Feeling rejected and awful
March 17, 2013 11:20 PM   Subscribe

I had few men reject me lately and it has really done a number on my self-esteem. I don't really know how it works for other people, but I can never seem to get even close to who I want.

I have actually had 3 guys reject me lately (all from online). It has hit me hard and I don't really have any other options. The most depressing thing is that those men are really not that great looking or great catches. I would say they were average guys. Two of them haven't even met me.

I think that I have a lot going for me. Good career, completing a PhD (writing up my thesis now), in best physical shape of my life. I guess I don't get why I can't have those average guys. Perhaps it was just a streak of bad luck but I can't help but feel deflated.

I am perhaps a bit shy and awkward, certainly not outgoing or bubbly. My personality is a bit darker, I am a bit passive. I don't think my personality is really what most guys want.

Ironically, when I was chubby and 20lbs heavier than now, I was often the one doing the rejecting (at least when it came to after I met guys from online). So I am puzzled.

Maybe I should just forget about guys and focus on my PhD until that's done. I have this gloomy feeling all around me, like maybe I am somehow hideous and I can only have guys that I can never be attracted to.

If anyone has any input I would be very grateful.
posted by sabina_r to Human Relations (47 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I'm willing to bet that those guys found you intimidating rather than unattractive/boring.

Why aren't you going for guys that YOU think are a great catch?
posted by littlesq at 11:29 PM on March 17, 2013 [17 favorites]

Online dating is a numbers game. I wouldn't think that three rejections is something that you have to take too seriously. If it is seriously bothering you, though, maybe step back from online dating for a while.

What really jumped out at me was how "meh" you seemed to feel about these guys. You describe them multiple times as "average" as as not great catches. Is it possible that they also picked up on how ambilivent you were towards them?
posted by Nightman at 11:31 PM on March 17, 2013 [19 favorites]

Without knowing the particulars of the interactions, I would say "rejection" is a harsh word. They don't even really know you, how can they reject you? Online things fizzle for a variety of reasons. I've stopped e-mailing online guys because an old boyfriend came back into my life randomly or because I suddenly believed online romancing was too lame. I can think of one online guy whom I was attracted to and liked a lot. We messaged for a bit, he asked me out, and I lost contact with him because of some other ridiculous romantic shenanigans going on in my life. I got back in touch with him later, he asked me out again, and then I left the country and never answered him. So, like I said, I don't know the particulars, but I'm betting there is a good case for you not taking this personally at all.

As for your personality, well, do you like yourself? I won't get into all of that, but I can suggest some ways to like yourself more if you're interested.

"Forgetting about men" never worked for me. I love men. Nature isn't really on the side of this attitude. What DID help me is building up my self-esteem and ceasing to see a relationship as the purpose of my existence.
posted by amodelcitizen at 11:36 PM on March 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

If anyone has any input I would be very grateful.

Step it up and start going for guys you are really into. Few things are more depressing in dating than being rejected by someone you weren't even that into. Also, dating a long string of people you are not that into is a great way to feel disheartened and hopeless like you will never meet someone you are really excited about. Find ones you really like and go for them, because even if they reject you, I think you will be happier at the same time.

Look, plenty of guys I would never be into in a million years have felt free to tell me why they would never date me. The best is when it's cretins on the street making comments about how unsexy they think my clothes are or whatever. If I took that to mean that nobody better than that would ever like me, that I needed to shoot even lower than the cretins to be successful, I would have missed out on so much happiness in life with people I was in love with. These guys not being into you means exactly nothing.
posted by cairdeas at 11:37 PM on March 17, 2013 [25 favorites]

Very important to learn: Rejection isn't personal. It means nothing of significance. Pick someone successful, or gorgeous, or famous, or whatever - that person suffers rejection too. No-one is everyone's type. No-one. Your lizard brain is dead certain that it's personal, after all, they rejected you, and they're going to go right ahead and not-reject someone who isn't you, but you have to see through that. It's wrong.

It sucks when you find someone who you're totally into and you're just not their type. But dating online? You haven't had time to fall in love, so you go your separate ways unless there happens to be mutual attraction. And unless you're very lucky, that will take a while.

Also, it sounds like you weren't really into them, so you shouldn't really want them to be into you. Don't become one of those people who validates themselves through having people to reject.
posted by anonymisc at 11:38 PM on March 17, 2013 [19 favorites]

Yes, you are right, I wasn't too into them..which makes it even more depressing. If those guys that I wasn't even that into end up rejecting me, what chance do I have with some guy I am really excited about?

