On countless occasions, my friends and I have been out on the town encountering many a guy we're in no way interested in. He'll continue to talk, but seems immune to the fact that the feeling isn't mutual. Then, he'll ask for a phone number and you're stuck. Do you (a) let him down gently by telling him you have a boyfriend or (b) cut him a break and give him your number, but then ignore him when he calls or (c) tell him the brutal truth.
On Halloween night I was reminded of this issue when a very pretty "going out" friend, Caroline, was being hit on by a guy that was at least six inches shorter than her, which -- combined with a very weird costume and very average looks -- didn't exactly make him her first pick.
Anyway, she was coming back from the bathroom when this bold guy came up to her and chatted her up. It was clear to us from 15 feet away that she was dying to get away, but way too sweet to brush him off so abruptly.
In any event, when my friend Marisol suggested rescuing her, I did, coming up with excuses to gently pull her away from his conversational grasp. However, as I tried using some of the random stories I could muster in under a minute, it was clear as day that two things were going on: (1) He had no intention of being deterred by me the 'cockblock' and (2) After talking to him that long, she didn't know how to leave.
So, when a couple of my attempts failed to make any traction, I slowly went back to our table. She eventually escapes, but not before he pulls out his cell phone and prepares to take down her number. When she comes back she's embarrassed to tell us she complied, admitting that she didn't know how to blow him off.
At this point I smile, thinking that this guy, who hit on such a hottie in front of his friends must be on Cloud 9 -- but doesn't know that it will likely be the last time he'll probably ever talk to her again.
I am sure we can argue this any which way. Mixed signals, game playing, whatever. But my thought here... Maybe it's worth it to consider honesty. No one likes rejection, but dragging it out isn't fun. (This is universal, regardless of gender)
I'm not sure if there IS one definitive answer. Personally, I've been guilty of playing the chase game. Either way, I think cutting it loose as early as possible makes the most sense. No need to waste anyone's time. And you may be doing each other a favor.
All I know is that the dating landscape would be such a better place if we just didn't play the cat & mouse game. But then I guess it wouldn't be as interesting -- and I'd have a lot less to write about.