OK, this one’s a little rambly, but there’s a lot of self-realization here that I feel could actually be helpful to others, so if you have the time, I really encourage a read-through, particularly if you have been rejected or hurt by someone’s thoughtless words recently.
I had a girl’s night to watch The Bachelor, and I ended up on OkCupid. That’s just kind of how that works for me, I guess.
So, I got on the site, updated some of my profile because it had been a while, and then I started people shopping. It sounds terrible, but honestly that’s what it feels like. It’s one of the reasons that I actually kind of hate online dating.
Anyway, I actually saw a guy that I thought was really cute. His profile was pretty sparse, but we had a decently high match percentage, so I thought why not? And I did something I never do: I messaged him first.
Then, I went back to people-shopping, and a few minutes later he messaged me back. All it said was: Not interested in bisexuals.
I didn’t bother replying. When someone is that closed-minded, anything you say just confirms their prejudices or bounces off. Also, there was no end goal for me. With an unnecessarily rude response like that, I certainly had no interest in trying to change his mind or get to know him.
But it still bothered me. If what he said makes sense to you, let me help you put it in perspective: Say I was overweight and I messaged a guy I thought seemed interesting, and he merely replied “Not interested in overweight people.”
It’s his opinion/attraction and that’s fine. But seriously, why was it necessary to reply like that? Just don’t answer. Or at least be polite about it.
I tried to shove the negative feelings away, but they were sticking around even after I ranted to my best friend for a while. So, I took some advice from this book I’ve been reading: If the Buddha Dated by Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D.
Basically, Kasl says that a lot of our negative behaviors in relationships stem from fear.
“Fear of simply sitting with your internal discomfort, anxiety, shame, and emptiness… Tuning into our ego-driven behavior requires that we become the clear-seeing witness of our motivation.”
She encourages readers to sit with their fears and negative emotions, to examine them, and to try to make peace with these emotions by understanding where they come from.
So I tried to do that.
And I realized a great many things about why this simple thoughtless message made me feel so much negativity. For one thing, no one likes rejection, but for me, it’s not something I’m used to. I’m also not completely secure about my sexuality, so this felt like a very personal attack on something that I’m already a little self-conscious about.
But there was one other thing that popped up as I was meditating on this issue. As I thought about why I felt bad and why I shouldn’t, the phrase “I would have preferred if you just didn’t answer” popped into my head. But it wasn’t my voice. It was my memory of my ex saying that to me after I sent him the link to the final ex-chronicles post where I explained why I couldn’t be friends with him.
In my head, I was being honest and open with him. But to him, it was a personal attack on his ego. He didn’t take it well. I didn’t think about the negative feelings that would be engendered in him, mostly because I didn’t think he cared enough about me at this point to be bothered by anything that I did despite our claims of friendship. But I should have thought more before hitting send.
I’m still not sorry I sent it, though.
Anyway, my ego rebelled against this parallel. They’re totally different circumstances! My wounded pride cried into the void.
And of course, as far as nuance goes, they are different. For one thing, I don’t even know the OkCupid guy. But in the emotions that arose from the two messages, they are very much the same. I’m giving this guy the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he just didn’t think about what he was saying. Or maybe he is just a dick. I don’t know.
Either way, it wasn’t really what he said that caused me so much trouble (for like half an hour anyway). It was that I felt I was being personally assaulted. My core self was being attacked by this person for no reason. My brain assumed this person was trying to hurt me, but I sincerely doubt that was the case.
So, a lack of response would have been preferable, but in his mind, maybe he was doing me a favor by not making me wait for an answer that wasn’t coming. Still, you don’t have to be rude about it.
So I guess the takeaway from this is just: think before you hit send.
Don’t just think about how the message will make you feel, but also how it could affect the person reading it. Sometimes you’ll decide they need to hear it anyway, and sometimes they’ll resent you for it. But just, think it through.
Other takeaway: Don’t take things personally. Even if they’re meant that way.