“Sorry, I have boyfriend .” Admit it, ladies — we’ve all played the “boyfriend” card at one point. And guys, you’ve surely been on the receiving end of this textbook excuse. How to say “no” politely and tactfully doesn’t always come to mind right away. In fact, the mature way to maneuver out of awkward situation usually manifests itself right after the initial rejection. The following are a few suggestions for managing today’s dating culture with class.


DO be firm and stay honest.

Be upfront. Women shouldn’t have to stoop to the imaginary boyfriend excuse, essentially feeding the machismo culture. Instead of standing firm and tastefully turning down a date or number request, women feel compelled to lie about their relationship status. That in itself conveys a significant problem in today’s hook-up culture. A straightforward, honest, “I’m flattered, but I’m not interested in dating” will certainly do the job.

And though it may sting a little, men should appreciate the honesty. Those who react with a short temper are the ones who perpetuate the whole system of male chauvinism in our dating culture. Women should never feel afraid to respectfully decline a date offer, and truth be told, “men” who can’t handle the rejection should really be referred to as “boys”. 

DON’T be rude.

dating culture for millennials

Just as “men” become “boys” when exuding certain characteristics, women, too, exhibit unflattering behavior in the dating game. It might be tempting to bury your head in text messages or Facebook conversations to avoid an unsolicited proposition, but this kind of behavior screams middle school. Guys are the ones who have to muster up the guts to suggest a date or ask for a number in the first place, so take their interest in you as a compliment. It’s okay not to accept the offer, but it’s not okay to be rude and unsympathetic. Scoffing, rolling your eyes, flipping your hair, or just walking away is common behavior in the movies, but in real life, it’s way cooler to show some class.

DO put safety first.

Giving out personal information to strangers today is dangerous. Once somebody has your number, address, or e-mail, contact can easily lead to harassment. The cute guy at the bar could have a “Dexter” complex for all you know. Be smart. Think about how many Tequila Sunrises you’ve thrown back before deciding to scribble down the digits on a bar napkin. Never feel obliged to give someone your number just because they’re asking for it. Don’t give in out of discomfort. Our parents have drilled the “don’t talk to strangers” lesson into our heads since day one. Say you’re not comfortable giving your number out to someone you just met. That’s a validated excuse and a sure way to give the creep a hint.

DON’T give out fake numbers.

According to Glamour’s list of “Guy Approved Ways” to get turned down, “blunt is not equal to mean.” Guys would much rather girls be straightforward than give out a fake number because it sets him up for a much bigger disappointment when he gets home and realizes he’s been played. It takes confidence to ask someone out, so men deserve the same level of confidence in your response. So avoid giving out fake numbers altogether; it’s tacky and impolite.


For men, there are do’s and don’ts on how to successfully approach a woman as well.

DO make eye contact.

dating culture for millennials

Eye contact is sexy. It shows confidence and, most of the time, emotion and a certain level of interest. Try to make eye contact for a couple of seconds, then flash a playful smile. Her reaction will be telling. When you approach her to spark up a conversation, maintain eye contact throughout the conversation. Don’t look down, around the room, or at your phone. Show confidence and make it obvious that she has your undivided attention.

DON’T confuse kindness for attraction.

Women love to smile, laugh, and interact with new people, but this doesn’t mean that they want a friendship to be taken to the next level. Be wary of this. Just because she’s laughing at your jokes doesn’t mean she’s flirting. Laughter and smiles don’t give you an “in”. Rather, they’re simple acts of kindness. Wait for other signs of attraction before asking for her number. Otherwise, beware that you could easily be in the friend-zone. Respect her decision if she denies your request for a date. That’s just part of our dating culture.

DO be original and specific.

Women love to feel wanted. Before asking for a date, try to discover her likes and interests. Incorporate this into a date idea. Skip the typical, awkward movie first date if you really want to impress her. Having an original suggestion when asking her out, demonstrates that you’re actually paying attention. That, in itself, is a form of flattery. She’ll appreciate your presence and feel much more at ease with you.

dating culture for millennials

Rejecting a date request can be awkward. It’s easy to cop-out with a fake number or fake boyfriend excuse, but unless the guy is a true jerk, he deserves an honest answer. Appreciate the interest even if you are not romantically attracted to him. Take a minute to imagine what it’s like to be on the other side. If we all abide by a simple common courtesy, a much more respectful, accepting, and hopefully successful dating culture can be achieved.

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Kelly Tatera


Syracuse, NY

Kelly Tatera is an aspiring journalist at Syracuse University who dreams that one day her writing will shed light upon the injustice that occurs worldwide every day. Kelly grew up in various European countries, which she strongly believes contributed to her worldly outlook on life. It also helped her develop decent fluency in French, which she loves to speak to her friends because they have no idea what she’s saying. Her tips for success are: travel as much as you can, respect cultural differences, venture outside of the tourist traps, keep a Dream Journal, become a documentary buff, and always save room for dessert.

All posts by Kelly Tatera

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