I hit on a guy at a party once.
It was a Saturday night. Picture a room full of strangers... and me in the corner. I had a gin and tonic clenched, white-knuckled, in my hand.
The object of my affection was a few metres away. He was having a good time, laughing with his friends. I'd been crab-walking around him for an hour, in that awkward way I do when I'm interested but haven't found the right way to approach. Gradually my orbit tightened, and I somehow managed to end up standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him on the side of the dance floor. We already knew each other, but he didn't know I had a crush on him. He was about to find out, in the most direct fashion.
I took a sip of my drink, then blurted, "Hey, nice to see you again! Uh, I just wanted to say, I think you're really fucking awesome and if you want to make out some time, I'm totally down for that."
"Gee, thanks." he said.
They say ninety percent of communication happens via body language. Eyes unfocused, turning awkwardly away, tense shoulders - every part of his body was saying 'hell, no.' There was dissolving feeling in the pit of my stomach, as though I'd just chugged a glass of battery acid. I looked down at my feet and he must have taken the opportunity to escape, because when I next glanced up he was on the other side of the room, kissing my best friend. I stood there by myself, feeling like I was dying, and watched the two of them sucking face for what seemed like hours.
When you're hooking up, rejection is an inevitability. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, we're not all designed to fit perfectly together. It can happen when we're unmatched on Tinder, or when we try to strike up a conversation with a stranger. It can happen after an epic one-night stand, when we get turned down for a second date. It can happen when we're seeing someone on the regular, but they decide they're no longer interested.
Rejection has the power to make us feel as though the world itself is crumbling.
How do we survive the rejectionocalypse? How do we get back on our feet, thrive on the experience, and become better at hooking up? Here are my thoughts.
If you're a straight bloke, you might be thinking, "What the fuck would she know about being rejected? Chicks get rejected much less than guys do." Tinder can be a grind for hetero guys - I have friends who spend hours swiping for just one match. But saying 'guys get rejected more than girls' is a huge oversimplification. For starters, I put myself out there more than many - I chat people up and make offers on a regular basis, even if it's just for the practice. Since hooking up and rejection go hand-in-hand, I hear 'no' a more often than someone who stays home and binge-watches Netflix.
And it's not just about gender. Some people struggle to find sexual partners more than others - those who don't fit society's mainstream standards of beauty, for example. People from racial minorities. People who are shy or socially awkward. People who struggle with disability or mental health issues. I've been knocked back because I'm a sex worker, and because I'm non-monogamous. Being 'different' can complicate things.
I'd encourage you not to make assumptions about who's being rejected the most. Instead, let's talk about learning to handle an experience that's universal, regardless of who you are or how you hook up.