Today I’ve got rejection on my mind. Not so much outright rejection as romantic indifference from a person who is just not that into you. Or vice-versa: harboring romantic indifference for someone who doesn’t quite make your heart go bang.
I have friends who have been on both sides of this equation. I’ve been on both sides of this equation. When I’m on the wrong side (and I disagree with the school of philosophical thought that claims the only thing worse than not having what you want is having what you don’t want — it’s always much worse to be the one who’s not really wanted), I never stay there for long.
My mother says I give up on people too easily, and she’s right. In some cases, maybe it’s pride, or maybe it’s impatience, or maybe it’s just my human nature. I’ve never been much of an unrequited love kind of guy. Part of what makes me fall for someone is the fact that they’ve fallen for me. Flattery will get you everywhere but only for so long. The way to my heart is to show me love.
I prefer my love stories to begin with two-way fireworks — the loud boom of lust or love or a crazy combination of the two — or I might fall asleep in the middle of the first chapter. I’ll never be the guy who’s able to stretch out and wait while someone decides if he wants me, too — even someone who’s perfectly good to me while declaring his lack for feelings for me. But then I’m the guy who spends Valentine’s Day dateless, drinking white wine and being hit on by married closeted men. My way is not necessarily the smart way.
Old habits, especially ones that have pretty much defined your approach to dating, are so hard to break, though. The moment I notice you wavering, I’m out the door, or you are. It’s protected me for most of my life from prolonged heartbreak, but sometimes I wonder what I’m missing out on. “What about your pride?” I ask myself while watching someone wait for someone else to show some emotion, fall for them the way they’ve already fallen. But is having a surplus of pride pretty much a guarantee that you’ll end up alone?
I know a man who recently won the woman of his dreams after spending years waiting patiently for her to fall for him. He may have taken her no for an answer, but he didn’t take it for her final answer. He stuck around, as a friend without benefits, until he eventually turned into something more.
His patience was a virtue that led him all the way to the altar. If he were a woman or a gay guy, his girlfriends and gay friends probably would have said, “He’s just not that into you. Dump him.” As a straight guy, though, he probably didn’t have to worry about a Greek chorus hissing its disapproval. In fact, he probably scored points with innocent bystanders: “Oh, how romantic!” they must have gushed. He certainly did with me, which would not have been the case if he had been a woman, or gay.
Everybody loves a straight man who is patient enough to wait, but a woman is considered weak and stupid if she sits around waiting for a guy to put a ring on it. (A gay guy would likely be told there are plenty of other sexy fish in the sea — or on Grindr.) I applaud Duffy every time I listen to her tell a previously indecisive lover who finally comes around where to put his ring in “Delayed Devotion.” A guy who is patient in love, however, is hailed as the ultimate romantic. Who doesn’t cheer on Bruno Mars when he pines for a girl who doesn’t even deserve him in “Grenade”?
The woman who’s strong enough to leave gets to take her pride and high self-esteem to bed. The guy who sticks around just might get the girl — and another No. 1 hit in the process.
“Delayed Devotion” Duffy