The Art of Breaking Up

Rejection is one of the worst parts of dating. And yet it’s also a pretty standard part of dating. It happens to all of us. If you’ve never been rejected, 1) I hate you. 2) You’re missing out on some serious character development opportunities. 3) You should skip this post because you won’t be able to relate to it. I’ve been rejected more than a handful of times. I haven’t done the research, so I’m not sure if I’ve been rejected more or less than the average 5’1” reasonably attractive, awkwardly charming, relatively smart and successful thirty-something-year old American man. But, I think it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of rejection. Some hurt, some were a relief, and most became amusing with the right amount of space and time. Here’s a list of some of the various reasons women have given me for why we shouldn’t see each other anymore.

  1. “I’m moving to Italy.” This came two weeks after we met. It left me with a few questions. When did this become a plan? Why? Do you speak Italian? Did I know you spoke Italian? Who’s going to take care of your cat—who you post snapchats of almost hourly? We agree this means we’re over, right?
  2. “I don’t do long distance.” She lived 15 minutes away from me.
  3. “I got a new phone, who is this?”
  4. “It’s not me, it’s you.” At first I thought I misheard her, but she really did say that I was the problem and she was not. And I can’t say she was wrong.
  5. “I don’t see myself with a woman.”
  6. “I don’t see myself with a man.” There will be more on both of these break-ups, which occurred after one another, in a future post.
  7. “My ex wants me back.”
  8. “You’re too nice.”
  9. “You’re an asshole.” Not according to the last girl I dated. Jury is still out on this, I guess.
  10. “You’re too short for me.” I’ve heard this one a lot. It always feels like I’m 12 again and the ride attendant at Top Gun is telling me that I don’t make the height requirements. So I have to miss out while all my friends who are 2-4 inches taller than me get to experience the thrill that is Top Gun, while I sit at the exit comforting my sadness with ice cream. I conducted an unofficial survey among some of my tall women-identifying friends about if this height thing was a real thing. About half said it didn’t matter to them. The other half said that height mattered a lot to them, they wanted a taller or bigger guy so they could feel small and petite. This could get me started on a whole rant about gender roles and patriarchy—none of which will make me taller and all of which would make me guilty of mansplaining. So I won’t. Women, you go on ahead and find your tall glass of water, you do you. But ladies who don’t care about height—call me!
  11. “I hate puns.” Fair enough.
  12. “I need to be single for awhile.” She started dating someone else three days later. Which I guess technically could count as awhile?
  13. “Actually, I only went on this date to meet your dog.” Can’t even be mad at her, my dog is the best thing about me. She knows it. I know it. And apparently this date knew it.
  14. “Your voice annoys me.” I tried to convince her I was the strong silent type, but considering that explanation took 15 minutes, she didn’t buy it.
  15. “You snored.” I blamed it on my dog and then I realized we were staying at her house and there was no dog.
  16. “I don’t understand you.” Me either, girl. Me either.
  17. “You ordered a salad. I can’t date a salad guy.” I told her I thought that was a Cobb out. She didn’t get it, so it wouldn’t have worked out anyway.
  18. “You’re too perfect.” Okay, she might have said something else, but I tuned out and this is what my brain heard and committed to memory.
  19. “I need to cancel tonight. I’m not feeling well. Sorry. I’ll call you.” She never called. Now that I think about it, it’s been three years. I hope she’s feeling better. Maybe I should call to check in on her?
  20. “I thought you were someone else.” Who? Ryan Gosling? Jonathan Taylor Thomas? The pizza delivery guy?
  21. After a few months of dating, she invited me to the show she was in and then ignored me the entire time, including when she handed me a program and took me to my seat. Her commitment to ignoring me was actually impressive.
  22. Sent a friend across the gymnasium to tell me she didn’t want to date me anymore. In her defense we were in 10th grade.
  23. “I don’t think I can date a transman. You seem like a really great guy. I just don’t think I can handle it.” It sucks when this is the reason for rejection—and it’s also one of my biggest dating fears come to life. Except, my biggest dating fear is that the rejection will be accompanied with violence when I come out as trans. This risk is statistically less for me as a white trans man, than it is for a transwoman. It’s still a reality that I prep for every time I come out to a date. Dating as a transguy is a challenge. There are fears and misconceptions, transphobia, bigotry, etc. on top of the regular obstacles of dating. I’ll expand on this in its own post later.
  24. “My cat doesn’t like you and he’s a good judge of character.” I firmly believe that cats are plotting our demise. The day they gain opposable thumbs is the day we become their domesticated house pets/they kill us off. I think cats can sense that I don’t like them/am afraid of them. Even when a cat is playing nice, I know it’s just like when they play with a mouse before they kill it, it’s just a matter of time before they pounce on me and feed me to their opposable thumb possessing litter. (Also is it weird we call a group of kittens the same thing as we call the box we want cats to poop in? No? Just me? Okay then.) Anyway, her cat was probably right about me.
  25. “F*&% you. We’re done.”
  26. “You’re so great! Can’t wait to see you again!” followed by silence/the classic ghost
  27. The waving hand emoticon.

