The Art of Rejection
Dealing with mixed signals...What is going on in his mind?
by Annemarie Dooling
When it comes to rejection, is it easier to lie than it is to be realistic? Are we sending out mixed signals to each other, when we could be speaking the same language, and communicating directly?
This past week I came in contact with a few friends at a nearby coffee shop. A new face was with them--a face I decided I really wanted to get to know. We were introduced, and before long, separated ourselves from the group, and situated in a dimly lit corner. Our ambitions were similar, the conversation was flowing faster than the coffee, and we were attracted to each other; everything seemed in line for a second meeting. As the night was ending, me, being the aggressive, independent woman that I am, made the mood. I asked him if he was free the coming weekend to see a movie we had discussed during our conversation. His answer was shaky, he replied letting me know he might have somewhere to be, I accepted the answer, and we exchanged contact information.
The boy contacted me, by e-mail, a few days later, and we picked up where the conversation left off. Since I hadn't heard from him for awhile, I had all but erased him from my memory, but now it seemed as if he was interested again, in fact, he seemed more than interested, throwing compliments my way, and responding speedily. A few correspondences later, and I made attempt two. I had an opening to go to that weekend, and I let him know, I thought he would enjoy it, and he should come with me. This time, his reply seemed clear. He let me know that he "probably" had plans that night with his friend [insert female name here]. Yes, that came out loud and clear. Whenever I don't really want to spend time with someone, I invent an excuse. If it's a member of the opposite sex that I want to, sort of, shoo-away, I give them a reason to stay away. In this case, the reason for me to stay away was [insert female name here]. I saw this as my cue to leave the boy be.
The day after this happened, I went to work, and of course, told my story to a female coworker. She agreed with my understanding, and said it was probably best to just assume he was no longer interested. Maybe he was flighty, maybe he was dating someone, whatever the case, my work there was complete. A male coworker, overhearing the situation, pronounced our decisions as wrong. His feelings were that the guy probably did have other plans, the weekend was two days away, after all, and not to take it personally. Another male coworker also chimed in, announcing that this was his way of making me jealous, to make me stick around. His thoughts were that, if this guy could make me see that other females are attracted to him, it would make me even more interested, and stick around, even though he may have to turn down my current plans ... or else he wouldn't have given the friends name, and shown it was a female.
With this rejection overload, I went home, after work, and decided to sort things out for myself. Miscommunications, or not, the fact was that he was not coming out with me that weekend, and that was okay with me, but it made me wonder about myself. The fact that this one action was taken three different ways was really interesting, and it made me realize why the signals I throw out to men are rarely taken for what I mean them to be. I look back, after this situation, and remember times I had come up with excuses, for not meeting with boys, two and three times, and wondered why they hadn't taken the hint. Now I know, rejection is different for everyone.
Would it have been easier for me to tell these boys that I wasn't into hanging out with them? Maybe it would have been easier on me, but, would I have liked to hear from someone that they had absolutely no interest in seeing me? I'm sure I would get over it, but the sting to the ego probably wouldn't be pretty. However, I'm sure it would have saved everyone in my current situation a lot of brain cells to hear the simple truth, whatever it might have been. I think the lesson I learned here is that the truth is not overrated, as cliche as it might be. If you are not interested in someone, maybe that's what they need to hear. If you are, but can't make plans this time, maybe those words should come out. Being direct, and honest, is always the best policy. In a world where words are weapons, they also work wonders for good old fashioned communicating.