Imagine standing outside a popular bar on a Saturday night with a clipboard and pen. As each drunken patron stumbles out the door, you ask them:
“Did anyone hit on you?”
That’s exactly what 140 trained researchers from the University of Toronto did. They wanted to know how successful sexual advances are on the average night.
And they learned all about the Art of Rejection. Bottom Line:
Men have a really hard time noticing when a woman is not interested.
Nope, not all that shocking. What is surprising is that most rejection comes from miscommunication and misunderstandings that happen during flirting.
So, if you want to avoid that awkward did-he-just-touch-my butt-moment, here are some subtle body language tips you can use in bars to thwart unwanted advances:
TIP 1: Torso Turn
If you want to show someone you are not interested, the easiest thing you can do right away is turn your torso away from them. When we’re engaged with someone, we aim our torso towards them as a sign of respect. So if you’re not feeling it, an easy way you can show it is by aiming your torso away. This not only makes the distance between the two of you bigger, it also non-verbally says to them, “step away.”
TIP 2: Shake Your Head No
If the torso turn doesn’t work, the second thing you can try is shaking your head ‘no.’ We shake our head from left to right when we don’t want something. You can do this while you’re speaking as a way to nonverbally emphasize or bold your verbal no. You can also nod negatively while they’re speaking. So if they say hey, “you want to dance?” or “I’d love to get your number,” you can start shaking your head no right away and that already says to them “ah, I’ve crossed a line.”
TIP 3: Blocking
Use your purse or drink to make someone get out of your space–this is especially good for close talkers. You can hold your drink in front of you so that they can’t lean forward. The drink blocks them. You can also do this with your purse. This is a non-verbal sign of take a step back, I need more space. And women especially get very uncomfortable when someone comes into their physical space.
TIP 4: Say It Like You Mean It
Sometimes when women are nervous they use the question inflection – going up at the end of a sentence. Instead of saying ‘I don’t want to dance!’ they say ‘I don’t want to dance?’ This tells a man: I’m not sure about that ‘no.’ And men hear “maybe’ and are more likely to keep pushing. If you’re going to say no, say it like you mean it and use the authoritative tone.
Some Interesting Facts from the Study:
- 140 researchers were told to note every incident of aggression they saw out in the Toronto bar scene. 25 percent of the incidents they saw had some kind of aggression (groping, touching, blocking). And 90 percent of the acts were committed by men. (That means 10% of women can be sexually aggressive too!)
- You might think men are too drunk to know any better, but that’s not what the research found! The researchers found that a man’s sexual advances did not match his level of intoxication. Instead, it matched the woman’s level of intoxication–in other words, men hit on women who were drunk.
- Two thirds of the aggression was physical, 17 percent threatened physical contact and 9 percent verbally harassed their targets.
“Blurred Lines?” Sexual Aggression and Barroom Culture† Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Volume 38, Issue 5, pages 1416–1424, May 2014, Kathryn Graham, Sharon Bernards, D. Wayne Osgood, Antonia Abbey, Michael Parks, Andrea Flynn, Tara Dumas and Samantha Wells. 3 MAR 2014. DOI: 10.1111/acer.12356.