How to Say “No!” to Russian Men: Advice for Foreign Girls

November 3, 2011

Most Russian guys are perfectly nice. However, the Russian culture of macho-ism varies a bit from in the USA in that it’s a lot more aggressive. As a result, it’s important that foreign girls know how to behave in order to send the message that they intend to send. Here’s a few rules to live by and anecdotal evidence of what does/doesn’t work:

Rule 1: Do not engage in conversation

I was walking home one afternoon when a man in the driver’s seat of a car asked me something. I didn’t understand what he said but I stopped, assuming he needed directions. It quickly became clear that the man was drunk (and driving?!), so I politely said “Excuse me, I have to leave.” Unfortunately, the man now had it in his head that I was willing to talk to him. He jumped out of his car and chased me down the street, shouting “Девушка, девушка![1] Wait, wait!” When I turned to address him, he shouted out, “You are so beautiful!” I stood there slightly puzzled, not entirely sure how to react. “Are you married?” he said in response to my silence. “Aha! An easy out!” I thought. “Yes, I’m married.” “Oh,” he said, seemingly crestfallen. I turned to leave, victorious. “Девушка, девушка!” I turned around again. “Could I still have your number?!” This time, I knew better than to engage.

Rule 2: Do not be polite

My first experience at a Russian club was a lot of fun. I danced with my friends and the bar bought their new “Друзья из Америки[2]” drinks. Toward the end of the night, I was getting some fresh air with two of my American girl friends when we were approached by a group of Russian men. They spoke to us for a bit, and then one of them got it in his head that he would to dance with me. “Thanks, but I’m talking to my friends,” I told him. Apparently that wasn’t a forceful enough “no,” because next thing I knew, he and one of my girl friends were playing tug of war with my body. The scary part? The guy won. The fortunate part? When he dragged me down into the club, my guy friends saw and immediately intervened. Lesson learned: don’t be polite.

Rule 3: Ignore, Shut Down, and Do the 180˚

I have now developed a tactic that is a mix of advice from and observation of Russian women. I’m pleased to say that it seems to work quite well! Step 1: Ignore the guy. If this fails (e.i., he comes up and is touching you, trying to kiss you, or otherwise bothering you), move to Step 2: Shut Down. In this step, you can say “Не надо[3],” “Я не хочу говорить с вами[4],” or “Уидите[5].” Step 2 must be done seriously. No smiles, no giggles, and sure as heck no apologies. It also must be followed by Step 3: The 180˚. This is where after giving the guy a haughty glare and harsh words, you turn your entire body a full 180˚ to close the conversation. You will see a lot of Russian women pulling the 180˚ to close conversations in public, sometimes even with other women. If a guy is still trying to bother you after this, it’s time to go to the bouncers. That man is not a winner.

Ladies, the sooner you learn this, the better. This is not something that’s ‘just’ happening to me—the Russian women I’ve told these stories to always react the same way: with a resigned “Well, that is how it is.” If you want to say “no” to someone, this is not the place to say, “I’m okay, thanks.” You need to say “no,” and say it firmly. And keep in mind, there are a lot of nice Russian guys out there. If someone’s being uncomfortably forward, though, he’s probably not one of the nicer ones.

Stronger and Ruder (but Safer!),

Sarah


[1] Girl, girl!

[2] Friends from America

[3] Literally: “It’s not needed.” In context here, “Don’t bother.”

[4] I don’t want to talk to you.

[5] Go away.

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3 Responses to “How to Say “No!” to Russian Men: Advice for Foreign Girls”

  1. Grace said

    Russian men were the only thing I didn’t like about studying in Russia…

    • sarahinthegoldencircle said

      The male-female dynamics were possibly the biggest piece of culture shock that I dealt with. I do hope that the girls studying abroad with our program see this post–maybe understanding how there are some differences in ‘flirting’, etc., will make things a little easier!

  2. Kimberly said

    I really like this post Sarah! Way to stay strong 🙂

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