i'm the loser, baby....
February 5, 2010 12:42 PM   Subscribe

How do you stay classy in the face of rejection?

Well, it turns out that this guy claimed not to be into me when I went for it. I know, I'm as surprised as you are. I was doubly surprised at the time by his admission, "You know, I'm in to X." I was so surprised because on at least one occasion he brought X up and said, "I know she's interested but I don't like her that way," and on another, I asked him point blank if he was interested and he said, "No way," while gazing deeply into my eyes with a little half-smile on his lips.

OK, so he was a jackass. I'm seeing someone else who I really like quite a lot; he possesses many fine qualities that have been absent in my recent relationships.

Now Jackass is with X. I try to avoid them in social settings without being rude, because I really don't take rejection well. Last night I got stuck at the same table with them, where he proceeded to paw her up in front of me. I was sitting with my date, but I'm really not into PDA and would never do something to make him think I'm using him for a showpiece.

How do I keep classy? I want to tell X what a total loser Jackass is; how he strung me along and purposely lied about her to me. I know it isn't my place .... please tell me how to effectively refrain from doing something this stupid.

All day I've been fantasizing about creative ways to revengefully humiliate him....and I need to get over it. How can I mentally remove myself from feeling personally insulted by their relationship?

I struggle with BPD, depression and anxiety. It's pretty well under wraps with medicine and DBT (dialectical behavior training). I already went through skills-training today with my therapist, but I'm also looking for real-world advice on how you stay cool and classy when you want to run away and hide.

Oh, and obviously I feel terribly guilty for having these emotions spring up while I'm in a relationship with someone so terrific. I haven't explained the extent of my old feelings to him, just because I don't think it's necessary to be like, "Hey new guy, right before you and I hooked up, I was totally into Jackass and he rejected me. Now I'm angsty over him and X, do you feel like a rebound yet?"
posted by motsque to Human Relations (32 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think the key here is simply not to give into your emotions/emotionally-fueled desires. That is how you keep classy. You can think whatever thoughts you want to think as long as you don't act on them. Maybe you can have a few bitch-fests with a close friend to get some of it out of you? Alternatively, when you're really feeling upset about it, try some vigorous cardio. Work that shit out of you.

Other than that, I think the only way to get over your feelings is time. Just keep focusing on how awesome your life is turning out without him. Repeat to yourself - over and over again - that you are awesome and he's a jackass. And if all else fails, just pretend it doesn't bother you. Once you've pretended this for long enough, it won't bother you anymore.
posted by sickinthehead at 12:48 PM on February 5, 2010

Oh, and absolutely do NOT drink too much if you are/are going to be in his presence. Maybe don't drink at all.
posted by sickinthehead at 12:48 PM on February 5, 2010 [11 favorites]

I try to avoid them in social settings without being rude, because I really don't take rejection well. Last night I got stuck at the same table with them...

Eeeeeee. You've got to try harder than that to avoid them. I'm having a hard time imagining how you got stuck at their table, but if it were me, I'd just say, oh look, time for us to go to the movies/go to the next bar/go home, etc. Let your desire to avoid this dude be a motivating factor in getting you to places you've never been before. Soon you'll be having so much fun, you'll hardly have time to think about him and X.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:51 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

I want to tell X what a total loser Jackass is; how he strung me along and purposely lied about her to me.

He already knows that he strung you along and lied to you. And he already knows that you know. The very best thing you can do is act like you are not affected by it. At all. Those little half-smiles of his show you how much he enjoys playing with people, and he is continuing to do so. Ignoring him and acting completely unaffected by him will drive him crazy.
posted by iconomy at 12:53 PM on February 5, 2010 [16 favorites]

The fact that you feel an emotion does not mean that you need to act or react to it. I suggest sticking with the feelings when they come, and turning away from revenge fantasies when you feel those feelings. Just feel shitty for a time. I've found that if you run away from or engage those feelings they get stronger and/or chase you around. Just let yourself feel them totally--find out where they are in your body and feel them, experience them.

