Whether to accept or refuse a date is not as clear-cut as it might seem at first glance. Many young women have questions regarding whether they should accept a specific invitation and how they should refuse if it is necessary. Girls are especially eager to find some way of refusing a date without hurting the feelings of the boy involved. Even if she doesn’t care to date him at all, it’s still a good idea for her to decline the invitation in such a way that the boy will not feel hurt. If you’re rude or inconsiderate of a young man’s feelings, the word gets about. Other young men whom you might like to date may hesitate to call you because of a fear that you’ll be rude to them too.
If you would like to accept a date but have a previous commitment, you will want to find some way of letting the boy know that you would really like to go out with him. If you just say you’re sorry that you can’t make it, the boy may decide you don’t want to date him at all. So you refuse this invitation and yet let the boy know that you would be interested some other time.
Even accepting a date can be complicated. How can you let Steve know that you’re very happy to go out with him without seeming overeager? How can you show him that you’re sincerely interested in going with him, and not just using him as a free ticket to an event? Your attitude when accepting or refusing a date can greatly influence boys in giving future invitations.
One of the first problems that girls face when receiving an invitation is whether or not they should (or can) accept. If you have a previous engagement for that night, there’s no question—you must refuse. If you have that night free, here are some factors to consider before accepting a date.
STOP TO INVESTIGATE
If a boy you have never dated before invites you out, you may have many questions which you’d like answered before giving him your reply. Even if you know the boy well, it’s a good idea to get a thorough understanding of what the date entails before accepting his invitation. Before accepting any date, here are some things you would do well to consider.
First of all, what do you know about the boy? Have you been out with him before? Did he prove to be trustworthy in getting you home when promised? It’s not fun to be on a date and spend the evening worrying about your escort. If you’re not sure that this particular young man can be trusted, the date won’t be a very happy one.
Girls just starting to date will want to be particularly careful. If the boys they go out with are much older or much more experienced, situations may arise that they’re not prepared to handle. Awkward moments develop if a boy expects more of his date than she is able and willing to give. The girl may actually be in physical danger if the boy does not respect her values.
If you do not personally know the boy who’s requesting a date, what do you know about him? Have you heard good things about him through the grapevine? Do you know someone who is familiar enough with him to give you an opinion? If he’s not the type of person you would feel comfortable dating, your answer to his invitation is clear. If you like him as a person, or would like to know him better, you may want to consider some other things before deciding.
“I Know Where I’m Going”
The place you’re invited to makes a difference. If the invitation is for a function at school, church, community center, or Y, you can feel comfortable in accepting the invitation. A movie or a sports event can also be lots of fun. If, however, the invitation is to a place that you know nothing or little about, you might feel better if you found out about it before giving your answer. Public dance halls, places where alcohol is served, and parties at homes where you do not know the hostess can be hazardous. Find out as much as you can about the place you are invited to before you accept. If you can’t find out by yourself, ask your parents or your house mother. They will probably know whether or not it is the type of place for you.
Check and Double Check
If you are asked out on a double date, it will help if you know something about the other couple. Are they the kind of people you will have fun with? Are they also interested in avoiding embarrassing situations? If you have heard unpleasant things about this other couple, you might want to avoid the date. Likewise, if you have been asked to a party at the house of someone you don’t know, you may want to check on a few things before accepting. What kind of party is it likely to be? Will there be adults present? Regardless of how carefully a party is planned, things can get out of hand if there is no adult around to help out.
A Matter for Discussion
You may be very eager to accept a date. You may like the boy very much, and the place and people promise to be fun.
Yet it’s sometimes necessary to turn down an invitation, despite the fact that you would love to accept. If your parents disapprove, you’ll have to decline the invitation regardless of other favorable factors. In such a case you might discuss the matter with your parents to find out just how they feel. If they think you are too young for regular dates, they might be willing to have you attend parties and school functions. Try to find out ahead of time just what their attitude is so that you will not be embarrassed or disappointed later.
A PROMISE IS A PROMISE
Even as a young adult, there will be occasions when you’ll have to refuse invitations. If you’re not feeling well, you’ll have to give a “some other time” answer. If you have already made a previous engagement, you will have to decline this one, enticing as it may be. If you have promised to baby-sit, and an invitation to something you would much rather do comes along, it’s hard to refuse, but you have no alternative. If Bill invites you to a school dance, but you have already promised to go with Fred, whom you don’t like as well, it’s a great temptation to break the prior date. In the long run, however, you will find it pays off to keep your promises, even if it means missing out occasionally on something you would like to do.
