I hadn’t really thought about the distinction between the fear and the actual experience of a girl’s rejection until someone brought it up in a singles discussion. The truth is, they’re both very difficult and very powerful challenges, but they’re very different from each other. I’ve experienced both, so I can give a fairly detailed contrast.
The Fear of Rejection
It’s been a long while since I’ve struggled with the fear of rejection, but when I was young, it was a real challenge for me. It’s typical human fear of the unknown, but it’s more. It’s also a terrible pressure pushing me into that unknown, a pressure fueled by expectation, need, and desire.
Of course, the guy is traditionally the one responsible to make the first move and reach out to the girl, so I knew if I were ever to successfully meet a girl, I had to do it.
But what if she doesn’t like me? What if she’s rude to me? Or worse yet, what if she DOES like me??? Floods of questions would fill my mind, questions with uncertain and potentially terrifying answers. Thus, fear becomes an anxiety, perhaps even a phobia, of something that hasn’t actually happened, perhaps that never will. It’s a struggle that occurs entirely in the mind against an illusion, a struggle that persists with no end or resolution.
The Experience of Rejection
Experiencing a real rejection is very different from struggling against an illusion. It hurts. Every time, it hurts. Approaching a girl, engaging her in a relationship, and potentially marrying her is a huge responsibility and a very personal investment. Of course, guys differ in how much they invest in a girl, but since I’m an intellectual introvert, every girl I’ve ever approached, asked out, or otherwise attempted to connect with in a romantic way has already been observed, patterned, and evaluated well enough to know whether she has potential. Every girl. That’s a lot of time and effort that I commit so that I don’t waste either of our time and so that I can know enough about her to taylor my approach and potential pursuit of her. And that’s a lot of time and effort that she doesn’t even know I’ve spent. She’s an investment before I ever approach her, and as in any investment, there’s hope that it will work out.
So when she rejects me, it’s sort of a strange mixture of feelings. There’s disappointment, of course. Then there’s a loss of that hope, a loss that’s made even more bitter by a good dose of humiliation. It hurts. Even in small doses, it hurts.
It’s coincidental that this topic came up because earlier this week, I experienced rejection. I matched with a Ukrainian immigrant on a dating app. I’ve messaged dozens of girls on dating apps, and they almost never reply. But I hoped this woman would be different. She’s very beautiful, and her values and personality are a perfect match to mine. I don’t know what it was about her, but I just had higher hopes than usual. I took a considerable amount of time to read her profile and flip through her photos to glean as much information about her as I could so that I could type out that all-important first message and tap ‘send.’ She didn’t even bother to say, ‘Sorry, I’m not interested.’
And that’s OK.
Why is it OK? Is it because she’s a dirty little [fill in the blank] that doesn’t deserve me? Is it because the planets were out of alignment, or because of any other justification that tells me she wasn’t good for me?
No. It’s OK because I know I tried. I gave it a shot, I did my best, I put my best foot forward. I did what I was supposed to do, and that’s all I can do. Everything else is beyond my control.
That draws perhaps the greatest distinction I’ve seen between experiencing rejection and just fearing it: resolution.
I’ll get over it. I’ll move on, I’ll find another beautiful girl, and I’ll never look back and wonder…