Musings

On Rejection

May 12, 2018

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite subjection – rejection.

Rejection comes in many shapes or forms, but mainly I am going to talk about romantic rejection today. Personally, I have been rejected many, many, many times in my life. Honestly, I am probably embarrassed to mention about the actual figure. And, to be fair, I have rejected people too. In serious relationships and via random WYD messages that come in late at night on gay apps. But it seems like its only the people who reject us that leave a lasting mark, huh? Why is that?

The easy answer is that we all have fragile egos (especially the #fragilemaleego) and emotional rejection really cuts to your core. When you get rejected from a job, it can be disappointing, but it often boils down to skills and experience, not personality or looks. When someone tells you they don’t want to be with you, you basically feel like you are an unworthy, unlovable, ugly and bad person, to a certain degree.

Maybe I am dramatizing it a bit but I think that is how most people feel. Well, at least how I do. But in our millennial age, where we are overwhelmed by so many choices on dating apps and so many next best things that never materialize, rejection is a very, very common thing.

There is a concept in psychology called the “Paradox of Choice,” which states that when you have so many choices, it paradoxically makes it even harder to make a true connection. In other words, when presented with so many options, we always end up unhappy.

In the past, I have broken up with men and they all pretty much sucked. When it comes to the question of how to continue forward, it is a tough one. I have tried to be friends and I have tried to go cold turkey and I have tried to get back together. For some, the harsh truth is the only thing to do is to not talk, not text, and to not see each other in person. Or else, the wound can’t scab and heal. Cute, right?

This brings me to the point of — is it okay to be friends with your ex? The answer is probably not at first. If one party still harbors feelings, then, to quote Whoopi Goldberg, “Gurl you in danger.” But, if enough time has passed and everyone can be mature, then it should be fine. Operative word here is “should.” Again, this is all easier said than done.

Maturity seems to be a big issue in dating within the gay community and its pretty shocking when you really dig down into the nitty, gritty of it. A helpful rule of thumb: when talking about a gay man’s maturity age, minus five from their real age and there you have it. For instance, I am 28 now, so my gay maturity age is 23. Why five? Well first, men are less mature than women, so than is an automatic minus two. Gay men typically don’t come out until later, so they/we lack a safe space to experiment and develop when they are younger. So that’s minus three.

Gay men, then, tend to skew immature. When you throw into that internalized homophobia, social stigmas, the hyper intensive pressure to always be pretty, perfect, skinny, beautiful and wildly successful with an 8 pack, you have a culture that celebrates superficiality and, in many ways, shuns maturity. Historically, the average age a gay man settles down is 40, which is pretty late in the game by comparison. It seems that gay men often strive towards the nuclear notion of a perfect family, but don’t necessarily have the tools, both emotionally and in terms of social constructs, to realize it. The result is casual, fluid and queen-on-queen. And not the RuPaul way. In that respect, our community still has a long way to go.

Dating in China is a whole other bag of worms that I think I need a separate blog post to write about. The one thing I will say is that casually dating is not a concept germane to 21st century China. Chinese guys, and not just Chinese gay men, seem to have two speeds – friends or marriage. There really is no in between. It can seem business-like and transactive and often doesn’t gel with the American sensibility of leading with emotion.

So, what’s my advice for people facing rejection? Move on. If someone really cares about, you should’t have to overthink it and agonize over why he isn’t texting you back. Life is too short to deal with losers.

In many ways, we have a current culture where we are overwhelmed with seemingly amazing but realistically dysfunctional choices, which serves as a breeding ground for ghosting. So, don’t beat yourself up about it. Sure, you probably made mistakes, but then again so did they. And if someone really likes you, they will probably forgive you for it. If not, don’t worry. The best thing you can learn to do is bounce back, gracefully.

 

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  1. Agreed 🙂

    In this book I’m reading by Zadie Smith (“White Teeth”), she quotes one of her characters as having written “…now we are demanding both variety and continuity in our flowers, the passionate colours of exotic blooms 365 days a year.” (page 309)

    The seeming insatiability of people today – not just the young, and not just the gay – has created an expectation of not just options, but of the ever-flowing continuity of options, and the full spectrum of them too.

    Ironically, with this supposed stream of variety, rushing by us at all times and in no particular direction, comes such desperation for something to stick. So while ghosting and abandoning is commonplace, so is the increase in frustration of the rejection (on the part of the ghosted) and of the lack of fit (on the part of the ‘rejecter’) that follows.

    We want something to work in fact, but the rush of the “boundless” options also makes rejection so much easier, not just because we think more is always to come, not just because we can literally reject by pressing a button or swiping this way or that, but because we feel that that person is somehow always anyway available if we want to bounce back. It’s like a constant tug in all directions, an utter paralyzing state of indecisiveness.

    We don’t need to worry they will move, not share their address and then that’s goodbye forever, we no longer worry about goodbye forever. For this reason, what you said about moving on – as the rejected – is really crucial, because it forces us to do something that instinctively is difficult but in the long-term is sometimes for the best. And as for the ‘rejecter’, don’t act like saying goodbye is inconsequential. Do it if you mean it, but don’t come back with a casual DM acting like nothing ever happened.

    Decision-making is always hard, adults are clueless to the layers of their interior worlds most of the time, never knowing which voice to listen to. Now that we have tools that allow us to listen to any particular voice on any particular day, and change directions as needed, we are more indecisive than ever.

    But the pain that comes from this problem of choice is in fact the voice we should be listening to. It is telling us to do something and to be brave enough to stick with it.

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