Students stuck with awkward relationship dilemmas; say they were constantly berated and nagged by admirers
Alex Lisa | Staff Writer
For those who were confused, the definition of “No” is “a negative answer or decision.”
Working up the courage to ask someone on a date is more difficult for some for others, with the fear of being turned down often holding people back. For some, the answer to that dilemma is to refuse to accept “no” as a response, but that raises problems beyond the typical high school dating experience.
Drawing the Line
Senior Corinne Mattingley went through just that, when she said someone in her church community berated her for over three years.
“[It was] Freshman year at a church dance,” Mattingley said. “He asked me for my number, and I really didn’t want to give it to him,. but he was kind of awkward and I felt bad for him. In our messages he talked about how he didn’t have any friends, and I just really wanted to be a friend for him.”
Originally, Mattingley tried to avoid directly rejecting him to keep from hurting his feelings.
“I didn’t want to tell him to leave me alone; that’s mean,” Mattingley said. “But he just kept asking me out on dates, and it was really uncomfortable because there was like a two year age difference and I just kept saying ‘oh, I can’t date yet, I’m not really looking to do that yet.’”
Mattingley finally decided to draw the line, and told him she was not interested. He, however, didn’t let it go.
“He sent me a message that told me what a horrible person I was, so I just ghosted him and took a break from social media,” Mattingley said. “When I went back on, I had a message in my inbox from his mom. It was really weird, like ‘how dare you, he is my sensitive little boy,’ and told me to give him a chance, and I’m thinking ‘what’s going on, this is insane.’”
Ignoring the messages did not always cut it, since he was in Mattingley’s church and she saw him at a number of events. The final incident happened at Mormon Prom during her junior year.
“I was dancing with my date,” Mattingley said. “It was a slow song, we were dancing, and he walks right up and says ‘Hey Corinne, it’s been a while. Want to catch up in the hallway?’ And my date didn’t know, because why would I tell him about all of that? So he thought he was an old friend and was like ‘oh, go, do it.’. I made eye contact with one of my friends across the room, you know that ‘help me’ face, and she pulled me out.”
Some situations end without a ruined relationship, however. Junior Jessica Burns said when she had to say no multiple times–first to an ice cream date, then to Homecoming, and finally to a love letter–they were both able to get past it.
“We’re still friends, like we still talk to each other and see each other in the hallway,” Burns said. “It was a little awkward, but we’ve both tried to forget about it. It never got too out of hand, because when I was blunt about it, he laid off. He took a step back and that was over.”
Burns believes they were able to remain friends because it did not go on for too long.
“The first two times, I tried to beat around the bush,” Burns said. “I said my parents didn’t want me going out with new people, I said I was going to Homecoming with friends. If he’d kept asking me after I said no, like just ‘no,’ it would have gotten creepy.”
The issue does not always come from being creepy or intimidating. Junior Trey Spencer said the biggest problem for him was the fact that he was convinced it was not a serious issue.
“I had just gotten out of a relationship, and it ended pretty rough,” Spencer said. “And she was one of my friends, I was talking to her about it and she was helping me through it. I started to realize she had other motives, but I thought it was just a usual crush and I didn’t have to worry.”
Spencer thought that he could avoid the issue until it died down, but said she only grew more persistent.
“She sent me a ton of texts, poems, love letters, and I just kept trying to let her down easily,” Spencer said. “No matter the situation, I never wanted to hurt anybody. But even when I told her to stop, she kept finding new ways to contact me. It was unhealthy on both our ends.”
She eventually contacted Spencer’s friends to ask them to talk to him.
“It got to the point where I had blocked her number and her social media, so she could only talk to me in person,” Spencer said. “And I thought that meant it was pretty much over, but then one of my coworkers got a message, and she’s looking at her phone and just goes ‘no way.’ She had sent her a string of texts and said ‘show this to Trey,’ and I had no idea what to do at that point.”
Spencer said he wishes he had been blunt earlier, so that it might not have lasted so long and gone so far.
“I feel bad about it; I feel like there were points where I kind of led her on because I didn’t want to just say ‘no,’” Spencer said. “I feel like she thought she could fix something and change my mind. [But I also think] there’s a bit of a double standard, because when a girl says no, it’s ‘good for you, stick it to him.’ But there’s this thought that guys want to go after anyone, and if you turn a girl down it’s an insult and you’re just being an asshole, and that kept me from saying it straight that I just wasn’t interested.”
Mattingley also feels that her situation could have been avoided if she had been honest early on.
“If I could go back, I never would have given him my number,” Mattingley said. “I always want to be nice, and you’re supposed to give people a chance, but that just leads to where it’s so much worse. Never be afraid to say no. If you don’t want to, there’s nothing wrong with that, you can just say no and they should respect that.”
Graphics by Ryan D’Souza.