Question: Last Saturday at a bar I had some guy hitting on me, but I wasn’t interested. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I didn’t want to talk with him for one more second and he was nottaking a hint. Help — what's the polite way to ditch someone?
Answer: Mr. Manners remembers when he worried about this problem — “back in the day,” before the Internet and all those dating apps that let us ignore unwanted winks, pings, or pokes. (Giving the cold shoulder to those digital come-ons is perfectly fine “e-tiquette,” by the way.) Still, I understand that some of you kids still go to clubs and meet people by actually speaking to them first. Such risky business!
Let me start with some un-approved ways to handle a bore — or a boor.
• Don’t tell him (or her) that you’re going to the restroom or to get another cocktail and that “you’ll be right back” when you have no intention of coming back at all. That’s just rude, for starters, and it may not even work, since he may walk with you, offer to get you that next drink, or seek you out again later, leaving you with your barnacle still attached.
• Don’t say that you have rabies, scabies, or some dreaded STD, especially when you don’t. Word travels fast and that could end your chances with anyone else that evening.
If you don’t want to be a complete boor yourself, try these slightly more politic strategies:
• “Thank you so much for your interest, but I am involved with my spirituality at this time and self-reflection.” (They will run from you!)
• Pretend to see someone you know on the other side of the bar, make a faux wave, and say, “Oh, excuse me,” and don't wait for a response, just walk away with your drink. That’s a classic brush-off.
• Casually mention that you have a boyfriend or partner, even if you don’t. That should do the trick (unless he’s interested in a three-way). If he’s still breathing down your neck, you’ll have to add, “And we're 100% monogamous.”
• If you’ve been watching Veep, this one is for you: Pretend that you’ve got a text or phone call from a friend (the Julia Louis-Dreyfus character is always taking fake calls from the president as a way to squirrel out of a tight situation) and start chatting, giving your pal the “go-away nod.”
• A high-tech variant of the previous option: Sign up for FakeGirlfriend.com and when the need arises, text your fake girl and “she” responds in a few minutes. Then you can say, “Oh, that’s my girlfriend telling me she’ll be here soon!” (Works for guys too.)
Finally, some two-thumbs-up ways to end the encounter:
How about being straightforward, which is not necessarily the same as being brutally honest? That way you don’t have to worry about keeping your story straight, going outside to smoke when you don’t smoke, or inventing a fake dental emergency.
• “You seem very nice, but I'm really just here to hang out with my friends,” or “I’m very flattered, but I'm not really looking for anything – or anyone — tonight.”
• “I’ve enjoyed talking with you, but I’m going to walk around a bit” or, in the same vein, “I don’t want to take up too much of your time. It’s been nice sharing a drink with you.” (See how considerate you are!)
• Talk endlessly about your work, which should give them a clue that you’re not interested — or bore them to tears. One of my Facebook fans added, “That usually makes the ladies walk away from me, especially because I slaughter farm animals for a job.” (I think she really does.)
What are your bar stories? Let’s hear them below in the comment field. Happy hunting.
STEVEN PETROW is The Advocate’s manners columnist and author of Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners and can be found online at www.gaymanners.com. or contact him on Facebook and Twitter. Got a question? Email Steven at email@example.com.