In the world of rejections, I always think of the movie Say Anything: A guy is allowed/expected/culturally celebrated for wooing his ex back with grand gestures. It would be a very different movie if she simply called the police. (If a heartbroken woman holds up a boom box in the rain outside her ex's bedroom, the only sound it makes is the thud of a gavel issuing a restraining order.)
On the more rational side of the spectrum, you will also (not surprisingly) find John Cusack. I'm talking about High Fidelity now, the Nick Hornby novel/film where he reconnects with old girlfriends to discover what a heinous beast he was to date. Of the two approaches, this seems eminently more reasonable, because it involves calling them up and setting up a time expressly to talk about what a dick he was. And along the way, he gets some honest appraisals of his shortcomings.
Unfortunately, that doesn't really happen in this Vice piece about rejection called "I Interviewed Four Women Who Rejected Me to Find Out What is Wrong With Me" which should be called "I Awkwardly Questioned Four Women Who Rejected Me to Draw Out the Awkwardness as Long as Possible." Maybe it's because in this guy's case, the relationships all ended before they ever started — meaning, according to these women, there was pretty much no chance of dating from the get-go.
We learn from the author's own verbal selfie that he:
- Uses technology as a crutch to not deal with women in person (AKA, Internet porn/chat rooms)
- Has panic attacks/Battlestar Galactica posters
- Can't read social cues at all
- Is a short, gawky nerd
- Lived at his parents' house until three months ago
- Had to ask friend to borrow apartment to watch Being Elmo with aspiring model who isn't even into him; admits it's pathetic.
Hey: If we could all list our own bullshit with such similarly brutal efficiency, therapists would be out of business. But that's just it — reading the interview, it's as if he just wants these women to confirm what he already suspects is true: That Geeky McNerdy is getting in his own way with the wimmins. That he's a short geeky dude with no sexual, cultural or economic capital who can't score tail easy.
The questions are weird, the answers are vague. (And awkward!) The women are, in effect, super nice about why they did not want his penis inside them. And they ultimately admit what us readers already know is true: Different women like different things. This guy didn't do it for any of them.
But he trudges on, rephrasing the question multiple times, seemingly to try to elicit a certain response from these women, but they won't bite. Which makes me wonder: Did they know they were going to be asked explicitly why they rejected him? If so, why not lay it on the line? What is going on here?!?! (Besides awkwardness?)
With his first interviewee, Emily, he asks (among other things):
What is it about me that makes you go, “I will not sleep with that guy, but I’d make out with him?”
The number-one reason that I won’t sleep with you is because, in all honesty, you look so much like my brother.
Cool. Got your answer, dude. Move it on. But nope:
Do you usually figure out if you wanna do more than make out with someone pretty instantly? Or, is it a slow burn?
Oh, yeah. It is a fact of life that women know within seconds of meeting a man whether or not they would have sex with them. I’m into guys that are overtly confident. I dated a guy once who I had very, very, very strong feelings for. I was crazy about him. The first time we hung out we had sex. And afterward, he walked into the bathroom that was attached to the bedroom and took a shit with the door open.
Emily is my new Internet hero, re: the guy and the shit. Secondly, what is this question? Now he's asking about their personal preferences with dudes? How is that about him? By finding out what they DO like he clarifies how he is NOT like those dudes, as if suddenly working to be more like the dudes they DO like is the answer? Nooooooooo, it is not the answer. The answer is to be the best version of YOU, and find a woman who likes that. Not some magical geek-to-beefcake makeover montage. Though I would find that amusing.
But there's more! The interview awkwardness doesn't stop, not for a single person involved including the reader. It builds with tension into more and more detailed questions with three other rejectors about physical preferences and height and for some reason he is really concerned about how quickly women determine the fuckability of a potential mate, k?
Turns out — SPOILER — that some women know right away if they will fuck a guy, but some women don't give a shit. Tough nut to interview awkwardly, I always say.
I get it dude. You know they aren't attracted to you. But why are you pouring salt in this wound? Awkward salt-wound comedy?
Moving up to the top of the Escalator of Awkward: Eventually I stop feeling sorry for Geeky McNerdy and start feeling sorry for these nice women. Exactly HOW NICE do women have to be in these situations? What do you owe someone you're turning down? Do you have to be nice? Do you have to give reasons? Do you have to elaborate on what you like and don't like so the person can understand precisely to what degree you fit on the spectrum of What That Person Likes? It's one thing to give someone a reason who politely asks why you weren't into them, and quite another to find yourself filling out the Kinsey questionnaire on dating preferences.
Again, hard to imagine guys who reject women being ok with this, or not seeing it as totally pathetic if not stalker-time.com (not a real website).
Also, guy, not every meeting between men and women is a romantic interlude. Many of these meetings with these women who rejected him seemed to involve having met via improv groups or creative work where a woman might be expecting to just I dunno, work? Learn? Make contacts? Friends? Do a little networking?
Most women are living their lives, sometimes wanting to meet people and sometimes not, and sometimes instantly attracted to people and sometimes not, and sometimes caring about beefy good looks and sometimes not.
I think going forward, it might be easier to just rely on the age-old wisdom of most advice columnists, who say that if you are chronically shit out of luck on the dating front, turn not to the people who rejected you, but to trusted friends who can offer constructive advice on how you might be offending women. But you're going to want to stick to women who haven't rejected you. That woman doesn't owe you a primer on the labyrinth of her own desire. In fact, if you want to understand more about women, try just being friends with some of them. Seriously. You can learn a lot.