How to handle Rejections

Many moons ago, when I was going through my divorce and just starting to date again I met a woman online. We connected over emails and messaging, she gave me her number and I called her up and finally decided to meet. The first date went pretty well, we decided on a second date, and then a third and a fourth. We had a good time during all our dates : laughing, chatting, holding hands. At the end of the fourth date after I had walked her to her car she suddenly turned towards me and said that while she enjoyed my company she did not think we were right for each other.

I was completely thunderstruck. This was so unexpected, we seemed to have such a nice time together. I did not find words to respond to her and she waited for a few seconds and then drove away, leaving me standing with my mouth open in the parking lot.

I put myself through agony for the next few days. Analyzing every little thing I could remember saying  to her and her responses to those. I was trying to figure out what had gone wrong and make sense out of it.

Finally, I sent her an angry message stating that she had hurt me terribly by leading me on. My reasoning was that if she did not like me why would she go out four times with me? Why didn’t she tell me so after the first couple of dates?

Anyway, the good news is we are good friends now, platonic ones, and she has since revealed  that she was seeing another person at the same time as me and was trying to make her mind up. The other person is culturally more compatible with her and so she had decided to continue with him. It’s been several years and they are still seeing each other.

Fast forward a few years and recently I went on a few dates with another woman and we seemed to have a wonderful time together. At the end of the last date, however, just before getting into her car she told me that she’d prefer not to see me again. This time, I smiled at her, gave her a warm hug, thanked her for being so upfront and candid, told her if she ever needed a friend she could reach out to me and wished her a safe drive home. She left smiling.

What was different? What had changed?

It’s me. I’ve evolved. I’m a different person now.

Guys, rejection is not a judgement on you. It does not happen because you aren’t good enough for her. Neither is it, as some relationship coaches advise, a reflection on the woman’s poor judgement and her inability to appreciate how awesome you are.

You are awesome, but not to everybody.

There are many reasons why a woman may reject a guy. (While I’m taking a heterosexual man’s viewpoint in this post I believe many of these ideas will apply to any person of any sexual identity and  preference attempting at courtship.) She may not feel a romantic chemistry between the two of you. That doesn’t diminish either you or her. It’s just a fact of life.

Or, she may be at a point in life where she is not ready to start a new relationship. She may have too much on her plate – her kids may be flunking at school, she may have an aging parent who was just hospitalized or she may be overworked and stressed at her job.

It is also possible, as it happened in my case in the first example that she is dating several guys and trying to choose the one most compatible and there was someone else who matched her criteria better than you did. No shame in that.

There is a myth in the dating coaching and pick-up community that if your ‘game’ is good enough you will be able to pick any woman up, and failing that means you’re either not good enough or the woman is crazy. This is absolute bs.

My post-divorce dating failures drove me to studying dating and pick-up techniques. I read numerous books, attended online and in person seminars, took courses and practiced the techniques in real life. I also studied female psychology and attraction extensively. I don’t study as much now, but that is only because I feel I’ve gotten reasonably good at this. I’ve been meeting women successfully both online and offline.

Last year when I was more active online there was a time when my response rate to messages  initiated by me reached 80%. About 20% – 30% of these were women who wrote back saying they weren’t interested. These were very attractive, smart and independent women, many of who were receiving more that 50 messages in their inbox on a typical day. Now, from what I hear from my friends and online surveys the typical man’s response rate to initial messages hovers around 10%.

I do pretty well offline too, when I have the time for it. I’ve gotten numbers from women at bars, at meetups, at shows, at community events… At one point I was seeing so many women at the same time that I would be going on dates with five different women on a typical weekend : Friday evening, Saturday morning and evening and Sunday morning and evening. I remember one weekend I was able to squeeze one person for an afternoon meet on Saturday between a morning and an evening date. It was getting difficult to keep so many people straight. I’d sometimes call Melissa as ‘Michelle’ and sometimes address Laura as ‘Linda,’ but that’s a different story because I don’t do that any more, I’m far more selective now.

But, I still get rejected quite often. As I said above, you may be awesome, but you cannot be awesome to everybody. You may have six-pack abs and resemble Arnold but there are women who will prefer thin and lanky guys. You may be very outgoing and you’ll be rejected by women who prefer shy people. I have an accent and it has mostly worked in my favor since many women seem to view an accent as ‘exotic’ but some women just don’t like accents. You may have facial hair and some women may not like you for that, or, you may be clean-shaven and be rejected by women for that reason.

Heck, not everybody likes Shakespeare, or Beethoven.

So, don’t take rejections as a personal judgement.

One great tool in handling rejections is to build your self-esteem up so that it is independent of external validation. However, this is easier said than done. We all are social creatures and depend on external feedback to evaluate ourselves, and in some ways it is the only way to go. For example, you may think you’re the greatest singer in town but if people run away every time you open your mouth then it’s time for some serious soul searching.

So, how do we rely on external validation and yet not be devastated when someone refuses to give it to us? The trick is to spread yourself out a bit, be good at many areas in life. Maybe you are good at your job and your employer appreciates you, that’ll help in building up your self-esteem. Maybe you’re a loyal friend and your friends love you. Or, maybe you devote many hours a week in community service and people have come to depend on you. Look for ways, other than dating, to find validation. See what you’re good at, the more things the better.

And, if you have looked and did not find at least a few things that you enjoy doing and get appreciated for then maybe this is not a good time for you to date. You may be better off devoting your time at self-development.

Also, it will lessen the sting if you acknowledge that the woman who is rejecting you is probably having a very hard time doing it. People do not enjoy making others suffer, not most people, anyway. When I break up or reject someone I feel so bad that at times I wish I did not have to do it. It is hard, and it takes a woman a lot of courage to say ‘no’ to your face. Appreciate that and thank her if possible.

Remember, dating is not about what you can extract from the woman, but what you have to offer to her. And, unless you can like and respect yourself, no one will like or respect you.

And finally, remember that the question to ask yourself before approaching an attractive  woman should never be whether you are good enough for her. It should be whether she is good enough for you.