‘I’ll call you’
Girls – we all love this. After a date, three dates or maybe even a night with a prospective partner, the non-committal follow up text. The kind that drops into our inbox a few lazy hours later, with its cool succinctness. No promise, no plan, no information.
We know it when we’ve received it. We may search for amorous intentions behind the words but even the most imaginative among us struggle to romanticise this deadlocked phrase.
And thence begins the ritual insanity. Some people call it ‘Hope’.
Check phone. Nothing. Hide phone from self. Find phone. Nothing. Call friends. Deconstruct the last date, blow-by-blow. Turn off phone for an hour to give your nerves a break. Sleep. Wake up. Nothing.
Decide to leave phone at home, in anticipation of arriving back to a barrage of texts. Nothing. Maybe he’s lost his phone or one of his relatives died? Check Whatsapp. When was he last online? Two minutes ago. Hmmmmm.
And then it hits you. The right-hook of rejection. He doesn’t want the goods, baby.
It’s a big, fat no.
We’ve all been there and at the time, it’s no laughing matter. As my father once poetically analogised, ‘I know, darling. You feel like someone has done a sh*t on you from a great height.’
Aversion to rejection is universal. Yet, methods of dealing with it are completely individual. Some of us may be gifted with a cest la vie, dust yourself down approach. Some of us may go out on a recruitment drive for the next candidate.
Some of us withdraw to the embrace of our duvet and replay the romantic moments, questioning ‘why, why WHY?!’
And some of us drink 2 bottles of wine with friends, analyse the situation from every angle, then go on to devour a large doner while hammering out a string of abusive texts to the offending man.
Whatever your approach, I’m sure that it holds some merits for you in pain management. However, psychologist Guy Winch explains that the greatest hurt that we suffer post-rejection doesn’t actually stem from the act of rejection itself.
‘The greatest damage rejection causes is usually self-inflicted. Just when our self-esteem is hurting most, we go and damage it even further,” writes Winch, for TED.
Winch explains that it is actually self-destructive behaviours, catalysed by the rejection, which prolong our hurt.
From my own meandering experience, I would have to agree.
This morning, I have come face-to-face with the rejection monster once more. After a promising few weeks together, last night culminated in too much talk about an Estonian ex-girlfriend who is attached to a colostomy bag, some 2 tonne silences silence and a gap the size of the Grand Canyon between us at bedtime.
This morning, I was bestowed with the customary ‘I’ll see you!’ and he trotted away, down the stairs. I’ll wager I won’t be seeing that one again.
I closed the door and sank heavily into the chair. I could feel the stealthy advance of rejection begin to close in but today, I’ve ended up punching him square between the eyes and doing something different.
I’ve had a 2-year spell in a chastity belt, following three, painstaking, neurotic years of dating and as such, I’ve reached a stage where I won’t indulge (too much) in self-recriminations over things not going right.
This morning, though, I’m reminded of some of my ‘finer’ moments in in similar, previous situations. Being the unselfish woman I am, I have decided that, for the purpose of public education (and entertainment), I should share some of my crazier highlights.
So, here is my pseudo-collaboration with TED’s Dr Winch. From the woman who’s lived it – and the man who writes about it – Rejection: The 3-Step Guide.
1. Write a text message listing reasons that you are good together and send it to him.
Winch asserts the importance of ‘reviving your self-worth’ after a rejection, to remind yourself of all of the things that you have to offer to a potential lover.
He suggests a practical exercise. List five qualities that you have, that make you a good potential lover. Then, develop on these by writing a paragraph on each.
I think this is a marvellous idea but the golden rule – do not communicate these thoughts to the man. Under any circumstances.
Back in 2012, at the tender age of 22, fresh out of a 7-year relationship and on the rebound, I bagged myself a lovely young man on a night out. After dating awhile, he went quiet.
Not wanting to take no for an answer, I countered his silence with a 5-page text message, listing all the reason why I would be good for him. Needless to say, the silence continued to stretch between us……
By all means, big yourself up. But do so to a selected audience. If the man’s binned you unceremoniously then he’s obviously blind in both eyes anyway.
2. Tell anybody with ears. Including the operator at 3 Network.
Winch talks about using our social network during times of rejection, to remind ourselves that we are valued. Reach out. Talk. Call people.
I don’t think he meant calling up the operator at 3 network for a chat, though.
My weaker-self won out, regardless. I called up my network operator to retrieve the number from my recent calls list and give it another shot. I was rather pleased with my resourceful thinking.
By all means, share your feelings. But for cringe sake, don’t start haemorrhaging woe on anybody with a pair of ears. Not. Interesting. At. All.
3. He asks for space. So send him a letter. Less intrusive than calling, right?
Winch says that we should resists the urge to be self-critical. What has happened is probably neither personal, nor our fault. More likely, it is a problem with circumstance or simply that we are just not a ‘good-fit’. We need to go easy on the self-criticism.
In 2014, ahead of his 7 day holiday in Greece, my ex-boyfriend decided he needed some ‘space’ to think, after an arduous period of arguing.
I thought long and hard about the relationship. I thought about what I could do differently, to improve things.
I respected his wishes for ‘space’ and did not call him to speak about my new ideas for the future. Instead, in a move that I thought was hopelessly romantic, I sent him a letter.
He arrived home. He acknowledged receipt of my letter and enthusiastically endorsed my suggestions for self-improvement. All the while denying that he needed to do anything to change. Naturally, this spelled the end.
Healthy reflection is good. Complete self-appropriation of blame is not.
The ungracious reception of my Shakespearean-style love letter catalysed my aforementioned 2-year holiday from men. It had gone too far. Particularly when I had wasted money on pretty, purple stationery for no good reason.
With a healthier view of self, this morning’s situation is panning out a little different to usual. Rather than reaching for my phone or reasons that I have messed up, instead I can see the reasons why he isn’t a good match for me.
Girls – from a woman who knows – if rejection pushes you into a cataclysmic meltdown, take a break, buy some chastity drawers and forget, for some time, where you have put the key. They’ll be the best investment you’ll ever make.