No means no, right?

I’m going to start this baby off with a big fat disclaimer. Always be respectful to women and listen to what they say.
If they tell you to leave them alone, walk away. Especially if you’re not 100% certain that they’re joking.
They will ask you to come back if they want it.

Most of the times, women are pretty clear in that they mean what they say, when they say it.
It’s when they’re playfully bantering that confusion might come up, that’s what this article is about.
When in doubt, back off. Geesh, did I really have to say this... Okay let’s do it.

As the all mighty book says, women are from Venus and we men are from Mars.

Here in Belgium you could say, that women speak English and men speak Dutch.
The vocabulary of English is about 3 times larger then the Dutch vocabulary.
This means there are 3 times more words for most of the same things.
From this perspective, men can be perceived as illiterate and uneducated morons,
while women are sophisticated and smart little angels. Maybe.

In all seriousness, research has shown over and over again how the male and female brain is wired differently. (2)
Women are a lot better in communication, especially if emotions are involved. (3)
This means that regular bouts of miscommunication will probably occur regularly.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and girls say no, when they actually don’t mean it, and how to recognise it.
Surprisingly, a lot of research has already been done on this subject.

Token resistance

This means symbolic resistance that is to make a point, and not actually stop an action
Most of us have seen this before.
A woman says no to a man, and she just giggles while the man does whatever he wanted to do anyway.
Looking at her actions afterwards she never really meant NO (this is a case of token-resistance).
This is where MANY men frustrate themselves.

“Why can’t women just say what they want, and why do they have to make it so damn complicated?!”
— The modern man

Muehlenhard and Hollabaugh investigated the phenomenon of women's token resistance to sex. (4)

They found that 39.3% of the undergraduates they had surveyed had ever said no when they meant yes,
and this was for 3 types of reasons: practical, inhibition-related, and manipulative reasons.

Quoting Gabriel Seah from Quora, who has a good perspective on the matter:

- They didn't want to appear promiscuous

- They wanted to keep the relationship non-sexual (e.g. they wanted to stay friends, it was a coworker etc) 

- Either or both were already in relationships

- They were unsure about his feelings 

- They were scared of sexually transmitted diseases

- They didn't like the surroundings (e.g. parents might come back)

- They didn't want to get pregnant


- They weren't ready emotionally 

- It was against their religion/morals

- They were scared it would hurt or unsure how it'd feel or if they'd like it

- They were self-conscious or embarrassed about their bodies


- They wanted him to be more physically aggressive

- They wanted him to talk her into it/beg 

- They wanted to make him more sexually aroused by making him wait

- They were angry with him and wanted to get back at him

- They wanted to be in control and decide on the timing of sex

As you can see, there are a lot of motives to confuse us.

There are two main reasons for token resistance you should keep in mind from now on.

The first one is to appear less promiscuous, and to 'blame' the man so she doesn’t feel ‘slutty’.
The second one is to make him work for it a bit.
They want to see how much he wants her, and how savvy & emotionally strong he is.

A man that can work his way around her resistance, and doesn't give up easily, is more attractive.

It also reassures her that he enjoys her company and won’t disappear right after sleeping with her.
He probably wouldn't put in a lot of effort for just sex.
It shows her that he really wants her, and that he’s a worthy man.
All of these things can be very arousal to women.

Now all of this being said, just to remind you, usually when women say no, they mean it. (5)
But when do they actually mean yes…

Here’s a story to elaborate

Picture being a young man in his prime.
You are doing well in school, you are good at sports, you have many good friends.
Life is good. But there’s one thing going on…

There’s a girl you really like. Really really like.
There are many beautiful girls in your environment, of which a lot of them like you.
But you’re just not interested in them.

This one girl you like, appears to be very independent and doesn’t seem to really care about you.
She’s gorgeous, and you love her vibe.

You take the leap and you try to chat her up.
She’s engaged while talking, and looks interested, but when you ask her to go out with you, she refuses.
You’re confused, yet you can’t give up on her. She is the one you want.

The day after you go talk to her again, this time with more determination.
Strong desire and action are very helpful in getting what you want.
This time she agrees, she feels like you really want it. You really persisted, so she doesn’t feel easy.

The date goes well, but you couldn’t even kiss her. With most girls, you end up in bed on the first date, but not this one.

She’s a powerhouse that is not easily moulded towards your will.
A few more dates go by and you still haven’t slept with her.
She’s not surrendering. This drives you crazy, and she knows it…
Even your buddies are starting to get tired of you talking about her.
And all the chasing makes you like her more...

