
Make sure that he/she really is flirting.
What about the way they’re talking to you is flirty? Read the body language and listen to what they’re saying. When you have enough signals that they’re flirting with you, it’ll be easier to rationalize how you came to that conclusion when you’re explaining yourself to them later on.
Bring up your boyfriend/girlfriend in casual conversation.
If you can, bring up your partner in the conversation. A simple, “Oh, my boyfriend loves soccer, too!” can make all the difference to dissipate any awkwardness that might have been developing.
If you’ve got a ring on it, flaunt it.
If you have a ring on your finger, make sure that you use your left hand more. Most of us are right-handed, so this usually has to be a conscious effort. Pick up your glass with your left hand, lean your head on your left hand, push your hair back with your left hand. They may very well pick up on the hint without you ever having to say a word.
Call your boyfriend/girlfriend over to meet this person.
If you’ve managed to keep the conversation friendly up until now but haven’t had the opportunity to do any of the above, you may be able to call your boyfriend/girlfriend over to you if they’re in close proximity. Introduce the flirtatious friend to your boyfriend, and they’re bound to get the hint. (Giving your partner a kiss or two on the cheek helps, too!)
Clear the air and explain to them how you feel.
There are bound to be times when you’re in this kind of social situation where there was no casual time to mention your significant other, no ring on your finger to flash, and your boyfriend is nowhere to be seen. In this case, you want to clear the air with the person you’re talking with before it gets too far and you feel really uncomfortable.
Let them know that your interpretation of the conversation is only an opinion.
When you’re telling your flirtatious companion that you’re uncomfortable with the way things are headed, make sure to let them know that it’s just how you interpreted things and that you might be wrong. This gives them room to back out of it, deny that that was their intention, or apologize without feeling offended or embarrassed. A simple, “Excuse me, I know that we’re just chatting, but you’ve done XYZ and I’m starting to think you might be flirting with me. I just wanted to let you know I actually have a boyfriend/girlfriend already!” can go a long way!
Soften the blow by taking the compliment.
If you’ve had a great time talking with them and if things were different, you might be interested in them, be honest about that. Sometimes being hit on is a huge confidence boost, so tell them that you were super complimented, anyway!
Get a wingman/woman.
If you’ve tried everything else, or if nothing else is appropriate, calling your best wingman/woman over will help ease the tension. And, if you’re lucky, your wingwoman and him might hit it off! Win-win!
Pull them aside and put your foot down.
If the above hasn’t worked yet and they’re still being persistent, pull them aside and respectfully tell them to stop. “I thought I made myself clear, but maybe I haven’t. I really don’t feel comfortable with you touching me/hugging me, etc.” This kind of intervention is still polite and respectful, but it’s more direct and leaves the other person with no excuse for continuing the behavior.
If all else fails, make a scene.
If everything has failed, and they’re still being persistent with you, it’s time to drop the polite act and call them out. This can be nerve wrecking, but at this point if they’re still flirting with you, they’re being a creep and deserve what they get. Simply call out their behavior loud enough for others to hear. Make a scene and make them embarrassed by their actions. Then, if you can, get some space between the two of you and try to stay with friends for the rest of the night.
Be polite if you can, but always be safe and alert others if you feel uncomfortable.
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