Asked Out A Friend. Rejected. Now What?
February 4, 2013 11:02 PM   Subscribe

About a month ago I asked about how to flirt with a friend. Well, I asked her out, and got rejected. Now I want to know how to deal with it.

About a month ago I asked this question, and the overwhelming response was to ask her out. Well, it took me about a month, but after much mixed signals and attempts at trying to get her attention, today I just cut to the chase and asked her to grab coffee with me. After some small talk and a few awkward silences I eventually said that I'd really been enjoying hanging out with her and that she's really cool, and asked her if she'd ever want to go on a date. She said she didn't think we should date. I have no clue what that means and I didn't pressure her to delve into what that means or why she doesn't want to. I told her it was cool and I still wanted to be friends, and she asked if we could still hang out. She was really nice about it and let me down easy and stayed and talked after about random stuff. Overall it went about as well as it could have. Obviously though, it wasn't my desired outcome.

I'm still kind of...numb. I don't know how I'm going to feel. I'm oscillating between feeling good for doing it, feeling numb from the release of all the built up stress, and tears over the fact that I can't have her and the sting of rejection.

I guess...I'm just looking for tips on how to handle this and not fall into a self destructive spiral. Being gay does not help, as the saying "plenty of fish in the sea" is just not that applicable. And it really sucks because I really clicked with her and found her to be a very decent human being. We get along so well, so it just kills me.

I have never once stated my attraction for someone until today and I'm 28. (Long story of coming out and such.) I just don't want to get super cynical and bitter.

Any tips or advice would be gladly appreciated.
posted by christiehawk to Human Relations (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Oh, man. Total sympathy. If it's any help, my experience is that ultimately you'll feel good about having done it, and the sting will fade. And it will be easier next time.

That said, give yourself permission to feel bummed for a little while. Getting shot down is never fun, and the first time is the worst. Fortunately, it sounds like you still have a really cool friend you click with, and who may soon become an excellent wingwoman for you. (That always helps, especially if you're in a pond suffering a scarcity of fish. Networking isn't just for business!)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:11 PM on February 4, 2013 [12 favorites]

anything's better than pretending it didn't hurt. feel it, and move on when you feel better.
posted by facetious at 11:15 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Well done, get right back on the horse and ask out some more people.

Advice from someone whose crushes used to last a really long time... Fail early. Fail often. It always stings but try not to waste time. You did well.

There ARE plenty of fish in the sea.
And in the long run you only need one fish.
posted by htid at 11:19 PM on February 4, 2013 [32 favorites]

I used to be like you. I used to get massive, long lasting crushes, and when I got rejected it would hurt. Since I got on anti-depressents and cognitive behavioral therapy, I've asked out heaps of girls. After each rejection I give myself a week to care, then I let it go.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:21 PM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

"No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
posted by Nomyte at 11:21 PM on February 4, 2013 [14 favorites]

My advice is to try to make a point of "getting out there" more. Try to get to a place where you date enough that you start to realize that any one person's approval isn't going to make you, nor will their rejection break you. You're not graded on some universal scale of desirability - some people who seem out of your league would be into you, and some people who you might think should be kissing your boots would reject you. The goal of dating isn't to figure out where you stand, Halo multiplayer-style; it's to find one person, just one, who you really really get along with. So work on making yourself the best you that you can be, which will help you find the confidence to meet as many people as you can. It will get less and less scary and your confidence will grow and one day you'll meet someone awesome who thinks you're awesome too.
posted by malhouse at 11:21 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think the most fundamental advice points have already been covered, so I'm just going to say this instead:

You did it! Congratulations on your courage, and I'm so proud of you! It only gets easier from here.
posted by Conspire at 11:29 PM on February 4, 2013 [18 favorites]

Best answer: Her rejection of you does not define you, your worth, or your future. Don't let it. Instead, be glad that you took the first step, and look forward to all the steps you take after that. You are on your way to a whole new life and it is something you shoul be so proud of.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:52 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Speaking as your personal Stoic philospher: there are things in life we can control, and things we cannot control. There is no utility in feeling pain over what we cannot control, and what we can control, clearly we should do something about without worrying further. On the other hand, we can try to excercise personal virtue and feel joy in doing what we know to be right.

Therefore, it is correct and good that you exercised boldness and perhaps even a new skill in interpersonal relationships which previously you had been too scared to touch. In doing so you exercised choice and control. On the other hand, having done the best you could, the reaction was out of your hands, and not everything we do turns out well, so to the extent that you did the best you could, the consequences are what they are and no blame attaches.

While you did not achieve what you wanted, you took the only steps that could have precipitated the outcome you wanted, and having failed -- FAILED -- YES, EVERYONE FAILS -- you can now move on, without further worry about what might happen. You collapsed the probability curve and the burden of speculation is now behind you. HOORAY.

