The Boyfriend Excuse
What she says: "I have a boyfriend, sorry."
What she means: Either she really has a boyfriend, or she wants you to stop hitting on her.
Why she says this: Unfortunately, many men don't react well to straightforward romantic rejection from women they're asking out, and occasionally even get aggressive or hostile in the face of responses like "Not interested, thanks!" or "I'm not here to be picked up." In the worst cases, straightforward rejection can result in harassment.
What you should do: Move on, and leave her alone for the night. Whether or not the object of your affection actually has a boyfriend is beside the point, and isn't really your business, so you shouldn't make further enquiries to try to "prove" that she isn't actually taken.
The Fake Number
What she says: "Sure, I'll give you my number. It's [inset fake phone number here]."
What she means: I don't want you to be able to contact me, but you're giving me bad vibes that make me feel I can't say that directly.
Why she says this: As above, this is a self-preservation mechanism and a way to avoid overt hostility. In the face of a man who seems like he will be persistent or even a little creepy, giving a fake number is a way of diffusing the situation and giving the promise of further contact down the line.
What you should do: Shrug your shoulders and move on. Of course it's a bit insulting, but try not to take it too personally – her right to feel safe trumps your right to score her number.
Enter The Friendzone
What she says: "You're such a good friend"/"It's so nice having you as a friend!"
What she means: Your relationship is purely platonic, and she doesn't see that changing.
Why she says this: Sometimes men will harbour longings for their female friends without actually saying so, and this puts said women in an uncomfortable situation. Your friend might sense that you want the relationship to be more than platonic, but you won't actually say so, so she can't reject you outright.
What you should do: Take her at her word, and give up on the idea that you're going to be more than friends at some point in the future. If you really value her and like her as a person, continue to be her friend – Don't throw out a good relationship because you're sensitive about rejection.
What she says: "I'm really busy this week, I'll get in touch" [then she never gets in touch]
What she means: I'm not interested in seeing you again.
Why she says this: You might be detecting a common theme at this point: Women often find rejecting men to be a very fraught scenario (and for good reason), and will do almost anything to soften the blow or avoid outright confrontation. Saying that she's busy is a lot easier than saying, "I don't actually want to see you again, at all, period."
What you should do: Leave the ball in her court. Assume she doesn't want to see you again, and if you're wrong and she has genuinely been busy, she can get in touch. In the meantime, move on to people who have demonstrated genuine interest in spending time with you – you deserve that.
The Cold Shoulder
What she says: "I'm fine."
What she means: I'm not fine, but I can't be bothered explaining the obvious to you.
Why she says this: This is a tricky one, because it can be unfair and immature for a woman to pretend that everything is okay when it isn't, especially if you've reached out to check in on how she's feeling. In her defense, though, the "I'm fine" response may mean that you've failed to miss an obvious sign or hurt her in a way that should be apparent without her having to spell it out.
What you should do: It's worth gently pushing back on this one. Say something like, "I really don't think you're fine, but I'm not a mind reader, and I honestly don't know what's wrong. I genuinely want to know if I've done something wrong, so please let me know, either now or when you're feeling more up to talking about it." Now the onus is on her to communicate honestly and openly in return.
Taking A Break
What she says: "Maybe we should take a break."
What she means: I'm having serious doubts about our relationship.
Why she says this: The idea of breaking up completely is too frightening for her to contemplate right now, but she's got serious issues with how the relationship is progressing. She wants to take a break to bring some space to the situation and see how she really feels, but she doesn't want the finality of breaking up for good.
What you should do: How you should respond depends on how you are feeling. Have you also been sensing that the relationship is struggling, or is this news coming out of left field for you? The best move is to have a deeper discussion about what's really gone wrong in the relationship and whether it's fixable, because a break is a temporary measure that won't actually resolve the deeper issues at hand.
Excuses To Get Out Of Sex
What she says: "Ouch"/"I have a headache"/"That's hurting!"/"Can we take a break?"/"Not tonight"/"I'm tired"
What she means: I do not want to have sex with you right now.
Why she says this: Because she doesn't want to have sex with you right now, and "no" can take many different forms.
What you should do: STOP. Seriously, though: This one is important. Err on the side of assuming any protests or signs of doubt in the bedroom mean you should give it a rest and do something else, and if you're receiving anything less than enthusiastic consent to sex, you need to stop immediately.