How to stay positive in dating despite MANY confusing rejections?
July 20, 2013 3:14 AM   Subscribe

It seems like there might be something wrong with me that has led guys to reject me, a hetero female, a dismal number of times over the past year or so. But I'm getting discouraged because I can't seem to figure out what it is. Feeling sad, lonely, weird.

My friends don't seem to know the cause of all the rejections either. I'm pretty young, in good shape, think that I am good looking. I think that I'm an intelligent person, a good listener, and can have conversations about a wide range of topics. I'm upbeat, athletic, have a lot of interests and hobbies, good friends, and still have enough free time for someone in my life. I don't think I have bad breath...

Here's a peek into what my dating life has been like for over a year. These guys most ranged from late 20s to early 30s with a couple minor outliers, and I fall in that age range too:

1. Dumped by my serious long-term boyfriend. Very upsetting blow. But I felt like at least I understood it - we were not sexually compatible and neither of us was sexually satisfied.

After a few months, I had about 3 OKCupid 1st dates where neither of us called the other again. I felt that was pretty normal though.

2. A very good guy friend of mine started flirting with me. Then one night he kissed me. I was kind of surprised but totally into it! That same night, he told me we should probably not have sex because he didn't want anything serious with me. We are still good friends. That was really confusing...

3. I posted about #3 here. Pretty much, a friend I'd know about a month pursued me hard and asked me out. I agreed and we started dating. As I got to know him more I liked him a lot and developed strong physical attraction to him, and thought we had great sex. He acted like he was crazy about me, but after about a month, he suddenly dumped me and refused to even talk to me anymore. He started dating an acquaintance of mine almost right away and has been with her ever since. She's pregnant now and they're moving to another country together next month.

4. Several months later. The new roommate of one of my good friends pursued me really hard, after a night where we hooked up. I was just lonely and wanted some physical affection, wasn't expecting anything to come of it. He texted and emailed me a lot, told me he just didn't want me to forget he existed, came up with complicated reasons to come to my city. Drove hours to see me on last minute notice. He was open about sleeping with other people since we weren't in a relationship, so I asked him to get an STD test before we got physical again because of some pretty risky behavior.

For that and a few other random reasons it took a couple visits before we got really physical again, but when we did have sex it was fantastic for me. It's hard for me to think of better sex. As I got to know him more I found that I liked his personality more and more and thought he had a lot of great qualities, and we dated about two months until I felt him withdrawing. I asked him about it and he finally told me after some prodding that he didn't see us "on the path to a serious relationship." But he was open to continue having sex, or to just be friends. I said no to the no-strings sex. But we are still friendly, chat online occasionally... I know that in the past he had several relationships that lasted a few years each.

5. A couple months later, at an event, I met a guy who I was instantly very attracted to. He was clearly very attracted to me too. We went out and he started talking about his passions and things he would love to do with me in the future. All of them were things I do NOT relate to at all and do not enjoy. A lot of the activities he loves the most are activities I fear and dread the most. I decided not to keep dating him even though I was really into him, because I thought he would just reject me in the end for not being "that girl" who shares his passions. We did have sex and it was not good. He liked it because I went along with what he wanted even though I conveyed it was not my preference. It seemed pretty clear that he would have lost interest if I kept sleeping with him, but started declining to do the things he wanted in bed that I wasn't really into.

6. I went back on OKCupid. A guy contacted me with a very sweet message and I replied. He wrote me many more sweet messages and started talking almost immediately about how I was his dream girl and I was the one he had been looking for. We met and I was attracted to him, I thought we had physical chemistry. He started calling me honey and sweetheart very early on, wanted to text all day every day, more than I had time to, wanted to see me more than I could see him, even when I was sick, brought up moving in together. After a month, he suddenly said he thought he could handle a relationship but he could not and he didn't even want to be friends. I was shocked and tried to reach out and contacted him a few times. He wrote me back a very harsh message saying "Do not email, text or call, I'm not interested." That hurt a lot.

