It’s a Guy Thing – or Is It?

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Blog, For Guys & Gals, Let's Go For a Walk | 0 comments

It’s a Guy Thing – or Is It?

This morning the little boy next door was sobbing his eyes out as I was getting ready for my walk. And the circumstance made me think about fear of rejection, and whether men and women deal with this challenge differently. And, how fear of rejection can be handled well during dating.

So, are men more afraid of rejection than women? Do they handle it differently? And what are the keys for men in dealing with fear of rejection during dating? More on all of this below – with some thoughts about how fear of rejection can be minimized – and how you can feel like a success while you’re dating, no matter what is happening.

To explain about the little boy – my home is two attached units and I lease out one side as a furnished vacation rental. Currently a man is living there while he’s back from working overseas with the military, and his four-year old son is with him part-time.  My tenant’s rental agreement is up in a few days and I assume he’s going back overseas while his son stays in town with his mom, the man’s ex.

I wondered whether the son was crying in anticipation of his father leaving. Today’s heart-breaking sobbing was a departure from what I’ve heard over there in the past –  the two of them playing “monster,” with the man chasing his son around the house, and the little boy laughing gleefully.

But isn’t it like this for all of us? Don’t we all fear the going away of someone we care about – just like a four-year old boy. Or being told, directly or indirectly, that we’re not “the one?” Grown up men are supposed to be tough. But what I hear from men is that the fear of rejection is often a giant obstacle to moving forward with dating, or being in a relationship.

After all, traditionally, men are the ones who are supposed to “make the first move,” – walk up to the woman – ask for her number – call her- ask her out – ask her out again – make the move for the first kiss….. It’s a lot of energy – and a lot of putting themselves out there with the possibility of rejection at each stage of the game.

And isn’t fear of rejection and loss, bottom line, what makes dating and relationships painful sometimes?

I’ve spoken with men who’ve had a hard time moving forward with finding another relationship. or really letting someone else in, after a devastating abandonment (like their wife having an affair, and then the marriage ending in divorce.) Others seem to recover pretty quickly and move on, with renewed sense of self.

Isn’t it true for all of us that:

We want the love.

We fear the rejection.

Yes, we want sex too – and the popular understanding is that guys are more motivated by sex than women are – more on that topic in another post sometime.

In my experience, and this is a gross generalization, women are in some ways more equipped to heal from rejection and move on. They have more skills for “self-soothing,” and more community that supports them in putting things in perspective, whereas guys often slug out this healing process relatively alone.

But, when you get right down to it – aren’t we more the same than we are different? We both really want love – acceptance – nurturing. We both want to feel safe with someone who cares about us. By the time we’re even a little bit grown up, most of us have had the experience of loving someone, and losing them – because they chose someone else, died, or went away. And it sucks bigtime. And it can make you wonder whether you ever want to try again.

And that’s why dating – and relationships – bring up so much fear of rejection – and of whether we’re “good enough” to be loved. All the “old baggage” – from earlier relationships – or from childhood.

It’s just hard to deal with the basics – of not being called again after a date (if you’re a woman) – or having the woman be evasive, not respond, or tell you flat out she doesn’t want to go out with you (if you’re a man.)

When I was out on my walk I saw a pretty young Mom in a pink hoodie pushing a one-year-old-ish boy in a stroller. He was waving his arms around, looking happy as a clam. (And what is this thing anyway about clams being happy? Who started that?….) Mom looked pretty happy too.

It  occurred to me that that toddler is getting a running start at believing in the possibility of love and acceptance from a romantic partner during his lifetime. Lucky him!

How can we deal well with rejection? How can we continue putting ourselves out there, instead of avoiding the whole dating and relationship pursuit out of fear of rejection?

Part of the answer, it seems to me, is redefining rejection – and failure – in our own minds.

If you define “success” as having the person you like like you back – or finding the “perfect” partner on your desired time schedule, then you will probably feel like you are “failing” most of the time.

But if you define dating “success” as:
– liking yourself, and the way you put yourself out there, no matter what happens;
– noticing what you are learning from each experience, while you stay true to yourself;
– having as much fun as humanly possible on every date;
– having a sense of humor about the whole process;
– not being on a particular schedule, being patient, and going at your own pace; and
– appreciating at least one thing about every person you meet,

then you can feel like a success, and pleased with yourself, throughout your entire dating process.

And if you define “rejection” as the other person deciding you are not “the one,” or them not being attracted to you, or not wanting to go out with you, then you can feel “rejected” a lot of the time. Not so fun!

But, if you define “rejection” as being only those moments when you don’t feel good about yourself – in other words, self-rejection – then you’re in control of that feeling, with practice and some work on yourself. And of course you’re only human – so you probably won’t be able to avoid feeling rejected 100% of the time.

And if, every time someone says “no,” or dating someone doesn’t work out, you think “nothing is ever going to work,” then it would be easy to get depressed and give up. Instead, like Thomas Eddison when he was working on inventing the lightbulb, every time something doesn’t work, you could choose to think “well, I’ve just learned one more way this won’t work, so now I’m one step closer to finding what will work.” Then you can stay positive, and keep learning and growing, without blaming yourself or anyone else.

One of the biggest hallmarks of great inventers, and social movement leaders is persistence, patience, and never giving up.

Of course, sometimes you just need to take a break to rebuild your stamina.

How can we keep believing that love is truly possible for us, even if our hearts have been broken many times before? How can we keep believing in ourselves, and stay open to letting someone else in?

It might be the hardest thing to do in life.

I feel it’s also the most important.

Needing love is  definitely both “a guy thing” and a “gal thing.”

This is an excerpt from  one of my favorite quotes, which happens to be from the Dalai Lama:

“Never give up
No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart…
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up”

I think of this quote when it comes to love and relationships.

Please keep the faith- in love.

Along the way you might find some fabulous sex too…..couldn’t hurt! LOL

By the way, the photo in this post was taken in 2005 when my two nephews arrived for my mom’s 80th birthday celebration. They were almost four at the time. What I have with them is true love, since the day they were born, no matter what is happening in the moment.

(This blog post is part of the ‘Let’s Go for a Walk’ series. The first in this series was titled ‘Let’s Go for a Walk’ and posted on March 14, 2014.)




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