Kulani Nkuna
3 minute read
8 May 2014
7:00 am

Men: Know when to walk away

Kulani Nkuna

It is not unheard for gentlemen to declare their undying love for a lady they have just met on the street.

NOT INTERESTED. In most cases men take rejection from women as an invitation to try harder. Picture: Alaister Russell.

Back in the day, it was the norm for men to get straight to the point, saying “I love you, and I want you to be my girlfriend,” to a prospective wife. This was not necessarily frowned upon then, but these days such an approach often results in derision on the part of the person on the receiving end of such a declaration.

And if the lady fancies the lad, she might be inclined to make light of the situation and say something along the lines of, “What exactly do you love about me?” or “You don’t know me, yet you say you love me.” Things were easier back then, but these days the standard for courtship has been set by film and television and it is to those standards that ladies adhere.

While men will always make advances toward the opposite sex, a simple “No, I’m not interested” does not suffice anymore, as these self-styled romantic heroes do give up easily anymore. At many weddings, grooms tell stories of how their bride rejected them when they first approached her.

Many women have had to find creative ways to rejecting suitors. It can get tricky, because sometimes it may be a colleague or friend who is professing their love, so fending them off needs to happen without feelings getting hurt.

Johannesburg resident Nolwazi Semane handled a persistent “prince” rather abruptly.

“A guy kept asking me out over and over, for months,” she says.

“I kept saying that I was not interested, but he did not listen to me. He asked me to give him a chance, and so I decided to finally do so. One day I agreed to go out on a date with him. The following day he came to see me, acting all lovey-dovey. I told him we had to end things. He asked me why, and I told him I had given him the chance that he wanted, so it was over. He still hates me for it. That was the only way I could get him off my back because other methods were failing.”

In some instances, men view rejection as a challenge and are not perturbed by news that the object of their desire has a partner, as Snenhlanhla Sithole found out.

“I usually say I have a boyfriend, but in most cases that doesn’t work,” Sithole laments.

“The moment you say you’re involved, it’s like you’re giving the guy more hope than he would have if you didn’t have a boyfriend. It also feels like they are not interested in you if you don’t have a boyfriend, and this can get rather annoying.”

Portia Mashile agrees with Sithole’s sentiments.

“I’m always honest and tell the guy I’m not interested,” she says.

“But for some reason, that always seems like an invitation for them to try even harder. I have not seen a guy just walk away after I have told him that I’m not keen. They assume all of us want to be chased around or that we play hard to get.”

Patriarchal systems come into play, as many of these advances are about a display of masculinity. It is a narrative of being a better man than the next, and the need to conquer, which is ingrained from an early age. Some suitors even promise to deliver the impossible in an attempt to address their emasculation or resort to name-calling in order to deal with their inadequacy.

“Some guys don’t handle rejection very well,” continues Sithole.

“So they will resort to calling you names, and say things like, ‘You are not that beautiful anyway or you think that your are better than everybody.’ Or they’ll tell people that you sleep around, just because you were not interested in them. There are also guys that just don’t know how to give up. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them that you are not interested – they will continue asking you out, and promising you airplanes when they don’t even own a bicycle.”