In the dating game, I wish people could be put in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct. One of the most common and heinous acts of unsportsmanlike conduct I’ve seen is the inability to take a refusal with a little grace. Maybe I just get rejected so much that I think it’s a necessity. But unless you’re deluded enough to think you’re always going to be “winning“, there will be times when you’re not winning.
I use the phrase “not winning” instead of “losing” for a number of reasons. Firstly, everyone in the dating game is a winner as long as you’re being respectful and polite. I also dislike the idea of rejection as losing because it implies that the goals of being courtly are solely romantic conquest. It also implies that if you’re a “loser”, you have nothing left the lose.
Plenty of hopefuls have felt slighted by a “no” and have done some silly-ass shit in response. I did when I was young and rambuncious and couldn’t comprehend the idea that someone wouldn’t be interested in a lothario like myself. So I made a total ass of myself and tried to make them feel as bad for rejecting me as I felt for being rejected. It wasn’t thoughtful. It wasn’t constructive. And it ruined any chance I might have had.
Plenty of people don’t understand that a “no” might very well become a “yes” if you’re patient and respectful. That being said, I’ve come a long way from my r/seduction-reading, fireball-guzzling youth. Sure, it would be nifty if being understanding of a rejection awakened someone’s need to be with an empathetic partner and they change their mind immediately after hearing a graceful acceptance of refusal. Primarily though, doing this enriches a shame free dating culture. Which is a dramatically more noble calling then constantly cruising for ass.
Respond well and you could be accepted later.
Respond well and you might make a new friend.
Most importantly though, respond well to help foster a culture where people aren’t afraid to say “no”.
So many people are practically incapable of saying “no”. This is partly because a huge population (esp. women) is groomed from a tender age to not say it. This is also because the few who have mustered a refusal are very often met with backlash in the form of dismissal, insults, even threats. Because of this, and the proliferation of literature about “winning”, I thought it would be valuable to offer my experience with keeping a sense of style when you’re not winning. I have a lot of experience…
Handling your rejection can be done with contextual candor, depending on the circumstances:
- On Teh Internets
I message so many people, I inevitably receive replies explaining that I am too old/young/male/short/Irish. If they put the effort into writing me a refusal, I’m obligated as a gentleman to write an understanding acceptance of it. By far, the most common refusal I get is when I ask people if polyamory is a dealbreaker:
Firstly, I gotta assure them that there’s nothing wrong with having preferences that don’t fit me. Just like there are plenty of people I don’t want to date, I want to acknowledge my respect of their right to not want to date me. Next, I make sure to thank them for taking the time to write a reply. They could have not read my messages, or pretended not to have read it, or read it and wrote a disgruntled reply full of pointed comments about my bushy eyebrows. But they didn’t. They spent time providing me a conclusive communique. I better recognize. Finally, I put the ball in their court. In any courtship, it falls on the suitor to initiate contact. My last move is to offer that responsibility to them.
While it may not have a great turnover rate (28.7%). It does have a better turnover rate than offering a shitty response to their refusal (0%). If someone offers a response, even a rejection, they have opened a communication that is civil. You could walk away with a new friend at the very least.
You might meet someone at the party, or on the train, or at the
animefitness convention and feel a spark. You might finally try to manifest those feelings you’ve been sitting on to ask out someone close to you in an effort to break out of the friend-zone. Or you might just ask someone out who’s not as into you as you are into them and your date proposal is met unreciprocatedly. The best course of action to just move along like it never happened.
Will it make things awkward between the two of you? Not really.
The only difference between two peoples’ interactions after a date request is unrequited is that a future romantic engagement is significantly less likely. If your friendship or civility with someone hinges so heavily on a potential date, you may not actually be that good of a friend. If the answer is “no”, FIDO.
- Unfinished Symphony
Just because somebody said “yes” to a date, doesn’t mean you have standing consent for the rest of the encounter. With regular and consistent communication, you may very well find out that your date may not be interested in taking a step you’re gearing towards. If they agreed to hold your hand, they may not want to kiss. If they agreed to give you a kiss, they may not wanna bang. If they agreed to go to bed with you, they may not have the kind of sex you want to have.