7. Another guy on a dating site wrote me a very nice message and I replied. He wrote to me again and I took a while to reply, so he followed up a second time. In his pictures he was not exactly my type but he seemed to have a great personality. We met up and had a great dinner and I thought he was really cute in person. He texted me the next day saying, "I have to be upfront, I don't think we have romantic chemistry." That was really surprising and it hurt. In his profile he wrote that if he messages you and you are not interested, he would be curious to know why. So I felt comfortable asking him what it was about me. I told him he could be honest and I would not be offended, but I'd be interested to know in case it was something I could change to have better results in the future. He wrote back and said it was just physical, that I was beautiful but not his type. I accepted that. I was still a bit confused, since I have MANY photos of myself on the dating site, it's clear what I look like and what "type" I am physically.

I have no idea what's going wrong, but it's really discouraging to me. Especially when the guy seems really attracted or really interested in conversation with me at first, and then I just feel his interest seeping away.

Does it seem normal to you folks that I am getting rejected this much, so early on, after a couple days, weeks or months?

How can I keep trying despite getting rejected like this over and over? I was pretty chipper up until this last one but just the amount of rejections is starting to get to me.

I get new messages on OkCupid, from people I'd be interested in dating, but I'm starting to feel like if I meet them they will just end up rejected me again to, and then I'll be even more discouraged.
posted by Sock of Silliness to Human Relations (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Almost all of these guys sound like the male version of overly attached girlfriend or something. Like a story you'd read on this site. Total wastes of time. Blowing hot and cold "oh let's just keep having sex but meh on everything else" draggers on without commitment.

If the sample size was any smaller I'd say to just keep plugging, but with this many in a row I start wondering what the common element is that keeps attracting you to these guys? I realize on some of them they initiated and you were meh/indifferent at first but you definitely seem to go for that type of waffle iron dude.

I suspect if you keep plugging away you'll keep getting similar results because you're either projecting a beacon to this type of guy, or subconsciously picking out the total time wasters like this.

Really though, go read baggage reclaim a bunch. This sounds SO much like the shit I read on there after someone else linked it here.
posted by emptythought at 3:23 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you need better material to work with. Maybe slow way down with these guys and the flakes will show themselves before you get attached?

Beware of blaming this stuff on you. I mean, maybe the you thing here is that you are going out with chowder heads, but that you can go out with a chowderhead and get hurt and still be the most amazing catch ever.
posted by angrycat at 4:45 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't hear of any stories in which you reject anyone. Did you just leave those out?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:55 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Obscure Reference: I've had some people flirt with me or message me online who I wasn't interested in. I just didn't really respond to the flirting or messages or encourage them. I didn't reject anyone after going out with them or getting physical. I guess #5 was a preventative rejection by me because I was pretty sure I would end up rejected and hurt by that one guy. Also, in the very beginning after my LTR breakup, I did have a first date with a guy who didn't really look like his pictures to me and also seemed to have bad hygiene. He seemed really interested but neither of us called each other after that.

That's about it.
posted by Sock of Silliness at 5:03 AM on July 20, 2013

That sounds like a fairly ordinary number of "rejections".

You seem really focused on being "rejected" and how it happens. That you can make a list enumerating all of these times that includes 4 first dates from OkCupid, and a friend who kissed you and decided not to take things further, makes it seem like you are carefully tracking all this.

Reframe this as having gone on a few first dates with people you weren't compatible with, and getting to know a few people better. There isn't going to be some sort of overlying reason why behind it all, and looking for one will only put you in a bad frame of mind for going on first dates.

Does it seem normal to you folks that I am getting rejected this much, so early on, after a couple days, weeks or months?

You've dated nine people in the past year or so, and four of those were first time meetings that didn't have mutual chemistry for whatever reason. That doesn't seem like many rejections actually.