Don't tell new guy.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:53 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Will telling your current boyfriend how you feel about J mean that you won't have to hang out with J at all? Or at least decrease the likelihood that you end up with J?

If this is true, then you should at least be a little more open with your boyfriend. Even if it's just "I liked J, I thought that he liked me, but it turned out I was mistaken about his feelings. I got over it, but it's really awkward to be around them because my ego was sort of hurt. I'm so glad I'm with you, you're the best thing that's ever blah blah blah, and I want to keep my distance from J so that my weird feelings don't compromise what we have going on."

See how classy that is?
posted by muddgirl at 12:53 PM on February 5, 2010

Just don't give a shit. Not to sound flippant, but repeat it like a mantra: "I give no shit about this situation." Even saying "I'm sweet and he sucks" assigns too much value to it: it is nothing, treat it as nothing.
posted by Damn That Television at 1:00 PM on February 5, 2010 [10 favorites]

the thing about getting revenge is that it brings you down to the same level of jackassery as the jackass. The trick is to not do anything, to be courteous when you can't avoid him, and to just know that by doing so, you're better than he is.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:02 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think we can both agree that you are better off without that Jackass. His rejection of you was a blessing. While it sucks when people are jerks, you weren't a good fit with a jackass and that is something to be grateful for. Whenever you are in proximity think about that. Think, "Thank baby jebus I am not in that situation anymore!" And mean it, because you are incredibly lucky.

Although the best thing for you to do is avoid him entirely until you are actually over the situation. The less you put yourself in a position to have these thoughts, the easier it will be not to have them. I've gone through some extremely bitter break-ups and the only thing that actually worked was no contact. That means online and in person. Do not look him up on social media, erase his phone numbers, remove yourself from any situation where you will have the opportunity to brood about him. Instead, spend time wit the guy who is actually good to you. Jackass is not worth all this drama so why not make it a priority to avoid the drama in the first place?
posted by Kimberly at 1:02 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

By "end up with J", I meant "end up in situations where you and J have to interact, or even just see each other".
posted by muddgirl at 1:08 PM on February 5, 2010

There's no reason you should be shy about telling Newguy that Jackass treated you badly in the past and you'd just as soon not be around him. You don't have to go into details, just say it's in the past and not a big deal (you're on the way to it not being a big deal - close enough, provided you're being honest with yourself and Newguy) but you'd just as soon not hang out with someone who was shitty to you.

Newguy will accept this just fine and if he pushes you for specifics... well, really, that tells you something about him, doesn't it?
posted by phearlez at 1:36 PM on February 5, 2010

By asking this question, you are showing a WHOLE lot of class.

Have your feelings, own them, and then know that every relationship or situation that you are in will fail in some way until one doesn't (as Dan Savage says). Perhaps the relat. you are in will be that one.

And stay the fuck away from J and X as much as you can.
posted by Danf at 1:37 PM on February 5, 2010

It's probably best to never say anything to him about his lying. If you do, it's only going to confirm in his (possibly warped) mind that he is glad he is not with you. If you take the high road, you will be encouraging him to think, "She's so classy. Maybe I missed out."
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:41 PM on February 5, 2010

I think iconomy is totally right. I think it might be a lot easier to stay classy when you see not being classy as what this person is actively trying to provoke.

And FWIW, I would be pretty uncomfortable if people were pawing each other at a table with me, regardless of whether I was into them or not. That seemed immature and gross back when people did it in 6th grade, much less now.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:46 PM on February 5, 2010

You have to let go. Indifference is the best revenge. Meanwhile, be very polite, but disengaged.
posted by theora55 at 1:48 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I am in DBT for childhood trauma. We're getting ready to start the emotion regulation module (my third time through it). If you've had that module, maybe review your handouts from it? Or discuss with your individual therapist that you are having these emotions and you would like to look into them.

Also, interpersonal effectiveness. Remember your objectives in this situation. It sounds like you're trying to keep your self esteem objectives as Number 1 in this situation. Number 2 might be getting out of the presence of Jackass, and number 3 could be how he thinks of you. (Feel free to re-order these for yourself, but you did ask how to stay classy, so I'm pretty confident about position number 1 going to self esteem.)