Holy crap! This list is 27 rejections long and some of them I’ve heard more than once AND I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few. I knew I had dealt with a lot of thanks-but-no-thanks situations, but I never counted them. I’m not sure I’m glad I did. We both just learned something about me right now. Do you feel closer? I feel closer to you. Which means I need to…go…um, you can finish reading this on your own, right?

A footnote for misogynistic dudes. Hey misogynistic bros, let me talk directly to you for a minute (and if you are currently wondering “How do I know if he’s talking to me?” I’m talking to you): No one owes you anything. No one has to message you back just because you matched on tinder. No one has to reply to your “hello?” No one has to be gentle with your fragile male ego. A non reply means they are not interested. And they don’t have to tell you why. Even if they start talking to you and then stop, that doesn’t mean you are owed an explanation. It was probably because they saw that picture of you flexing in the gym mirror and that was a big turn off. (Seriously bros, stop with with gym selfies. Nobody has ever seen a gym selfie of someone and thought “Oh my gawd, that guy is so cool. He doesn’t even have to work out at the gym to get all those muscles, he just takes selfies and boom! Six pack!” Nobody.) And before we get mad about how someone replies to us or doesn’t reply to us, let’s realize that the experience of a woman in the dating world is very different than that of men.

In all honesty, if I was receiving unsolicited dick pics or aggressive threats from someone throughout my dating attempts, I would also disappear as fast as possible without any explanation. No explanation is needed to exit from a situation involving sexual harassment. If I had experienced people turning angry and aggressive after I told them I wasn’t interested, I might be less inclined to offer polite goodbyes to future folks I wasn’t interested in and more inclined to just leave. If you are sending unsolicited dick pics, stop. No one wants to see that. Seriously, there a bajillion things more attractive to send a picture of, that are not your dick.* If you want someone to like you and respect you, try being likable and respectful. And whether someone offers you the best reasoning, the lamest reasoning, or no reasoning, you don’t get to be rude and insult them just because you’re feeling hurt. Or because you can’t possibly fathom how someone wouldn’t want to be with someone as awesome and handsome as you. Rejection sucks. And most of the time it’s not going to feel good. Sulk a bit, crack open a miller lite, call your best bro-friend and cry, and then take a deep breath and realize she just wasn’t that into you. Let me break it down further; no means no bro. And so does silence and anything lacking yes. Take a hint, bro and politely move on.

*like a dusty corner in your apartment, your dog/cat/fish, a stapler, the contents of your fridge, a bottle of wine, a cabinet full of dishes, a fire pit, that damn gym selfie, the ironic collection of records you have, the poster of the godfather taped to your bedroom wall, and so many more things.

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