I mean, even though I wasn't that into them, I was willing to go on a few dates and see what happens. Yet - they weren't even willing to do that.
posted by sabina_r at 11:51 PM on March 17, 2013

I just remembered this time in college when an acquaintance who I mildly disliked and could not possibly have been less attracted to, started telling me completely out of the blue about how he could have sex with my gorgeous female friend and enjoy it (he was gay), but he could never get off from having sex with me because according to him I was disgustingly fat. And I don't think he was saying it because he was insecure or intimidated by me, he was very arrogant and I think he was just speaking his true feelings. It was, to date, one of the most gratuitously nasty things said to me by anyone I knew socially. But it's just so laughable and crazy when I think back on the guys I *did* go on to date and form relationships with, who were a million leagues beyond him. It's so scary to think I could have let that comment hold me back from that.
posted by cairdeas at 11:55 PM on March 17, 2013 [12 favorites]

If those guys that I wasn't even that into end up rejecting me, what chance do I have with some guy I am really excited about?

Much better, because people like people who like them.
posted by jacalata at 11:59 PM on March 17, 2013 [57 favorites]

If those guys that I wasn't even that into end up rejecting me, what chance do I have with some guy I am really excited about?

That's not a logical thing to worry about. There is no rule that you'll have better chances with men you're not all that attracted to.
You seem to think there is some kind of ranking system, and those with a higher rank are less likely to want to date you. I'd let go of that kind of thinking, because it's just not true: there is no reason why a guy you're really excited about would be someone you have less of a chance with than a guy you're not really into.

Since you were pretty meh about these guys to begin with, that should make it less (not more) depressing that they don't want to date you. Yes, it's true that they don't want you, but you don't really want them either, so who cares? They may even have felt your disinterest and acted on that.

Don't worry about it. It's most likely not about you.
This really is a numbers game. And I second the advice to go for men that actively interest you.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:00 AM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes, you are right, I wasn't too into them..which makes it even more depressing. If those guys that I wasn't even that into end up rejecting me, what chance do I have with some guy I am really excited about?

I mean, even though I wasn't that into them, I was willing to go on a few dates and see what happens. Yet - they weren't even willing to do that.

Hey, OP: I could have written this...and most of your original post. If it makes you feel, y'know, any better. :/

Am watching the replies with interest.

If those guys that I wasn't even that into end up rejecting me, what chance do I have with some guy I am really excited about?

jacalata: Much better, because people like people who like them.

But...they don't know how much the OP likes them. It's not she's messaged them and said, 'Your profile looks...okay, I guess. Wanna meet?'. OP is saying (I think) that she is trying to keep an open mind and is therefore open to meeting guys who don't look ideal 'on paper', but they are rejecting her before it even gets to that stage.
posted by Salamander at 12:05 AM on March 18, 2013

This happens to everyone with online dating.

Two of them haven't even met me.
So it's nothing to do with you. It almost literally *can't* be.

Three is nothing. This has happened to me probably ten times or more. You exchange a few good messages and then the other person doesn't answer. People say "hey text me let's hang out" and then don't answer the text. Why? Who knows? Who cares. It's not even worth thinking about.

And honestly, with the best of intentions, I've done it to people too. Something comes up, or I feel stressed out, or I put off contacting them so long that I think they'll be mad at me so I just never contact them. It's just kind of how it goes. Don't take things personally that don't have anything to do with you as a person.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:11 AM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh, first, while there is no /reason/ to feel bad about online dating rejection, I'll say that I was mopey for like, two weeks by just one guy rejecting me.

Solvable by mailing other guys who seem cool, forgetting you ever sent them, and then being pleasantly surprised when someone turns out to want to meet and be really fun. The good and bad do always seem to come in waves -- a good wave will come soon.

[Implicit: Expect no response when you write. In my case, we'd messaged, I proposed meeting, and he said explicitly that he would not like to meet, nor would he like to continue correspondence. A clear and polite rejection, but a thoroughly mope-inducing rejection.]

Finally, +1 to what Too-Ticky said (way more concisely and clearly than I could have put it). There is no ordering.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:42 AM on March 18, 2013

Yeah, this totally happens. In reality you have very little insight into what's going on with the other person, don't sweat it too much.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:44 AM on March 18, 2013

Hi. Relax, ok? I don't think you should be taking this as anything being wrong with you.

There is a limit to the connection that a comment can make to you, and thus a limit to the extent that I can convince you of the truth.

If nothing else, please believe that I mean this. You are better then you think you are. letting anything or anybody make you believe otherwise would be a mistake.

People don't don't have one iota of your accomplishment find love, so why would you ever believe you won't? You aren't looking at yourself fairly, and your reading way to much into what three guys on the internet did.

