On Dealing With Rejection
I know it's been a while since I posted an article on here, and I know you're accustomed to a certain tone in them. This one's going to be different. I'm going to talk about Elliot Rodger (dumb way to spell a name), but I don't have the energy right now to put on the familiar persona; this is going to be a very honest, very open article, because I think this topic deserves it.
It's no secret that I've been single now for almost 3 years. Some of that was by choice, some was by necessity, and more recently it's been because I haven't found the right person. I broke up with my ex in the summer of 2011, and for the first several months after that happened, I didn't want to be in another relationship just yet. I didn't want a meaningless rebound, I wanted some time to decompress.
That was followed by a period where I had to live in a friend's basement for a bit while I looked for a place to live, and that was followed by me injuring both of my wrists fairly badly. So I wasn't able to date for that time, at least in my own mind, and I made no effort to.
After that, though, I started putting myself out there in the dating world. I've gone on single dates with several women, but very few led to a second date, and even fewer went further. And for every woman who went on a date with me, there are at least 10 who didn't. I've faced a lot of rejection in the last year.
You know what though? At no point in all of that did I ever think "What's wrong with all these women? It's their fault I'm still single." Because taking such a view is unreasonable and illogical. If 50 mice all pass out when exposed to a gas, it's not because there was something wrong with the mice, it's because as the common denominator, the gas made it happen. And no, I haven't been gassing women. Though I may have farted a few too many times.
I'm getting off point. The point is, it's not anyone else's fault but mine that I am single. And it's not even really my fault: I'm who I am, they're who they are, and it just hasn't been the right combination yet. And that's okay.
But I did get insecure about it recently. And seeing as she's the last person I dated, I asked my ex about it. But I didn't ask "why can't they see how awesome I am," I asked "am I doing something wrong?" Facing rejection on a regular basis wears on you heavily, and it affects your mood, appetite, thought processes, focus, energy levels, and confidence. It's not a situation that's unique to any one person, and there are healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with it. Talking about it, like I did with my ex and like I'm doing by writing this, is a healthy way. Getting angry at people for not realizing how awesome you think you are is an unhealthy way. And going on a murderous rampage through the streets of Santa Barbara is an unhealthy way to deal with most things.
The root of the problem in general is that as a culture, we have been brought up by movies to believe two conflicting things:
- Women hold all the power in starting a relationship. Men are expected to take the initiative and put themselves at risk, while women sit back and play with their emotions until the perfect man comes along and is judged worthy. You've seen more romantic comedies that start this way than you've seen that haven't.
- If a man does something awesome, he gets a woman as his reward. In almost every action movie, the hero gets the girl. That's just how it goes: save the day, get sex. Rescue the hostages, get sex. Kill the bad guy, get sex. Women can't help themselves; it just happens.
Both of these are degrading to women in different ways. The first also necessarily states that women are not allowed to initiate contact, lest they be seen as desperate because men aren't throwing themselves at them. Meanwhile, the second necessarily labels them as property, because they have no choice but to do what they're obligated to do: be a trophy for someone who thinks he's earned it.
They're also diametrically opposed to each other as concepts: in the first, the woman has all the power; in the second, the woman is powerless. The reality is that neither one is correct: I've also turned down women who've asked me out, and there is no act that automatically entitles you to a woman. Seriously, it doesn't exist. If you think it does - if you think you've seen it happen - you are mistaking other factors as not having influence.
All other interpretations of the male/female dating dynamic fall somewhere in between those two extremes. In Elliot Rodger's (still a dumb way to spell a name) specific case, he had thrown his lot in with the so-called Pick Up Artists (PUAs). The basic theory behind PUA culture is that there is a particular combination of arrogance and deprecation that functional women are incapable of resisting, and if you use the PUA techniques (which you have to pay to learn) and a woman doesn't respond positively to you, it's because she's damaged. When women didn't respond to Rodger (never trust anyone with two first names), he decided they needed to be killed to teach them a lesson. And while he was at it, he killed 4 men who'd had more success than he'd had with women, but whom he viewed as inferior because they weren't white and rich like he was.
The truly sickening part of all of this is that on the PUA forums, which I will not link here because I don't want any traffic going in either direction on this, there are people defending what Rodger did, cheering him on, saying the women deserved it for withholding sex from him, and one post even referenced his place on the leaderboard for most people killed by a scorned PUA. Joe The Plumber (remember him? Apparently he's still relevant for some reason) said the greatest tragedy from this event would be if he (JTP) had his guns taken away.
Elliot Rodger (I get a headache every time I have to spell his name) was a mentally unstable person who had unrealistic expectations instilled in him by bad advice he'd paid for, and to him, his actions were perfectly reasonable. I'm not going to go into his mental state in this article, but I will say that if our society wasn't giving us unrealistic expectations about how men and women are meant to interact to form a relationship and/or have sex, then PUA culture wouldn't exist as it does now, and the events in Santa Barbara would not have happened. What Elliot Rodger did was reprehensible, but it's society that needs to change in order to prevent it from happening again.
Now, for those who want to know how to find a mate successfully, I happen to know the secret. It's a two step process, and it works the same way for both men and women, regardless of which gender you're looking to attract.
- Be confident and charismatic. If you're not those things, work on becoming those things. It's not easy, or you would have done it already, but things that are easy are seldom worthwhile anyway. Confidence is attractive, and charisma (which includes wit, sense of humour, and the ability to hold a conversation) will keep the other person interested in talking with you.
- Find someone you have a connection with. It's better to be in the right relationship (whether that's for a night or a lifetime) than the wrong one, and since people intrinsically know that, if you aren't compatible with someone, odds are you won't end up in a relationsip with them. And if you find someone you are compatible with, and you both like each other, then congratulations! The world makes sense again.
That's how relationships actually work, in the real world. Both people need to be attracted to each other, and both people have to want to be in the relationship. It's not one-sided in either direction, as we've been trained to think it is; everyone has to win, or else everyone loses. And if you think you're the only one who's suffering through what you're suffering through, I can assure you, you're not. At this very moment, millions of men and millions of women are feeling rejected and neglected too. The way to deal with it is to talk about it.