So I brought up Facebook this morning, all cheery and ready to put in another day in earnest at the love quest. But then, I got stung in a most egregious fashion, as I noticed that a girl I’d pursued a date with a couple weeks back, now happily claims to be dating another; though she all but ignored me. Ouch!
She had previously marked herself as ‘single’ But a few hours ago, she set her relationship status to ‘in a relationship’. Oooooh!
I mean, it was bad enough that she only tersely responded to several letters I’d sent her; inviting further conversation. In those, I sincerely detailed my life here, my career, and attempted to show my genuine interest in her by asking lots of questions about her situation. Unfortunately, she never offered any curiosity back, and that hurt. True, she had never asked for any attention from me. So I had no business expecting anything in return for that which I had offered her. But still, her coolness zinged and smarted.
It zinged even worse this morning when I found that she’d obviously connected with someone that she thought was more interesting than me. I mean: It’s one thing when they say no to my face. But it’s much more demoralizing when they further reject by passing me by, on their way to a “better” beau. Shucks!
I could barely get a hundred words out of her. But this other guy got a relationship! Now, even after forty-nine years, I still do not handle rejection as well as I’d like, and I don’t get over rejecting too well either.
Now, as is the usual case, I’m left to ponder how to ease the sting of this love rejection. True. I could talk to a therapist, and indeed get some relief just because s/he represents a consoling force, a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, a seasoned advice giver, and all the other wonderful roles that good counselors play to help their patients.
But I’ve also found writing about my woes to be intensely cathartic, and in many ways, even more lastingly effective than just airing them to a psychoanalyst. Writing is my way of turning lemons into lemonade and thereby discovering and sharing how I sweetened the naturally bitter juice. I got rejected, an experience that generates strong emotions, and that’s the time that I tend to write the most creatively, and am most likely to discover solutions for that pain. So here I am, writing now.
So with that said, allow me in the rest of this piece to meander and write anything that seems to relieve the pain of today’s hurdle when I think of it. Perhaps in this way, not only will I discover my own cure for the blues of getting rejected, but also help my readers with similar experiences to find the same. A love rejection is indeed the ultimate rejection because it hurts more and is more humiliating than any other I know of. But lessening its pain is entirely possible when you develop the right mind set.
The First Love Connection
Occurrences like today’s happen so often that I may have forgotten many of the rejections from yesteryear. But seeing that woman choose another does call to mind similar poignant experiences with [First Love].
In school, I dedicated my life to impressing [First Love] enough so that she’d agree to be my girlfriend; just as I’d attempted to impress this girl on Facebook. I bought [First Love] cans of pop often, fixed her broken devices in electronics class, and stood always ready to serve her in any capacity she requested. I’d engineer things so that she’d see me hard at work with the dining staff; moving pots of hot food around, changing bags in the milk dispensers, and joyfully interacting with the waitresses and the head cook. Instinctively, I knew that showing her that I could get along well with others, and in fact that many others liked me, would encourage her to like me too. I mean: Don’t woman tend to admire guys who have lots of other admirers as well? Absolutely!
Yet in spite of that effort, I only managed to gain marginal esteem from [First Love]. Indeed, as I understand it today, inducing romantic desire into a woman’s heart always requires much, much more than just brute-force exertion. In fact, destiny must favor it too.
Back then though, I did not believe in fate, as fate was so often and closely tied to God in my learning. Indeed, I began questioning the existence of God at fifteen years of age. Eventually as I grew less certain about God, I divorced fate from Him as I realized that the forces of fate are easily provable, while the existence of God is far less so.
Besides, after over seven years of chasing [First Love], I could no longer ignore the reality that my efforts were yielding no fruits. I wasted my time as I came to understand, because my voluntary attempts to instill deep affection for me in her were rarely if ever successful. Though I believed with all my heart that I could gain her impassioned longing, her undying love never materialized. Though I thought I could make her fall if I worked at it long and hard enough, it turned out that unlike the little engine that could, I could not. All the positive thinking I could muster did not alter that truth. Simply believing that I could did not mean that I could.
