Dealing with Rejection

I recently had the unusual pleasure of talking with two friends about their fresh experiences with being rejected by their romantic objects of interest.

Friend number one, whom I shall refer to as Mannix Escobar, recently asked a lady out after having developed a severe crush on her, which he’d had for some time. The lady turned him down, albeit in a nice way.

Mannix commented that when someone turns you down it’s much easier to take when they tell you that they are not at all interested in you and that you are gross and that you disgust them in a peculiar way. Easier still is when they tell you that they are a lesbian, or a nun, or that they are in fact a man who recently had a sex-change operation.

But when they let you down in a perfectly gracious way, you can’t help but keep them up there on that pedestal where you placed them a long time ago. (They are so difficult to see way up there, aren’t they?)  And that’s painful.

Harder still is when they say no in a decent way and your family and friends tell you that surely they must be a lesbian, or a nun, or that they are in fact a man who recently had a sex-change operation. And now you are forced to defend the person that rejected you on principle and also based on the fact that Hey! you made a good choice in that person, but they made a bad choice in turning you down.

Mr. Escobar and I also had a nice discussion about crushes and in particular of the strange energy that is generated by a crush. A crush is typically a one-way love affair. At least when you are in love with someone and they are in love with you, you can express yourself freely and release your primal energies. But when it’s just you and the crush, you are pretty much like a ticking time-bomb of love energy ready to explode.

On the one hand, having a crush can be painful. But on the other hand, if you think of it the right way, it’s quite a bizarre and wonderful experience. A crush amounts to a wave of appreciation that you have for another person, and isn’t that a great thing?

So, you can drown your miseries in sad movies like The Notebook and The English Patient and cry your crush away (yeah, you really expected it to turn out like The Notebook, didn’t you?). Or you can direct that crush energy into some creative outlet and let your emotions pour. It’s my guess that some of the greatest writing, art, nuclear physics equations, and bouts of physical exertion have been created while under the severe weight of a crush. You can pack years worth of prison workouts into a few weeks of crush-rejection exercise!

Or you can do what my friend Mannix did and direct your crush energy towards the next maharani on the list. Good ole Mannix asked that cute female out that he see’s at the library the same time he’s there every week. Unfortunately, she turned him down too, but for perhaps a better reason: she’s seeing someone. That kind of rejection reason is easy to take.  That’s not a yes or a no, that’s just a timing issue, absolutely beyond your control.

But rather than feeling doubly-rejected, Mannix feels an odd power. It is the power of one who has marched through the depths of of a fiery hell and stared the grim beast in the eye and escaped with the knowledge that HE IS STILL ALIVE!!! And perhaps more alive now than before.

Now Mr. Escobar says that he feels like an indestructible, fearless panther, prowling the springtime jungle, ready to ask any fancy honey he likes out for a date. He fears not rejection, for it is better to know than to not.

Which brings me to friend number two, whom I shall refer to as Emmanuelle Toblerone. Emmanuelle recently went out for a date or two with a guy who then decided that he ‘just wanted to be friends’. That is probably the worst rejection dagger of all, especially when it is wedged squarely between your shoulder blades where you can’t reach it.

I think the advice of Mannix would be: “Fear not, sweet Emmanualle Toblerone, for destiny approaches, swift and sure, and you must be ready!”

It’s funny, I was about half-way through the book “Conquering Fear, Living Boldly in an Uncertain World” by Harold S. Kushner when I spoke with Mannix and Ms. Toblerone.  And what should the next chapter of the book be?  “Loss of Job, Loss of Love: the Fear of Rejection”.

Kushner provides some valuable insight for the plight of Mr. Escobar and Emmanuelle.  If you are rejected by someone “please remember that sometimes smart people make mistakes … if the man of your dreams settled his affections on someone else, console yourself with the thought that, if he preferred large breasts to a sensitive soul, why would you want to be married to a jerk like that in the first place?  Yes, it can hurt terribly to be rejected … but it may have been the result of someone else’s limitations, not yours.  Sometimes you deserved to be chosen and cherished, but other people’s blindness kept that from happening.”

On the other hand, says Kushner, “sometimes smart people get it right even if we don’t like the result … the person who rejects you in a personal relationship, whether by not pursuing a courtship or by initiating a divorce, might understand you better than you understand yourself and might see you more clearly than you see yourself.”

“We may have to acknowledge that the man or woman we thought was so perfect had flaws that would ultimately have led to mutual unhappiness.  Or we may have to acknowledge that the person we thought was so wonderful may have been wise enough to realize that the two of you were not really right for each other, not necessarily because there was something lacking in you but because there was something about the combination of the two of you that didn’t quite fit.”

If this is the case then perhaps later on you will realize that the person who rejected you helped you dodge a bullet or a runaway locomotive.  (Heck, if they turned you down three times, they helped you dodge three bullets OR the same bullet three times!  How many people can claim that feat?  Be thankful!)  

Kushner also says to keep your chin up.  “Do not ever let your opinion of yourself be shaped by someone else’s opinion of you.”

Kushner adds this piece of wisdom: “Isn’t it true that by loving and losing, by rejecting and being rejected, that we ultimately find the person we are most suited to share a life of love with?  … Would you really want to be married to the first girl you ever had a crush on?  Yes, it’s a sad thing to say good-bye to someone you cared about, and it can be really painful to be told by someone you dreamed of sharing a life with that ‘It’s not working out’.  But that is how you find out who you are.  You try on one identity combination after another until you find the one that fits just right.”

 Kushner concludes the chapter with a quote from Hellen Keller: “Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. … Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

So set your starry eyes on the dreamy succubi and incubi that lie just beyond the horizon, fearless lovers, for they are coming into view just as we speak!

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