SUMMARY: The fear of rejection seems to be rampant in young men and women. It is, however, a dangerous thing to fear, for it can cause you to — among other things — settle for much less than you want or need.
(About a 4 minute read)
If dragons were real, and young men and women were given the choice of either slaying one with a wooden sword or — alternatively — striking up a conversation with an attractive young man or woman they had not yet met, you could lay money on it that, every Spring morning, the sound of whittling boards into swords would be deafening.
When I was at university, I observed a curious fact. Surely a third of the men I knew had a crush on some woman they could not muster the courage to meet. They would speculate about meeting her, dating her, having sex with her, even marrying her, but they would never — no matter what encouragement was given to them — actually lift a finger to actually meet her. Endless daydreams.
And of course, the women were no better. Despite that everyone talked about how women now had a right to ask out men — rather than passively wait for men to ask them out — very few women actually did. I suspect the fear of rejection played a significant role in that.
Not that I myself was much better. I too had a morbid fear of rejection. Especially earlier on in high school. In my small community, gossip ruled. You could not be rejected by someone without everyone soon enough knowing it.
I feared — not just rejection — but that I might be rejected so often I’d get a reputation as someone who ought to be rejected. That is, as someone who there “must be” something wrong with him because everyone rejects him.
Mostly because of that, I only got up the nerve to ask a tiny handful of girls out during all four years. And, for the most part, my intended victims declined my generous offers. I cannot precisely recall now, but I think I actually dated only three girls. If so, at least two of those must have been but once each, because I only had one real relationship, a short lived one.
By the time I got to university, though, I had changed a wee bit. Not much, but just enough to matter. I still intensely feared rejection, but I had learned a trick that allowed me to overcome it just barely enough to meet plenty of those attractive, but exotic and dangerous things called “women”.
The first thing I did was — whenever I was in a social situation, such as a party — I would make a point of at the very least saying “hi” to every unattached woman present. I’d start at one end of the room, and methodically progress to the other end, talking with any women who’d talk with me.
But that wasn’t the real trick. That was just a necessary component of it. I’ll get to the real trick soon. Before I do, though, I’d like to point out something important.
I have long harbored the suspicion that — if truth be told — a sizeable portion of people end up marrying the first, second, or third person they date in life. By itself, there is nothing wrong with that. But I wonder whether the divorce rate would be lower — much lower — if people dated around more before deciding someone was for them.
If I am right, then I further suspect the main reason so many people marry without having dated around much is because they fear rejection. It is just so much more comfortable to stay with someone who you might not be all that well suited for, rather than try and try again to find someone who is better suited for you.
I can prove my suspicions are correct. They are founded on mere anecdotal evidence. Numerous people have told me — often enough when they were in the process of getting a divorce — that their partner was the first, second, or third person they dated (and usually the first they had sex with).
It seems to me that the fear of rejection messes with us in a more subtle way than merely prevents us from making an effort to meet people we are attracted to, or prevents us from dating more than just a very few people.
I believe it can also mean that we find it altogether easier to ask out someone we don’t fear being rejected by because he or she isn’t someone we really desire, than to ask out someone we greatly fear being rejected by because we greatly desire him or her.
Think about that for a moment. Instead of going for the best person you can go for — or at least the person you’re most attracted to — you go for the person you are much less attracted to because with them — at least — you do not fear receiving a “no”. Is that really a good way to pick someone you might end up spending the rest of your life with?
As for the trick I learned that allowed me to meet plenty of attractive women, it was this: I made my goal first just to strike up a conversation, and second, just to learn something about the person I was conversing with. Did she like her major? Was she into sports? What kind of person was she? That’s it. Not much of a trick, eh?
The heart of it was this: I had stumbled onto the truth that I had much, much less fear of being rejected if I made my goal those two things, rather than if I made my goal getting a date, or getting laid. Ironically, it proved to be the perfect route to both getting a date and getting laid.
However, the trick was to put those things as far out of mind as you possibly could, and to instead simply concentrate on striking up an conversation in which you got to know something about the person. Worked for me. Might work for you.