(It may help you to visualise me as your personal Stoic philosopher if you understand that I have a beaky nose, emerging wrinkles, middle stage baldness, and a tranquil domestic environment. Also, I am MUCH OLDER than you. Unfortunately I am unable to grow a suitable philosophic beard, as this would tend to harm the domestic tranquility. But none of us can achieve perfection in this life, only strive towards it, or be content not to strive.)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:05 AM on February 5, 2013 [26 favorites]

The pain of rejection is NOTHING compared to the slow death of never doing anything about it. In other words, CONGRATU-FREAKING-LATIONS on having courage and getting this out of your system.
posted by pink_gorilla at 12:16 AM on February 5, 2013 [15 favorites]

Celebrate the experience... You've had your first rejection! By another woman! This means you've a) come to terms with your sexuality and b) started to feel more comfortable with putting yourself out there.
posted by Autumn at 1:18 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The pain of rejection is NOTHING compared to the slow death of never doing anything about it.

Came to echo this. When you allow yourself to actually want something and try to achieve it, you open yourself up to pain. But it is the pain of true experience and you open yourself to the happiness of true experience as well! The dull ache that comes from avoidance is not pain, but it is suffering. You took a very monumental step towards reducing the suffering in your life. You handled this very gracefully, as well. When the sadness clears, and it will eventually clear, you will be so so so much stronger than you were before.

Feel sad for a while, feel sorry for yourself, you have earned it. Just please do not blame yourself or think badly of yourself. When you ask someone out and they say no, they are not rejecting *you*. They are rejecting *us*, a possible coupling, as not the right fit at that time. Two amazing wonderful people don't have chemistry, it doesn't mean one of them is bad, it just means they don't fit together, and believe me this happens a billion times a day to amazing wonderful people around the globe. You did everything right, you wanted something and you did your best, you put yourself out there, these are all signs of a healthy and valuable person.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:27 AM on February 5, 2013 [25 favorites]

I'm still kind of...numb. I don't know how I'm going to feel. I'm oscillating between feeling good for doing it, feeling numb from the release of all the built up stress, and tears over the fact that I can't have her and the sting of rejection.

It gets easier if you do it more often. There is no such thing as The One. You didn't screw up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just relax and look out for the next one you can ask out.
posted by empath at 2:21 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Rejection sucks out loud, but, like everyone else is saying, the pain of being rejected is way less and way more tolerable than the slow endless pain of not doing anything and always wondering whether if you HAD done something if there could have been a different outcome, etc. I am in a wonderful loving relationship with a man I love more than life and we're going to get married this fall. However, I occasionally wonder what would have happened if I had just told my crush in grade 12 that I liked him. It isn't that I have feelings for him now (it has been 13 years!). I just am curious. It is like reading a long long mystery book but never reading the end so you don't know how it turns out. It is annoying. I am proof that you can be over the crush but still have the irritation of the curiosity over what would have happened.

Think of it this way. Rejection is sort of like a stab wound. It is going to hurt no matter what. The only thing you can really alter is how quickly it is over. I'd always rather have a knife stab in and out quickly so that the pain can be over and I can start healing. The alternative is to have that knife push SLOOOOOWLY in to you with the pain being there, wounding you by milimetres, and the healing never really gets to happen.

It doesn't feel like it yet, but trust me/us -- this is better! And like others have said, it gets easier the more you do it. Don't let this keep you from ever putting yourself out there again. What you did was correct and mature and you handled it like a champ.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:06 AM on February 5, 2013

Give it some time, don't see her for a while - let her know it's because you need to reassemble your thoughts and feelings, not because she was only of interest to you as someone to date (at least I hope that's the case given that you think of her as a really decent human being).

I don't think it's a good idea to date other people immediately, you obviously feel strongly about her, and if you jump into dating again very soon you're still going to be thinking of her when you're on dates with other people - same sort of deal as a rebound. Throw yourself at other stuff that really engages you and takes lots of mental energy for the time being.

I know -exactly- what you're feeling because I did this last year - in fact, the person I asked is a member on here. We are now firm friends. Do I have any regrets? No, it's not as though there was some right way of doing it which would have changed her feelings. After a while, you'll be able to be proud that you dealt with the situation maturely and honourably, and you'll have a wonderful friend as well.
posted by fearnothing at 5:16 AM on February 5, 2013

My first rejection was way back in High School. Oh the pain, the shame. Thing is, within a month, I decided to ask another girl out. This time a cheerleader I barely knew. I didn't really think we had much in common, and that it couldn't be a long-term thing, even if she (for some reason) said yes. I just thought it was important to get back on the horse and have a date.

Almost twenty years later, here we are, still blissfully happy together.

No need to get cynical and bitter. If that girl twenty years ago hadn't said no, I'd probably never have met my wife. This rejection might be the second best thing ever to happen to your love life.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:31 AM on February 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

Being happy in life means taking risks. Some risks don't work out. That's part of life. Congratulations for acting on it!

Everybody, EVERYBODY, gets rejected sometimes. The fit between two people has to go both ways. Trust me, there are people out there who you will have great chemistry with. Even if you're pool is smaller. No need to worry about those you don't.
posted by dry white toast at 5:47 AM on February 5, 2013

Being gay does not help, as the saying "plenty of fish in the sea" is just not that applicable.

