Examining The “Buy-Her-A-Drink” Pick-Up Method

Posted by Delaine - August 18, 2009 - Dating & Sex, From the Dating Trenches - 10 Comments

What woman hasn’t found herself in this scenario? 

You’re at a bar, chatting with a girlfriend, when all of a sudden, the bartender or waitress suddenly puts an unordered drink in front of you.  “It’s from that man over there,” she says, pointing across the room.  You look over, only to see a man you aren’t attracted to, smiling over at you.  You smile, maybe wave, and mouth thanks.  That’s the least you can do, right?   Two minutes later, when he garners the courage to approach you, you feel obliged to talk to him; after all, that was kind of him to buy you a drink. To turn it down would be rude; a slap in his face, not to mention a waste of his money and a drink. 

My question to you NOW is:  What did you do wrong in this scenario? 

According to a male friend of mine, you shouldn’t have accepted the drinkPeriod. ”You should send it back with a polite ‘no thank you’ and end the man’s hope right there,” he said.

Now I can only speak for myself and my close girlfriends, but I’ve never thought it right to immediately send the drink back.  The mere thought of that made me feel guilty.  Again, it was a kind gesture, and I thought it would be blatantly rude to waste the drink.

When I told my male friend this, he was genuinely surprised:  “You feel guilty?” he asked.  “The only reason you should feel guilty is if you accept the drink, continue to lead the guy on, only to reject him later.”

Call me stupid but I’d never thought of it from that perspective before.  Out of curiosity, I asked a couple other men what they think.  They totally concurred.  A “thanks, but no thanks” gesture via a drink is more polite than a face-to-face rejection or eventual cold-shoulder.

Now, of course, these are only the opinions of a handful of men.  And if you are of the same or another view, I’d love to hear it.  My sole goal here is to blast through one of the misconceptions/miscommunications between the sexes out in the singles trenches.  I want men to understand that oftentimes women accept drinks out of ‘guilt’ rather than because we enjoy leading them on or because we’re conniving bitches intent on emptying their wallets.  Moreover, I want women to understand that, even though it can feel ugly and uncomfortable, rejecting a man through a drink offer is potentially the most merciful way to show disinterest.



  • Cat says:

    Oh dear, I’ve done the same. Accepted drinks from men I was not interested in to keep from being rude.

    Now I learn rude is exactly what I was being? I’ll know better next time…as if there will be a next time!

  • Nancy says:

    I’m married but go out about once a week with a group of girlfriends. Some are married, some divorced. I’ve seen what you’re talking about, in action, several times.

    I feel bad turning the drink down, but it’s way worse to have to speak to someone you have NO interest in, because of it.

    I have seen my girlfriends turn the drink down. I think it’s like anything else. Once you say “no” that first time…..the next times don’t feel quite as “hurtful”.

  • Delainem says:

    I might get slammed for saying this….but a part of me thinks that ‘some’ men know we’ll feel guilted into talking to them and they use it for all it’s worth. The men I talked to professed to be surprised by women’s guilt thing. But I don’t know…maybe I’m just suspicious. Might take awhile to reprogram my take on things.

  • Jungle Jane says:

    Learn something new everyday!

    So am I supposed to look over, assess whether I like the look of the guy and THEN turn back to the waitress or bartender and shake my head while pushing the drink away?? That seems a lot ruder than having a face-to-face conversation with someone and then saying you are not interested.

  • Wendy says:

    I have to be honest and say that I have never felt guilty before for not accepting a drink ever. Unfortunately I’ve always been a bit paranoid after I read so many articles about women where they stated they took a drink from a stranger and the next thing they remember is waking up in some unfamiliar place. Even with all that paranoia I still had my drink spiked one day, how that happend I don’t know!!! Thanks God nothing happend to me, but I did feel pretty weird the next day!!

    Point is I don’t feel guilty not accepting a drink from anyone, I’ve always been like that.

    So I agree with the guys, a polite no-thanks is the best way to go!

  • Delainem says:

    Thank God nothing happened to you Wendy! The possibility of a drink being spiked or tampered with is definitely worth the send-back.

    On a different note – I was talking to a gf last night about this blog topic and she said that only once did she turn down a drink from a man – and he got really mad at her when she did! When she explained to him she was married so she didn’t think it right, he got PO’ed and said he was just trying to be nice and meant nothing by it. THAT, I think, is bologna cause I don’t think men buy drinks for strangers without an agenda of some sort. This case scenario shows that whether a woman accepts the drink or not, she STILL runs the risk of getting a man angry. Aiyayaya – if only it were cut and dry!

  • Brad says:

    About the spiked drink. If the waitress/waitor is bringing it over. Chances are the drink is not spiked.

    Now to extend this conversation to an initial dinner date. You are asked out for dinner by a man. You have dinner, but during dinner you come to the conclusion that you dont like this guy/cant see yourself with him/etc. So when the bill arrives do you let him pay leading him on? Or do you insist on paying half (similar to refusing the drink)knowing that you dont want to see this person again?

  • Delainem says:

    Brad, when I go out with a man, I always offer to pay – for half or in full – whether I like him or not. To me, that’s just good manners.

    I can totally see where you’re going with this though. And yes, I think it’s only right that a woman offers up at least half if she’s not interested.

  • Been There says:

    Don’t look at the guy and assess him and then refuse it.
    Just don’t look and refuse it unless you think you might possibly ever accept.
    It will only be hurtful if you look him over and then say no.
    Refuse the drink, tell the waiter to return it saying you are taken.
    Give the waiter a tip for acting as messenger.
    If you can’t handle all of that, don’t go to bars.

  • Nils says:

    This is a really silly way to establish contact with a woman. It’s like you’re trying to bribe her for a few moments of her precious time. It sets the wrong frame.

    Guys, if you insist on doing this, buy her a drink but without the alcohol. Sea Breeze? Nope, Cranberry and Grapefruit juice. It’ll be less expensive.

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