Rejection – in the other direction

I’ve written lots about rejection, but always about what it’s like for me to be rejected. Recently, several people have asked me a bit about rejection in the opposite direction, what it’s like when I reject people, whether virtually – readers of the blog seeking a “distant buddy” type relationship, or in person.

I give the impression that I have dozens of distant buddies, and dozens more in-person partners. This isn’t correct. On average, since I started this blog, I’ve had between zero and one ongoing sexual partners other than my wife at a time, and very few one-time/one-night things. The mean number my of ongoing extramarital sexual partners is definitely closer to zero than to one. And I’ve never sustained more than two distant buddies of any intensity at a time.

Until (very) recently, I didn’t really think of myself as ever rejecting anyone. (Well, I broke up with two girlfriends, one in 1993, one in 1996.) Not so much because of my incredibly low standards, or pronounced sluttiness, as because my response to desire for me, generally, has been desire. Up until this blog, I can recall only one instance of my rejecting a woman’s desire. The blog changed that a bit, as more women discovered me and developed attraction to me before/without my even knowing they exist.

For the most part, this has been lovely. Occasionally, not so much.

The thing is, as I’ve written a few times previously, I’m not quite a sapiosexual, much as I wish I were. Things matter to me other than intelligence. Size. Voice. And yes, looks. In person? The subtleties of interpersonal/nonverbal communication have served to eradicate any manifestations of unrequited (unrequite-able) desire for me, without so much as a flicker of consciousness on my part.

But as the blog has grown, the number of women interested in interacting with me has grown. And the energy I have for such interactions, though huge, is not infinite.

Most often, this has come to the fore with distant buddies. Women who’ve been eager to get to know me better but who, for whatever reason having nothing to do with them, and everything to do with my own limitations, I haven’t summoned an attraction toward.

Sometimes this has been because they’ve been large. Sometimes, because of the sound of their voice. Sometimes, just how they interacted with me. I am prolific on this blog; often, in distant buddy relationships, I’m terse, demanding, seemingly impatient. This can be read as rejection, whether I intend it that way or not. The truth is, what I want of a distant buddy is, primarily, compliance and (erotic) stimulation. I want to see your thighs, not your thoughts. That’s not quite right. Your thoughts are compelling to me. But not until after your thighs are. And not as compelling as your thighs are.

[I was recently pretty harshly condemned in a comment for being an objectifying misogynist. I’ll write more on this in coming days. It’s certainly true that, in a distant buddy, what I seek is first and foremost visual stimulation and compliance, and only later, mental stimulation. And/but: without both dimensions, any distant buddy relationship will fizzle quickly. Does this make me guilty as charged? I don’t know.]

I try to treat every human with whom I interact sensitively, thoughtfully, considerately. I fail sometimes. I know that. Sometimes out of stupidity or cowardice; sometimes, out of ignorance; sometimes, out of honest disagreements about what consideration looks like.

Several of the women with whom distant buddy relationships haven’t worked out continue to be loyal readers, and to interact with me via e-mail in less flirtatious/explicit ways. I like to think their sticking around is a testament to my basic decent-ness, in addition to their maturity. Together, we were able to identify that a more platonic relationship was better, or what was available, even if one, or even both, of us might have preferred otherwise. I don’t imagine that I behaved perfectly, that it’s possible to behave perfectly when rejecting someone, but I think I’m always careful to be clear that when I “reject” someone, it’s not that I’m rejecting the person, but that I’m communicating, honestly, a sad and involuntary conclusion about my desire, an almost exogenous force in my life.

All but two of my Tinder dates have felt to me to be fairly mutually resolved – one, my first, not in my favor (I wanted to go down on her for hours; she wanted a husband); one, about which I haven’t written, featured me doing the rejecting. It wasn’t hard – I just said “Good-bye,” and pecked her on the cheek. She seemed confused, to be expecting something else. “You mean we’re not going to…” she said. “No,” I said. I was caught off-guard by her expectation because there had been so little chemistry between us, it seemed totally obvious to me. She was young, too. I think someone older couldn’t possibly have required more explicit communication.

There was a woman I met as a result of the blog who, for a bit, it looked like I was going to put to use. But Tinder filled my schedule, and she sensed a decline in my interest even before I did. She offered up her own rejection, and even then, I mishandled it. We had had a date. I let the date pass unremarked. In short, I wasn’t nice to her. It was unintentional, born of my unconscious realization that I didn’t want to adhere to my previously stated policy, that as my schedule grew full, as I was overwhelmed not just with Tinder but with life, I started wanting to revisit that policy. I owe her an apology. I didn’t treat her respectfully, kindly, fairly. It was unintentional. But wrong.

There was a woman I recently interacted with on Tinder. I swiped her right. She swiped me right. We had some back and forth – not much. She sent me a recording of her orgasm. It was hot. She sent me a recording of her voice. I replied, quickly, apologetically. I don’t have the text of what I said any more, but it was bent-over-backwards kind, saying, basically, “I’m so sorry. I find your face and body incredibly attractive, but I’m a prisoner to my visceral, involuntary reactions to voices, and when I heard yours, I knew that, for reasons having nothing to do with you and everything to do with me, it would be best if we not proceed further.” Or something like that.

I thought I was as considerate, kind, as possible, under the circumstances. But ultimately, there’s no way to reject kindly, and the ways people react to rejection are unpredictable and volatile. She felt violated, used, she told me. I can’t really do much about this. I understand how, why, she felt that way. I’ve felt that way. I wish it weren’t so. I was trying my level best to be considerate. In retrospect, maybe I should have made sure I heard her voice before I heard her orgasm. I don’t, now, remember whether I asked her to come for me or if she volunteered it. (In what I only think can be direct contrast to the “faking it” hypothesis, increasingly, women just send me their orgasms unbidden.)

I know in my own body the frenzied panic with which I respond to rejection. I don’t begrudge anyone this. I try hard to protect people from this, to protect me from the burden of responsibility for it. But it’s a bit inevitable, isn’t it?

And there’s something else worth discussing here: an additional complexity of being rejected by me is that, if you wish, you can come to this blog every day and see evidence of others whom I have not rejected. That’s a tough thing, to be sure. I know that, the way that I’m wired, once I’m definitively rejected, I’m fucking gone. I can’t bear to reenact that rejection over and over. (Ironically, if the rejection is anything short of indisputably definitive? I’ll stick around until the very last minute, collecting repeated non-definitive rejections.) I have had good luck, for the most part, with the behavior of those who’ve felt rejected by me, but it’s certainly something of which I’m conscious, and not just out of my being a mensch.


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