I might not have this story entirely right, but I seem to think that my grandmother, mother of my mother, had a policy before she got married of never saying no to a dance.
I guess it was wartime, and saying yes to everyone, especially people in the Forces, was almost noble because it might have been their last dance. It cost her nothing to be a sweet and pretty dance partner so why not give someone that pleasure?
I also seem to think that the one man she did refuse, ended up being my granddad…
In some ways I like this as a policy, and have tried to adopt it for myself – if someone asks me on a date, as long as I don’t feel sick at the thought, or that it’s a terrible idea, I’ll say yes. After all, if they’ve had the guts and courage to ask you, the least you can do is look pretty and be a nice companion for them for the evening. Which now I’ve typed it looks a bit patronising, but in essence, I’m promising myself not to write anyone off before they’ve had a fair shot.
It also works quite well for me, because I am practically incapable of saying no to a direct request. Ask me in a roundabout way, hint a something, be a little bit tentative or obscure, even give me time to think it over, and I’ll almost definitely talk myself out of whatever it is, and say no.
Give me no time to think, ask me outright, brook no opposition, and even if it’s the worst idea in the world, I’ll probably say yes. This, in fact, is how most of my relationships with members of the opposite sex have begun: I wasn’t interested, they were direct and relentless, I was won over.
It also meant I never got to negotiate the terms of the arrangement, and so when it came to the end of those relationships, the guys brooked no opposition to it ending then either.
‘I don’t think this is working and I think we should finish it,’ they would say. ‘What do you think?’
‘Yes,’ I’d answer, even if everything inside was screaming ‘NO! You’ll break my heart and ruin my life and how dare you do this to me?!’
‘Yes, I think you’re right…’
Spectacular failure to use the word no…
But having a ‘yes’ attitude to life is generally good, I hope. It means you’ll take risks and explore avenues and opportunities first, before closing them off. But only in moderation – and sometimes saying yes opens a whole can of worms that makes no even harder to say.
But then again, maybe the guy I say no to, like my grandmother, will be the man I ultimately end up saying yes to.