If a good friend came to you with this exact problem, what would you tell her? Probably not what you are telling yourself.

Be a good friend to yourself.

It sounds like you are your own worst critic. I mean you begin by listing a host of accomplishments. I mean how many people get a PhD? Then you end with saying you think you are hideous. Stop that. You don't need criticism... you need encouragement. Be a fan of yourself.

You are intelligent, well educated, have a career, are in good shape, and you have the good taste to be on MetaFilter. Don't let three guys on the internet make you doubt yourself for a second. Be confident in yourself. I have every confidence that you will find what you are looking for, if you believe in yourself.

When you do find the right guy, which I am sure you will, maybe you can do us a favor. Post to MetaTalk, and tell us, so we can feel the warm glow of having been right on the internet. :)
posted by gryftir at 2:15 AM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh, did I write this question? Wait, no, I'm not completing a PhD, nor am I in the best shape of my life. I've been dating again the last two years and I've had so many guys reject me for no reason at all. I've come to the conclusion I'm glad that they saved me time and guilt, or worse, a broken heart (or the nearest facsimile for an infatuation ended abruptly by someone else).

I've had a couple of nice flings, a couple of yucky ones, and have some really lovely male friends that I can turn to anytime.

Every now and then (yesterday in fact), I decide to never date again, and be a hermit, and have "my books and my poetry protect me". I'm still considering this option.

But let the cliches flow (cliches becoming so because it's an oft viewed phenomenon) as they say,
* it's a numbers game,
* the rejections say more about your potential suitors than you,
* it's not necessarily that you're (perceived to be) not good enough - you might not be their type,
* maybe you do intimidate them (historically men have been more likely to marry women of a lower status/IQ than themselves).

The more you do this stuff, including the dreaded coffee date, the more used you will be come to it not being important from the beginning - it's a "let's see" sort of thing (whether we're talking about initial conversations or first dates), and then, if you get past those, then you have my permission to have your self-esteem torn into shreds by rejection.

Actually, no, not then either, because your worth does not depend on anyone else's opinion. You are a unique individual, with thoughts and opinions (how else could you do a PhD). If by some stroke of bad luck you (or I) don't find someone who suits you, and whom you suit, it won't be because there's anything wrong with you (or me). You (and I) can have a fulfilling life based on our work, our hobbies, our friends, our pets, our families, our travel, our reading.

But for the most part, online dating sucks. I live in hope of meeting someone through friends (I introduced some friends to each other and am enjoying basking in the reflected glow of their infatuation). Online, the conversations are sometimes hackneyed and predictable (but why??) and it feels like going to the grocery store, and trying an unusual tinned vegetable. I know I'm hungry, but what the hell - this is going to taste like crap, most likely.
posted by b33j at 2:31 AM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I sympathize with feeling rejected - online dating is a bitch, people are very flakey. And I get the same feeling as well, being down even when rejected by people I wasn't into in the first place. It is kind of illogical - even when I have pretty much decided that a guy isn't a good match, I feel this weird twinge of regret/feeling of a lost chance when we do the mutual no contact thing after a date. But I think this feleling is more a reflection of the fact that a part of me has some confidence issues and would like the validation of being wanted by everyone, regardless of whether I want them.

My advice: just relax and try not to take 'rejection' to heart. Everyone gets rejected, even good looking, smart, interesting people (a category that it sounds like you fit in). And I would recommend trying to contact some people who you find better than average - I feel like there is something to be said for going for what really excites you. I spent a lot of time trying to go for more 'average' folks and not having that much luck myself, but recently - a month ago or so - I took a chance on messaging a guy I found very attractive from his profile. We've been dating a few weeks now and things seem to be going pretty well :)
posted by thesnowyslaps at 2:52 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I guess I don't get why I can't have those average guys.

This is an unfortunate 'entitlement' attitude that can kill any potential dating opportunity, especially in the beginning. Some men and women will pick up on this vibe and 'reject' the person right at start, because they don't want the highly likely rejection they see coming later.
posted by Kruger5 at 3:15 AM on March 18, 2013 [16 favorites]

The most depressing thing is that those men are really not that great looking or great catches. I would say they were average guys. Two of them haven't even met me.

I think that I have a lot going for me. Good career, completing a PhD (writing up my thesis now), in best physical shape of my life. I guess I don't get why I can't have those average guys.

