I sometimes swear that “Sympathy” is my middle name.
I loan my friends money often, well-aware of the fact that they probably won’t pay me back. I give crisp, green bills to beggars on the street, although I know that the money probably won’t help much. I’ve even bought McDonald’s Happy Meals for all of those awful, impolite-but-downtrodden people that sit outside of the restaurants on Virginia St., just because I can’t stand the idea of other people feeling down about life. I hate for people to think that they’re helpless, and that no one cares about them. Such a thing causes me to feel a number of emotions, all of which I’m loathe to further admit here.
Unfortunately, this tendency of mine to give at the sacrifice of my own well-being translates into my own love life. Time and time again, I find myself suffering fools gladly, so-to-speak. For example: In spite of the fact that I find being called “babe”, “pumpkin”, “honey”, and “sweetie” utterly repulsive, I allow the people (who, by the way, don’t have the sort of relationship with me that would make such pet-names acceptable) who say these things to do so, so as to avoid hurting their feelings. When people subject me to very rude but well-meant entreaties such as, “U r really hot bb, u wanna fuck?”, I do all that I can to conceal my internal bristling and try my damnedest to change the subject to something more polite; this way, they get to talk to me and, with any luck, I don’t feel like I’ll be someone’s midnight snack. By the way, yes, I admit that I (perhaps unrealistically) suspect people who are so wanton in their sexual pursuits are capable of cannibalism.
Of course, I’m no dummy. I happen to be aware of the fact that people like that thrive on people like me. I know that they wouldn’t ever get dates if it weren’t for people like me. I know that they use unnecessary pet-names to insinuate a relationship that doesn’t exist, in the hope that such a relationship will materialize from thin air. I also know that these people use graphic terminology and blatant forwardness to jostle me and strong-arm their way into my bed. It’s unfortunate, but true, that the culture of sex in America is a little bit rape-y that way. Yet, in spite of all my knowledge, I can’t help but apologize for being attractive to them. I can’t help but give them the time of day, in spite of my generally strong resolve, and it’s all because I don’t want my suitors to feel rejected. I know I’m not the only one.
I hate it when people are sad. I hate the idea of people feeling bad about things. The emotion someone experiences post-rejection isn’t a good one. It’s only natural that my sympathetic, solicitous nature would give me cause to protect people from that feeling. The problem with all of that is that my sort of behavior is illogical for a number of reasons. First of all, a lot of times, the people that hit on me in the way that I’ve described are assholes. Point blank. Who really cares how they feel? Their feelings really aren’t my problem, particularly if my feelings aren’t theirs. Secondly, and perhaps more to-the-point, rejection is only kind of a real thing.
Let me repeat that: rejection is only kind of real. Don’t feel bad about rejecting people. Learn to do it. Learn to do it gleefully, if you have to.
I realize that, at this point, I have some explaining to do. For those of you who would argue the following: “If the act of rejection is a real thing, then rejection is real”, you are one-hundred percent correct. When I say that rejection is only “kind of” real, I mean that the sad feeling that one experiences as a result of rejection is man-made, completely. There’s no evidence to suggest that there is a biological proclivity within human beings to feel sad because their flavor-of-the-week won’t date, talk-to, or sleep with them.Yes, of course, it happens–often. That doesn’t mean it has to.
I should backtrack and mention that not every person whose advances we turn down are creeps. A lot of times, they aren’t. More often than not, behavior that we register as “clingy” or “creepy” is the result of our suitors not knowing better. We all know the type, really. The guy who pays for everything, whether you want him to or not. The girl who texts you constantly, asking about your day, even when you’ve just seen each other. The person who, when things go wrong, claims that you wrapped them around your finger. Don’t worry. You didn’t. Like a driver, drunk on love, they crashed and wrapped themselves around you. It’s not your fault (provided, of course, that you do the right thing and explain you don’t need them to do every thing for you).
While we can’t blame them for that, we should not blame ourselves for not being interested. We are only responsible for the feelings of others insofar as we don’t actively seek to hurt them, and are apologetic when we’ve done something wrong. The moment you find yourself feeling entirely responsible for how somebody else feels, things have gone too far. We’re only human. Our emotions are turbulent enough–I just don’t think that we’re built to house both our emotions, and those of others. We can care, but we shouldn’t take ownership.
It’s hard for some of us to say no, especially when we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. I get that. Even so, I just want all of you to know, I’ve been in those shoes, and it’s okay. It’s okay to say no. You don’t owe the world your company, your solicitude, or your acquiescence. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
When Evynn isn’t rejecting dates, being a resolute-but-intellectually-interested spinster, or eating Skittles in bed, he can be reached on twitter at @Evynn, at his personal blog Life Model Decoy, or via e-mail at EvynnTyler@gmail.com