Love and the Confusion of Persistence by Atala


I recall a conversation I had with someone I know about how she met her husband. According to her, she was rather dismissive of him, and it didn't look like she would give him a second chance. But fortunately for him, he persisted - and she ended up seeing something in him which she obviously didn't see the first time. Whatever she saw, she must really have liked, because they're now married.

The conversation did make me wonder about the virtues of persistence. Should a man should be persistent or not in chasing a woman? It's fair to say that "faint heart never won fair lady", as the saying goes, and as the experience I relate above indicates?

 However, persistence can shade into harassment if the woman has made it clear in no uncertain terms that she is not interested in the man. So the rules seem to be simple - chase, but if she says no, back off. Right?


Erm. not quite. Sometimes, a woman is still making her mind up, and it means that she won't give an unequivocal "yes" because she is still wanting to get to know more about the man. So instead, she'll encourage him with an "I'm interested - keep talking" response.

The trouble is that sometimes, a woman may also give that response if she is not really be interested in the man, but she likes the attention that she is getting as he chases her. So the poor gets strung along until he realises that he's wasting his time, and thus, persistence is a bad thing here.

And that "no means no" rule? Again, not quite so simple. It's possible that when the guy first approaches the girl and she slams him with a big fat "no", maybe she's not in the mood to date. Maybe he didn't come with his A-game. Maybe her "no" really doesn't mean "no", and she wants to see how persistent he is. Whatever - he ends up with the "no".

The point is that if he figures out what exactly the problem is and re-presents the new improved version of himself in the right place at the right time, that "no" can be turned into a "yes". So persistence is a good thing here.

To help, I can only recommend the concept of the "stop loss". This is where the guy decides exactly how much chasing works for him - two days, two weeks, whatever - and if he does not get a specific response in that time, it's the end.

Simple, right? And elegant. But utterly impractical, if at the end of the period, his head is telling him to leave her, and his heart is tugging him back to her to continue waiting. Maybe men should wait instead for mind-reading technology to be developed to put an end to all this persistent confusion. Or maybe women can simply be more direct with men and quit playing games?