It's good that you or the other person was able to figure out quickly that there wasn't interest in a relationship. I've heard of people who have a rule to go on three dates with someone before deciding if they want to continue dating, and that sounds like a good way to have one meh date and two horrible dates.

started talking almost immediately about how I was his dream girl

Anyone who says this before you've met in person has fallen for what they imagine you to be rather than what you are. Anyone who wants to move in after less than a month either has put you on a pedestal, or desperately needs a place to live. That wasn't someone who wanted to get to know you, they wanted you to be the person they imagined in their dreams, and real flesh humans inevitably fall short. Someone who thinks you are their dream girl before you meet in person is absolutely right about not being able to handle a relationship.

I count 9 dates since your breakup. It can take some time to meet someone you'd want to be in a longer relationship with, who is mature and compatible with you.

You are way to invested in not being "rejected" if you feel dejected that someone you've never met before won't want to go on a second date. You need to get over this fear of being rejected. The easiest and quickest way to do this will be to go on far more first dates. Aim for a minimum of one a week. Browse for people you'd be interested in, and send out 6 or 8 messages a week -- don't keep close track of when you send them and if you've heard back. Go on dates. Focus on whether this is someone you want to see again.
posted by yohko at 5:07 AM on July 20, 2013 [13 favorites]

Oh honey, I'm so sorry and know exactly how you feel, and its not very good.

I'd suggest taking a break for a month. Yes, I know that you're eager to get out there, but if its been this much the it could screw with your head a little and you certainly don't want that. Go back to it, but take the next month off and just enjoy the summer.

I have been in your shoes - feeling horrible and confused; why are you good enough for early dates and sex but not a real relationship!? Hogwash. That stuff is murderous to your self esteem. It's just a month. Go, play in the sun and feel better, then get back at it. Love your friends and family who love you back.

Hugs to you.
posted by floweredfish at 5:07 AM on July 20, 2013

I didn't reject anyone after going out with them or getting physical

...and then you discuss 2 people you rejected. Also, you didn't call back the first 3 OKcupid dates you mentioned, and you also said I said no to the no-strings sex.

That's 6 people whose perspective might be that YOU rejected THEM.
posted by yohko at 5:18 AM on July 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

...It's only been like this for you for a year? That's NOTHING.

But it sounds like part of your problem with seeing these as "rejections" is that - you trust the guys who have the instantaneous-chemistry-omg thing too much. (I used to, too.) Because most of these sound like guys who just either wanted to get laid, or didn't know what they wanted:

2. the guy friend who kissed you and came on to you, but then said "I don't think we should have sex"? That's not "confusing". What happened was - he considered you as an option, and decided it wouldn't work. He just made a point of actually kissing you and seeing what that was like in the range of data he was using to make up his mind.

3. That guy just didn't know what he wanted and was flailing around all, "hmm, maybe you! No, that didn't work - maybe HER! No that didn't work, shit...oh, maybe HER!"

4. You say that YOU were just lonely and wanted some physical affection - that's what his situation was too.

5. It sounds like you were wanting to reject this guy but didn't; which is especially confusing since he was telling you he wanted to do things to you that you were AFRAID of. why are you including this in your question, since it sounded like you rejected him? (I'll come back to this guy in a minute.)

6. ...The guy said you were his "dream girl" based only writing a couple messages to you on OKCupid. It is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE for a guy to know that so soon. He may have happy excited thoughts about how maybe it is possible, but for him to believe those thoughts so strongly that he is articulating them TO you, it only means that either he is trying to pull one over on you, or he is the kind of person who gets really instantly-bonded in a super-creepy way.

7. Photos and text on a dating site do not convey the same information you get when you meet and talk to someone face-to-face. They don't carry the weird x-factor that you get from the chemistry when you're spending time in someone's actual presence. Whatever your photos and conversations may have had with this guy, the x-factor wasn't there for him.

A lot of these times, it sounds like you're trusting that some of the things those guys were saying early-on were deeply-felt confessions and unshaken truth - when they were probably more like random lust-addled things that they blurted out off the cuff. It's possible you're more prone to taking them seriously because they were similar to the kinds of things your boyfriend was genuinely saying to you and you miss that - but these are guys who just met you. Try putting a reality check on yourself that you can't take these guys seriously when they've only just met you.