They probably don't view themselves as "average" (few people do), so that's a big non-starter in terms of compatibility issues. I'm not saying that as snark--in my awkward years, when my appearance and social desirability would have been considered average (or slightly below, in some contexts), I absolutely knew when some guy thought he was aiming low to close a sale by asking me out, because he just wanted a partner and I seemed like a safe bet. Affect, body language, even pupil dilation--it's all a pretty strong tell. And it could have been a PhD Nobel Laureate built like an underwear model who saved orphans in his spare time, and it would have been an instant turn off (the men I did reject in these scenarios had the same sense of disbelief and almost offense that I would turn them down when they had so much to offer.) One of the crappy benefits of becoming conventionally attractive is that this stopped happening so much, so was confirmed for what I suspected.

I can even tell you, of the partners I have had, which ones were most sexually attracted to my particular physical look (as opposed to just thinking I was an attractive person they were in love with), at which points in the normal ebb and flow they found me most appealing and/or sexually desirable, etc. People want people who want them--that in of itself is relationship highlight, in terms of setting the stage for fun and emotional intimacy, as well as a physical turn on. You're doing no one any favors by presenting yourself to "average guys" you expect to jump at the chance, or even feel grateful for it.
posted by availablelight at 3:40 AM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

(This is all to say: I don't know if it's so much that they're "intimidated" by you, given how you describe your attitude, as they don't want the dynamic you're offering--the average dude grateful to have an amazing lady. So aim high, for people who interest you enough that they can sense it, even at just the level of personality compatibility.)
posted by availablelight at 3:46 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay, maybe I am the only one to need this, but since you are talking about an online dating dynamic, can you give more feedback on how you approached these guys and what their rejections were like? Also, what your profile is like?

I think you can't take online stuff as a personal rejection as so much of it is context-specific.
posted by corb at 4:29 AM on March 18, 2013

You? They rejected a couple of still photos and a few lines of text, didn't they?
posted by tel3path at 4:48 AM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

There are a million potential reasons - 3 is a low n in online dating, but it's possible that these men picked up on the vibe that you consider yourself above their station in life, and found that unattractive or undesirable. I'd suggest focusing your efforts on prospects whom you feel you can respect.
posted by itstheclamsname at 5:00 AM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am perhaps a bit shy and awkward, certainly not outgoing or bubbly. My personality is a bit darker, I am a bit passive. I don't think my personality is really what most guys want.

This is what you're worried about....deep inside....because as others have pointed out--the rejections are hardly based on knowing you directly.

Now here's the good news. You can become "less dark" and correct not being "bubbly". (But I'm not sure you would be you anymore)

The person who is meant to be your match will be attracted and stay with you because of you being authentically you. Not everyone wants to be married to a cheerleader.

And here's another thought--call it observation--many men are attracted to women who echo their mothers in some way. So don't be offended when someone like this rejects you.
posted by AuntieRuth at 5:03 AM on March 18, 2013

I'm with b33j on this one. I broke up with my last long-term ex 9 years ago (wow, time flies). Since then I have only had one 6-month relationship with a very sweet guy, it just didn't work out, and more recently, a 1-year long-distance relationship with a seemingly-sweet guy who turned out to be a liar with girlfriends in different countries, none of whom knew about each other. That ended a couple of years ago.

I'm still single. At first, I was a bit like you (though without that bit of entitlement; hope it's just your confusion that made you say that and that you don't actually believe that people "deserve" relationships of a certain sort? cause hoo boy, that line of thinking leads to very dark places), and thought it must be something I was doing, since I couldn't even get dates online. This was a bit of naive blindness on my part since the guys who did message me were all pretty clear: "ur 2 tall", or the occasional obvious stereotype about Americans (I'm French-American, originally from the US).

Long story short, let me tell you what giving up, grumbling for a bit (including here on MeFi at the time, heh...), and finally settling into "contented cat lady surrounded by sewing and books" mode has meant.

First, I can more fully enjoy my life as it is. There are no more "what ifs". This is my life, here and now, I can make long-term plans with it. For instance, I know that one of the issues that contributes to not finding a neat guy who would be into me here, is that I am "here". I could, for instance, move to a less xenophobic, more egalitarian part of the country. I thought about it for a while. Depending on your situation, you might want to think about it too: have you been through all the guys in your area on OKC and other online places?

