Getting consent is a pretty big deal when it comes to dating. It’s not just about sex; it’s also about not continuing to intrude in where you’re not wanted. That’s why there’s always a lot of interest in trying to turn a “no” into a “yes”.
The problem is, trying to change someone’s mind is, in and of itself, a dubious topic and one that should be viewed with skepticism. When you advocate that somebody’s “no” doesn’t actually mean “no”, you’re going to piss a lot of people off. And rightly so. We already have issues with men not understanding (or ignoring) consent and who’re apparently cool with rape as long as you don’t call it rape. Throwing advice out there that suggests a “no” is something that you can ignore or that a “no” is a “yes” in disguise is disgusting at best and something deserving table-flipping rage in general.
Naturally, I have a lot of thoughts on this. So today, we’re going to talk about trying to turn a no into a yes and what it means to obtain consent.
On July 28, Men’s Fitness published – and then deleted – an article by Nick Savoy, a dating coach and founder1 of Love Systems, a school for pick-up artists. The article, entitled “How To Turn A ‘No’ Into A ‘Yes'”, purported to teach men how to reverse a rejection, whether at the bar, on a date or when you’ve gotten her home.
(In the spirit of full disclosure: I was a Love Systems née Mystery Method student at the start of my time in the pick-up scene.)
One of the key components of Savoy’s advice in the column is to “plow ahead” – that is, to ignore the initial no as though you didn’t hear it.
For example: Savoy teaches that when a woman at the bar rejects you, then you should just keep at it. Either you ignore her clear signs of disinterest by continuing to run your mouth or you start mocking her instead:
The theory in this case is that women want a guy who’ll work to show how much they want her. In one of Savoy’s examples, a student picked up a lingerie model because “he didn’t give up too easily”. In PUA circles, many believe that women “test” men by rejecting them, being rude or making demands. Supposedly, this is to make make men demonstrate their value. In fact, a lot of PUA theory focuses on breaking down “bitch shields” and passing “shit tests” – where women supposedly see what men will do to gain their approval. Many PUA instructors teach their clients to ignore that initial rejection as a test rather than a “real” rejection. Women say “no”, but what they really mean is “convince me” – whether it’s at the bar or in bed.
The assumption, of course, is that women lie. Or – in a more charitable reading – that women don’t know what they actually want. It’s supposedly on men need to “show” them. It’s a nifty bit of rationalization, because it eliminates the possibility that a woman actually means what she’s saying.
This, in turn, gives men almost blanket permission to “change” her mind. You’re not ignoring her consent, you just know better than her.
And when you know better, then suddenly everything’s on the table.
All’s Fair (In Getting Your Dick Wet)
The other recurring theme in Savoy’s advice is emotional manipulation. For example: Savoy’s way to salvage a bad date is to reach an emotional high-point… and then leave abruptly. Why? By making your dramatic exit when she assumed everything was going well, you’re making her wonder what she did wrong.
Similarly, Savoy teaches that when a woman doesn’t want to have sex with you then you need to mock her insecurities. Why? Because in theory, you’re addressing her fears without directly addressing them. Actual quote time:
The solution is to slip something in conversation – a Love Systems technique we call storytelling “embedding” – that communicates the point without it being about you. Ideally, this will be done before the objection (and prevent the objection from occurring). For example, you can gently tease with “Oh no…we can’t do this…[she asks why]…you’re going to be the ‘what are we?’ girl aren’t you? We’ll have to talk 55 times a day about what we are now..” She’ll deny that she is, and you’ve communicated that you’re not looking for a relationship.
That’s not sub-communicating that you’re not looking for a relationship, that’s making fun of them. It’s just negging, only now you’re in the bedroom instead of the bar. It’s deflecting a not-unreasonable concern by making it about her being wrong. Instead of reassuring her that you’re on the same page, you’re applying social pressure for her to not live up to the stereotype of the clingy girl.
In fact, much of PUA strategy uses social pressure to “change” a woman’s mind. “Classic” techniques like the “freeze out” are designed to play on the social pressure for women to “be nice”. Women are frequently taught to “go along to get along”. They’re socialized to be more considerate to men’s feelings than their own. By giving her the silent treatment or otherwise signaling your “disappointment”, you push her to give in – even when she doesn’t want to.