DEAR MAN isn't going to work here, because you're trying to avoid Jackass, so there is no sense in Describing...etc to get him to do something. Maybe practice FAST and GIVE in case you are forced to interact with him. I wouldn't recommend trying to interact with X (whom Jackass was playing touchy feely with at your table. No matter how well she reacts to your explanation of the situation, the situation itself is unlikely to change. Jackass isn't going to un-reject you.)

My biggest piece of advice is to remember that you dodged a bullet with Jackass. He could have been pawing you at a table in the middle of what I presume was a party or a work function. Ick. Double ick.

Also, regarding mentioning the ick factor to New Guy might be helpful to you. But practice it with your DBT skills. You cannot guarantee that his reaction will be positive, but the evidence suggests that he will be supportive of you.

I am not a therapist, and I am definitely not your therapist. But feel free to Me-mail me if you want to talk about DBT. I'm really proud of you for wanting to deal with this in a way that makes you comfortable in the long and short run. Yay you!
posted by bilabial at 1:50 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with those above who said not to give him the satisfaction of reacting or emotionally engaging, even to get mad.

Act sort-of nominally surprised he still exists when you're forced to interact with him. (The sort of attitude you'd have if you found out someone you met twice in passing who was supposed to be moving to Florida did not, in fact, move to Florida. "Oh, you're still here, person I am vaguely aware of but could not care less about?")

If forced to respond to anything, just say, "Oh, how nice for you," and sound sincere not enthusiastic or interested (but without a hint of malice). It will drive him nuts, particularly if he can't tell if you're being sarcastic or genuine.

On preview, theora55's "polite, but disengaged" is an excellent description. Even ignoring him completely gives him power, so just treat him like a loose acquaintance when you can't avoid him.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:42 PM on February 5, 2010

Best answer: Don't say anything to X about Jackass. There is no possible way to expose the truth about him and stay classy, because you will just come off looking like a vengeful, crazy loonyperson. Which is definitely not classy. When you think of doing this, think of what you would think if you were in her situation. It's nice to think that she might think, "Oh! Thank you for telling me this about Jackass! I would never have known otherwise!" but that doesn't happen in real life. What she would really think is, "Whoa, I make motsque totally jealous, she's a nutcase, I'm so hot." As that's not the impression you're trying to give, say nothing to her. Let her figure it out on her own (which, if he's as much of a jackass as you say he is, she will eventually).

As long as fantasizing is not the same thing as planning, I find it helpful to play out revenge fantasies in my mind to their full extent. In order to not let it distract me, I sort of set aside time (in the shower, right before bed, while commuting) to just enjoy fantasizing about humiliations galore that might wash over this person. And then I turn the fantasy on its head and try to imagine what would REALLY happen if I confronted the other person. Eventually this gets boring, and when it gets boring, you don't have to worry about actually doing it. But if you're afraid you actually might, fantasize away.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:50 PM on February 5, 2010

Do you like writing? When I needed to get over a bad situation, I audited a university playwriting class and turned all my agonizing three-AM counterfactual scenarios into a disgustingly hilarious black comedy. Every time I found myself starting to miss the beloved, I re-read what I wrote, laughed, shuddered, and thought "Damn, I'm so glad that didn't happen."

Maybe you'd find doing similar therapeutic.
posted by aquafortis at 2:58 PM on February 5, 2010

He's working his charms on her now and she's you when you wrote your last AskMe about him - totally smitten. Don't do anything. Don't waste another moment thinking about these two. You're letting him have some kind of hold on you.

Avoid contact with them as much as possible. Say "hey, how's it going" if you must, but just don't give them the time of day.

Now go hang out with your new guy.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:42 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Enjoy this mantra/attitude whenever Jackass comes to mind:

Jackass had his chance. Now you're with NewGuy, who is so much better.

A more assertive mantra might be warranted sometimes -- when you mentioned: "Last night I got stuck at the same table with them, where he proceeded to paw her up in front of me.", I immediately thought of Jack Nicholson's line in Going South:

"I wouldn't take you to a dog-fight if you was the defendin' champ!"