This brings us to the second aspect: Perspective. Time has been a boon: I can genuinely say that I have been through all the single men within a 150km radius (yes, that includes Italians in Italy). Paid and free online dating services. In my latest online dating phase, I would turn off OKC for 6 months and then log back on to check. Each time, only one or two new guys without red flags had joined. I messaged them. Nothing came of it. (And in fact, the last couple of times, it was me choosing to stop contact, not them.) I have also done the hobbies and friends things, but this has only furthered the deep perspective that celibacy, at least as far as my particular situation is concerned, is a good choice: none of my friends know any single men my age, except for one... and she knows them through her single sister, my age, who is being put through the wringer emotionally. She is French, born and raised in this city (Nice): she has gone through what is now a 10-year cycle of dating men who turn out to be cheaters. She is in therapy. It is really obvious to all of us that it's not anything she's doing... unless you count dating. It's "just" that there's a type of person, and notice I say "person", not a gender or even a sexual orientation because my gay friends tell the same stories, attracted to this area (French Riviera): entitled, self-centered, appearances-oriented. I mean, all you have to do is hear "French Riviera" and the image is in your mind, right? It's a stereotype for sure, but it has its truth. This part of the world does also attract outdoors types, but well, I've never met any single dudes through that (yet?? haven't entirely closed myself off, after all). I do know a lot of happily-married couples who go hiking in the mountains every weekend, and thankfully, the offices I work in are mostly that sort of down-to-earth people.

So. Where are you; what does it mean to you? Your location could mean a lot more than you might first think. If you're willing and able to move, and know that it could be a good thing for you no matter what happens on the relationship front, you might keep that possibility in mind. As for me, just to give an example of how thinking about this can go, if I'm going to stay single, I am, paradoxically, in the best place here. Moving to potentially-better places in France would mean bigger cities, and I am not a big-city type, not even for Paris. Here I'm in a balance of city and outdoors, with dead-easy public transportation access to wilderness areas. I also own my apartment, have quick access to top-flight hospitals and doctors, as well as the basics like markets and such, so know that if I stay here into old age, it really is an ideal location. If I'm single, no worries, I'd be hard-pressed to find a better retirement apartment anywhere else. Plus my job prospects here are better than anywhere except Paris. I may even be able to buy a bigger place if things go really well - on my own!

TL;DR, I know the feeling of "but they didn't even give me a chance?! How can they reject me without even knowing me when they seem like decent people?!" *shrug* Their loss. Try exploring your feelings about singlehood and relationships more fully, so you can discover what you want from life in all cases. It can make a huge difference as peace of mind goes. And who knows, it might lead to you finding someone!
posted by fraula at 5:04 AM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

If those guys that I wasn't even that into end up rejecting me

It's quite possible that they've noticed you aren't that into them, and that explains it.
posted by robcorr at 5:07 AM on March 18, 2013

I know how you feel, I have recently been rejected by someone who I assumed I would have to reject first.

The thing is, just because they're average looking guys and you're in good shape doesn't mean you are better than they are or more worthy of attention. And conversely, just because they reject you does not mean there is anything wrong with you.

Think about it: your online dating profile is the most shallow and impersonal method of judging a person--at least in a bar you can hear and see the other person without having to go through the song and dance of messaging each other, playing coy, coming up with witty remarks and finally meeting the person in real life.

You're limited to a few photos and some blurbs about who you are and what makes you special. The people who reject you don't even know you...it's not like you dated for a year and the guy decides you're not the person for him. I wouldn't even count these incidents as rejection. Chalk it up to the finicky underworld of online dating and move on.

Don't let other people decide what you're worth.
posted by thank you silence at 5:19 AM on March 18, 2013


I'd like to inform you that stupid people get dates, fat people get dates, mean people get dates, broke people get dates even ugly people get dates.

Dating is about a connection between two people. It's not a measurement of your worth.

So you reached out to some guys who for whatever reason, seemed interesting to you and they, in turn, weren't interested. Oh well. Move on.

Don't think of people as being on some scale. Don't think of yourself as being on a scale. "I'm a seven, therefore these fours should automatically fall at my feet," it's really unattractive and kind of gross.

While an on-line dating site is an interesting stary, you may meet more interesting folks in targeted chat rooms. I met Husbunny in a chat room, and we knew each other for a couple of years on-line before we dated IRL. At least we knew that we had that one thing in common, and it turned out that we clicked on a LOT of other levels too. Oh, and I'm fat, but Husbunny doesn't care about that, so YAY!

I think you need to get outside of yourself, and instead be more interested in the folks around you. Rather than auditioning to be some dude's girlfriend, you need to more interested in connecting with guys at multiple levels.

To that end, give the on-line dating a rest. Join an activity group, become active in a charitable organization (I like Habitat for Humanity, you do good in the community and you learn skills.)

For sure though, lose the idea that you have to be at a specific level to deserve a date, and also the idea that if you go for some guy, that he automatically owes you a date because he's "less-than" in some way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:09 AM on March 18, 2013 [21 favorites]

Honestly, if I felt that someone regarded me as unattractive or not a great catch, I'd probably break things off with you, too. How do you think that attitude, even if they caught it only subliminally, makes them feel?