While it came about after years of this epic slog that [First Love] felt sorry for me and thus threw me a few crumbs of loving here and there, this compassion-based fondness was not what I wanted even though it did finally usher me into her bed; a dream that I’d prayed would come true for years.
Though I was blessed to be one of the few people out there who got to enjoy his first love in the bedroom and in the buff, I still never fully trusted her out-of-character professes of enduring love. How could she change so quickly and so drastically after so long? I wondered. Besides, her affection was unpredictable and typically invisible, and on those rare times when it did appear and then left again, I was left crying in its dusty wake. It would joyfully come and then painfully go. But it was usually absent. Depressing!
It’s true that briefly in 1980, she decided much to my great pleasure, that I was “good” for her; citing my years of dedication, forthrightness, and deliberate servitude. She thought me safe, responsive, and consistently loving by then. So she willed herself to love me; at least for that summer anyway. My years of toil to build inroads into her heart had apparently paid off.
However as I think back on it, she must have ignored the importance of being in love in order to completely love someone, when she chose to love me. Perhaps she preferred to dismiss or hide her need for the chemistry as so many people today do, because they deem it shallow and immature. Indeed, though she argued quite well that she did in fact love me, her words were somehow hollow, and her behavior over time clearly implied otherwise; suggesting that she never really did. Sad!
She often veered from truly loving deeds, because there was no chemistry or deep passion to keep her straight, and her will to stay straight was only so strong. She’d often forget to call, and then grow impatient when I’d take offense. She’d spend time with other men; knowing full well that she was breaking my heart. This was the ultimate rejection.
Yet intellectually, she believed that she should stay straight. But while she truly wished with all her heart that she could love me, the stark truth was that she simply did not, and neither she nor I it turned out, could find the power to change that.
She tried to fix it by bringing her willpower to bear, and I tried by behaving in accommodating, accepting, and loving ways to egg her on. This was easy for me at first, because I had my heart pulling for me. Showing her loving kindness, as long as we were together, came effortlessly. After all, I possessed the gift of deep fervor where she was concerned; a passion that I did not choose. It came from beyond.
But no fire ever ignited in her soul in return for me; not even after years of my relentless (and at times, obsessive) campaigning. The universe had not gifted her as it had me. So, all the effort in the world had not, and it seemed, would not make her fall. Without the pathways of destiny leading to love in the first place, I could not cut one on my own.
She decided to love me, yes. But she never managed to fall in love with me. What she referred to as her love for me, was but a labor of will and resolve; without any abiding infatuation, awe, implicit admiration, or deep seated compulsion to back it up. Her love for me never enslaved her to me. Indeed, she could easily choose to be here today and gone tomorrow; whereas I could not. Though she never intended to deceive or mislead me regarding the depths of her passions, deceived and misled I nonetheless felt.
This romantic chapter (the only one as adults in fact) in our relationship ended after less than five months. I suspected early on that it would because in our entire twenty-two year association, we spent less than twenty nights together. The hurtful part in all that was that I could not persuade her to regard me any more highly than she did already.
No matter what I did or how hard I tried, I rarely received more than mere cordial replies. She shunned my painstaking efforts, no matter how much I offered. This further frustrated me because I found, most brutally, that I actually had far less control over her passions than I’d imagined, when I set out in sixth grade to marry her and live happily ever after in twelfth. Destiny had other plans for her that did not include me, and in the end, accepting that nature beats nurture in these endeavors proved to be the most difficult and humiliating admission to make. My experiences show that in nature there are far greater forces at work than human willpower, and that it therefore makes no sense to shame myself, should I lose out when pitting myself against them.
Fully appreciating the limits of my powers when it comes bringing about deeply enjoyable romantic involvements, has made getting rejected in my love quest hurt much less and thus, quicker to recover from. The hurt from the one today is already gone actually. At times, like this one, I can indeed get over rejection.
