Love, Self

How Saying 'No' Will Help You Find Love

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You are in a state.

"Pangs of love," you say as you roll over on the couch, pantomiming stab motions to the heart. Your roommate looks bemused. It's the third or fourth date, and you've been struggling to hold off sending those late-night, inappropriate text messages. "Head. Heels. You. Me." (send—no wait, delete.) New Relationship Rules: Texting & IMing

Instead, you're on your knees, head in hands, summoning the forces of the universe to carry your love-cry out to the one you desire. Does he hear? Maybe. Will it be returned? The silence of everything that has not been communicated is deafening. Surely he feels it, too? 

Why do you not pick up the phone and call? Why did you not cancel plans with friends to see him last Friday? Why are you still not Facebook friends? Why? Because Beth Wareham says so.

"Chase nothing. Pursue no one. Stand fast and let it come to you," she writes in The Power of No: How to Keep Blowhards and Bozos at Bay (Rodale Books, September 2009). "You must, through word or deed, say no to get to the yes you crave."

When the potential for romance between two people begins to bubble, and you find yourself envisioning the pair of you in coat tails and Vera Wang, "what you do or, more important, what you don't do will have lasting repercussions," she argues.

Surely that's an antiquated idea, outdated ever since The Secret told you all you had to do was to say "yes." So why not call it date five, and go hear him play those four new songs he wrote about his ex-girlfriend? Why not Facebook friend him? Why not act? I Think I've Found The One. What Happens Next?

Well, if you want something: wait. That's the new creed. And it makes sense in these particular times, when instant availability can often mean becoming uninteresting fast. She writes:

In this low-rise, instant-messaging world, everything and everyone is ready to wiggle, giggle and hang at any given moment. Pants graze hips, and shirts ride rib cages; virtually anyone can be contacted in a second, no matter where they are or what they're doing. Random desires can be typed and sent in an impetuous nanosecond, arriving with a beep to the object of desire.

With all this in-your-face-here-you-go-I'm-on-my-way yessing, never before has there been so much for the taking and giving and never have so many been unhappy once taken or gotten.

You will learn that getting what you want often depends on your willingness to go without it—your gamble that a short burst of initial rejection will get you your much-longed-for sustained embrace.

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But isn't this just some re-packaged formulation of the over-tried "he's just not that into you" credo? Because he is into me, you argue. "He is, he is, he is," at least you think so. At least that's what all the signs are pointing towards. (He is following you on Twitter, after all.) 21 Twitter Pick-Up Lines (er, Tweets)

Sure. Maybe. Perhaps. Things are looking good. But if you're looking for a modern girl's version of those heart-stopping tales of love of old, when "love had words and deeds that meant something, had teeth, bespoke of unwavering commitment that defined the very essence of the lover," Wareham writes, "stand your ground and remain cool and calm."

Or, more specifically, don't always say yes. Turn off your cell phone, let his call go to voice mail, stop obsessively updating your various social-networking statuses, stop going to his MySpace page, tell him you have plans, and be cool, baby, be cool. Carry on with your life, don't rush in. Take time. Get to know him. Remain strong and confident in your independence. Key To Finding A Good Man? Self-Respect

Don't be available until you're fully ready to be available—and knowing when takes time.

Learning to remain just out of reach while you assess the candidate vying for your affection isn't regressive; it's "what our boys in camouflage call recon and our mothers call not being a little fool," she implores.

That's right, playing the game of no goes well beyond playing hard to get. How he handles your "no"s, along with whether or not he's "yes"-sing the relationship to death (there are such things as needy, emotionally suffocating men) are all important criteria for judging whether or not you two will indeed make it to that coat-tails-and-Vera picture of perfection anyway. 7 Men We'd Like To Date

For more specifics on how to "warm up your no," spot a needy over-attacher and manage your cell phone strategy, check out the book—it's a Love Buzz recommendation.

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