Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

March 15, 2010

Julian's Thoughts on Rejecting a Suitor

Thanks, Agatha, for a link to Miss Manners and her ideas about rejecting a potential suitor. It's one of the hardest things to do, isn't it? And I think it's something that can create unnecessary drama for women. Goodness, I have a lot to say about it, but I'll keep it concise.

There is no easy way to tell someone that you don't have any romantic interest in him or that you don't share his intentions in your interactions. I've been on both the receiving and the rejecting end for about 9 years now, and I don't think the process of rejection gets any easier with time. Sure, it varies in difficulty depending upon your interest, how well you know someone, what his pursuit has entailed, etc. But there is just no clean and tidy way to say, "Well, I don't like you that way."

In my experience, the worst kind of rejection (at least from the P.O.V. of the receiving end) is the "fade away": a slow and seldom lack of communication from the man. Time gets longer between each contact from him, and you eventually realize that you have been initiating the communication while he merely responds. It takes a few weeks before you realize that he is not interested...perhaps this is your naivete or denial, but regardless, it's a prolonged agony and period of uncertainty that could have been considerably shaved down if he were a bit clearer.

That being said, I am guilty of the "fade away," and it is something that I have been conscientiously trying to stop doing. If a man's intentions are very clear, or even kind of clear, I have resolved to be very honest with him, in as gentle a way possible. It's hard to do without feeling guilty, but I do think we women owe men an honest response to their courage in pursuing someone. We save them time, uncertainty, and money. Now, I think the forum for honesty will depend upon whether your contact has been on the phone, face-t0-face, or through email, but the message of appreciation for their pursuit but honesty in one's feelings has to be clear. I think every women can pull this off with grace and charm (and with the help of a little prayer before doing the deed).

My dear, dear brother, once put it this way to me: "You'll know who you want to wind up with when neither of you would ever think of rejecting the other person." He's oftentimes too practical and very candid, but I think he's right.


Paul said...

With respect to your brother, I disagree. Sometimes you would think, perhaps even seriously, of pushing the other person away--and this could happen for any number of reasons--when in reality, you're wrong. My fiancee and I almost didn't have a second date because we were both seriously doubting that the other was who we were looking for. We thought seriously of it and almost did push each other away. It turned out though that each of us had to overcome a few misconceptions about the other and, thanks be to God, we did have that second date, and neither one of us has had any doubts since.

healthily sanguine said...

I totally agree about trying to avoid drama! However, I think I'm going to disagree slightly as to the approach of "rejecting" someone as a possible girlfriend/boyfriend. My idea is that actions speak louder than words. In that regard, it's not fair to compare a man's "rejection" of a woman with hers of a man. The man should, and not just "kind of", pursue. If he doesn't do this, it's your job as a lady to interpret this as, "He's not interested in pursuing me." He shouldn't need to say anything.

On the other hand, if you're a lady and a gentleman is trying to pursue you, you don't immediately have to come up with some way to say, "I'm not interested in dating you." You CAN do this and maybe it would lead to the swift death of the pursuit, but my personal opinion is that it doesn't let the guy save much face. In other words, the big reward you are giving his courage in trying to court you is pretty much the last thing any man would want: explicit rejection.

I think the reason why girls think they need to come up with something to say is because they continually make the bigger mistake of drawing something out with a pursuing guy by continuing to hang out with him, to go to events where he's going to be, and even to invite him to parties--when they have no interest in anything more than friendship. Such heedless behavior only confuses and hurts men. Though it might be inconvenient for a time, it's better to avoid contact with an unwanted suitor when at all possible. The very fact that you don't let a guy pursue you or even be near you will soon become painfully obvious to him. He will get the message.

Now, I do agree with Miss Manners that if, despite your best efforts (best efforts, btw, include NOT smiling warmly at the guy, not engaging in serious conversations with him, not leaning towards him, looking into his eyes a lot, or using other such body language, and not acting extremely enthusiastic), the guy will just not leave you alone--and certainly if he says something directly about starting a relationship with you--that's your cue to say something honest yet charitable in reply.

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