When I was in high school, I asked a girl out and she said “yes,” much to my surprise and delight. I enjoyed the date, so I asked her out for a second date. That’s when the confusion began.

“I’m spending time with my sister this weekend. She’s coming home from college and we’re going to a movie together.”

“Great! Can I call you again next week?”

“Oh, sure.”

So I called her again the next week. And wouldn’t you know it, her sister was coming in town again. Except she seemed less certain of it this time. I think it only took three visits from her sister before I got the point that she didn’t want to date me. (At first I thought maybe the point was that I should ask out her sister, but it turns out that wasn’t right).

Here’s the deal, ladies: if you don’t want to go out with him, just say so. You don’t have to be mean. Don’t say, “I would never be seen in public with somebody as weird/awkward/smelly/hairy as you.” Just be honest and say something like, “Thanks so much for asking me out. I really appreciate it. But I’m not interested right now.”

I know. It sounds so harsh and so…honest. Every time my wife tells a group of young women to simply tell the truth when they’re not interested in a guy, the girls literally gasp in horror. Then I ask the men to raise their hands if they would prefer women to be honest instead of lying to preserve their feelings. Every guy’s hand goes up. Every single one.

He’s going to figure out sooner or later that you’re not interested. When it finally dawns on him that you’ve been avoiding him by making lame excuses, it’s actually going to hurt him worse than if you’d just told him the truth the first time. Because not only will he feel rejected, he’ll feel foolish as well.

You can’t spare his feelings, but you can spare his dignity. Yes, it will hurt him that you’re not interested. But you can treat him with respect and let him know that you consider him man enough to handle the truth.

For Christian women, I think this is particularly important. When my wife and I talk to students about dating, we always structure the discussion around Proverbs 3:3: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck; Write them on the tablet of your heart.” Kindness and truth exist together — you don’t want one without the other. Speak kindly, yes. But speak honestly as well.

You want the men in your life to be up front and honest about their feelings, right? In fact, I’ve strongly encouraged that on this very blog (see here and here). If that’s what you want, then it’s a good idea to return the favor.

Trust me: the men in your life will be grateful, even if they’re also a little bit sad.

What do you think about the concept of honesty in dating relationships? Is my advice completely unrealistic? I’d love to hear from men and women here!

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