It’s late after a long and stressful workday, I’m exhausted, and will probably do an uncharacteristically bad job of organizing and expressing what I’m thinking, but I’m new to Medium and may not be able to find this post tomorrow, so please bear with me.

Bonnie, boundaries and expressing yourself are great, but I would caution you and all women against taking a man’s actions personally in this early stage. He hasn’t yet earned the privilege of that level of intimacy or control of your emotions.

As a veteran relationship and life coach (since 2002), I can tell you that men are born knowing precisely nothing about dating and women, and most die knowing little to nothing more than when they were born. That doesn’t excuse rudeness and such, but it will benefit you to understand it, because it can help keep you from being angry, which impedes clear thought and can cause you to lash out and possibly trigger violence or other reprisal when being calm but firm in stating your boundaries and displeasure has a much better chance of a dignified, clean, and safe break.

Most men don’t have female friends, and most men are too embarrassed by their awkwardness and ignorance to ask any friend, male or female, for advice (until they muck up so badly that they pay someone like me, a total stranger to them who is paid to advise and paid to not judge, because they’re desperate). What little they learn is often overheard rather than discussed, and out of context at that, or seen on TV or a movie screen, where art imitates life very poorly at best. And then there are that 10% who are narcissists and therefore think the world should just fall on their knees before them, and who will always be lost causes because they don’t recognize they could use some advice, and too self-absorbed to realize they might be offending anyone.

The point is that most aren’t being disrespectful, just showing their ignorance or neurosis, and those who are being disrespectful aren’t worth the energy to hate. And again, this doesn’t excuse anything they say or do; the point is for you to have a mindset that will allow you to stay focused and alert, and communicative enough to express your boundaries in a way that will be respected and taken seriously, leaving no room for the man to say, “Aw, she didn’t mean it. She was just mad and she’ll get over it,” as dictated by his ignorance or narcissism.

Besides, who do you prefer to have in control in that situation? If you’re calm and stern, you’re in control of the situation, your emotions, and his emotions. You’re in the perfect mental state to cut him off at the knees (or the ‘nads, if he deserves it) with eloquence that will make him always remember and respect what you’ve said. If you’re angry and screaming, you’ve given him control of your emotions, when he has done nothing whatsoever to earn it, and given him a way to (wrongly, very wrongly) dismiss what you’ve said by blaming your anger instead of his transgression. How many times have all of us said something when upset and then later cursed as what we should have said occurred to us?

So don’t just keep your self-respect by calling him out, keep your advantage by remembering that his ignorance or other malfunction isn’t worth giving up control by giving in to anger, and dismiss him. After all, the worst punishment you can give a man is to remove yourself from his life, and the best revenge is living well, free of anger and angst. So say your piece, excuse yourself, and enjoy the rest of your evening instead of allowing some idiot or mental case to ruin it for you, you know? Every second that passes is gone forever, and you never know how many you have left, so don’t waste them being angry at someone who obviously can’t contribute anything to your happiness.

The wisest man I ever knew told me, “Never consign to malice anything easily attributed to ignorance, apathy, or mental defect, and don’t get angry at malice; either get away or, if you can’t, get even.” He was right.

Author, 42 years. Life, relationship, grief, and career coach since 2002. ESTJ-A (Executive), sheepdog. Objectivist. Chef. Jack of all trades, master of a few.

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