One of my earliest exposures to romantic rejection was when I asked my neighbor Aaron to the prom. I was good friends with one of his friends and thought he was funny and kind of a babe. I had the tits of a teenager (cause I was a teenager) and was winning all sorts of Speech and Debate awards (cool kid alert) so I figured I had this thing on lock.
I got denied HARD.
In the 10 years since, I've been rejected A LOT. I felt compelled to find out why.
Standard operating procedure for a woman who gets rejected is to develop tomes of speculative fiction about what the guy wanted that she didn't have. She is never ever under any circumstances to reach out again so as not to appear desperate or crazy.
I say, eff that noise. Let's just ask! Dudes do it all the time. I've politely declined second or third dates with guys and received nasty, aggressive phone calls and text message demanding answers with more than one attempt to strong-arm me into another shot. My favorite was a guy that sent several of these demands so I told him he was making me uncomfortable and to stop. He replied:
I decided to take a much less aggressive approach, by sending self-deprecating emails about how I’m kind of shameless and also I'm writing an article that's destined to be a classic of modern feminist thought. So if they won't do something for me, will they do it for feminism?
At first, the reverberating silence of male cowardice rang through the many tubes that make up the Internet, trying to sabotage my story.
A few days later, responses started to come in. Names have been changed to protect those guilty of not seeing a sweet POA when it was staring right at them.
Mark was the easiest because we have become total bros since our date. A regular Nabrolean and Brosephine, as the cool kids say. After I blasted the Internet with inquiries, I was getting self conscious about the response rate, so I goaded him into responding with harassing text messages.
If someone were to ask me who I am and what I stand for in emojis, I would look them dead in the eye, without hesitation and say “Three biceps and a seductive red-dress salsa queen.” So like, Mark gets me. I am glad that we have become bros since our dates.
He had this to say:
“I thought you were cute and dressed cute (black boots, tight jeans). At the time, I was sort of dating someone/hooking up with someone (we broke up via text in late May/early June, have not seen her since) and I felt kind of guilty, but our relationship was casual and we were both going on dates with other people.
I could not really read your vibe I kind of wanted to kiss/make out with you when you took off your boots and we laid down on your couch in full view of G-d and your cat Keith.
There were other dates and people and I figured the same for you (boys in the riverbank in the Catskills and in other locations, etc). I did fear you rejecting me for sure and that is a fear I believe is pretty common in every type of dating.”
So like, I really need to remember that it’s not appropriate to mention that you recently got fucked in a riverbank in the Catskills by a young hot dude when you are on a date. Boundaries, Alana, GET SOME.
Also, I’ve been told “my vibe” is hard to read. I take being intentionally inscrutable to the point of seeming disinterested and I need to work on it if I’m ever gonna get a ring on it.
This was servicey and complimentary overall. It’s important to remember too that men fear rejection too and that they are the ones doing most of the asking out there in the world. Thanks, broseph.
John was a hot well-dressed nerd that looked like Cary Elwes did in "The Princess Bride." I briefly envisioned a future where I bought several clay water jugs and stored them in hard-to-reach places just so that I could ask him to fetch them for me and he'd say "As you wish," just like that fire-hot farmboy did for Princess Buttercup.
John replied to my inquiry within an hour of me sending it. I got this:
Those blacked out spaces are covering the real name of a character named Dick that you may remember from this article on how dudes think it's totally okay to make fat jokes on dates. It turned out that they were in the same PhD program and that Dick is terrible in a host of other ways.
I still can’t figure out my favorite part. Is it the casual rape joke? Is it the insinuation that I must be rife with illness because I went on two fucking dates with an unlikeable person? Was it the throwback to 80s jockdom talking about Superaids? So much material in so short a space! I see why he’s becoming a man of letters.
So ladies, if you want a guy to go out with you, it is best to never ever go on dates and certainly not lose your virginity until you are certain you have found The One. Otherwise, catches like John might learn that you’ve wrecked your maidenhood by conversing or **gasp** engaging in coitus with less-than-stellar characters.
At least I don’t have to invest in any clay water jugs.
Daniel was a handsome well-dressed foreigner and a Harvard PhD. I got my Master's at Yale and though I do my best not to think douchey things, sometimes I think douchey things. For example, how awesome it would be to be one of those obnoxious Ivy-educated power couples that everyone leaves their tasteful dinner parties saying, “They’re just sooo brilliant, but sooo down-to-earth.” If things worked out, we would have bilingual genius babies and an enviable book collection. Sometimes, I get ahead of myself. Sometimes, I’m a douche.
Daniel had this to say:
"you never called and seemed like you did not enjoy being with me. maybe i felt you were absent in some way. in any case, i thought and still think you're beautiful and sexy and smart and all the rest."
The emergent theme of being hard to read was clear. I need to thaw out my Ice Queen if and when I decide I want to lock it down with someone. I thought the whole We-went-to-your-apartment-and-you-stuck-it-in part of our second date would make him realize that into him but I guess I need to provide other kinds of affirmation of attraction, too.
Also, I have every intention of asking him out again.
For funsies, I reached out to high school Aaron to see why he wouldn’t go to prom with me. We're Internet friends now, he lives in South America with a cute girl and has an excellent Instagram featuring some delightful pets.
He had to be coaxed into participation but I eventually got the answer:
"At the time, when you called me up out of the blue and started a less-than-focused conversation, I was at a bit of a loss. An hour or so later, I was left on the other end of the line still unsure of what had just happened. Ironically, had I known what you were trying to do, I probably would have said yes. Instead, I’m pretty sure I saw 'Spider-Man' on prom night."
Well, damn. I could be in South America with THIS cat right now.