Some guys have that effortless way about them. You know what dudes I’m talking about – the type whose presence you sense as soon as he enters the room. Somehow, he already has a drink in his hand even though he just got there – some dope shit that’s probably not on the menu. In fact, this is a community outreach meetup and they’re not even serving drinks, but he knows someone so he has one anyway. He immediately catches the eye of the most beautiful woman there and maybe that’s you. Just as immediately, he starts walking over – not looking this way or that, to obscure his intention just in case the eye contact wasn’t as mutual as he thought, like a normal human man – he’s looking square into your eyes. He’s not smiling eagerly or walking overly paced but he has purpose. A friend greets him en route with a handshake and he effortlessly and earnestly exchanges pleasantries, somehow without breaking stride, before reflexively fixing his attention back to you. And you, YOU with all that beauty and elegance, blush. Your boldness and natural defenses curl up into themselves and he has you, without yet saying a word.
I am incredibly much not that guy, at all…. Like, at all. Fun fact: roughly, umm, 100% of the guys I grew up with (and am still great friends with) are that guy. And then there was me, the eye of this cyclone of self-assuredness and charm, providing a respite to the masses of eligible ladies – a window of opportunity to place a few more bricks of rejection around their perimeters before the next wave of suaveness knocks those defenses down again.
As a younger guy, I had some significant issues with self-confidence. I always felt that I had enough intelligence to hold my own but as far as my appearance and sense of worth in a social or romantic realm, I felt severely deficient. Needless to say, I’ve had a fair amount of experience with rejection. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned that you have to buy into your own brand before you can expect anyone else to, but back then I’d never received (or either chose not to listen to) that advice and was therefore reduced to bait in a Sharknado of female rejection. Another bit of wisdom I picked up through my trials, is that a sense of respect for the woman you’re approaching goes hand-in-hand with a respect for oneself. That’s why it irks me to see these young guys – or even older guys – out here reacting to rejection like a child would.
Quick story: Back in high school, I had a crush on who I believed was the prettiest girl I had ever seen at the time – let’s call her Opal, for the sake of ambiguity. I, of course, fantasized that we could be together one day but, in reality, had no illusions of fruition. She was older than I and we didn’t share any classes, but on a good day I’d run into her in the crowded hallway and she’d say hello to me because she knew I was the little brother of someone she knew. Despite having practiced, in my mind, what I’d say to her if given the right opportunity, I was ill-prepared for any such meeting. We’d spent months or years to this point in the same school without having a single one-on-one meeting and there was zero-percent chance I was going to work up the courage to approach her in a group of friends. So, it was much to my surprise, then excitement, then dismay, then utter horrification, that we found each other in an empty hallway of the school, in the middle of a class period. We might have exchanged brief salutations in passing had it not been for my stupid brain saying to me, “dude, this is your one and only chance to ever make an impression on her. You’ve got to give it a try. There’s no one else around. What could go wrong?” To which I replied to my brain, “I don’t remember any of the things we practiced.” And Brain said, “Just tell her the truth.”
So…. Recalling, in a split second, that a school acquaintance of mine (we’ll call him Scooby) was also interested in Opal, I say to her, “Hey, Opal. Has Scooby asked you for your number yet?” A little perplexed, Opal says “Umm. No, he hasn’t.” To which I reply, “Good. Because I wanted to get it before he did.”
[internal facepalm] I said this to her. Excuse me. Are you paying attention to these words? These are the words I said to this person who I was trying to charm. That was my shot. And, bless her kind soul, her response was perfect and exactly what was appropriate at the time.
She said: “No. No thanks.”
As devastating as this could’ve been to such an already fragile self-image, I’m truly grinning now as I write it. After this glorious display of ineptitude came a moment of true clarity and honesty with myself. I thought: Yes, of course she said no. What the hell was that bullshit? I look back fondly upon that moment, because, outside of my respect and adoration for my mother, that interaction may have done the most to shape my current perception of women (whom I hold in high regard). And it is from that perspective that I say: Dudes, have some fucking respect and act like you’ve been told “no” before.
Furthermore, it’s not the end of the world when a woman you’re interested in doesn’t reciprocate. Suppress that initial reaction your vanity wants you to voice. She has her reasons and, frankly, they’re none of your business if she doesn’t want them to be. You’re not owed an explanation; everyone has the right to say no just because they want to (see: The art of “no” for more thoughts on the matter). That said, there’s no reason for you ladies to be unnecessarily savage if a guy approaches you with appropriate respect, I’ve seen that too – even tough guys have feelings. But, generally, what I’ve observed the most of is men acting like children.
Some examples, I’ve witnessed, of how not to react:
- Do not: say “fuck you, then” or something along those lines
- Do not: insult her
- Do not: call her a lesbian (though that’d be a pretty good excuse)
- Do not: go back and tell your friends that she looked much worse up close, to preserve your pride
Do accept the reality that you’re no worse of a person now than you were before that encounter. If you were a good dude before, you still are, and if you were a lame before, you’re just as lame – no worse. Your pride will recover. Just do better next time. Or don’t! The rejection may not have been a product of your ineptitude at all. Maybe she likes black guys and you’re not. Maybe she likes her boyfriend and you’re not him. Maybe she likes hairless, Amish break-dancers and you’ve already given up that lifestyle. Why doesn’t really matter; just move along, integrity intact.
Listen, young fellas and older fellas who’ve somehow missed this lesson along the way. This isn’t coming from some love guru or pick-up artist, or even someone who claims to know a lot about women. I’m just as clueless as the next guy – perhaps even less successful in love (or sexual conquests) than the average guy, considering where I started my dating campaign with regards to self-confidence. Here’s the thing though: that macho shit, that reflexive over-defensiveness of your pride at the expense of others, that degrading of women to facilitate your objectification of them – It’s not cute. Not in the long run. You may earn some laughs or fleeting, cheaply-won respect from your buddies, but, ultimately, what environment are you creating for your sister, mother or that karmic daughter in your present or future? Sacrifice those meaningless spoils earned by that brand of deprecating braggadocio, in favor of longstanding integrity and self-value. You may never have the gravitas of that guy I spoke of in the opening paragraph, but chances are you’ll find someone awesome along the way, like I have (hey boo).
I didn’t exactly intend this to be a soapbox edition of Truth in Jest but, as usual, I just sit down with a topic and shit happens. That’s my journey. Plus, I have nephews and children of close friends who might benefit from this perspective. Lastly, I have way more awesome women in my life than anyone deserves and a lot of y’all reckless dudes need to be checked.