(Honestly, who'd want a rude dog that paws someone at the table?)
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 3:44 PM on February 5, 2010

In all public spaces, be nothing short of awesome. If you must bleed all over the place, do it alone. That includes leaving the scene before you get sad, angry, drunk, or otherwise sloppy. Even if the night starts to have the slightest tinge of 'it ain't going to get any better than this', leave. And don't do it dramatically. Do it, hell, do everything, in the most unnoticeable, transparent, least emotionally-revealing way. It takes a lot of inner strength and resolve (it's a hardcore mental and emotional workout), but you will thank yourself a million times over when you look back on it all and realize that even though your thoughts were going a million directions, you gave him nothing. This will get easier, too.

Personally, I'd disappear for a bit. Remove yourself from social events where either of them will be there for a while. I mean really, why sign up for mental torture and emotional anguish? He's provided you with enough of it already, right?
posted by iamkimiam at 3:45 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

How do I keep classy? I want to tell X what a total loser Jackass is; how he strung me along and purposely lied about her to me. I know it isn't my place .... please tell me how to effectively refrain from doing something this stupid.

Just don't. All those things going on in your head are just going on in your head. Provided you have a reasonable (p-p-p-) poker face, nobody knows you feel this way, and it's up to X to figure it out for herself. You want to tell her because you want to hurt him, and that's never going to work anyway -- it will neither hurt him if she leaves nor make her leave him (if anything it'll make them closer.)

All day I've been fantasizing about creative ways to revengefully humiliate him....and I need to get over it. How can I mentally remove myself from feeling personally insulted by their relationship?

How about just enjoy the revenge fantasies as your way of coping with the frustration of your experience, your mourning of losing a possibility that it turns out you never had, and eventually you'll get bored? These fantasies can help you get over it, rather than being the thing you need to get over. His behavior sucked, he's an ass, and over time you'll stop worrying about it.
posted by davejay at 3:50 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, iamkimiam's first paragraph is spot on; don't sabotage yourself by getting into positions where you have trouble controlling yourself then being unwilling to leave.
posted by davejay at 3:51 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please do not tell your current boyfriend how you feel about J. You may very well be creating a whole new set of problems for yourself. Admitting to him you have any sort of feelings for Jackass at all is a bad idea. Because in truth, if you really didn't care about him, then you really wouldn't .......you know. When you do have to see jackass, picture him inside a cage--maybe one with a lot of shit-strewn straw, that sort of thing. You may find yourself smiling.
posted by uans at 4:24 PM on February 5, 2010

I'm not sure Jackass is necessarily a jackass, and so maybe the answer is letting it go for that reason. Rejection snaps back like a popped rubber band and really stings. It's textbook to try to escape that pain by deflecting it and redirecting it as anger at the rejector, so that they have to feel pain too. "He was never any good anyway, the jerk."

But given that the whole reason for your first question was that you couldn't tell if he was into you, I don't see how you can say he strung you along. You can definitely say that he lied to you, but one thing to consider is that you're not necessarily entitled to the truth about his feelings about anyone or any of his other personal business. And rejection is not a crime - people want what they want.

There's someone pursuing me right now and I'm not interested in her, but she can't take a hint to save her life. I'm polite to her, but never initiate, never ask her about herself, always give the briefest answers I can without being rude or unkind, politely decline invitations etc.. But she just keeps at it. I've had to lie to her about my plans on a number of occasions because I don't want to hurt her feelings by telling her I don't want to spend time with her, because I don't want to give her the wrong idea. We run in the same circles sometimes, and when I do run into her in group settings, I hang out with her - she's a nice person and I'd like to be casual friends if this weren't happening. So it's not like I completely avoid her or won't be friendly. My point is just to say that I'm OK lying to her, because she's not entitled to know where I am all the time if I don't want her to. And that's better to me than hurting her feelings.

