On today’s episode of Has It Really Come To This, we look at online dating and rejection. We talked last time about having your heart broken, but this time it’s all about doing the heart breaking. So here’s a little story about my experience rejecting an Arab guy. Turns out, dropping a classic line like ‘it’s not me, it’s you’, is just as difficult as hearing it.
There have been dozens of studies into the psychology of rejection. Put a person in an MRI machine and scan their brain whilst asking them to think of a time they’ve been rejected, and the same parts of their brain light up as the parts that do when you experience actual physical pain. And the truth is rejection is painful – what is more agonising than putting your truest self out there only to realise that for some, it’s not good enough? However, the most damaging part of rejection is in fact self-inflicted; letting that drop in self-esteem translate into a blow to your self-worth is incredibly easy. So, we spend our lives putting ourselves on the line knowing every person we meet or experience we have is just another chance you won’t be accepted. But we do it anyway because the payoff is big.
So, what’s this got to do with online dating? These modern dating sites and apps are designed for quick gratification, and with only a handful of photos and a couple hundred characters to sell yourself, they’re also rife with rejection. Whilst nobody openly welcomes rejection, including myself, when it came to me rejecting an Arab guy, things were not so pretty.
DISCLAIMER: any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental…
A couple posts ago we met anti-vaxxer, who was an immediate write off. Every now and then anti-vaxxer hops back on the scene, but it’s clear he’s not my knight in shining armour. He’s not Lord Farquaad either, but he’s certainly no Shrek. He says he misses me, which I find bewildering; I don’t miss people I’ve never met. You know what I miss? I miss my bed at the end of a long day in the office. I miss the thrill of hearing the Game of Thrones theme tune at the beginning of a new episode. I miss ordering large fries at Five Guys without being told they feed a family of four. So, you think you miss me? You miss the idea of me. I’ve now had enough interaction with different people through online dating that I can, with absolute certainty, say that this thing with anti-vaxxer will never be more than a platonic friendship. Even then, my friends are pretty awesome, so the bar is set high.
He says he misses me, which I find bewildering; I don’t miss people I’ve never met. You know what I miss? I miss my bed at the end of a long day in the office. I miss the thrill of hearing the Game of Thrones theme tune at the beginning of a new episode. I miss ordering large fries at Five Guys without being told they feed a family of four.susan AL-SAFADI on the proper use of the missing someone emotion.
I don’t like to play games. I’m very competitive and also not very good at them, which is a dreadful combination. So, I decide to tell anti-vaxxer how I (don’t) feel. He doesn’t take it so well. ‘Why? I don’t accept that.’ Don’t get me wrong, I’d be pretty gutted to be losing me too, but something about this line really annoyed me. You don’t accept that? Like it’s something for you to accept? How entitled. How arrogant. How self-serving. It’s true what they say; denial is not just a river in Egypt. Imagine a guy breaking up with a girl and she says she won’t accept that. She’d be labelled a stalker or even a bunny boiler, and probably blocked. Ladies let me tell you, if a guy isn’t interested, he’ll have no qualms letting you know. Us women are raised to be gentle and loving and caring, and considerate of others’ feelings, so we sugar coat the truth sometimes. No man will afford you that courtesy. What we should really do is tell the truth: it’s not me, it’s you.
He tries to convince me to ‘give this a proper go’. He doesn’t see that I’m not playing hard to get, and I’m not having this conversation to ask him to change my mind. My decision is made. Your inability to accept it is not my concern nor is it my burden. Arabs have a saying when someone throws their toys out the pram: ‘rooh ballit al bahar’, which literally translates to ‘go tile the ocean’. Definitely lost in translation, but essentially the message is ‘your chances of getting the ocean tiled are higher than those of persuading me. Do yourself a favour and stop trying’. Is this really what it was going to be like rejecting an Arab guy?
He asks me why. I don’t want to ghost this guy, but I also feel like I don’t owe him the explanation he’s so clearly yearning for. We’d had a handful of mediocre conversations at best, and I’d been very clear from the outset that this might only end with friendship. He also said he’d be fine with that. I tell him we’re incompatible. It’s nothing about him and neither of us have done anything wrong, it’s just a feeling I have, and life taught me the hard way to always trust my gut. ‘That’s the thing with trusting your gut, it’s going to end up with you being single for the rest of your life’. Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity. Guys and girls, whether you’re online dating or not, beware of the person who goes on the defence when faced with rejection. They’ll show you their true colours in 30 seconds flat. Does this guy think I am insecure enough that a throwaway comment about me ending up alone is going to have me running across a field into his unvaccinated arms? Mama didn’t raise no fool.
‘That’s the thing with trusting your gut, it’s going to end up with you being single for the rest of your life’. Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity.amir charming wooing SUSAN AL-SAFADI back to his unvaxxed arms.
And for the girls out there who may be in a place in their lives where a comment like that might hit too close to home, then what an awful and manipulative thing to say. This guy wasn’t invested in the long game; if he actually liked me, he would’ve had the foresight not to burn this bridge. But this guy torched the damn bridge and then wondered where the flames came from. Talk about dodging a bullet: just slap some shades on me and call me Keanu Reeves. ‘Maybe,’ I respond, ‘but at least I’d be single knowing I stayed true to myself, and I don’t consider that a loss by any means.’
My friends tell me to block him. But the truth is, that gives him the impression he’s significant enough to affect me. Let him remain unblocked and let him bask in the glory that is my single life, uncrippled by the weight of an insecure man and his fragile masculinity on my arm. Might I end up single? Sure. Will I ever be alone? Not a chance. Will I continue to make sure I am the only person responsible for my happiness and self-worth? Damn straight, son.
Might I end up single? Sure. Will I ever be alone? Not a chance. Will I continue to make sure I am the only person responsible for my happiness and self-worth? Damn straight, son.SUSAN AL-SAFADI ON the difference between being single and lonely.
Like I said, online dating and rejection go hand in hand; it’s how you bounce back from it that really matters. Rejecting this Arab guy certainly wasn’t fun for either of us, but it certainly taught me to trust my gut on these things. By the way, it took anti-vaxxer two months to slide back into my DMs, with no apology but a declaration that he’d rather have me in his life as just a friend, than nothing at all. Like I said: it’s not me, it’s you. As our friend DJ Khaled would say: congratulations, you played yourself. And as our friend Drake might say: habibi please, inta wa ana? Akeed akhra.
by Susan Al-Safadi