As for Guy 5 - This is a bit of a different situation that isn't what you asked about, that worries me. You sound like you weren't really into this guy all along, but you only went with him out of a need for physical contact, even to the point of being willing to do physical things that you weren't into. It's okay to only sleep with a guy for the physical-contact side of things, but don't give up your own preferences just to get him. That ends up with you feeling oogy about it sooner or later.

But at the heart of all of this - being willing to sacrifice your own comfort just to keep a guy sleeping with you, and being willing to trust some guys right off the bat - I sense that you still may just have a lot of healing to do after being broken up with, to the point that maybe dating people at all may not be such a great idea for you right now. Your perspective on whether to trust these guys, or whether sex is worth doing something that you actively dislike, may be a bit clouded right now because of your breakup - it may be time to get off OKCupid altogether for a while until your perspective clears a bit. Then you can get back out there better able to spot the "'re calling me your 'dream girl' after 2 emails? Yeah, right, whatever" moments easier.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 AM on July 20, 2013 [23 favorites]

This sounds pretty standard, especially considering a good bit of the rejections are from people you meet online.

I think online dating is a lot like shopping for clothes at target. There's a lot of options that are cheap and low-risk to buy. You don't have to really deliberate too hard about whether or not to get that $10 dress or $5 dollar shirt, because even though you like it, wearing it only once or twice gives you the return on its value and you can always go back and buy something new at any time.

I think this is how it is dating online. It's very little effort and low-risk and you can like someone but you could easily just return and start again and that's appealing to a lot of people. I myself find that if I'm just 'not feeling it' after a few dates then I'm going to move on. It's rarely because of some fatal flaw of theirs.

It sounds like these guys are actually doing you a favor by not leading you on or just using you for sex. They are ending things when they have decided they aren't interested in the long-term. That's a good thing! Just keep trying. I think there's a lot of truth to the numbers game thing.
posted by greta simone at 5:23 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

It sounds like these guys are picking up on a sexual vibe you may be unintentionally sending out. There seems to be a thread of FWB/casual openness that they're looking for and maybe you're reading sexy flirting as romantic interest. So when you decide to go out with them (and you describe a recurring "chase" before the first date too - you resist/they pursue/you relent) you think you're on the same page because the beginning of a casual relationship looks the same as the beginning of a romantic one. So you're surprised when the romance doesn't transpire, or they pull back when they realize that's what you want. It sounds like it's a miscommunication early on, I'd reexamine how I respond to flirting to see if maybe you're inadvertently agreeing to a different kind of relationship than you're looking for.
posted by headnsouth at 5:24 AM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]

Advice I have seen on here which I wish I had when I was dating. Stop worrying so much if they like you. What you should be asking yourself is if you like them.

Seems like in most cases you had a gut feeling something was not right. Listen to that? Easier said than done I know.

I really do not think that you are sending out any "vibe" that is getting you into these relationships, other than bad luck and maybe being, like a lot of us, not socialised to put your own emotions first.
posted by arha at 5:36 AM on July 20, 2013 [16 favorites]

And no, it does not sound out of the ordinary range of rejections for online dating. I have unwritten internet novels about the unsuitable dates I went on. Online dating is weird.

Happily married, to the 35th internet date, if it matters.
posted by arha at 5:48 AM on July 20, 2013 [9 favorites]

You'll date different people until you find someone you click with, or you join a convent - really... is there any other way it can work? It takes as long as it takes.

Does it sound like there is a problem with you? Well... from a guy's perspective, you seem to have been rather successful in finding a good sized dating pool - successful to the point where it seems that you are finding multiple people that you feel comfortable with enough to be intimate with. Many people would say that that is a pretty good level off success - that's pretty excellent. Good for you!

Perhaps though, based on your prior long term relationship, you are mistaking parts of these dating experiences with aspects of that prior long-term relationship. I'm generally not the type to think someone is sleeping with someone too soon, but perhaps if you are feeling unfulfilled with these new relationships that you just aren't used to figuring out if the relationship is worthy before the intimacy begins.

