When You Ask Her Out (Or Propose) and She Says She is not Ready

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So I’ve gotten this question from a couple of readers and decided it was time to write about it.

This is a highly stressful situation.

You’ve thought it through it and you’ve weighed the pros and cons. You have a pretty good feeling about it and so you pop the question and ask her to “take it to the next” level (whatever that is) and then she hits you with perhaps the worst possible reply a guy can get: “I’m not ready”

You stand there in shock. First of all…what does “not ready” even mean?
Is that like “Hey come back in 30 days and I’ll be ready to be with you then”?
Is that like I am not ready to be a girlfriend/fiancée to ANYONE or is that like I am not ready to be YOUR girlfriend/fiancée

Rough…but it happens. Here are a few thoughts on how to navigate that:

As you know, I am going to keep it 100% real. This may be a hard pill to swallow at first but….

When you ask a woman to be with you and she says she is not “ready” what she truly means is that she is not ready to be with YOU

It may have given that answer because of legitimate concerns about you or questions she is still trying to figure out about you. It might even be that she is legitimately not sure she wants to be with anyone. That said, it all boils down to the fact that right now, she is not ready to be with you. Why? Because when a woman finds the guy she feels is the right guy, even a self-declared unready woman can become ready for that relationship.

There is no reason to be angry at her it’s just a decision that she has made and has a right to make and quite frankly, she may have just done you a favor.

I know that’s a bit hard but as my friend likes to say, id rather have you eat the frog first and then we can move on to how to deal with the situation.

Now …what to do…or not do:

1) Don’t act around her as through she may change her mind (even though she might):

Once she says she is not ready, you can’t act as if she is going to change her might tomorrow (even though she might). Don’t be totally emotionally devoted to a person who is not sure they want to be with you in a committed relationship. (This goes for both men and women). If you do, two things will happen.

a) You will count the post-answer work you put in to change their mind as major points they should consider to change their mind and when they don’t, not only will you be more devastated, you will resent them even more.

b) You will lose their respect.

In fact:

Assume she will never be ready.

Again…sounds kind of harsh (especially for the ladies who may be reading this and thinking “Hold on…what if I really do change my mind!)

This is not so you can stop being a gentleman or treat her with scorn for refusing you  as you will see as this article continues. But…

If she will ever be ready, she NEEDS to get there ON HER OWN.

There are few things worse that being with a woman who is not sure she wants to be with you. She will have no spiritual, cultural or social obligation to meet ANY of your needs. (Unlike men who… even if they don’t feel sure they want to be with a woman, are still under some pressure spiritually, socially, and culturally to meet at least some of her needs)

So if this is going to happen, she needs to be convinced and she needs to get there on her own.

2) Don’t tell her that you will be there if she changes her mind.

It is possible to get the “I am not ready” answer from a genuinely nice woman. A woman doesn’t have to be spiteful to not want to be with you. It’s a choice that she has a right to make.

Now… if you are a good man, and the answer is coming from a good woman, you will have the urge to tell her that you will be there waiting for her until she changes her mind. Be careful about that.  That’s the stuff that Hollywood gets paid on and musicians sell records on. In reality, women don’t respond to men who are just there waiting. They respond to men who can be snatched up.

3) Don’t waste the opportunity to show maturity.

So don’t be angry you were rejected (That’s for boys), tell her why you thought being together would be a great idea and ask questions that may help you understand why she doesn’t think so.

Make her comfortable talking about those reasons why she is not ready. You are not so concerned about the details (because obviously you don’t want to get into a debate about being with you), you are just showing maturity…showing that you can take the emotional heat and that you are not emotionally running away at the first sign of rejection. Also, having a conversation about it, helps her work out her own reasons.

4) Don’t start acting weird:

Don’t start ignoring her, changing your tone when speaking to her, being short or curt with her and stuff like that. This is a No No. It will only help her confirm that she made the right decision to not move forward with you.

5) Quickly determine the meaning and scope of her answer as it relates to you:

In other words, give a meaning to her answer that will serve you. So for example, know that she may be rejecting the “relationship” but that may not be because you are not worthy to be in a relationship with.

Or that just because one person isn’t ready for you, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t be.

This is really important for men because men deal with emotional hurt differently from women and men typically take a lot longer to heal. So do yourself a favor. Be easy on yourself.