WITH GOOD REASON
If you feel that you must turn down an invitation, you are faced with the problem of how to refuse without hurting the boy’s feelings. Here are some tips that may help:
When there is a specific reason why you cannot accept an invitation, it’s a good idea to explain if possible. A boy will appreciate your being frank and honest about how you feel.
If you have a previous engagement for that evening, it is better to say so than to give a simple “No” answer.
You may have a very good reason for refusing, but unless you tell the boy what it is, he is liable to get the idea that you would rather not date him at all. It may be that you want to go out with the boy some other time; then it’s especially important to give him the right impression. If you can’t go out —for a personal reason you would rather not explain—try to refuse in a manner which will not hurt the boy’s feelings. If you don’t care what this boy feels toward you, you may still find that his reaction will influence the other boys. If you are gracious and courteous in refusing, he’ll communicate that to other boys.
Sometimes you may feel embarrassed about giving the reason. If you feel uncomfortable telling a boy that you’re just not up to horseback riding, tell him that you can’t join him today but you’d love to some other time. The boy should catch on from what you do say and be satisfied. Sometimes, however, boys are persistent in demanding an explanation. This discourtesy need not confuse you if you are prepared for it. If he demands an explanation, just say politely that you’re sorry you simply cannot go this time, but maybe next week. Then begin to talk about something else that might interest him. Or better still, suggest some other type of activity in which you could participate. If he rises to the bait, you’ll have a date!
Occasionally, there is no reason for refusing an invitation except that a boy is not the type you like to date. What do you say then?
Just Not Interested
In every girl’s life there’s at least one boy whom she would just rather not date. He may be unpleasant company, not the right age for her, a “wolf,” or he may go with a gang of particularly rough fellows. Her parents may object to him because of his age, religion, or reputation. If the boy asking for a date is not the type of person you would like to go out with, it’s not fair to encourage him in any way. Letting a boy know that you do not want to go out with him without being rude is a difficult thing to do. In some cases he won’t take “No” for an answer, but in most instances a few courteous but firm refusals will help the boy understand that it’s just “no go.”
A boy should get the hint after being turned down a few times without a good reason. If he is still persistent, you may be even cooler the next time he calls, and more definite in your refusals. Perhaps instead of giving a reason you will just have to say you would rather not go. He may even get unpleasant about it, but if you remember to keep your temper and try not to hurt him, you won’t feel too badly about it. The more persistent he is, the firmer you will have to be, but eventually he will catch on and look elsewhere.
In All Sincerity
Some boys discourage easily; if turned down for a date, they may not call back for fear of being disappointed again. There are several ways to help a boy realize that it’s not him you are refusing, but that you just can’t make it that particular night. First of all, your voice and attitude should be warm and friendly. Secondly, you should explain just why you’re unable to accept this particular invitation. If you tell him that you would just love to go but you’re tied up that night, he will feel better about it. And if you say that you would certainly like a rain check, in all probability he will call again —and again.
Sometimes you can suggest a counterproposal to let the boy see that you are interested in him. Maybe you have to refuse this date, but in the same conversation you could invite him over sometime to listen to records. That way he will know that you’re not refusing because you don’t like him.
Suggesting something different for the same night can sometimes be done tactfully. If you are invited to a dance and do not dance, it might not be fair to suggest that he take you somewhere else, because he might feel trapped and resent it. But if he invites you to do something you cannot do, explain that you would love to see him but you just don’t know how to manage it. Suppose he called to invite you to the stock car races and your parents don’t allow you to go. If he’s suggesting a single date you could explain that you are not allowed to attend the races and mention alternatives. If his plans include others, however, it’s not fair to suggest something else. Of course, if he’s the one to suggest another activity, then go ahead—have fun.
THE FAIR THING TO DO
Sometimes when you are asked to go out, one or more questions must be settled before you can give your answer. Maybe you have to ask your parents first. Maybe you don’t know the hostess who is giving the party and you would like time to check up before giving the boy your answer. You might want to learn more about the place you have been invited to—or about the boy who is inviting you. You may have an exam coming up which requires last-minute preparation.
In any of these cases, or others, it’s perfectly justifiable to explain that you would like to go but have to postpone your final decision. If you do have to ask a boy to wait before giving him your answer, be sure to explain why. No boy will condemn you for wanting to check with your parents before agreeing to go somewhere you’re not sure about. He may tease you about it if he feels insecure, but inwardly he will respect you for being the kind of person who is trying to abide by her parents’ wishes.