Rhetorical questions: How long did it take to know that your long term relationship was someone worth being intimate with? How long was it from when you last had intimacy with your prior relationship did the relationship end? Perhaps you are jumping in a little too fast, and perhaps that has to deal more with the dynamic that you were familiar with - or a dynamic that was missing from your prior relationship. I may be reading too much into this, you'll have to make that call. Re-read what you wrote though, sex is a major theme in this list of relationships. Is that how you define a successful relationship? That also is a rhetorical question.

Take a few deep breaths, stick with the OK cupid - it seems like you've got a good pool; however, why not try an experiment. Start by eliminating all guys who are creepy, but after that - try dating some types that aren't normally your type - it will help slow things down. Get to know them. If you aren't interested in them after a few dates, end it. You may just find out though that what you think you are attracted to has actually been working against you. Just a thought.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:37 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are lots of awesome people who spend many years of their lives single, just because them's the odds sometimes. If you're an awesome person who is actively dating, and you're still single, that, by definition, means that none of your dates are turning into long-term relationships. And that means that one or both of you are deciding not to continue dating one another. Again, that's just what it means to be single.

What you've described is 100% normal. The only difference between your situation and the situation of every other awesome person in the world who is actively dating is that you're interpreting your situation as constant rejection. And based on the facts you've given us, that's just empirically not what's happening. Sometimes, you're deciding not to go on second dates (#1, your follow up comment), and sometimes they are (#1, #7). Sometimes, you're flirting with someone and it doesn't work out (#2, #3). Sometimes, people have their own issues that cause them to act crazy and sort of mean (#5, #6). And yes, sometimes you get a crush on someone, and then it turns out that they don't feel the same way about you (#3, #4). And I'd bet that if you could somehow get inside the heads of everyone you know, you'd discover that there are people out there who had crushes on you and thought you were flirting with them and then they discovered that you didn't actually like them that way.

I think you need to give some serious thought to why you're construing everything in your dating life in a way that makes it your fault, or makes it a rejection of you. Because based on the facts you've provided, that's not actually what's happening. And while I get that dating can sometimes be frustrating and sometimes demoralizing and sometimes not fun at all, it's also sometimes awesome and sometimes it turns into something good. And that's why we do it. But if it's not sometimes awesome and good for you, maybe you should stop doing it for a while until you're in a place where you can feel good about it.
posted by decathecting at 8:15 AM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]

Guy number six sounds like a royal jerk!

I think a lot of this sounds fairly normal, however, if you are getting a lot interest that seems to fade quickly, maybe ask your friends if you have an annoying voice or laugh? It's a wild guess but that could be a reason guys find you attractive but don't stick around.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 10:54 AM on July 20, 2013

I'm not quite sure how to put this, but the way your question is written is sort of ... passive? You seem willing to date or sleep with anyone that pursues you, even when you have reservations about them. And then they "reject you". I can't quite put my finger on it, but I get the feeling you don't really know what you want in a partner. That's okay, it's not a fault- however, I suggest you recast your dating experiences as "figuring out what I want" rather than "being rejected". Going on a few dates is a good way for people to figure out if they are compatible, and it's far better that people are being upfront, rather than stringing you along.

I think you need to be in less of a hurry to be in a relationship with someone. I know it can be hard when you are lonely, but if you can do things to not be lonely that don't involve dating people, you're going to be in a stronger and more clear-headed place to date.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:31 AM on July 20, 2013 [12 favorites]

That's a crapload of interest in one year! I've had far fewer romantic interests in 2 years of being single, and I am a catch, I swear - I fit the same description as you.

I would worry less about being "rejected" and worry more about rejecting - it sounds like you aren't being picky enough, and are ending up with guys who aren't ready for a real relationship.