In fact, I’ve come to know that fulfilling romances result from the confluence of thousands of variables; the vast majority of which we individuals do not control. The happiest love affairs were destined to be that way before they ever occurred because those thousands of variables were in large degree, already set prior to the love birds ever meeting.
So when I agonized excessively over rejections received as a boy and young adult, my own arrogance proved to be the bona fide source of the resulting pain. Indeed it was extraordinarily bigheaded of me to think that I could manage more than just a small number of all the factors that drive just how happy lovers will ultimately be together, or even if they get started at all. If I indeed have so little control, then why should I think myself inadequate when I’m rejected? Crazy!
These days, I blame myself for far less when the ladies say no. Chances are, they’re rejecting me neither because I failed to behave as I should have, nor because committed some other unsightly blunder. Instead, they reject because they feel no. But with a truly abiding attraction, people are capable of overlooking even the most wrongheaded behaviors. E.g. Ladies who crawl after abusive husbands.
It appears that when they feel yes, then the voluntary behaviors have only some effect on how deeply their passions run. I gather thus that choice-based behaviors, unless they’re unusually inconsiderate, deliberately hurtful, or crass, contribute less than expected to how quickly or deeply we fall for one another. So, I got rejected! But this can, at worst, only imply a small amount of personal inadequacy, since that yes feeling derives from so many factors beyond the controllable ones. Just because another deems us inadequate (they feel no) does not mean that we are lacking; though it does mean that they find us lacking. Interesting!
She may call us a jerk or he might poke fun at (as he sees them) a woman’s numerous faults. But the only definitive thing that the rejecter is qualified to say is simply that he does not feel yes. Any reasons for this that he might give, whether solicited or not, are probably speculative at best, and at worst, just plain wrong.
I say this because in light of all those thousands of variables, it’s unlikely that just one or even a few can completely determine a person’s feelings of love. It’s not just a single reason therefore, or even five or ten that makes someone fall, or prevents them from falling. So, it would be foolhardy for them to state one or three or five as the all encompassing, overriding factors as to why they love us or not. It’s also bad form for the rejected to assume that they were rejected for specific reasons that they could have done something about. Very little of this is personal therefore. Relief!
There’s a lot more to getting someone to fall than just behaving in the right ways. So when they fail to fall, we ought not to blame ourselves for behaving incorrectly so much. In fact, the whole idea that we can make someone fall, given my experiences with [First Love], I now believe is a myth, because in trying, we’re pitting ourselves against fate, and attempting to control those many variables that govern her heart that simply cannot be controlled by modern man.
Assuming we can even know what those specific variables are for each person, actually managing enough of them to make the difference would be nearly impossible at present, and for generations to come I suspect. Different people want different things, and the lists can vary hugely from one person to the next. The core of rejection, I submit, is more about the differences in these lists between the rejecter and the rejected than anything else; any personal inadequacies notwithstanding.
I offer and desire what I do. Indeed, for the most part, I neither choose what to offer, nor especially, do I choose what I desire. So I cannot rationally be faulted for it. The same is true of the people we might choose to approach for a date. They offer and desire various things too; but have no more control over these quantities than do we. Whether or not these vast lists mesh with loving outcomes is a product of destiny; much more than any willful choices made. Liberating!
So, when we encounter getting rejected, we only can rightly shoulder so much responsibility. Thus, any shame we feel at having received rejection is in the main, misplaced. Rejection is less a statement about our controllable qualities as people, and more a simple measure of how well these lists match up. This, I’ve found, really takes the sting out of the experience of rejection for me. With this in mind, I handle rejection more gracefully and have even managed to completely eliminate the sting of it in recent years, from certain ladies.
It’s true that that Facebook woman, just as [First Love] did years ago, chose to reject me. I mean both could have instead, welcomed me. Indeed, there is a level of freedom of choice here. But is choice really all that free? True, we all have a vast plethora of choices before us that we could make. But in all of those, there are far fewer ones that we’d actually desire to make, and I’d never anymore, wish someone to choose to love me without feeling it as well. So when they say no, I just conclude that for whatever reason, we’re not right for each other, and then I move on, as I have today.