On Women Having no In-between


I am in the midst of saying goodbye and catching up with friends, old and new. This past week has been strange… it’s almost like I have been sitting hunched up in a corner for the past year.  Now as I find the strength and will to become a bit more social, I am smiling at my interactions with old friends that just feel the same way they did back in the day.

But this is not one of those waxing philosophical posts, this post is is about something I helped a friend realize.  I have a friend who is like a little brother to me… I love him!  (and not in that way) a few years my junior, we clicked as two of the few black people traversing a very brown Arab World and white world in terms of the Arabic-language learning community. We would make the conscious decision to not sit together all the time (becuase even when we didn’t, we still got the accusative why are you two [black people] always together?) People would even confuse us with each other! (even though he is Male and I am and female)… but I digress.

My friend thought he had found the ONE… the woman who checked every box on his list: Educated at an elite university, same religious background, similar social views… the list goes on and on.  Naturally he pursued her in the respectful way that my little bro knows how. He invited her to events, send her emails and texts… In short he made it known that he was interested.

Unfortunately his lady friend did not respond.  She didn’t reject him. But she didn’t really respond in the way he would have liked.  My friend pursued this woman for the better part of a year and was still exasperated.

Yup… she’s probably just not interested…

I tried to explain to him that I wish we had been in contact.  I could have told him at about month 2 to quit his losses because “she’s just not that into you.”  He is getting that now, but was still perturbed at the way his lady love responded…

“Why didn’t she just tell me she is not interested,” he wondered.

It’s probably NOT because she’s a drama queen… probably…

I had to break it down for him:  Women have no in-between.  When fending off a suitor whom we would rather not deal with, we always have to walk a fine line. We can either be very direct and say “NO, I DO NOT WANT TO DATE YOU!” or bust.

what is bust?  bust is the problem that silence equals consent, even here in Western society (I am surprised at times at how people talk about the phenomenon elsewhere, without acknowledging its real existence here).  Bust is that women are socialized to be calm, demure, and intensely aware of other people’s (read: men’s) feelings.

My mind went to two situations in particular when I was stuck. When I was Egypt, I blogged about this issue, how men just assumed I was striving for the shy girl ideal when I didn’t return their advances.

Just a few weeks ago, I blogged about how I had to be firm with a Romeo from the past.

Interestingly, when I relayed these events to a male friend, his reaction was this: Ouch! … what?…I felt like I had to be direct or else this guy would not get the picture.  But somehow, I ended up looking like a mean girl? ha ha…At any rate, I  explained these situations to my friend and he got it.  It clicked for him and he thanked me for helping him see why this lady reacted the way she did.

More guys need to realize this…sigh

I was happy to hep bring some of my elucidated perspectives to a friend in need of some. The conversation got me thinking on personal level as well.  I am headed back to a place where silence is akin to consent in many situations. It’s going to be interesting to navigate the male-female dynamics of the Arab World yet again, but this time as grown woman, working woman and member of a sizeable ex-pat community.

Khair inshAllah!



3 thoughts on “On Women Having no In-between

  1. Mmm…

    I think it’s one part socialization and another part…we women needing to be more direct. There’s nothing cute about leading a guy on for the better part of a year who is obviously interested in you. Have I been guilty of not being direct? Yes. Continuing to talk to a man who you know is into you while knowing that you are not interested is not being nice or guarding his feelings. Letting him down right away and letting him get on with his life is the best for either. The best response would be for her to say that she’s not interested, clarify that, and cut contact. If you want to just be friends, then say so and let the man respond accordingly…he may not want to be friends with you.

    Nobody likes to be left guessing. Women certainly don’t. So instead of having to pour over books about signs of him not being into us, let’s pay it forward by doing our part to be more direct in these interactions, especially when they involve prolonged interactions.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir but I just feel like we should stop excusing ourselves for these silly things we (of either gender) do.

    Now, those who accost you in the street with advances…that’s more challenging to be direct and not then be subject to aggression.

    Safe travels! Excited to read what you can post about them!

    • Liz

      I agree, but I think the problem here is that being direct is seen as “bitchy.” I can’t speak to this scenario in particular, but anecdotally, I know many instances in which a woman was politely direct and was consequently attacked (verbally). I think this is where the idea of “having no in-between” comes from. It’s perception rather than reality that is the issue. Women are seen as either shy and demure or toxic villains.

    • gazelledusahara

      My point is what Liz said, I am willing to give this girl the benefit of the doubt… she wanted to turn him down, but felt pressure to do it in a “nice” way. I think men are trained/socialized to think that unless she is kicking and screaming, then she is totally open. Maybe she is shy, maybe she is playing hard to get, but she is open.

      You make a good point Chinyere… about cutting contact. But what if you like a guy or girl as a person, but don’t want anything to with them romantically. How do you cut contact with a great person, who just isn’t your idea of a great mate?

      The problem is that when you like someone, you totally interpret everything they do differently. I’ve had my run-ins with the good, bad and ugly type of dude to kind of know the difference… I’m more keenly aware of bs even when it seems to smell like roses (cause Outkast said that Roses really smell like boo boo…ha ha)…

      and I agree Chinyere, that you’re right, there is so much out there that makes each sex think it’s counterpart is an utter enigma. A lot of it has to do with companies trying to sell us crap (like women’s magazines) but some of it is the way we are socialized.

      But as for me, I have chosen to stop being polite and start being real… ha ha…. Who knows what God has in store for me… but I’m here, so here I go…

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