Also - online dating is great in that it expands your options, but the population on there also seems far more flaky than the offline population, on average. There's just a lot more rejection going on for both sides. It's tough to deal with sometimes and it can help to take breaks from online dating when it gets too frustrating.
posted by randomnity at 12:00 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think you can stay positive by not focusing on being rejected...because why in the world would you want someone to stay with you who didn't like you?

Think of these go-nowheres as welcome releases back into the wild to find an enthusiastic and interested partner.

It's not about 'hooking' someone. It's about being awesome and finding someone awesome so that when you meet each other you both recognize your awesome.

P.s. Make sure you are evaluating the guys you go out with, as you go out with them, to determine whether they seem like a good fit for you, instead of just trying to win their affection no matter who they are. Doing the latter leads to emptiness. Be wary.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 1:12 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Happily married, to the 35th internet date, if it matters.

Not married here, but I have noticed that it's taken me about 30 failures in past dating escapades before I got to a success. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but that's an average number. At 9, you're 1/3 of the way there if you are on a similar schedule.
posted by htid at 8:24 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

My experience internet dating was also full of rejection and confusion. When I stopped OKC and just started doing activities that were not dating-specific, I started meeting a lot more high-quality men, including my boyfriend.

I suggest doing more activities related to things you're interested in that are *not* dating oriented. It seems like a good time to just take a break from pursing "dating" per se and maybe just scale back and focus on things that you like or have always wanted to try. The benefit is that you get to pursue your interests and re-solidify your self-esteem and sense of self-confidence, and get to know people as people first, not as dating prospects. If you meet someone this way, you can get to know them slowly and over a period of time, and possibly suss our more readily whether there's romantic compatibility.
posted by enzymatic at 8:49 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Are you blonde? Do you have a nice body? Do you have a high hip/waist ratio? Are you above-average in looks? I ask because these kind of traits in a woman sometimes cause men to view the woman as either a romantic object or a sexual object, and not as a human being capable of being in a long term relationship with them. Sometimes men like that tend to pursue based on that desire, with no intention of following through -- sometimes they're not even aware of it themselves.

This explains the easy infatuation, the desire for you, the incessant texts, the people committing too early. They see you, think you're their dream girl, and pursue based on that. When you start becoming 'real' you tend to lose the shine, or they got what they wanted, and they walk away.

Also 5, didn't seem like a rejection to me. Just fairly mutual. I think what's making you scratch your head is the guys who commit too early, say all the right things, and don't mean any of them a month later. This isn't your fault, it's society/genetic programming. Believe me when I say, every person ever has come across someone like this. Some people just want the attention, want to be liked, or crave the chase. Some people lead others on because they're addicted to that 'loved' feeling, too.

On the amazing side, being 'rejected' by these very obvious dbags is awesome, because it means it doesn't waste your time. Would you even want to be with a guy that sees you so one-dimensionally?

Also, sometimes when you're very attractive, but not stunning, you just get more people in general 'trying' it with you. It makes you attractive, but still 'attainable', so you get more attention and attempts. With that, there's always going to be a fair number of incompatibilities, or losers -- It's like how bigger populations have higher percentages of idiots-- with more people, there are more idiots. That just means you gotta work a bit harder to find the proverbial 'needle' in the haystack.

The online rejection is fairly common -- online dating tends to create a paradox of choice. People want the best commodity they can get, relative to the commodity they themselves are. Sometimes, they have high standards and think, 'well better is just around the corner, it's a few clicks away,' and start to reject based on ridiculous or superficial expectations. I wouldn't take the online stuff personally.

So no, I don't think it's you. It is tough to find someone compatible, in general. Just remember, you're the prize. Don't be beguiled by charming words -- marriage, fairytale love, etc. In fact, overly charming words at the beginning is a major red flag. It's really indicative of immaturity. Take it a little slower, and if you're ignoring niggling doubts, don't. If they're picking up on some desperation vibe (or, I want something more, vibe) or something, that could be turning them off, but, again the right dude is going to want something more, back, and that vibe will kinda make him happy.

Also, sometimes dudes that approach or come on to you are not always great guys -- they usually are flirty, charismatic, and may have a high approach rate towards women in general -- that might explain things too. Why don't you pursue someone instead, first? Making the first move might help you to find someone a little more shy and less willing to just approach someone else at the first sign of a new shiny or boredom.

Hang in there, and don't internalize too much. It's really not 'just you' believe me.
posted by Dimes at 11:06 PM on July 20, 2013

A lot of good advice here, especially from EmpressCallipygos, decathecting and whimsicalnymph. I think you need to start listening more to yourself and how YOU feel and what you actually want and think about the actual man you are interacting with, outside of your desire to be with a man and have a boyfriend.

I'm responding particularly to #5 - your description of what happened makes it sound like he was someone you may have been attracted to but were actually completely incompatible with. Even though he was wanting you to do things you dread, and the sex you had was awful because he insisted you do things you expressly told him you didn't want to, you framed it as: he will reject me when I refuse to do things I hate, NOT I should reject him because he wants me to do things I don't want to do and does not listen to or respect my feelings or wishes, which made the sex awful.

That man was not a catch, and you were right to break it off, NOT because he might someday reject you when you ceased to cater to his desires or he discovered that you did not share his interests, but because you did not find him sufficiently compatible and exciting for yourself.

It took me awhile to figure this out, through a lot of bad dates and confusing responses and what felt like a lot of rejection, but finally I realized that I needed to worry less about whether I was pleasing the guy I was with, and more about whether he was pleasing me; less about whether I was interesting enough for him, more whether he was interesting enough for me. I've been on a lot of dates where afterwards I was trying to analyze whether he was into me or not, wondering if he would call, and then realizing that even though he was handsome or I admired things about him, I'd actually found him boring or self-absorbed. I'd been trying so hard to make him excited about me that I wasn't paying any attention to what I was feeling. The yearning to meet someone, and the desire to make a good impression, especially when there is an attraction, can make us really blind to the actual interaction that is taking place. Think about what you are looking for in a partner. Be selective.

I would also suggest approaching a relationship, especially with anyone off OKC, much more slowly. Although you can tell from a first meeting whether it's worth having a second, you really know almost nothing about this person. And they know almost nothing about you - be very wary of people like #6 (or #3) who come on super strong like that because it's too early for that to be based on a true knowledge of who you are.

Let them prove themselves worthy of your interest and your time, and know that finding someone you truly get along with and can be partners with is a special thing. Sometimes it's easy, usually it takes a lot of looking. It sounds like you've been having a lot of success meeting people to date, which is great, but perhaps you should look at the first few dates as being more explorations of where you might be interested to go with this person (including: nowhere, friendship, one night stand, strictly casual dating, dating that might lead to something more serious...) rather than necessarily the start of a new romance. This can be hard to do, but lowering the stakes on these interactions will make it feel less like rejection if things don't work out, as they so often don't.
posted by sumiami at 12:53 AM on July 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

This helps me out a lot everyone, thank you for all of these answers, they all help and give me a lot of good points to keep in mind. I have a follow up question. Many people mentioned that I should be more skeptical of guys who come on so strong at first, the instant chemistry guys who say and do "all the right things" but then retract them after a month or two. As sumiami said "Let them prove themselves worthy of your interest and your time". So I was wondering what you all think is a more realistic timeframe for someone to be demonstrating that, since a month or two is clearly too soon.

Also I agree coming on so strong at first seems like a bad sign now. I think I was less skeptical of it before because that's how my relationship started with my ex and the relationship lasted a long time. It's also how my previous long term relationship started before that too, that boyfriend said crazier stuff up front than anyone else but it turned out he really meant it. So I think that threw off my perspective. So I'm wondering what you all think is a more realistic way for a guy to act in the beginning, what a more promising level of interest looks like. I know it can be different in every situation but I'm wondering what it's been like for you when dating someone who turned out to be a really good match.
posted by Sock of Silliness at 9:12 PM on July 21, 2013

It's hard to say but everyone is different, so there's no correct time frame. Some guys will drop those lines and maybe mean them, some totally won't.

Although it's cliche to say 'trust your instincts' -- do that. Just that if it feels off at all-- it tends to be a little off. Any time someone is angsty or creating any kind of push/pull drama soon after initiating interest or hooking up? Run. That drama can be addicting, but it's ultimately bad for you and a huge red flag. Someone into you is not going to pull away. And people who say things about, 'you're perfect' or 'dream girl' straight off the bat ... how can they know that? They barely know you. Obviously they're in love with an ideal, or a vision. And that's dangerous, because when you deviate from that, suddenly they're gone.

I think the best way to tell, honestly? Is through actions, not words. Words are kinda cheap. It's very easy to say 'all the right things' but it's hard to do them. Just look out for any hot/cold behavior... how they treat you, and how they treat others, too. If they seem selfish or needy or cold to others, then sometimes that behavior will bite you in the end.

I'm a bad example because all my significant relationships started off as long friendships, and I take things really slow because my default tends to be "I can't believe some likes me," and I go through pretty dense, because I have self esteem issues.

But a dude probably won't promise you the world at first, won't gush all over the place. He'll be interested but not obsessive, he'll still be there and his interest won't wane week to week. If it does drop off, he tells you why and he doesn't get annoyed at you for wondering what is up. About three-four months without serious dramas is a good time frame, probably.

And you might need to initiate some of the discussions, before hooking up, or hooking up early, especially if any part of you wants more. If you gotta say, "where is this going?" Say it. If they balk, feed you a line, or otherwise, it's bullet dodged anyway. A decent guy isn't going to run if you suddenly express your needs and wants if he's truly into you. I don't mean be super needy and clingy at the start, but, definitely be clear about intentions-- they should too.

Also, you're in your 20s, right? I think it's normal for younger relationships to be that gushy flighty, 'omg I loves yous foreverz!' kinda stuff. They may well mean it, have rose coloured glasses, not many relationships and are high on love. Once you hit about 25 onwards, you kinda gotta be skeptical of people still in that mode, because it means they're not super grounded.
posted by Dimes at 11:00 AM on July 22, 2013

Wait, you're talking about guys coming on strong after a couple months? You made it sound like they were coming on strong after a couple DAYS.

A couple months isn't that weird. It's still no guarantee that he'll, like, marry you or anything - but, if that's more the time frame you meant, then - it sounds like you actually did have dating relationships of a couple months' standing with them after all, in which case I have to wonder why you'd feel rejected in the first place.

But if in fact it was just a couple days or a couple emails, then that is too soon - and a couple months IS about right.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:42 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think I was less skeptical of it before because that's how my relationship started with my ex and the relationship lasted a long time. It's also how my previous long term relationship started before that too, that boyfriend said crazier stuff up front than anyone else but it turned out he really meant it.
Hmm, did these relationships start in the guy's early to mid-20s? My college boyfriend said 'crazy' stuff at first and we were together for 4 years BUT I think thats because we were young and carefree and didn't really take the future very seriously. Now when a guy is like that its a red flag, especially if they are older than me or before even meeting. It just seems either desperate, or they crave drama and it will go hot to cold super fast.
For #7, physical attraction goes beyond photos, don't you think? Like I went on an internet date with a guy who looked hot in his photos, but in person he slouched and was sort of limp-wristed, and it suddenly didn't matter how good-looking his face was. That sounds shallow but I couldn't force myself to be attracted. You shouldn't take it personally, I'm sure I have physical quirks that aren't attractive to some (I'm also self-conscience about my voice, something I can't change) but others don't mind or even dig.
Number 5 was not a rejection, and you should never have bad sex with someone to keep them..why did you even want to?
#1 doesn't count, #2, I don't know, maybe you should ask him what that was all about?
And #3, well, that sucks but he was simply met for the other girl. #4 sounds pretty typical of young men.
posted by hellameangirl at 8:09 PM on July 22, 2013

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