Math time!

You sound American, so I'm going to use the US for my math. This also works for almost anywhere else you may live. There were 313,914,040 people in the United States as of July 2012 (more, actually, since those are just the people who filled out the census). Of that, let's say half are female. It's actually more than half, but let's keep it simple. That's 156957020. But some of those are 80 years old, and some of them are 5. So let's say that about 60% of those are within a window you could conceivably date. That's 94174212. But wait, you're gay. Ok, let's be conservative and put the gay population at 3%. Your potential dating pool is twenty eight million, five hundred twenty two thousand, two hundred and sixty three. That's a lot of fish.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:22 AM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

It can be really hard sometimes when you're feeling something really strongly to remember: it will not always feel this way. I commend you for being so in touch with your feelings and for allowing yourself to be sad and hurt and whatever else you're feeling; a lot of people aren't able to give themselves that gift. But it will not always feel this way, at least not this strongly.

Think back to another time when you were really disappointed or upset, when you didn't get into your first choice college, or when your first love broke up with you, or when your cat died, or when you screwed up a public speech and felt embarrassed about it. Remember how you felt then, how it seemed like your life was never going to be okay and you were always going to want to cry at the drop of a hat and you were never going to be able to face those people again. Now ponder how you feel about it now. Maybe it still stings a little. But maybe you're proud of yourself for going out on a limb. Maybe you learned from it. Maybe you think of the people involved fondly and remember good things. Maybe you can laugh at yourself about it. The point is that you have some perspective now, and some distance, and some time to have processed and dealt with those strong emotions. And you'll get that with this too. It will not always hurt this badly, or feel this shameful, or seem like a sign that nothing in your life is ever going to work out the way you want it to.

For now, it's okay, healthy even, to let yourself cry and grieve the loss of all of your hopes and be pissed that things aren't turning out the way you wanted. But this moment, right now, is not the rest of your life. It will not always feel this way.
posted by decathecting at 6:36 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Getting up the courage to ask people out was one of the hardest things I ever learned how to do, and taking a few months to work up the nerve for a particular person is pretty normal for a first try, I think. It sucks getting rejected, even nicely, but it's just one of those things that everyone has to get used to if you're gonna put yourself out there. And it's ultimately worthwhile, really.
posted by skewed at 6:53 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your potential dating pool is twenty eight million, five hundred twenty two thousand, two hundred and sixty three. That's a lot of fish.

I have found that math offers the least comfort when dealing with rejection.
posted by Nomyte at 7:28 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh man, I'm sorry to hear things didn't work out, I was really rooting for you after your last question. But as everyone else here has said: go, you! I hope that in the long run you can look back on this and feel pretty badass for having had the courage to lay your feelings on the line like that; I know that Past Me would have been spared a lot of long-term ache and angst if I had just done what you did.

In the short term, I keep going back to your point about having relatively few gay fish in the sea; while that's true in general, have you tried finding the, um, more heavily stocked lakes in your area? I'm not sure where you are but I bet if you looked you could find some LGBT groups nearby - a number of larger cities have chapters of Gay for Good, for instance, where you can do volunteer projects with other LGBT individuals; depending on where you are you might be able to find groups on Meetup; and of course, there are always bars if you're into that - even places you might not expect (such as where I once lived in SC) can have a pretty decent lesbian bar or two if you look.

In other words, don't just rely on chance and your current social circles to help you find people who will be just as into you as you are into them - increase your odds by figuring out where those people meet and make sure you're there yourself. Again, you are awesome for having asked this girl out, and in time you will find someone who recognizes your awesomeness. Good luck!
posted by DingoMutt at 8:15 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

It happens to all of us. And now you know that this is it, the worst that can happen is they say no. Which, in a week, will feel like no big deal. That'll give you courage to make moves in the future when you meet new crushes.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:09 AM on February 5, 2013

Best answer: I remember your first question so I'll answer here, too.

Even the best words sound like cliches, least you know where you stand. It really is better than uncertainty.

To parallel my first post, I don't know the real numbers but I suspect I have rejected by at least six dozen women in my life. (More than that if you consider what happens after the first date stage....) That's a lot of "no" but here's one trick I learned when I was pretty young: list up to two things I did right and up to two things I did wrong, then move on with no further reflection!

So you could say (for example only)...
Right #1: Asked her out clearly and in a fairly smooth manner
Wrong #1: Maybe waited too long or built it up in your mind too much?
Right #2: XYZ
Wrong #2: ABC

Good luck!
posted by 99percentfake at 4:05 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for all the answers. It made a huge difference for me the morning after it all happened. Now I'm gonna end up having to post another Ask about not keeping my hope alive and moving on... Hah. She's being way too nice to me!
posted by christiehawk at 11:01 AM on February 7, 2013

yep. Keep asking other people out. Eventually you'll find someone.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 12:19 PM on February 10, 2013

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