“Don’t Care. Had Snoo-Snoo”
At it’s core, the desire to overcome a woman’s “no” has less to do with seduction and more to do with getting what you want. That attitude of “got to get mine” comes through over and over again in Savoy’s article. Take this line from the article:
Let’s say you’re at a bar or club or somewhere where it’s unreasonable for a woman to get upset if a man approaches to make conversation.
The entitlement of that sentence is astounding. While the social contract at bars and clubs says approaches are part of the scene, that doesn’t translate to an automatic acceptance of all comers. People can talk to or reject anyone they choose. Would it be nice if she gave you a chance? Sure. It’d also be nice if I won the Powerball.
“Nice” isn’t the same as “must”. Her presence at the scene doesn’t obligate her (or anyone else) to be receptive to your approach. Not everyone goes to the bar or club to hook up. Someone who’s having a girl’s night out isn’t going to want to be bothered by thirsty dudes. As hard as it is to believe, women do go out dressed to kill for their own enjoyment and that of their friends. It’s fun to dress up sharp, even when you’re not looking to hook up.
Similarly, there’s any number of reasons why your approaching a woman may annoy her. She might be having a bad day. You may look like her asshole ex. You may be the sixteenth guy to bother her that night. All of these are perfectly legitimate reasons to not want to talk to you. Yes, you aren’t like those other guys. She just doesn’t give a shit, nor is it her responsibility to give you a chance.
Those social pressure techniques like the freeze-out also prioritize getting laid right then. It has nothing to do with wanting to “help” a woman overcome her own reluctance and everything to do with getting what the PUA wants. His entitlement to sex trumps reasons why she might not want to have sex right then. That, in turn, gives him blanket permission to do whatever it takes to get there. Playing mind games is cool because it’s (theoretically) in the name of “helping”. After all, according to Savoy:
Some women don’t want to feel easy, so by resisting at first, they won’t subject themselves to as much internalized judgment as otherwise.
Pressuring someone into consenting to something they don’t actually want isn’t “helping”, no matter what fig-leaf you put over it. Is there a lot of sex-shaming of women in the culture? Fuck yes there is. Trying to blame someone’s “internalized judgement” for not wanting to touch your penis, on the other hand, is self-justifying bullshit. Someone can be sex positive and confident in their sexuality and still not want to fuck that night.
Let’s be honest: waiting until the next date won’t make the sex not happen. Giving her more time to be ready won’t devalue the sex when it does happen. This has less to do with winning her over despite her reluctance and everything about not having to wait. This isn’t skillfully seducing her, it’s annoying her until she sleeps with you to make you shut up.
(This, incidentally, is a great way to make sure that you won’t see her again, even if she does sleep with you.)
Overcoming Rejection At The Bar
So with all that being said, let’s talk a little about some practical issues. When you’re doing cold approaches, whether at the bar or during the day, you’re going to get a lot of rejections. It’s the nature of the beast.
There will always be people who, for whatever reason, are just not going to like you. There isn’t anything you can do about that. But there is still the question of whether or not you can turn a “no” into a “yes”.
A better question would be “why is it so important?” Trying to get one specific person at the bar to the exclusion of all others tends to be a waste of your energy. It’s a question of effort vs. reward. The amount of time and effort it takes to change someone who doesn’t like you into being neutral towards you is immense. You’re coming in with major disadvantages; for all intents and purposes, you’re trying to catch up to a runner who had a minute head start while dragging an 80lb tire behind you. Trying to change her to being interested is even harder. You have to ask yourself: are you willing to give up time you could be spending meeting other people on the very, very low chance that you might get her to not actively dislike you? Is that truly the best use of your time and energy?
You’re allowing yourself to get hung up on one person while ignoring that there are other people who are just as amazing and are also compatible with you. The best option you have in a cold approach situation is to take the “no” and walk away. 9 times out of 10, trying to change her mind is only going to piss her off – the opposite of what you want. Being able to take rejection with grace, will be an advantage, especially during the daytime.