When you’re taking intimacy somewhere new, your partner might say something like “I think we’re moving too fast”, or “I don’t know if I want to do that”, or “Let’s get back to the table before our waiter thinks we left”.
All these things mean “no”, which also means no. So ease back and keep your hands to yourself for a spell. This might mean keep them to yourself for the rest of the night, this might mean keeping them to yourself until your partner is ready to get back to pound-town. Ultimately, it means they’re calling the shots for a minute. Don’t feel tempted to test how far they’re willing to go by letting your hands wander until they’re met with another refusal. Don’t feel tempted to try and barter some hanky panky with offers like “Could you gimme a BJ instead?” or “Just the tip?. You’ve established that you want to go farther than they do. So let them decide how far y’all are going because they know you’re game. Say something to the effect of “What would you be comfortable doing instead?” If they are too frazzled to make a decision about where intimacy is going, you’re probably done for the night.
It’s a bummer, but it happens.
If anything, just ask them if you can hold them and then try and conk out for the night. If you have a stone-hard-life-threatening boner that you really have to do something about, just go crank one out in the bathroom. I encourage people to say nothing about giving yourself a quick treat in private. If you ask/tell your partner about what you’re going to do, that’s kind of pressuring them to ‘satisfy’ you. At the same time, trying to sleep with blue balls is sometimes like trying to sleep with your socks on. I can’t do it. So if you’ve been building up all night but release got denied, in the most discreet way possible, hit up the john for the old crap’n’fap.
- Hitting Hard Limits
Similar to the unfinished symphony, if you’re asking an existing partner for something new, they may not be as interested as you are. Make sure you discuss taking these steps together while your clothes are still on to give your partner time to come to an informed decision about what route to take with this knew desire they know about you. This could be an opportunity to explore something new together, or this could be a wedge that gets driven into the relationship. The most common limit that people hit refusal for is anal. Because it’s placed on this pedestal as a sexual holy grail, and because it’s real tough to do; lots of relationships hit this bump. But it’s true of virtually any snag of intimacy due to hesitations, not just buttsex. This could happen if you’re asking your partner for a sexy roleplay, or if you’re asking your partner for a threeway, or to draw stairs on an etch-a-sketch while pegging him. If the answer is no, you’ve got some options:
Continue the relationship without getting this thing you want. Ever.
San Savage calls this the “Price of Admission“. Ask yourself if this person means enough to you that you are willing to carry on without getting this particular intimacy that you desire. Hopefully, they’re worth it. Your desire may fade, or it may fester and mold out into stewing enmity between you and your partner.
- Pass the Pace
Accept the no. If you respect it, it could very well become a yes later on. A tentative yes could become their favorite activity with you, or it might become a special treat they give you on birthday and Hanukkah. But the only way it’ll become anything is if you’re respectful and don’t push too hard. Take it at their pace, or just slow as a glacial pace; whichever is slower.
Outsource your desires. If your partner doesn’t want to get pegged, but you absolutely have to; if the two of you are comfortable with it, branch out. Hit up Craigslist or AdultFriendFinder for something casual. Adopt a lifestyle of polyamory if you’re considering something more invested.
- Cut Bait
If you’re not willing to pay the price of admission, but want to remain monogamous, I strongly encourage ending the relationship. As I mentioned before, desire may become frustration which may become enmity. By the time you hit enmity, you might be so deeply entwined that you just resolve yourself to being permanently romantically affixed to someone who cannot satisfy you.
If there was a penalty box for the dating world, it would be filled with people who didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong. We’re still getting used to this whole asking thing, so of course there’s going to be some hiccups in the realm of getting a refusal. But consent culture won’t be built over night.
Have you ever refused someone and gotten a good response accepting your refusal? If so, what was it?
How do you handle refusals? If you never get them, what’s your secret? Please post in the comments below! If you refuse to post in the comments, I respect that decision.