6) Don’t let her disrespect you:

Just because she doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you doesn’t mean she has the right to disrespect you, be rude to you, or use you to gain attention from her girlfriends. If you see that happening, (walking by her group of friends and you see them giggling or acting disrespectful) tactfully and politely address that with her.

7) When you talk about it with others, don’t speak badly about her:

That is totally for boys not for men. First of all, helloooo…she might just legitimately be temporarily confused so she might change her mind. Act like a fool and you will blow that chance.

8) Don’t act like it was “no big deal”:

This will guarantee she won’t change her mind

It’s is one of the worst things you can do and its one of the most popular mistakes men make.

You JUST asked her to be with you on a deeper level and then she says no and you just act all nonchalantly like it was no big deal because you are trying to act tough.

If you act this way, you will confirm that not only did she make the right decision, but that you don’t deserve her.

9) Don’t act totally devastated either:

Women don’t like to be with men who can be more emotional than they are. That’s not to say you can’t BE devastated, you just shouldn’t ACT that way and have an emotional breakdown when you hear her response.

I know I just asked you not to be nonchalant about it, now I am asking you not to be devastated by it either. It’s all about balance. You want her to know how disappointed you are that she doesn’t want to be with you but you also want have a steady heart and steady head as you deal with it.

10) Do have a conversation with her and give her context for how you will be acting:

Obviously, things will not be entirely the same… you’re not going to be blowing up her phone every time you have a thought about something and so on. But you don’t want to just disconnect abruptly. That’s what will make you look like you’re angry or childish. What you want to do is that sometime after the response, talk to her. Tell her that:

a) You really thought there was something special between you two and that’s why you asked her.
b) You are disappointed that she didn’t see things the way you did but that you respect her decision.
c) You appreciate the fact that she respects herself and respects you enough to be honest about how she felt instead of leading you on.
d) Out of respect for yourself and for her, you may need to take some physical or emotional time away to re-calibrate so that you can both figure out how to maintain a good relationship.

11) Don’t start seeing someone right away:

I know that women don’t understand the devastation that men feel when they are hurt. Just because men hide this well, women don’t get it…and sometimes, it feels like the best band aid for a wound from a woman, is another woman. But it doesn’t work for long.

Besides, it’s going to look like you are doing it to spite her, and it will look like you were just interested in having a woman in your life, not in having HER in your life.

12) DO take time to be disappointed but don’t go into deep mourning:

Remember…it may feel like a breakup…but it isn’t (unless it’s a proposal)

Don’t try too hard to be tough about it. If you really did like her, then you ARE allowed to be sad about the fact that she didn’t say yes.

So it’s ok. Take a few days, and FEEL IT. Mourn it out and then snap the heck out of it and remind yourself that you are the chocolate thunder of chocolate city or the ice in vanilla ice…or whatever makes you feel good, and go on doing you.

This list doesn’t mean you give up on love or give on a relationship with her. This doesn’t even mean that she you will never get to be with her. These are just points to consider in terms of your immediate response to the answer she just gave you.

It’s quite possible that when you do this right, she just might change her mind.

What do you think?

PS- If this is resulting in some kind of epic break up, or if you are convinced you need to break up with someone but don’t know how, it might be a REALLY good idea to read HOW TO BREAK UP …WITHOUT BREAKING THE PERSON

 

 

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  • Beatrice Maviti

    Dr Atte. Thanks for the post above. Kindly write the flip side of this post: “what do men mean when they say”im not ready” in a relationship?

    • That’s certainly one that is dancing around in my head :o)

  • Honestly! I feel like a man who is surprised when a woman rejects his proposal wasn’t watching her too closely. There will be something that would have given the fact that she either wasn’t ready for marriage or didn’t want to marry him away…….
    .A flat out surprise proposal too may not be the best. At least use ” style” to know if you guys are on the same page, if she sees herself marrying you at some point. We women do this all the time to ensure that the guy is at least serious, so why shouldn’t men…it’s dangerous to assume tag all women are desperate for marriage and will definitely say yes.

    I love your blog Tobi, and you inspired me in some way too.

    • Awww Abisola!! Sending virtual hugs your way! Thank you for being a part of the IJMM family. God bless you!

  • elizabeth56346

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