The Gentleman’s Guide To Handling Rejection

Or, "How Not to Be a Shithead When She Ghosts You," courtesy of author and comedian Sara Benincasa

Sara Benincasaby Sara Benincasa

Last year, I decided to join a dating app for two weeks as an experiment. A guy who went to college with me messaged me, seemingly thrilled. He told me he’d read my writing for years. When he told me his full name, I only vaguely recalled who he was. He was older than me and hadn’t been a close pal, he’d seemed like a good guy. Texting ensued, and I thought, “Hey, this human being is interesting and not gross! Also, he’s kinda cute.” That was enough for me to agree when he suggested lunch at his favorite diner the next day. (As a Jersey girl living in Los Angeles, I’m highly interested in diner time at any time.)

Lunch was chill and comfortable. He was cuter in person, smart and kind, and clearly very committed to his family and friends. When he dropped me off at my house, I tentatively said, “Well, if we go out again –“ and he interrupted me very deliberately to say, “When we go out again.” (It was a cheeseball move, sure, but it seemed sincere.) I texted him later to say I’d had a great time, and he texted me back to say he had, too.

And after that?

Nothing.

Nothing from him, I should say. I texted a few days later to see if he wanted to hang out again, and I got no response.

When we go out again,” indeed.

Hey, it was one date. Maybe he was just being polite and pretending to enjoy my company. Maybe he was really into some girl and things heated up with them as soon as he dropped me off, like she FaceTimed him naked in his car and yelled, “GET OVER HERE AND GET INSIDE ME IMMEDIATELY!” Maybe he realized he wasn’t as excited about me as he’d initially thought, or I wasn’t as hot as he’d initially thought, or he just got distracted by shiny objects in his kitchen drawer. Who knows?

But the fact remains that being ghosted feels shitty, even if (as in this case) it only stings a tiny bit. And it’s an experience that’s more and more common in an age when dating apps sometimes seem to make people as dispensable as used toothpicks. After all, there’s always somebody else, right? It’s a lot like online shopping – if that outfit or album or pair of sneakers sucked, we can jump right back in there and find a better option.

When so many of us tend to live and even work in isolated apartments, we can silo off into our own worlds. And since we don’t necessarily engage a lot with the same local community over and over, there’s no need to be accountable to someone with an explanation of why one doesn’t want to go on another date.

It can hurt, but ghosting isn’t a crime. I’ve heard of a few cases of people really flipping out and going into a rage after being ghosted, and that just seems ridiculous to me. That’s why I’ve put together a handy guide to how to deal with being ghosted – even if you went on more than just one decent lunch date with somebody who seemed cool.

If you’ve texted twice with no response, don’t reach out again.

Just don’t. You’ve some pride, after all, and if they really want to talk to you, they can undertake the effort. Anybody can miss one message, but two? Two means they don’t want to chat. Accept it and move on. Tell yourself it’s their loss. More importantly, tell yourself you deserve better – which you do. Why on earth would you want to be with somebody who doesn’t want to be with you? NEXT.

 

Don’t stalk them online (or off!)

This should go without saying, but don’t show up at somebody’s house or place of work without being invited. Don’t spy on them in person or online. Certainly don’t waste your time trying to figure out who they’re dating “instead of” you. It wasn’t a competition. You may have been one in a series of gentlemen callers she entertained while she tried to figure out who was her best match. She may have realized she’s still heartbroken over her ex. She may have realized she’s simply too busy to date right now and is more interested in spending time on her career, or with her family or friends. Assume it ain’t all about you, and then avoid making your every waking hour all about her. Which brings me to my final tip…

Move on.

Don’t dwell on it. You may recall it once in awhile in future with some mild distaste, but recognize that she’s just not the one for you. The guy who ghosted me is probably still a lovely and kind person. We just weren’t a match, and that’s okay. I would’ve given it a few more dates to see what more was there, but if he knew immediately that it wasn’t right, he saved us both time.

 

Remind yourself that you are a good, kind, generous human being deserving of love. And then get back out there and act like one. If you do, you’ll meet the right person eventually – somebody who doesn’t just disappear like a Haunted Mansion wraith. (Although I’d love to date a Haunted Mansion wraith, assuming I’d get free Disney passes for life.) Good luck, young sir.