But I understand the paradox of thinking both highly of yourself and what you should attract versus low self-esteem and "gotta hold on because I can't ever be sure if someone else will ever come along".

The thing is, you should have dumped them if you didn't feel a connection or if you didn't find them worthwhile for some reason. Be honest with yourself and the people you're dating.

All relationships fail until the one that doesn't. Dating is a volume game. Get back out there.
posted by inturnaround at 6:19 AM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Online dating fucking suuuuucccckkkssss.

I seriously have this theory that online dating completely is the enire 'everything is disposable' mindset, just in the human form.

People are not disposable, and neither are you.

These jackasses spared you a big burden, I'd be thankful that they all spared you time by helping you dodge major bullets.

Go on with your badass, phd, smarty pants, generally awesome self.
posted by floweredfish at 6:38 AM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Attraction is a mystery. You have no idea what someone else is into or not into. Only they do. You can only reach out to people you are interested in, and let them decide for themselves if they are interested in you. You want the truth, right? You only want to go out with men who are into you, or think that they could be, right? So letting men who aren't into you tell you the truth is part of that process.

Only these guys know why this isn't a good match, but they are saving you time and trouble. Perhaps it's that you don't seem open to foot-fetishists, perhaps it's that you are thinner than their preferred body type, maybe you are more ambitious, maybe they don't like any of the same bands. It doesn't really matter, and it's not an assessment of your worthiness of love.

Handling rejection gracefully is one of my big life goals. Being able to face down rejection and keep moving forward dramatically heightens your life potential. The more rejections you can handle the more likely you are to keep putting yourself forward and asking for what you want, and the more you do those things the more likely you are to eventually get some of these things.
posted by bunderful at 7:07 AM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I could have written your post a few years ago.

Online dating didn't work for me back when I was single. I didn't manage to get very many first dates, and the ones I went on were mostly blah. The first guy I met where we had even a little connection, I wanted very badly to make it work (at this point I'd been single for four years.)

I wasn't all that interested, but I tried so dang hard to make him interested in me, because I was sick of failing at relationships. It was a lot of wasted mental effort.

After that, I got pissed off and quit the OkCupid, and took a break from dating in general. It wasn't a few months later when my now-over-2-years boyfriend moved to the area; we met through the traditional friend-of-friend method. By six months later when we finally actually went on a date, at least one of our friends was going to sit us down and say "alright guys, admit you're dating already".

It wasn't effort. There was no game. I like him, he likes me, it took us a while to figure out both of those facts but now it's pretty straightforward.

What did I learn?
1) I don't do well at online dating. Maybe I don't come off well in writing, or maybe I was in a bad mood when I wrote my profile, or maybe it's hard for me to form a connection with someone in that short space of time (I'm more of a slowburn kinda gal). This does not make me (or you, though 3 is small numbers) a failure.
2) There is no way to on purpose get someone you're not interested in to be attracted to you. And why would you want to anyhow? As a goal-driven person I felt like I had to "win" at dating, but what do you win if you get someone to like you when you're not into them?
3) The only wrong way to date is to hide out in your own room and never talk to anyone. Get out there and meet people, however it works for you. Meet people because you like people (or like hiking, or enjoy good beer, or..), and connections will follow. Maybe one of those connections will be romantic. Maybe not, but at least the process will be interesting.
posted by nat at 7:50 AM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't know where you live, so I don't know if this is possible, but are there single event type things in your community? Think speed dating or single volunteers? Here in San Francisco my friend joined a somewhat expensive singles group that plans activities.

The reason I am suggesting in person stuff is that I think it might be less bruising to the ego. I think usually when you meet someone in person you can tell within 5 minutes whether they might be someone you'd date. It more quickly eliminates the duds, so you don't waste ego and self-esteem on a guy you wouldn't bother with.

I met my husband at a single volunteer dinner. I noticed him as soon as I walked in the room and when he started singing Paradise City to me within the first couple minutes? Yeah, I was done, but could I have picked him among all the others online dating? I don't know.