If you’re well socially calibrated, you can try touching base again later on. If the rejection was less about you and more about circumstance, you may have a second chance to try again. Otherwise: your time is better spent looking for someone who wants you to approach her.
While yes, rejection hurts, trying to turn it around becomes an exercise in ego more than skill or seduction. Take the example of the Victoria’s Secret model in Savoy’s article; trying to win her over becomes less about her as a person and far more about the prestige of banging an underwear model. If that’s your goal, then more power to you… but own it and recognize that frequent rejection is part of the ticket to entry. It’s better to spend that time becoming someone a model would want to fuck in the first place than trying to win her over after she shoots you down. Even if that specific person shoots you down, you’ve put yourself in a place to have far more options than you had before.
Are there women who want guys to push past a no? I’m sure there are. But ask yourself: why, exactly, would you want to reward that sort of games-playing behavior? People who play head-games and then get upset you didn’t realize it was a game deserve to get a hard pass.
Yes, No and Obtaining Consent In Bed
One of the major mistakes in the Love Systems approach is prioritizing sex right then and there. Savoy’s article teaches tricks to overcome what he calls “last-minute resistance”2 . The problem with this is that women who give “last minute resistance” isn’t that they don’t want to have sex. Women in general are more open to casual sex or one-night stands when the sex would be worth it. But for whatever reason, she has decided that the sex wouldn’t be worth it right then. She may be on her period. She be feeling gross. She may not feel safe with you yet. She may not feel emotionally ready. Or she may just not be horny enough to sleep with someone she doesn’t know well yet.
Treating her objection as an obstacle to be overcome instead of a reason to wait, however, is a pretty good sign that she’s right to not sleep with you. The guy who doesn’t have the patience or wisdom to wait for the next date is giving off every sign that he’s a lousy lover. Being patient and understanding has never cost someone sex. And frankly, if it did, then he or she dodged a bullet.
I have had plenty of dates that came close to sex but decided against it at the last minute. Almost every time, it happened on the very next date. Sometimes without even leaving the house.
Plus, there’s a lot to be said, on the other hand, for antici….
What about the women who want to be taken or overruled? In a post 5o Shades of Grey world, does “no” really mean “no”?
Yes. Yes it fucking well does. Savoy and others may talk about inebriated young things who want a stranger to rip their clothes off and take them in a manly fashion. You may as well talk about the Loch Ness Monster; everyone talks about it, but nobody has actually seen it. Active, enthusiastic consent is too important – more so than a porn-inspired fantasy. It’s too easy to misread the signs, and the consequences of being wrong are too damn high. That’s why people who act out rape fantasies or power exchange plan out the scene ahead of time and use pre-arranged safe-words. Even women who engage in bondage and discipline aren’t going to play power exchange games with someone they don’t know and trust very well. If some young ingenue wants her date to rip her clothes off, she can damn well signal that ahead of time.
And even then, she can change her mind when the moment arrives.
Another thing about consent is that consent is granular. A woman may consent to certain activities but not others. Too many men see any form of sexual contact as the beginning of a landslide. If any sort of sexual activity happens, they treat it as an inevitable slide towards penetration and get pissy when it doesn’t. This is what we in the biz call “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” A woman may not be down for penetration that night, but would be into oral sex or mutual masturbation… especially if the guy would treat it like a “win” instead of a consolation prize. Expanding your definition of “sex” expands the list of activities that she may well consent to, even if she’s not up for penis-in-vagina action.
The last thing to remember is that overcoming her objections (or “last minute resistance”) avoiding a “no” misses the point. Trying to challenge her objections doesn’t change her mind or make her more aroused. All it does is add more pressure to the situation. Similarly, trying to overwhelm her “no” with increased stimulation and arousal is less likely to help than you’d realize. In fact, that’s a good way to ensure someone feels awkward and uncomfortable afterwards. That’s not changing her mind, nor is that seduction. That’s just pressure and manipulation.
Asking how to change a “no” to a “yes” is asking the wrong question. You don’t want to need to change her mind. You aren’t trying to overcome her objections, you want to create an environment where she won’t have them. By alleviating anxiety, helping her feel relaxed, secure and safe, you’ll be getting an unambiguous and excited “yes”.