I recently read a fabulous article saying that we should never settle in the grey area when it comes to relationships, and that if someone is not a clear “Fuck Yes!” then we shouldn’t go there.
I absolutely love this idea, and have ever since I first heard the concept in He’s Just Not That Into You—it is pretty obvious if you like someone or if they like you.
Don’t guess, don’t make shit up and don’t invest in the grey. Clear, simple and easy!
So if dating (and life) is this simple, why do we make it so complicated?
Well, that brings me to another article I read a while back that also stuck in my brain. A mother was writing about taking her kids to the fair, after they had been begging to go. Her 5-year-old daughter then refused to go on the rides, so the parents spent a bit of time trying to talk her into it with the usual “I’ll be right here with you” and “Just give it a try.”
Then the mom had an epiphany: She realized she was overriding her daughter’s own will and instincts and teaching her to be persuaded by others into doing things she didn’t want to do.
How many of us have been taught to let persuasion and doubt override our instincts? How many of us have been taught to live in the grey? I would say just about all of us!
I remember, years ago, dating a guy for a couple of months. It wasn’t a clear “Fuck yes,” but definitely had potential in my mind. After a while, he decided he would prefer to be friends and actually, it was easy to just settle into that—it was probably where we should have left it in the first place.
Another friend of mine—usually a clear, competitive, take no second prizes type—said something along the lines of this: maybe in hanging out as friends, he would start to like me again (as in like like, want-to-date like). I politely but firmly threw that idea out the window. I was more than happy to keep being friends with him, but I was not going to hang out for him to change his mind and decide he wanted to be with me. He clearly just wasn’t that into me, and to be honest, he wasn’t a “fuck yes” for me either.
But how often have you been encouraged, or encouraged your friends to live in the grey?
“I’m sure he really likes you but just got caught up at work, so hasn’t’ called.” “Just go out with him anyway—you never know, it might change.” “You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.” “Just hang in there and see what happens.” Fuck no!
Stop kissing frogs. Stop telling your friends he (or she) might call, that he probably isn’t married or that they just need to be less picky. Stop making up crap to justify that he wasn’t a Fuck Yes, or that you weren’t his (or her) Fuck Yes. And for everyone’s sake, stop saying those encouraging, placating bullshit things to your friends who are wondering if they should date a grey or why the guy they liked hasn’t called. To quote the classic, “he’s just not into you!” Simple as that. Move on.
(And, yes, I am mostly saying this to women because I think we are far more likely to get trapped in the grey, to play nice, to give too many chances and to justify things being less than great.)
And yes, I understand why we do this. I understand the consequences of waiting for the Fuck Yes. I know about being alone instead. I know about being single while all your friends are having kids. I know about wanting to wander around Italy with a partner, a lover, a soul mate and putting it off because we haven’t found them yet.
But are we so scared of being alone (only in the romantic sense, as most of us do have family and friends!) that we will choose unhappiness, mediocrity and hard work over dinner for one? Yes, it can be hard to be single, but surely being happy on our own is better than being discontent with another.
Okay, at 41 I have had some practice at learning to say “thanks, but no thanks” to grey. And I was lucky: I got a “Fuck Yes” at 25, so I learned exactly what that feels like. And yes, since then, I have dated in the grey out of loneliness, out of not wanting to be picky. But I know deep down that if it’s not a Fuck Yes, it is a solid No.
Sometimes the Fuck Yes is to just being friends, and grey doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with that person or still catch up with them. They might even be perfect for a friend of yours.
It does mean they are not your partner, the person you want in your home, your bed, your heart. Fuck Yes’ should probably also apply to some other big things in your life—okay, so deciding on strawberry or chocolate is not a life-changing moment, but it can be a good place to practice finding that knowing feeling, rolling the ideas around on your tongue to see which one tastes right.
And so, I commit again to finding a Fuck Yes, in love and in life—partners, travel ideas, job applications, even clothes shopping, everything!
Fuck Yes, no less.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran