How can I deal better with being passed over in the dating world?
December 10, 2014 7:53 AM   Subscribe

I’m looking for stories, examples, wisdom to make me feel better about not getting asked out on a second date.

Whenever there’s no follow-up after a pleasant first date, I always assume it’s because I’m not attractive enough. (I'm a woman in NYC.) The operating assumption is that if I were attractive, then the guy would have wanted to go out with me again. I get very simplistic and black and white. Can you help me counter this?? I’ve come to think that all my feelings of unworthiness get corralled into this one arena, for reasons I don’t entirely understand. Objectively speaking, I’m reasonably attractive. I’ve had boyfriends and men have pursued me and I’ve been told nice things about the way I look. But I’m not sensationally beautiful, and when a guy doesn’t want to date me, I go down the same well-trod road of inadequacy. I do see that this thought pattern is simply a painful habit that is deeply ingrained, and recognizing this has helped me move though it faster. But still, all my friends are married, and I have no one to compare notes with. Help me see that a guy’s lack of interest is not a total repudiation of my sex appeal!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I subscribe to the Reason, Season, Lifetime when it comes to people.
These first dates are here for a Reason and I'm thinking that it's to get you feeling and thinking better about yourself and yourself worth.

With each date there is a lesson. I had years of online dating and after each 'rejection', I would actually do an autopsy and think all Spock-like about what I might have done better. Usually my lessons had to do with countering any anxiety I had and relaxing and just being my nerdy self and enjoying the company, even if it was just one date.

I was placing too much damn importance on getting their approval and getting that second date. Once I relaxed and decided to be more mindful and in the moment, the dates became much more fun, I was much more relaxed, she was much more relaxed and it increased the odds of getting a second, and third date.

Could you possibly do the same with your first dates? Could you use each one to learn a lesson about yourself and bolster your confidence and self-esteem? Right now, you're all Kirk - caught up in a swirl of emotions and maybe being a bit more Spock might help.

This is NOT an exercise in beating yourself up; we all do a great job of that as is. This is more of a "let's look at this whole dating thing as a fun journey" and go from there.

Tony Robbins always speaks about the power of questions; here are a few that might help you get on track:
1) How could I have made that date even better?
2) What's the one thing I can take away from this date that will make me more confident?
3) What's one thing that I can do next date to help us both relax?
4) How can I make the next date more fun?
5) What did I love about myself this date, that I can remember to bring to the table next date?
6) If I could do one thing over on this last date, what would it be?
7) How can I stop that from happening again?

I hope this helps, even a tiny little bit. I tend to go into Life Coach mode sometimes. I wish you the best in your dating journey! You can do eet!
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 8:04 AM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

You haven't been "passed over," you've been spared a lot of aggravation. By the universe.
posted by zennie at 8:09 AM on December 10, 2014 [22 favorites]

As a guy who did a lot of internet dating at one point, I sometimes didn't ask women I was attracted to out again, if:

A) I didn't get the impression that they were all that into me (which is obviously subjective).

B) I didn't think we had much in common, or weren't in synch politically / culturally.

It's not a broad-based repudiation of your sex appeal. Online dating can be a black box and kind of cold-blooded, but it's first and foremost a numbers game. Keep your chin up and get back out there - if your track record is as you say, you'll find someone.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:13 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

No I don't think it is! I think as women (in particular) we are taught to shoot ourselves down in this way. This fuels multi billion dollar industries when you think about it.

For some reason your post made me think of a bloke I went out on a 'date' with years ago in my only spate of net dating (if the first time you meet an internet stranger is really that, I am told so). I really liked him, in a 'grower' type of way. Found him hilarious in fact and hoped for more.

He never called and fobbed me off and no doubt I could easily have thought that too bar for the fact he had explicitly said to me that he thought I was 'extremely attractive'. So maybe he thought I was an a.hole or boring or whatever and whatever.. (don't know if that's any better ? ;) but it wasn't that, which it could have been so easy to think, had it not slipped that in.. and who knows why he did.

I'm a net dating hater, so I stay away from it, but my feeling about it is that so often people are like 'kids in sweet shops'.. dare I say it men in particular perhaps? Always after the nicer smile, the longer legs, whatever the hell is flavour of the month right now.. these ever elusive unreachable heights. Aah I dunno. But try not to turn it inwards and get yourself the 'Body Image Workbook'. You want a man who likes your kind of hot :)
posted by tanktop at 8:14 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

People make weird and rash decisions and that's that. You are awesome and because they're all sorts of crazy, they don't see it.

Anecdote: Throughout my life I've dated well-known people (people with active fan clubs and they pop up on gossip sites and yes you've heard of them) who I guess would be considered out of my league but for whatever reason these types of people seem to like me .

I have also been dumped by depressed, unemployed, aimless Peter Pans who lived with their parents at the age of 50.

Men who would generally be considered a few steps below my typical dating pool in looks, intelligence, sensitivity, social graces, emotional sense, etc. couldn't be bothered to call me twice.

It's a crapshoot. I just mean that you never know WHY. People do weird things. Someone out there (in fact, more than one) will think you're awesome. It happens.
posted by kinetic at 8:24 AM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

I have also been dumped by depressed, unemployed, aimless Peter Pans who lived with their parents at the age of 50.

"I would feel miserable and overwhelmed dating someone who is clearly out of my league" may be a more common reason not to go on a second date than you might think.
posted by clawsoon at 8:33 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh Criminey!

There are a zillion reasons someone may not ask you out a second time, and none of them have to do with your looks. Your physical beauty merely attracts potential dates, it's the rest of you that would have a high quality guy ask you out for a second date.

I suspect that for whatever reason that you and the guy just aren't clicking. I mean, you don't want to go on a second date with EVERY person you meet do you? If you do, you're more broken than just being hung up on your looks.

When you go out with a guy, don't think of it as an audition. That's just sad. You're going out to see if there's a connection, a spark. It's nearly NEVER a commentary on your appearance. It's rare that someone you meet on a blind date is going to be a connection, let alone a love connection. You start out with a picture and a profile. It's harder to click that way than if, for example, you've been hanging out in a Daria chat room for two years with each other before meeting.

Beautiful women get dumped all the time. Beauty guarantees nothing. Richard Gere didn't want to stay married to Cindy Crawford. Some loser cheated on Halle Barry.

So get over yourself. I'm sure you're lovely, if not Helen of Troy and that you're very physically appealing. Stop thinking of having a man as some validation of who you are as a person. You are more than your appearance, and you're a wonderful person even if some dude from the internet didn't click with you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Do you think you could be projecting your thought that you're unattractive onto these guys? You don't know what they're thinking. They're no longer in your life, so when you say "he thinks I'm unattractive," he's not around to contradict that.

If you tried projecting onto friends or family, "you think I'm unattractive," they would contradict you. Maybe your friends' words aren't cutting it for you, not because they're out of the dating pool, but because they consistently tell you: you look great. And maybe you have trouble believing them.

If the root of the problem is "I think I'm unattractive," then if you work directly on loving yourself as you are, no matter what, these guys who flit in and out of your life are going to seem a lot less significant.

I like this technique for increasing body love: If there's a particular body part or attribute that you feel is unattractive, look at it in the mirror every day, and touch it gently, maybe rubbing lotion into it, and thank it for being part of you. When thoughts come up, like "too big! too small! lopsided!" let them float away, and go back to thanking your body for being there.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 9:04 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

You say you get simplistic, but what you need to remember is that people aren't simple. People's motivations and reasons behind the things they do are very VERY rarely simple. Not getting a second date despite your feeling it went well could be due to a million things. Could it be because they didn't think you were attractive? Yep. But it could also be because they thought you were out of their league.
or because you reminded them on an ex.
or because they aren't over their ex.
or because you ordered the fish and they HATE fish.
or because you wore a purple sweater that reminded them of their Auntie Myrtle.
or because a big project came up at work the next day and they legitimately didn't have the time for dating anymore.
or... or... or...

The point is that you seriously cannot assume that every time you don't get a second date is because they didn't find you attractive. That is both unfair to you and it sort of is unfair to those other people. You're sort of making a generalization that these people are entirely driven by the appearance of others and that they base their choice to continue to date someone only on how they look. That is silly and unrealistic... and unfair. So quit doing that to yourself and stop assuming people are that superficial.

And for what it is worth, I went on loads of first dates when I was online dating and I almost never went on second dates, and it had nothing to do with their looks. It was always related how we interacted, how the conversation went, whether I found them engaging to talk to, whether I felt there was enough similarities in our interests or viewpoints, etc. Sometimes it was just a vague "lack of chemistry" that ended it for me. The most superficial one for me was that once it was because they ordered garlic spinach dip during dinner and it gave them terrible breath and they still tried to kiss me good night and frankly the fact that they were THAT clueless to order that in the first place ended it then and there for me.

I kid you not, not a single one was due to looks.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:15 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm a straight guy who's done a fair bit of online dating in the last few months, and all six or seven first dates I've gone on have been very pleasant. There were a couple that I didn't ask out again, and while it's true that one of them wasn't as physically attractive as I'd expected, in both cases the primary reason was just lack of chemistry. We had perfectly fine conversation, but it felt just a little too formal, or like the other person didn't quite "get me".

Another factor, especially with online dating but even in other circumstances, are that people who are actively dating are often juggling interactions with several people at once. So they might have been interested in you and considered a second date, but at the same time things were getting more serious with someone else and they had to make a choice. Doesn't mean that you were even less desirable than that other person. It can really just be about timing.

Also, are you following up with these guys? One of my best online dating experiences was with someone I was on the fence about after the first date. But she contacted me saying what I great time she'd had, so I decided to give it another try. Our second date had better chemistry, and that led to several more.
posted by serathen at 9:16 AM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Remember that first dates aren't tests; they're two-way interviews. Sure, you may go out with some people for whom physical attractiveness is weighted more or less heavily, but I think most people are observing and processing a lot of other information during first dates than just whether or not their date is attractive enough. If you click, you click. If you don't, you don't. A date can be "pleasant" without having that spark that inspires follow-up.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 9:17 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have a friend who's doing a lot of online dating right now, and she is also baffled by the lack of second-date interest she's getting. And it has nothing at all to do with her looks--it's her constant negativity and preemptive judging that she does, I think as a defense mechanism. It will go like,

Me: How was your date with B?

Friend: Ugh, he drives this nasty car and I hated his shoes. Plus he has this totally lame hobby.

Me: So you're not into him?

Friend: I dunno. I really hope he calls!

And he never calls! Shockingly! I'm not saying this is what you're doing, but don't be afraid to show interest and act like you actually like someone. But if you don't, or you're not sure whether you like someone, don't get so swept up in trying to secure a second date/their approval that you lose sight of your own preferences and desires. Don't forget that you're doing the picking--not sitting around waiting for someone to pick you.
posted by magdalemon at 9:36 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Help me see that a guy’s lack of interest is not a total repudiation of my sex appeal

The fact that you are getting first dates probably confirms that you are attractive, have sex appeal, and a decent understanding of how to work it. As for the second dates, any/all of the above.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:40 AM on December 10, 2014

This might be a stupid question: Have you asked any of the guys whether they want to go on a second date with you?
posted by clawsoon at 9:44 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I suggest you read Intimate Connections by Dr. David Burns, the author of Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy.

It has a lot of exercises that can really help you see the reality of your situation, not the black and white thinking you're doing right now.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:50 AM on December 10, 2014

Another kind of stupid question: how many of these guys did you actually want to go on second dates with? It's not clear whether you actually want to get to know these guys better or whether you just want to be validated with a second date request. If it's the latter... the pool of guys you're dating seems to be providing the opposite effect from what you want.
posted by mskyle at 9:57 AM on December 10, 2014

As a guy who has dated using the internet before, and is about to go back into it (and has probably done some of the same), my advice is to not focus on your looks. And to not assume that it has anything to do with you.

It took me a while to really understand what people mean when they talk about chemistry in a relationship. The last woman I dated, I felt it instantly on a date. I found her attractive, yes, but more than that I found her interesting, I found her funny, I found it easy to talk and not talk. Just on the first date. After we broke up earlier this year, I forced myself back into dating, earlier than perhaps I should, just to cauterize the wound a bit. I went on a bunch (for a not particularly attractive guy) first dates, and a few second and third dates. Ultimately, I wrote nice "Dear John" emails to all of them, basically saying that I didn't feel any chemistry with them. And it was true.

It may have nothing to do with you. I was back in the dating world too soon, and not ready emotionally to date. Nor was it helped that I was a recent graduate and/or looking for work. I went on dates with a bunch of women that I found physically attractive, but for whom I felt no emotional attraction. I had a woman over for dinner for a third date, and I realized partway through the date as we were lying in bed together watching Orphan Black (no funny stuff) that I had no desire to even kiss her.

It had nothing to do with her physical attractiveness, nor her personality, nor anything like that. When I say that the problem was with me, I mean it. That's true for some people, and for me it meant that I decided to take a break from dating because I felt like I wasn't ready for it (and I wanted to be employed first). You can be fine, and I bet you are, but if they're not feeling that ineffable chemistry it's probably better that there wasn't a next date.

And that chemistry can mean all sorts of things. If they had a bad day, it might mean a bad date. Did they have a heavy lunch? Or just felt off? Dating is about luck in so many dimensions.
posted by X-Himy at 10:36 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

If someone is not interested in you, it has nothing to do with you. Really!

Additionally, think of how much time and energy you save by not having to go on another date with someone who is not interested in you. One down, more to meet!
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:52 AM on December 10, 2014

Random story of mine that I think about related to this sometimes: the first guy that I ever kissed was a summer flame who I subsequently spent much time obsessing over and feeling rejected by when things didn't continue. I have always had issues with my weight, and for a long time after that didn't work out, I used to put him not being interested in me down to that fact.

About a year or two after our thing (during which I semi-regularly participated in self-torture by calling him up every couple of months for a cup of coffee), I ran into him walking down the street holding hands with his girlfriend. That sucked, of course, but the encounter is something I think of when I have those feelings that you're struggling with, because lo and behold, she was more overweight than me! I think that was a moment of realization for me, because it turned out that I had been wasting a bunch of time putting myself down for something that didn't even matter, and wasn't the reason that things didn't work out.

Moral of the story for me was: many of the reasons that we come up with for people rejecting us are really reflections of what we think of ourselves (which may in turn be reflections of what society tells us to think about ourselves).

A related lesson that I learned later on after dating people further down the road who didn't properly appreciate me or respect me and maybe were thinking some of the things that I think about myself when I'm getting down on myself: fuck 'em, they're a waste of time.

So, in relation to your question: don't make assumptions about why the other person is rejecting you, and realize that you deserve someone who properly appreciates you, which isn't someone who is disinterested.

Also, just try not to beat yourself up for having these feelings. If you can accept that you're having them but recognize that they have no real grounding and that you're fabulous anyway, I think you're halfway there to really properly dealing with them.
posted by thesnowyslaps at 12:20 PM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

It might help to reverse the situation and think of relationships in which you were the one to end things. How did you feel about the people you saw for a few dates, and no more?
posted by MrBobinski at 5:27 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's that quote: "You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there's still going to be somebody who doesn't like peaches."

'Chemistry', 'attraction', 'compatibility', 'spark'... these are all so elusive and precise.

The fact that you aren't/won't be everyone's kind of awesome doesn't, in any way, diminish your awesomeness.
posted by tackypink at 5:58 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Honestly, I totally feel for you. I've also been in this situation. In your head is this running scoreboard and every time there's no second date, you chalk it up as a "rejection."

I took a break from dating because after every rejection, I would crash. I would feel very invested in the pseudo relationship and when it broke off after a few dates, I would feel crushed. I realized that this was nuts.

I feel that a break has helped me regain some perspective. I was really looking for approval from those dates. I detect that in your question - the rejection is crushing to you because you assume it is based on a lack of approval of your looks. You're not upset about about other reasons that could have led to rejection, like chemistry, compatibility, etc., which are caused by two people. Rather, you fixate on a perceived flaw that is solely your fault. This is, as you know, totally misguided. You're essentially reframing a casual meeting between two people as a charged situation that will demonstrate how high your value is for these guys. That's pretty high stakes for a casual drink.

It's harder than it looks for some of us but I really think good dates happen when you are focus on your own reactions to the date, not to your date's perceived approval/disapproval. Do you like this guy? Is he cute? Are you getting along? Evaluate this guy. Mentally place him in different parts of your life - where you love to travel, with your friends, with your values. Does he fit? The other thing too is that the first few dates are important because you can pick up on red flags and walk away quickly. But if you're so focused on how your date is responding to you and whether he approves of you, then you will miss things. Often important things, such as a lack of courtesy or whatever. You also may come across (in your attempt to reframe a casual date as an indicator of how high your sex appeal is) as someone who lacks a strong sense of self and I think that this can sometimes scare away good people and attract the crazy types.
posted by thelivingsea at 4:25 PM on December 22, 2014

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