Crushed, or: a PSA on rejection.

So, it didn’t work out with The Crush.

And that sucks, but that’s dating. Chemistry and timing and that magical elusive element that makes two people want to be together at the same time are all finicky and unpredictable things. This happens.

What’s different about this for me is that I don’t usually fancy someone for this long before doing something about it. And I won’t get into why that was this time, and it definitely was the right move to wait, but it meant that my crush stretched on for months when normally, I’d have asked him out months ago and this all could have played out without all the wasted time. Part of my current feelings about this entire thing is how upset I am at the wasted time. Which is 100% no one’s fault, but there you go.

We went on two dates, sort of. On (what I thought was) the second date, we went for dinner and then walked around, ended up back at his place, sitting on his porch overlooking a park.

“So, yeah…” he started.

Oh no, I thought. I made a face.

“Oh, you don’t need to make that face,” he said. But honestly, I kind of did. The tone he started out with wasn’t going anywhere good. That much I could tell, on a visceral level.

He proceeded to tell me that it’s not a good time for him, that he has relationship baggage, that he needs to focus on his dissertation, etc etc. Which is basically all dating code for “thank you, but I’m not interested.” Which, I get that. I’ve been on that side of things many times. There isn’t necessarily a ‘reason’, and when you go to articulate it, saying that you simply aren’t interested seems too harsh, or something. Though I do long for a culture where we could just be that straight up with each other. As someone with anxiety, I actually find clarity reassuring.

I went quiet for a while, because I’m pretty bad at being in touch with my own feelings about things on the regular, let alone when I’m a bit blindsided by something like this. But one thing I did say, and I’m pretty proud of myself for having the self-possession in the moment to even think to say this, was something like: ‘I appreciate the intention behind telling me this in person, but you know, this kind of thing is often better dealt with online.’

And I meant that. I do get the intention. And when I said that, he said a bunch of things that were confusing and sort of hurtful, to be honest. Something about how he wanted to make really sure that he wanted to be alone, that he wasn’t being crazy. Which, I’m sure he can’t have meant it like this, but which rang in my ears like: ‘yeah I just really wanted to be sure that I really didn’t want you, and yup, after my second appraisal I’m definitely sure.’

Ugh. It felt gross to hear that.

Because basically, we’d set up another (what I thought was a) date, which I’d been looking forward to, and came out with one set of expectations not only to be rejected, but to find out that I’d come all the way downtown so that he could be really SURE that he wanted to reject me. Meanwhile, now I find myself in front of the person who just rejected me and wants to be friends (I believe that’s true, I think that’s also part of why he wanted to hang out, because he’s afraid that might not happen again, which again is just about… him? and his needs?) and now I have to process my feelings in front of him while feeling foolish and self-conscious and super exposed.

And there is, I think, just this pervasive idea that letting someone down in person is kinder, that it’s more respectful, more ‘honourable’. And let me take this opportunity to be really clear: it isn’t.

Now, this varies, depending on context. Like, don’t dump someone you’ve been with for years via text message. That is definitely a dick move. But two dates? A text message or (preferably) an email is just fine. It’s kinder. It doesn’t waste my time, it doesn’t get my hopes and expectations up, and it allows me to have and process my emotions in my own damn time, in private, in my own damn space. It is *less* humiliating, not more. It is more respectful, because it considers the needs of the person you are letting down over your own.

Anyway, the whole thing sucks. No matter how you get let down, it sucks. But it is what it is. And I’m hanging in there, taking care of myself, trying to both honour the feelings but also not dwell too much in them. And I know I’ll fancy someone else again, eventually. Though right now looking down the dark tunnel of online dating is just deeply, deeply depressing.

Anyway, that’s the latest update. Onwards and upwards. Or whatever.