The cruellest way to reject someone

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You’re welcome to break up with Reece Goodall – but do it properly…

It’s an almost definite fact of life that, as you develop romantic feelings for other members of the human race, you are going to experience rejection. You’ll ask someone out, only to be told in no uncertain terms that they do not feel the same way, and that any relationship between the two of you isn’t going to happen – it can be no more than a slight inconvenience, or it could be absolutely crushing, but a stamp of rejection lets you know how things stand either way.

Now, I’m no stranger to rejection (to understate heavily) – finding a romantic partner is somewhat difficult when you’ve got a face like a cave-in in a shit mine and your personality is only award-winning if you’re gunning for a couple of Razzies – and I’ve noticed a lot of range in the many putdowns I’ve received.

In all frankness, I would prefer someone to be as blunt as possible if they have to turn someone down. ‘No’ is as clear as anything – it truly puts a matter to bed, and it leaves both parties free to move on. It doesn’t have to be (and rarely is) horrible, and I still remain good friends with a number of ladies who have turned me down because no ambiguity is hanging in the air. Phrase it how you want – ‘I’m not interested in you,’ for example – but it gets the job done.

“In a beautifully horrible turn of fate, three girls I had asked out all entered into new relationships on successive days, and all of them used the same rejection when I had asked them out.”

There are worse ways to do it, of course, and I got thinking about one due to something that happened to me this week. In a beautifully horrible turn of fate, three girls I had asked out all entered into new relationships on successive days, and all of them used the same rejection when I had asked them out. That rejection was the following: ‘I am not interested in a relationship at the moment.’

And this rejection is the absolute cruellest that I can think of, for the sole reason that it does not do the job it is supposed to do. The whole point of rejecting someone is to tell them no, to put pay to the situation, but this keeps the flame alive. Qualifying your turndown with ‘at the moment’ stokes the coals of hope, suggesting that if you play your cards right, there is a chance that you could end up with the person you want to be with. If you do not want to be with someone, planting this thought seems a very counter-productive and fairly horrible thing to do. And when the person does find someone, it plants even more thoughts in your mind – did you miss your chance? What does this lucky person have that you don’t?

Not that I’m suggesting this is an intentionally malicious thing, nor am I suggesting that it is the responsibility of the person being asked to let the asker down gently – indeed, feelings aren’t a thing that you can control, and it is unfair to suggest that someone may be cruel for not sharing them. I fully appreciate that being put on the spot by being asked out can be equally as horrible as being turned down (which, inexplicably, I have also experienced).

However, it does seem a fair thing to talk about – if you’re going to turn someone down, for whatever reason, that’s entirely your prerogative. But why not make sure that you actually do it?

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