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One of the most interesting things I’ve found about being on the road to the altar is how awkward it is to figure out if and when I should share that information with folks I meet of the opposite sex. While people like Kevin Gates like to say that women shouldn’t even touch him because he’s married, and there are even debates on whether or not it’s appropriate for married men and women to receive phone calls from people of the opposite sex, I never wanted to be one of those people who acted as though I couldn’t interact with men in everyday life because I’m engaged to be married to one.

Plus, there’s something…let’s just say interesting…about assuming that every man you meet wants you like that. That’s almost like thinking that because someone is friendly to you, they automatically are planning to get in your drawls. Plus, not every person needs to know your business like that anyway.

But after running into two situations this past weekend where I worried that I was confusing a man’s general chivalrous behavior with flirtation and one where I clearly wasn’t confused, I thought it would be good to ask, when and how should you tell someone of the opposite sex you’re not interested and not available? What’s the signal that lets you know they want more than what you can offer when you initially thought they were a nice person to get to know?

For instance, while out of town for a friend’s wedding and rolling with single friends, I met a guy who was quite hilarious. He is also from New York, also Nigerian, and is also a fantastic dancer, so we got along well, as he also did with my two friends. Near the end of the night, he sort of flocked to me and one of the other girls (the other went home early), even offering us a ride home. Nice, right?

Well, for some reason, I thought it best to distance myself all of a sudden. I started saying less, and while I took that ride (Uber prices were a trip…), I sat in the back despite my friend offering to. (Side note: she often offers to sit in the back of cars because I’m tall. Sweet girl.) In my mind, I thought, let me let two single people mingle and stay my black a– out of trouble. But during the ride, the harmless truth came out: He’s married, has a newborn, and was just trying to make sure my friend and I got home safely after the wedding. When we got there, he waited for us to enter our AirBNB and said, “Have a goodnight ladies! Great meeting you.”

“Get over yourself, Victoria” is what ran through my head as I prepared for bed that evening.

But the next day, I had a much different experience. The groom’s brother had been very charming and polite since my friends and I initially entered town. He often offered us rides and to show us around town, which we greatly appreciated. When I asked my girlfriend what she thought of him at the wedding, she relayed that she thought he was cute. It was clear he thought the same of her. So I took it upon myself to try and make a love connection happen, because what better time then around a wedding to do so?

Well, he offered to take her to the airport. I rode along, as my flight was leaving a day later, and sat in the back quietly as they chatted. After dropping her off at her terminal, he gave her a hug, as did I, and that was about it. No romantic moment whatsoever. I proceeded to sit in the front with him as he drove me to a brunch for the bride and groom. We lightly talked about the city I was visiting as he pointed to different shopping areas and venues.

“So, what did you think of ___?” I eventually asked, trying to kick my matchmaker skills into gear.

“Are you kidding me?” he said with a laugh. He proceeded, “She’s nice, but I’m not really interested in her in that way. But if I came to New York she would be a great person to hang out with and show me around.”

Noted. I let it go, saddened that I would have to pack away my matchmaking attempts. And that’s when things became quite uncomfortable.

“If I was going to talk to someone, it would be you.”

What I assumed were genuine attempts to be friendly also happened to be attempts to spend time with me so he could try and make a move. When I showed him my ring, which I’ve worn every day since getting engaged last year, he seemed disappointed. But what was really disappointing was the fact that he didn’t give up. On the longest of rides, he asked me if I could ever like him in the future, how I knew I was actually ready to get married, why it took my fiancé so long to propose (he said he would know by six months), and said if I wanted to “do something,” I wouldn’t have to worry about him telling anybody while giving me the eye.

I couldn’t get out of that car fast enough.

For a minute there, I wondered if I had been too friendly, if I needed to start making mention of my upcoming marital status straightaway, in the “My fiancé and I” kind of way to make it clear that I wouldn’t likely entertain advances. But, again, I also worry that such moves play into the idea that men and women can’t just be friends. In the case of the first guy, some men really are good guys whose intentions aren’t always what you think. Plus, in the case of the groom’s brother, in reality, my status didn’t matter whatsoever. He was determined either way. This was clear when he said “an engagement means nothing,” and kept trying to create hypothetical situations to encourage me to at least say some Erykah Badu “Next Lifetime” sh-t. Hard pass.

It’s tough. Even if you aren’t looking for a friend, it’s awkward to assume that every male needs to know you’re taken off the bat because you believe they might be out to hit on you. And it’s also quite interesting that by telling someone “I’m engaged,” I’m telling them to respect the man they don’t know and my relationship more than just respecting me and falling all the way back. To be honest, I would have loved to tell him that I’m not interested not solely because I’m in love with someone else who I wouldn’t dare hurt, but also because I’m just genuinely not interested. Because the last thing I wanted for him to think, which I believe he did, was that I’m not giving him the time of the day only because someone else is in the picture. He didn’t have the juice like that…

So with that being said, I don’t have any plans to step out on my old man (who just laughed — over and over — when I told him about the groom’s brother). But I did realize two things from this weekend and this ongoing issue: My fiancé probably needs to start coming to more social gatherings with me (a light SMH at him), and being friendly when off the market can be quite a complicated thing. But I don’t plan on ceasing from being either anytime soon.

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