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How to Deal With the Horrors of Dating

Both rejection and over-the-top attention from an interested party are tough. Here's how to pick up on important social cues.

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First, how to be rejected. 

As a freelancer I’m used to being ignored. Freelancers pitching stories are never the most important part of any editors day, a humbling-but-true fact that can help make unresponsiveness of all kinds a little easier to cope with, even though it’s got a different vibe than romantic rejection. As far as that goes, a fair rule of thumb is that if someone you don’t know well (not a friend or colleague) doesn’t get back to you after you make three attempts within two weeks — and three attempts ONLY, not three texts AND three calls AND three emails, but one of each — cut yourself off like a drunk going cold turkey. Don’t try again. Don’t convince yourself their phone fell into the toilet, their computer is broken or they have been kidnapped by terrorists or they would be responding to you. They’re aware you made an attempt and whether they respond or not…this is the hard part… is entirely out of your control. You have to practice not thinking about them and like anything else you work at with genuine diligence, you’ll get better at it. 

I’m in no way minimizing this: no one  researches how crazy love can make you feel unless it’s made them feel crazy too, so I get it. Whether it’s one date or one year of dates, rejection is baffling and painful, but you’re not the only one and it gets better. But you have to help it. 

On the other side of it, if you feel like you’re being harassed, there are steps to take to put the kibash on unwanted attention and feel a lot safer from future trouble in the bargain. If you really feel you don’t want to respond directly to the person with an unmistakable-but-gentle “I don’t feel the same way you do,” or if you feel like harassment has started before you could even try diplomacy, you can a) enhance your privacy settings, b) report the harassment to the websites it’s happening on, c) block the person from contact via phone or social media, d) tell mutual friends (if you have them) who might intervene and/or e) just contact the police. Your protection is their job and if you report something there is a record of it. I’ve experienced online harassment, so again, I get it and take it seriously; fortunately using the above-described methods worked for me and I never had to resort to calling the cops, but if I felt I had to do so I wouldn’t think twice. They’re in my phone. 

I know it’s fun to make light of other people’s evident craziness but those things can be both signs of danger and/or signs of pain. If you feel like you’ve been harassed there are avenues open to protect yourself. 

And if you’ve been rejected please, please absorb the idea that releasing yourself is much greater magic than enchanting someone else.

Liz Langley is a freelance writer in Orlando, FL.

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