With Jackass, you wanted to know if he was into X and so you asked him. Maybe he had a reason to not let that be known. People talk. Maybe he didn't want that getting around. So in that scenario, asked point blank, his only option might have been to lie to you. Point is, you don't know why he did what he did, and you're judging him based on assumptions about his motives mixed with your hurt. He also could have just changed his mind about her, not a crime. Or about you. You have a little interest in someone, you get to know them a bit better, you realize it wasn't quite the fit you thought, you move on.

As for the little smile on his lips, subtle casual flirting, if that's what that was even intended to be, also isn't a crime. For some people it's their standard operating mode and is harmless fun.

It's possible his motives were just what you think they were and he reeled you in and then tossed you back. It's also possible you misinterpreted. Either way, you're hurt and want to relieve it somehow. But since you don't know for sure what he was thinking or why he did what he did, your three options are to talk to him about it, to continue clinging to this pain and secretly hating him, or give him the benefit of the doubt, release it, and move on with new guy. Any time I can figure out a way to stop hugging a cactus, I try for that.

I think it's OK to think he's crass for the PDA though!
posted by Askr at 4:31 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Keep doing what you're doing. You're doing fine. Thoughts do not have to lead to actions. You're in control of your actions. It's okay to have thoughts, you don't have to feel guilt about your thoughts.

Good luck.
posted by kathrineg at 4:31 PM on February 5, 2010

...when you want to run away and hide.

More succinct advice than I gave you before: you should feel free to walk slowly away and hide, saying goodbyes and smiling the whole time, until you get over this disappointment and frustration.
posted by davejay at 4:42 PM on February 5, 2010

Stay classy by not doing any of the things you mention doing in this question.
posted by rhizome at 6:57 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jackass is a narcissist. He enjoyed leading you on. I'm sorry.


Don't think about him anymore. Every moment you spend there is adding to his pleasure. You know this deep down and that's why it's driving you crazee right now.

Instead, fantasize about THANKING HIM. He did you a huge favor and taught you a great life lesson! Now you know what emotionally disingenuous people look like. Hooray! Hopefully, you'll never get fooled/used/hurt by someone like that again. See? You should thank him.

As for the rest...


Stop that. There are a million places to be. Always have a back-up plan of someplace cool you can go if you think Narcissist and Current Victim might show up. Have several back up plans. Always duck out quietly and graciously if ever they show up and you have to leave.

That's the classy thing to do here.

Don't waste your energy or other people's attention on this matter by explaining to them you have a beef with Narcissist. It's not worth it. Quietly taking steps to protect yourself from this character's games? Totally worth it.

If you are worried about what other people will think if/when you have to duck out... they'll probably think you and your new BF have better things to do. And you do:))

Good Luck.
posted by jbenben at 4:24 AM on February 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you all for your thoughtful input. Honestly, I feel so much better reading such supportive comments!

I decided to go ahead and tell NewGuy a little bit of how I'm feeling, because he is why I ended up at Jackass's table (yes, I read the comments about how he might not actually be a jackass; while I'll agree that there is a good measure of pride involved, he's still definitely a jackass because this is his pattern and I'm not the only one he's pulled it on). Because I had spared NewGuy the details, he asked me to meet him at a common hangout, and after I did some sleuthing and established Jackass would likely not be there, I agreed. But I was wrong, and NewGuy was sitting right next to Jackass because they're sort-of buddies (that I introduced). So yeah, I found time to mention that I used to have a thing for him and for godssake never make me sit by him again. I didn't make a scene and refuse to sit there at the time, because I'm trying to make an effort to be a little classier and more together than I have been in the past.

I'll also be taking up some writing exercises, work on my DBT skills, and give myself credit for sitting there one night while keeping my shit together.

Thanks again, guys!
posted by motsque at 8:24 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing don't tell X about Jackass. Even if she's beginning to realize his jackassery, she'll neither believe you or appreciate it. I was X, you tried to tell me, but it still took me a while to figure it out on my own. In the meantime, I just thought you were jealous and crazy (of course, Jackass helped me with that belief). Now I struggle when I see Jackass with Y, because the humanitarian in me wants to warn her but I know it's pointless.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2010

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