Is It Just Me, Or Is It Impossible To Be Nice to Guys Without Being Accused Of Leading Them On?

Can guys please let us be polite and friendly to them without instantly thinking we want to have sex with them? Not everything women do is motivated by romantic interest. Deal with it!

I used to be really open and friendly around guys but I feel like I can’t be anymore. My natural state is to be nice and friendly to people. When I was younger, I used to just be myself with everyone I met—men, women, straight or gay. I didn’t realize I was leading anyone on or sending mixed signals. I still don’t think that being nice is doing either of those things, but now I realize some men see it that way.

Men think you’re flirting when you’re only being nice. It can be something as simple as stopping to speak to a guy on the street because you think he’s lost and is asking for directions. It can also be something like laughing at a man’s joke, showing interest in what he’s saying or sitting next to him because you want to have a conversation. Somewhere there must be a self-help book for men that teaches them that anything short of screaming and running away is a potential expression of sexual or romantic interest that needs to be acted upon.

I just assume people are being friendly when they’re nice to me—or at least I did. When I was younger, I made this mistake time and time again, thinking guys were open to, you know, just having a conversation, working together on projects or asking for directions on the street without then asking for your phone number. I’m capable of doing all these things with guys without being interested in sleeping with them, after all.

Can’t you just be nice to someone without wanting something from them?  I hate that I now have to question every guy’s motivation. So many times I thought someone was just being personable when it turns out it was all a lead up to asking me out on a date. Even guys who are meant to be safe (married, attached, way too old to date someone my age) can turn on me unexpectedly. You just can’t trust anyone to take things at face value.

Nowhere’s safe—there’s no situation that protects you from potential romantic misunderstandings. College? The Office? Language class? A store? No matter where you are, unless you’re extremely distant and standoffish, you’re opening yourself up to people getting the wrong idea. Hell, even then you may still be perceived as playing hard to get.

Guys effectively trick you into situations then blame you for leading them on. I’ve been invited to events as part of a group before, only to later find out it was apparently a date. I’ve been stopped on the street to give directions, only to find out it was actually a ploy to get me into a conversation with a guy who then asked for my number. Speaking of giving out a number, I can’t even remember how many times guys tricked me into giving them my phone number for a perfectly valid, non-romantic reason, but then acted as if I knowingly gave them my number as a sign of romantic interest and my willingness to date.

I’ve stopped being friendly to guys in situations when it could be dangerous if it goes wrong. Sadly, as mentioned above, this is pretty much everywhere, all the time. I have to literally consider every word that comes out of my mouth sometimes and judge it in the light of whether or not it can be seen as an invitation to something I don’t actually want. I flat out refuse to give out my number whenever I can and I keep myself as aloof as possible. And yes, I’ve actually made up a fake boyfriend on several occasions and thrown him into the conversation just to create a clear boundary.

I’d rather be thought of as standoffish than have to repel unwanted advances later. I have become far less trusting and I tend to assume the worst whenever a guy approaches me now. I can no longer take a guy’s friendliness at face value even though I’d still like to live in a world where I could. I ignore guys on the street or tell them to leave me alone and I am far more guarded around male colleagues than I used to be. If I can’t set boundaries by any other means, then at least I can do this by being unapproachable.

The only guys I’m perfectly comfortable with are gay. I find that I can only really be myself around guys in general if the guys in question are 100% uninterested in me. Seeing as even married and attached straight guys can turn on you unexpectedly just when you thought you were safe, that only leaves gay guys. As someone who does enjoy male company, I’ve therefore ended up with quite a few gay friends.

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