So I'd say give the in person dating stuff a try.
posted by bananafish at 8:07 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't even know these people, so you shouldn't let anything they said or did bother you in the least. There could be any number of reasons why they didn't pursue you, and most of those reasons probably have nothing to do with you and more to do with them and the other people they are pursuing. I really don't think rejection is the right word for this situation. They made a choice, and you can make choices too. Remember, they are probably meeting many women online, and there's no reason to think that you are necessarily the best choice for all three of these guys. (In fact, isn't it a little presumptuous of you to think that you should be the best choice for all of them?) Just because you were not their best choice, it doesn't logically follow that there is something wrong with you.
posted by Dansaman at 8:37 AM on March 18, 2013

In the responses to the question you posted a little more than two weeks ago, the consensus was, "Don't settle!" It sounds like you're still trying to settle for the "less repulsive."

I'll repeat the suggestions from that question: Expand your real-life social network and question whether the "next stage" of your life really has to be marriage.

You might also consider whether you're fighting a case of depression. When I'm depressed, no man is attractive. When I'm doing well, I spin fantasies about middle-aged schlubby guys on the bus.

In terms of handling rejection emotionally, here's what I did when an otherwise intelligent man made the mistake of rejecting me recently: I imagined that he hadn't rejected me, and we went on several dates, and I increasingly discovered that I wasn't into him at all but he was eager to get with me, and then I was in the awkward position of having to reject him and avoid him at social functions in the future and... look, he just saved me all that trouble and time! I can use that time to go after someone else!
posted by ceiba at 8:57 AM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

You sound like me when I was depressed and romantically lonely. I really needed to feel useful and valued for things besides my attractiveness to men, and doing good work and nurturing friendships in a spirit of generosity helped with that. Your self-esteem needs to be about way, way more than your dating successes or failures. From what I know about PhDs, you're probably not getting much external feedback right now. That can be difficult. Do you have time to contribute positively elsewhere? Family, friends, community--who appreciates you and needs a hand? Look there for self-esteem and approval. We are so much more valuable than our looks, intelligence, "hotness".

That said, you might also benefit from therapy or other mental health assistance.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:17 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could be flawless and you would still be "rejected" online. That's just how it works. Online dating is repeated rejection over and over and over until it's not anymore. Many people don't make it to the part where the rejection stops and they find someone because the rejection is too hard. Online dating takes a long time to find someone -- you have to really be committed to it. People I have known who found significant others were on dating sites for like a year.

If emotionally you're not able to deal with the outright rejection that comes from online dating sites, you might want to try doing some activities where you can meet (single) men in a non-forced, no-pressure way. The reason you get rejected so much in online dating is that every single interaction you have with someone comes with the expectation that it could turn into something. Maybe it would be better for you to socialize with men where maybe you become friends, maybe you date, maybe you stay acquaintances, but any of those outcomes are just fine.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:19 AM on March 18, 2013

Aw hon. It's natural to worry "if I can't even land these bland guys, what hopes do I have in finding someone awesome?" -- it's a very normal feeling, even though I'm sure you know it's not a great attitude to have. Please know that 95% of the time, when a man "rejects" you, it has nothing to do with you. You might remind him of his ex, or his mother; he might still be pining for his ex, and not actually ready to date; he is probably communicating with multiple people, some of whom he may have met already, so they have an advantage; he might just be terrible at correspondence. I do think online dating can succeed, but it is HARD. I treat each first date as an opportunity to practice my conversational skills, and enter into them with no expectations. It takes the pressure off and stops me from catastrophizing and sinking into despair when the date is a dud.

I am 40 and have been single for almost 2 years (well, there were a few flings in there) after a 3-year relationship with someone I met online (as were the fling-ees). I've been on dates with 15 to 20 different men in the last 2 years; only 3 developed into actual romance. I have never met a guy in "real life" who wasn't a friend-of-a-friend, and I explored all of those possibilities long ago. I'm now seeing a wonderful guy who is my age and we're thrilled with each other, and even though we have some mutual acquaintances, we met online. Who knows where it will go, but: online dating can work! It's just, you know, work.
posted by chowflap at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think I get why you take this personally. You were "repulsed" by people you turned down before, so you're assuming these guys turning you down are "repulsed" by you.

But, echoing the chorus, there are SO many reasons they might not want to go out that have nothing to do with you personally. Maybe you live somewhere that's hard to get to, and they don't drive and there's no reliable public transportation. It could be just that simple. People are not always upfront about why they do what they do. i can tell you this, though, everyone worries there's something wrong with us sometimes, but we have to just shake that off if we are going to get anywhere.

It would really help if we knew how you reached out and what form the "rejection" took, because I bet that's a big factor, too.

For instance:

Did you initiate contact, or did the men?
Some people have Views (silly and out-dated, IMHO) concerning Who Should Make the First Move.

