It’s possible that I have become impervious to romantic rejection. Have I been ignored? Forgotten? Stood up? Blocked? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Any preciousness I had about dating people I meet on apps is completely gone, and I’m almost at a point where I might start randomly asking cute people I know in my real life to their face if they want to get a drink sometime. That sounds like it should be normal and not cause a schism in your psyche if they say no. But it does seem like lots of people can’t face the potential emotions that getting rejected brings up. I can now, at least in regards to romance, and it feels powerful.
I messaged very briefly with this date on Tinder before asking him if he wants to meet for coffee. Like, right now. I have a deadline. He says yes. In some of his photos he has a big beard, and is baby-faced in others.
“I’m rocking the beard right now,” he warns, though he probably doesn’t intend it as a warning. I turn the corner at the coffee shop I chose, and there he is, waiting for me, with a truly enormous beard. It suits him even if it isn’t doing anything for me sexually. My date is from India. He has only been here for ten months, and had never even visited when he picked up and moved here to get his grad degree. I am his first Tinder date ever.
Since we barely talked before making plans this is all a surprise, but it makes sense. As I’ve observed, most people willing to meet right away are new to the city. I say something like that, and he points out it has been ten months.
“But you’re brand new to Tinder,” I say, realizing I’m being pretty rude. Less than a year in New York still seems new to me, but he obviously doesn’t think so. He laughs and agrees about Tinder, and we take our coffee to the park.
I’ve tried not to share details about anyone that would make them identifiable, even if I do end up revealing the details of our intimate/embarrassing interactions. So, it’s hard to talk about this man, who shared a lot of specifics about his life, his degree, his family, his observations about New York. Once again, I found myself sitting there, mostly silent except for when I asked leading questions.
This was a rare exception where most of what my date was saying was actually interesting, so I had to wonder why I couldn’t relax and be open with myself. It was a beautiful day, and what I mostly wanted to do was roll over in the grass and fall asleep until he went away. The night before I’d spoken to a friend about how difficult I found it to talk to dates about myself. I’ve been blaming it on how men are socialized to think they’re really important and not care what women think, but she said my problem is I’m too good at listening. Is that a polite way to explain that I have nothing to say?
But when I do open my mouth, things frequently unravel. And when I’m mostly silent, men want to see me again, which is depressing. After awhile, I told my date I needed to get going, and walked him to his subway stop.
“Hope this has been a decent first Tinder experience, “ I said.
“It was amazing,” he unexpectedly replied. Later, he messaged me again to say how great it had been. I agreed and wished him good luck on his thesis, implying I would never know how it worked out. The messages ended. Rejecting him felt worse than any rejections I’d received in awhile. He was a perfectly lovely person, but not a person I wanted to sit silently next to again. And I still don’t know if I should have tried harder, or behaved differently, or seen if I could have made him into a friend and then a lover.
How do you know where the line is when it comes to potential, and if by rejecting someone, you’re really rejecting possibility? And he was on time, too!