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When Yes, No, and Maybe Equal Yes

September 10, 2010   •   By Master Hobbit

Posted under: Mind, Lifestyle, Relationships


When Yes, No, and Maybe Equal Yes

I would like to think that I’m a relatively observant person, particularly about myself. 


Now that does not mean that I always understand the meaning of what I’m observing, but I become aware of things that people do, that I do, and do reflect on them.  Here is a situation where I tend to exhibit a particular behavioral response, call it an operating principle:  When it’s Not Going Well, Work Harder.  


Call it persistence.  Perhaps the slogan ‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’ best captures this concept.  While at some level it is true, there are also times when quitting is THE thing to do.  But, we can observe this principle at work in many situations.  Like when the entrepreneur persists until he gets the company on track to success.  Or the salesman who keeps pursuing a prize client until he gets that first order.  Or the man who wants a particular woman and keeps at it until he wins her.  These are all wonderful examples that encourage us to not quit in the face of rejection, difficulties or our fears.


When I’m interested in a woman, call it infatuation, lust or whatever, I’m INTERESTED!  And, interested means I don’t walk away at the first sign of hesitation or resistance on her part.  Now women view this behavior as admirable at times, but annoying at some point – usually one point sooner than we do.  When is enough enough?  Well, I don’t know.  And neither do you.  In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that often the WOMAN DOESN’T KNOW EITHER!!!    There, that was helpful!


But seriously, there is a ‘no’ that’s not really a no – call it a squishy no.  A no that really sounds like a maybe.  Well, I figure you don’t know until you push forward a bit more.  Let’s examine this further.


A ‘no’ is subject to change at any moment.  This focuses more on the other person’s response than my own.  Look, people don’t seem to reverse a ‘yes’ very often – yes means yes.  But the word no?   I think I was pretty slow in coming to this realization, but better late than never, I suppose.  Again, let’s take the opposite case first, a ‘yes’.  When someone agrees to do something, they will more likely than not fulfill that agreement.  Yes=Yes.  I get that.


However, I find a ‘no’ is a multifaceted word, at least in its application.  It is not uncommon for people to make some statement, often in anger or frustration, like ‘Which part of NO don’t you understand?!!?’  Well, uh, I guess no is supposed to mean no.  I may be largely unconvinced that you mean it when you say it, or I might simply be bull-headed, or both, especially if I don't want a no.  I mean, afterall, if I think 'we' are a bad idea, then thanks for saving me from having to tell you.  But there are occasions when I don't feel that way, and I'm not convinced SHE really feels that way.  Those are the sticky ones we're talking about here.


Look, I'm not the only one who came up with this.  Our children have concluded the same thing as they’ve learned to ‘work’ the parents to get what they want.  And since we’ve all been children of parents of some sort, we know that a no is a maybe or yes in some stage of incubation.  Good salespeople know this, too. People say no as an initial reaction to any perceived uncertainty, discomfort or undesirable situation.  We humans tend to be risk averse and pleasure seeking.  So, if something initially sounds like a pain, we just as soon avoid it.


In my modest experience in dating, I have received different responses to my overtures – call them yes, maybe, and no.  While a yes is yes, I find a maybe and a no are not so clear.


First, a maybe is unambiguously ambiguous, certainly uncertain and clearly unclear.  That’s clear.  I think a no might just be a maybe dressed in different clothing.


As the initial fears or uncertainties diminish over time, perhaps from continued conversation, emails, further thought or just the passing of time, the resistance to a suggestion declines and that no becomes a maybe, even a yes.  As the woman gets more information, has time to digest it, search her feelings, she may be willing to move to the next level in the relationship. 


The moral of the story is that ‘a yes is permanent and a no is temporary.’  So, When it’s Not Going Well, Work Harder is not the worst of operating principles.  Patient engagement that allows things to unfold might be more profitable than a ‘take that hill’ mentality.  In the end, we want a willing companion, not a coerced one.  Of course, a no might just mean no.  And there probably is something to the warning ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ 


A no at the start just might be a perfect finish.

Read More About: dating women online dating behavior

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About the Author: Master Hobbit

Master Hobbit is the creator of 4060men. After a marriage of over 30 years ended in divorce, he journeyed for over 5 years as a single midlife man. He remarried in 2012. He is also the owner of the blog platform,, and a blog platform review site,

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