Let’s recap what happened

By ‘playing hard to get’, the girl made you put a lot of time and effort into her.
You’ve showed her that you’re not a wimp by going for what you want.
She doesn’t feel slutty, because it wasn’t easy for you, and you’ve showed that you’re emotionally strong.

You’ve spent a lot of time together, and you’ve been constantly thinking about her.
Both of you actually know each other now, and you definitely want to keep seeing her.
This process allowed both of you to develop feelings for each other…

That's what she went for. Guys tend to disappear very often when sex comes easy and fast.
Usually not if they had to put in a lot of effort to get it

Recognising token resistance and what to do:

As we said, the most common situations were you’ll run into token resistance, are while having fun and bantering with women.
This already sets a specific context where the two of you are being playful.

The best thing to always do, is to communicate in a clear, honest and vulnerable way.
This sets the pace for the rest of the interaction.
People who play manipulative games attract manipulative people.

When you feel like a women is giving you token resistance, communicate.
Try to understand why she did it, talk about it, and asses if you should persist.

If you ask for a girls number and she unexpectedly refuses, ask her why she said it.
This might become a bit awkward, so show empathy.
But just try to understand what's going on. She might have a boyfriend, or she might not be interested.

If she doesn't give a meaningful answer, and you still want it, you can ask her again later.
She obviously knows what's going on, but just be honest and open with her.
Tell her that you actually enjoyed the conversation and that you would love to see her again.
Repeating it can sometimes make things click, especially when women are insecure about the situation.
I would always make it clear that you're only asking her number one more time.
If she declines again, tell her it’s a pity, and respectfully say goodbye.

Say you’re on a date with a girl, and you try to kiss her. You thought she wanted it, but surprisingly, she declined.
Ask her if it was too soon, and if you should wait. Again show empathy, because this could be awkward.
If her answer is serious and she needs time, give her ample amounts.
If she's giggling and doesn't know what to say, follow your intuition.
Try again if you think she wants it, and asses according to her reaction.

Often times girls have a habit of rejecting the first one or two kisses, while actually wanting it. Token resistance at it's best.
As long as she's enjoying it, you can keep trying.
Just have your boundaries and let her know if you get annoyed. Honest communication, remember.

The take-aways

Why do women use token resistance

It makes the man work for them, so he starts liking her even more, which gives them certainty.
It filters out the weak and emotionally unstable men.
It makes the girls feel better about themselves because they weren’t ‘easy’.
And the playing the game can be exciting and fun.

What should you do

Don’t give up too easily, many people quit 3 feet before they hit gold.
You can start and reinitiate conversations as many times as you want as long as you've acted in socially acceptable ways.
(Don’t cross the line, if a woman says 'no' or or 'leave me alone' in a serious tone, you should respect that.)
Try to focus on their sub-communications and the context.
If she’s smiling, while you’re having fun and says no, chances are big you can continue or that she means yes.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, but show empathy.
Apologise if you crossed her boundaries. Be a man, not a dick.

Be completely honest about your intentions.
This will encourage honest communication, and won’t leave her hurt if you’re not planning on seeing her again.

Until next time!

As always, dearly yours,
Willem V.


(4) Do Women Sometimes Say No When They Mean Yes? The Prevalence
 and Correlates of Women's Token Resistance to Sex, Charlene L. Muehlenhard and Lisa C. Hollabaugh
, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1988)

Willem V.

Willem V has a background in philosophy, psychology and now studies sexology.
Losing the 'nice guy syndrome' saved his life. He now helps others shake it of to improve their (love) life.

Comments 4

Mon, 02 Nov 2015 20:32

Mike Vegas

Good job bro!

Mon, 16 Nov 2015 11:18


In my personal experience, the more insecure a girl is the more 'token resistance' she will put up to test if you really like her enough even though she has already decided she wants to sleep with you. She will want you to invest more first to make sure you will not just run away after or not keep in touch.

Some girls also just have a 'rule' in their minds about not putting out on the first date for example, which can ofcourse be overcome if you have enough attraction going but this may also create some 'token resistance'.

It definitely is a real phenomenon that you need to be aware of as a guy and make sure to have good judgement, you need to be able to differentiate a REAL no from a 'playful' flirting kind of no.

The emotional feel of the interaction is your best indicator.
And this needs no extra saying, but when in doubt take a step back ;-)

Tue, 17 Nov 2015 19:42

Mike Vegas

So thankful of the sarcasm around Women Are From Venus And Men Are From Mars :relaxed:

And the quoting of Gabriel Seah is super nice! Well found!

Fri, 20 Nov 2015 01:28


Just noticed the scientific backup included in the end of the article, nice :thumbsup:

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