On Dating, Chemistry and Rejection

Disclaimer: none of these gorgeous photos were taken by me. All have been found via One Sixth Avenue, Black Mountain Prophet &Steven Henke.

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time pondering love, dating and rejection.

Why? Because if you’ve dated more than one person, most likely you’ve been rejected.

Think back to the first time someone broke your heart. For me, it was the summer after high school. I was dating a guy who has since become known as “Dave the Rollerblader.” Dave was your typical happy go-lucky beach bum with an affinity for tanning, taking photos of himself with his shirt off and long rollerblading sessions along the beach. We’d spend long, warm summer evenings making out in the front seat of his pick-up truck. We had nothing in common, and yet I fell head over rollerblades for him. When he broke up with me because he was moving to Australia to surf full time, my heart was broken. I stayed in my bedroom for a whole weekend listening to Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” while bawling my eyes out. To say I didn’t handle this initial rejection well would be the understatement of the century. Then again, I was 18 years old, experiencing heartbreak for the first time. Can you really blame me?

rejection 7
If you read the story about my romance with rollerblading Dave, you’ll understand what I do now: that by breaking up with me he did me a huge favour. Our short-lived  relationship and it’s eventual demise now seems laughable, however at the time it was absolutely crushing. That’s because when I was in my teens and early twenties I lived in a perpetual state of fear when it came to rejection. I’d meet someone I really liked, start dating them and then spend the entire relationship worrying about when they would break up with me. I was guarded, I was a little paranoid and I tried way to hard to hang on to people that I should have just let walk away. In turn, my fear of rejection became a self-fullfilling prophecy of sorts. When things eventually did fall apart (as they inevitably would) the break-up would seem completely debilitating. {photo via Steven Henke}

REJECTION 8 
I read a quote recently that went something like this: “Everyone you date, you’ll eventually break up with or end up marrying.” Although a lot of couples do stay together forever without a legally binding agreement, it’s still a sobering thought. {photo via One Sixth Avenue}

Rejection sucks and sometimes it really, really hurts. However, as much as we try and deny it, it’s an inevitable by-product of dating. How are we supposed to find the right person if we never reject or get rejected by the ones that aren’t right for us?

I have a lot of experience being rejected, to the point where I now consider myself a veritable rejection expert. However, now that I’m single and dating in my 30’s, I’ve decided to take a more positive approach to rejection – both as the rejector and the rejectee.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned about rejection that I wish someone had told me when I was younger.

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1) It’s not about you – I used to take every rejection, every ghosting, every unreturned text message as a personal assault on my character. However, I’ve since learned that often getting rejected has very little to do with you. If someone chooses to not ask you out on another date or continue a romantic relationship with you – that’s their choice. They were choosing what was best for their life situation. For example, I’ve met tons of guys who I thought were truly fantastic, however we just didn’t have any chemistry. I imagine there have been many guys who have felt the same way about me. {photo via One Sixth Avenue}

Furthermore, if someone chooses to reject you in a really immature manner – for example, by literally disappearing off the face of the earth with no explanation, being lame about returning your texts or standing you up on a date, that’s on them. I read a quote somewhere that went something like this: “It’s not our responsibility to try and understand why people have the shortcomings they do, but to accept them & move on.”

rejection 2
2) Chemistry is ridiculously important – Like I mentioned above, I’ve met some truly fantastic dudes since moving back to BC, however kissing them feels like kissing a brother. There’s no big fireworks. It’s just…well, neutral.

Chemistry is a mysterious, biological force that acts on a subconscious level. Dating is like a science experiment: you combine different chemicals and hope for a reaction, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen – and you know what? That’s OK.

Other times you may feel really attracted to the person, but for whatever reason you know on an intuitive level that they’re not the right person for you. Not too long ago,  a man I dated (and rejected) request a dating exit interview of sorts. He wanted to know what he had done wrong and could improve on for future women. However, the truth was he hadn’t done anything. “I think you’re a really awesome. You shouldn’t change anything about yourself because someone else is going to really dig it” I told him. He was an awesome dude, I just knew that he wasn’t the right one for me.

Often we can’t even explain why we feel the way we do, we just do. Love is tricky this way. Therefore, you can’t take it personally if someone doesn’t connect with you in that way.

REJECTION 4 
3)  Life’s all about taking chances – A wise sage called Keanu Reeves once told a ramshackle group of baseball players “One of the most important parts of life is showing up.” You can’t expect to find love if you don’t take risks and put yourself out there. I read another quote recently that said that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Being rejected means you took a step towards going after what you want – one of many steps that will eventually get you to where you want to be. In other words, you showed up for your own life and for that my friend, you deserve a massive high-five. {photo via Black Mountain Prophet}

REJECTION 5
4) It means it wasn’t right – Do you want to be with someone who isn’t into you 100%? Of course not – no one does. I don’t want someone to stick around and not feel fireworks whenever they kiss me. That just seems tragic and like an epic waste of time for both parties (because when there are fireworks…oh my. Everyone should experience good chemistry!) {photo via One Sixth Avenue}

When someone rejects you, they’re ultimately saying, “I’m not going to waste your time by pursuing something that I know won’t make either of us happy in the long run.” Even though it may not seem like it at the time, by giving you an out from a potentially negative situation, they’re actually doing you a favour.

So, why is this stuff on my mind? Because the other night I had to reject a really, really great person for the reasons I outlined above. It isn’t anything they did or didn’t do. It’s just the way I feel. It’s funny, I spent most of my twenties getting rejected; and now that I’m in my 30’s and I’m getting more experience on the other side, I can say that rejection is rough however you slice it. Having to hurt someone’s feelings sucks big time.

rejection 3
This experience coincided with something that also happened the other day: a card I’d sent to my ex in Toronto got sent back “return to sender.” We’re still on good terms, however we haven’t spoken recently because we’ve both been really busy. He’s moved. The gorgeous  apartment in an old brownstone that we shared now belongs to someone else. It was a startling reminder that my life as I remember it in Toronto really is over. It also brought up a lot of old feelings about how sometimes you not only have break other people’s hearts, but also your own in the process, to make way for better things. {photo via One Sixth Avenue}

We all deserve unconditional love, acceptance and happiness, however to get there we have to walk a road that is rife with rejection. While we’re on our journey, rejection acts as the road signs that keep pushing us in the direction that we need to be go.

So, I’ve decided to frame rejection in a more positive light. I’ve learned that dating – like many things in life –  is all about getting more comfortable with the uncomfortable. Sometimes you have to work through the uncomfortable, awkward, painful stuff in order to get to the really, amazing, awesome things. So, that’s what I’m going to try to do.

Besides, if I had never been rejected, I’d probably be living in Australia, married to a guy who routinely posts shirtless selfies of himself posed in front of cars, on Facebook – and that is a scary thought.

Here’s to following the road signs.

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