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I’m not a character in a preteen novel, with butterflies in her stomach because she’s never been asked on a date. I have, however, had bad experiences of being asked out by men who couldn’t take no for an answer — including one guy who harassed me online for two years after I declined a date with him.With 81 percent of women having experienced some kind of sexual harassment, I’m definitely not alone in this anxiety.It may feel uncomfortable at first, but according to Dr. “I’m a big fan of embracing the awkwardness,” she says. O’Neill advises embracing the awkward by simply being direct.“First and foremost, your primary responsibility is to firmly establish that you’re not interested,” she says.
Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. O’Neill suggests practicing saying no in lower-stakes situations: not answering a non-urgent work email after hours, for example, or asking to reschedule when you don’t feel like going out to dinner with friends.
This can be especially true for women, who are often trained to prioritize other people’s feelings over our own boundaries. To find out, I consulted the experts: Rachel O’Neill, Ph.