Was the first correspondence between you the suggestion to meet up?
Mefites mostly believe meeting up sooner rather than later is best, but personally I'd feel a little worried if a guy came on really strong about wanting to meet up right away. I think a man has every right to be shy, cautious or nervous in that situation, too. Then there's the side issue of a guy who might want to go out with you otherwise being turned off because he reads your initiative as 'desperation'.

What venue were you suggesting for the meetup? Anyone short on cash is going to balk at meeting someone for the first time at an expensive restaurant. Speaking of which, was there any discussion about who pays for what?

If he doesn't go to your school, and especially if he never went to college, suggesting you meet up on campus is not a great idea. Ditto business conferences specific to your profession, services at your religious institution, etc.

Other bad first-date venues: the opera, performance art involving bodily fluids of any kind and The Vagina Monologues. ;)

Any way you could just give us an idea of what you wrote or said, and what form the "rejection" took?

I don't want to embarrass you or make you feel worse, I just think there might be something here you aren't seeing, and maybe we can help you figure out what's going on.
posted by misha at 10:29 AM on March 18, 2013

You know how you felt about those people you rejected? These guys are probably feeling that way about you.

Also, there's a vibe in your post that these "average" guys should have felt grateful to have had a chance with you, and that you deigned to notice them. I can see how people would be put off by that. Nobody wants to feel like they're being settled for.
posted by Solomon at 11:20 AM on March 18, 2013

I am really pretty, and I've gotten dumped and passed over for dumpy, average-looking girls more than once. When I was doing online dating, I got a shit-load of messages - mostly creepy - and not that many dates. I am perpetually single, and my less conventionally attractive friends, for the most part, are not.

Do I deserve love and sex more than the average looking and not-skinny? Nope.

Does having a PhD and being in decent shape mean that you deserve a relationship? Nope.

Dating is about two people connecting. And love is rare. And definitely not a meritocracy.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:30 AM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm going to echo everyone else that has mentioned depression. PLEASE GET SCREENED FOR DEPRESSION. You sound depressed.

The only time in my life I was rejected by someone also happened to be the only time in my life I decided that settling was better than being alone. I was also severely, severely depressed. No surprise: being dumped by someone I "settled for" did not help my depression.

So, yes, I get it. And my #1 piece of advice is to please see someone to be screened for depression. You cannot make good dating/relationship choices if you are depressed. Obviously.
posted by peacrow at 12:59 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you're in the middle of writing a PhD thesis you don't need these distractions at all. Just focus on your work and your health as you've been doing. Yes, you might consider getting screened for depression.

Are you going to be finished soon? Will you be applying for teaching positions? Will you be moving for whatever position you find? A whole new world will open up to you.
posted by mareli at 4:18 PM on March 18, 2013

You got all the condolences and guidance from above. I only want to add a little levity into the situation by recommending this book, which is both hilariously written, and have enough data and analysis to tickle the brain of a scientist. The author is a Jewish mathematician/journalist online quest to find a husband who would score above 700 on her special 72 quality requirement list. It cracks me up for an afternoon.

Book: "Data, A Love Story", by Amy Webb.
posted by curiousZ at 5:12 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is basically just what online dating is like. If you consider a guy cutting off his emailing with you before meeting you to be a real rejection, and those rejections are getting you down, then I would say that online dating is really, really not for you. And that's ok! It's not for a lot of people. But you're definitely one of them, because online dating is going to involve a lot more of this.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:55 PM on March 18, 2013

If those guys that I wasn't even that into end up rejecting me, what chance do I have with some guy I am really excited about?

Regardless of your looks or perceived level of desirability, in any group of people there will be a few who feel that there are romantic possibilities, and a majority that don't - this is simply because tastes and preferences differ across a wide spectrum.

An exception to this is if you have the [mis]fortune to be considered super-hot, when you may find a majority are 'interested' - however the chances are that a good chunk of them will be interested for very shallow reasons, so you'd have to filter out a lot of chancers to find the gems.

If potential mates are self-filtering, this is actually a good thing, even though it may appear unflattering. You want a partner who thinks you're awesome - if they don't think that way, then it's much better that they bow out now rather that wasting your time.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:46 PM on March 18, 2013

It's random. 3 guys in a row. If you flip pennies and track heads & tails, you'll get some random strings of heads or tails. Or not; it's random. There's a possibility they detected your lack of enthusiasm, and it cooled them off. Rejection is hard to take, but it's part of online dating, and life.
posted by theora55 at 11:57 AM on March 20, 2013

3 is not that many. i've lost count of how many people have "rejected" me the way those guys have "rejected" you. you either need to not date or get thicker skin. if you're still like this in 30 years, then you might have something to complain about.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:32 PM on March 30, 2013

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