It’s not fair to keep one boy on the string while you wait to see if another boy will ask you out for Saturday night. If there is to be an event at your school to which you would like to go, you should give a definite answer to the first boy who asks you. No one appreciates a girl who keeps a date dangling while she looks for greener pastures. It’s certainly not fair to the boy, for it may be too late for him to get another date by the time you decide. It’s not fair to yourself, either, for once it gets around that you do this kind of inconsiderate thing, boys will look elsewhere for dates.
If you have to give a “maybe” reply, try to offer the boy an acceptable reason along with it, and a definite time by which he may expect your answer. He will be much more able to accept your indefinite answer if he knows just when he will receive your final reply. By telling him the reason for the delay, and giving him an indication of when you will have your answer (naturally it will be as soon as possible), he will realize that you are not just “stalling.”
LOOKING FORWARD TO IT
Accepting an invitation is not just a matter of saying “Yes.” You want to communicate to the boy asking you just how much you would really like to go with him. Your attitude in accepting his invitation can set the tone for the coming date. Here is something you will want to remember:
Accept graciously. Let the boy know how happy you will be to go out with him. If you respond to his request with a hesitant “I guess I can go,” he may feel uneasy and apprehensive about the coming date. He may even wish he had not asked you. If, however, you let the boy know that you would really enjoy going with him, he will feel more secure and look forward to the date with eager anticipation. The girl who accepts an invitation saying, “I am so glad you asked me” or “I am looking forward to it,” is one the boys will be eager to ask again.
Getting Things Clear
When you’re accepting a date, it’s good procedure to repeat your understanding of the arrangements. If you’re sure that you are completely clear on what the date entails, you will avoid misunderstandings when the time comes. If the particulars of the date are involved, you may wish to jot down some notes about it so that you won’t forget. Some girls keep a little date book to avoid any chance of mix-ups. Girls in college sometimes jot down the dates of their exams so that when they are asked for a date, they can tell at a glance how full their schedule will be.
It’s no fun to be ready way ahead of the time of your date’s arrival. You will start your date more relaxed, however, if you allow plenty of time to dress. Your date doesn’t like to be kept waiting while you finish primping. For this reason, you should know just when he will pick you up and plan to be ready at that time. If you both have a clear understanding on this point, the strain of anxious waiting will be lessened.
Most young women today have learned that it’s not good practice to break a date without good reason. Breaking a date just because you don’t feel like going, or because you’ve had a better offer, is not only discourteous; it can do real harm. Any boy will feel hurt at such rude behavior. If he is a shy boy, he will be even more insecure in the future. Few things are more deflating to the ego than to have someone break a date without a reason. Breaking dates can be harmful to the girl also. As word gets around that she is a date-breaker, fewer and fewer boys will risk asking her out. No one wants to be left stranded at the last minute.
Regardless of how hard we try, sometimes a date must be broken at the last minute. You might have suddenly become ill. Maybe your parents have come to visit you at the dorm unexpectedly. Maybe you have a suddenly announced test in the morning for which you are not prepared. Whatever the reason for breaking a date, you will want to be honest about it when you tell the boy. It’s not a good idea to feign illness as an excuse for breaking a date. This is especially true if you are planning to go out with someone else that night. If a boy can’t depend upon you to tell the truth, he will soon lose interest.
If you find you do have to break a date, let the boy know as soon as you can. This will give him an opportunity to get another date. Tell him honestly why you must break the date, and if it seems appropriate, make an alternative suggestion. If he asked you to go to the movies and you’re nursing an earache and can’t go out in the cold, maybe you would like to invite him over to keep you company. Any boy will be flattered by this courtesy, even if he decides he would rather not come. If your date was for a dance, and you suddenly hurt your ankle, you might even offer to help him find another date. He will respect you for your effort, even if he doesn’t accept it.
The same general principles apply whether you are refusing, accepting, or breaking a date. The most important thing is to be sincere and courteous. Mean what you say, and say it graciously. Be sure that a complete understanding is reached about details of the invitation. If you must refuse, try to give the reason for your refusal. If you accept, be sure that a boy understands that you really enjoy going with him. Get all the details of the date straightened out ahead of time to avoid the embarrassment of a misunderstanding. With practice, your approach for handling date offers will become more and more gracious. As you feel more at ease and secure in your abilities to handle such situations, you will naturally make the boys more eager to ask you for dates.