“I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan
The first step to overcoming rejection is to accept you’re going to get rejected. Yes, it will suck. But no, it’s not the end of the world. You’ll be fine. I want you to tell yourself right now, “I’m going to be rejected a lot and it’s going to be fine.” Go ahead, say it to yourself. See? Don’t you feel better already?
Business guru Dan Kennedy once said, “Your ability to deal with the failure will determine how much you get to deal with success.” My harshest rejection ever was in Austin, Texas, probably winter of 2007. I was out with my best friend late on a Friday night. I see two cute girls dancing by themselves. I approach. I lightly touch one on the shoulder and begin to speak. She spins around, “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME! DON’T YOU EVER FUCKING TOUCH ME!”
“Whoa, chill out, I didn’t even do anything!” I try to blurt out between her shrieks. I’m not heard. She shoves me while screaming. I grab her arms to try to calm her down.
The slap comes hard and fast. Totally uncalled for. “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME! DON’T YOU EVER FUCKING TOUCH ME AGAIN!”
Before I know it bouncers are removing me from the bar.
“I didn’t even do anything, I don’t even know her,” I say.
“Yeah, whatever buddy.”
It’d be weeks before I’d work up the courage to approach again.
Another night, another bar. This was probably some time in 2006. I’m talking to a super-cute blonde. College girl. Sorority. Ditsy as hell and a true pain to interact with. You know those people who interrupt you constantly and redirect every possible topic of conversation back to some inane story about themselves? She was one of those. It was like being socially waterboarded.
But she was hot. And I was inexperienced and over-invested and crazy horny and honestly had nothing better to do. So I talked to her, painfully and begrudgingly.
Somewhere in between trying to decide whether to drown myself in alcohol, to drown her in alcohol, to stab myself in the face with a broken beer bottle or to stab her … she let loose this little gem:
“By the way, thanks for not being ugly.”
I disregarded the compliment and honed in on what was so shallow, so immature, I just couldn’t stand by idly any longer.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
”I said, thanks for not being ugly.”
I imagine my mouth fell open here. But of course she missed my incredulity and continued on with her monologue. She was good at monologues.
“See, no offense, but talking to guys in bars is so boring. And tonight, nothing but these hideously ugly guys have been talking to me and buying me drinks. But at least you’re not ugly.” At least?
She continues: “To be honest, I can’t stand ugly people. Like it seriously hurts my soul to look at ugly people. Like I honestly feel physical pain if I have to look at an ugly person.”
I couldn’t hold back anymore, “You must not own any mirrors then.”
Her face: disbelief, horror, then anger — in that order, half a second max — then her fruity drink came flying onto my face, followed by a dainty slap.
She stormed back to her friends.
When I first started going out and trying to pick up girls, I used to be horrified at the thought of something like the above stories happening to me. The idea of getting slapped or a drink thrown on me, or getting thrown out of a bar, these were all nightmares that would probably have visibly shaken me at the thought of them happening. Maybe you feel the same way right now.
But both of these memories are still bright in my mind, as they’re some of the most important learning experiences I had — even more important than many of my successes.
Believe it or not, being slapped by these women taught me a lot about attraction, as much as anything else that I’ve experienced. For starters, being slapped by a woman is not the end of the world, or even of the interaction. It’s simply an emotional response. And as a highly emotional response, I’ll always take being slapped over indifference or boredom any day. It’s polarizing. And polarizing women is more important than being pleasant to them.
Being slapped also taught me that you can’t always control how people react to you. Some people are completely out of their minds or they behave very inappropriately. You can’t help this. You cannot control what happens in every interaction. The sooner you accept this, the better off you will be.
Sometimes you’ll deserve being rejected. Sometimes you won’t. I don’t regret what I said to the sorority girl. In hindsight, I didn’t need to be rude to her – if that happened today, I’d just excuse myself and walk away – but I was standing up for my values and decided that I wasn’t going to put up with offensive behavior just to get a date.
As with any type of failure, it’s not until you’ve been rejected a certain amount that you realize how insignificant it actually is, how you spent so much time worrying about nothing, and how you’re free to act however you choose. When I started this journey, I was as scared of rejection as just about anyone I’ve ever met. I had terrible approach anxiety. I was the consummate Nice Guy, always trying to keep things smooth and pleasant.
The reason men fear rejection is because they’re operating on other peoples’ truths, not their own. In fact, men who fear rejection tend to be oblivious to their own truth because if they were aware of their own desires, needs and values, what would they have to be afraid of? Why would they ever hesitate to expose their vulnerability to others?
Most men with weak grasps of their own truth fantasize about the ability to never be rejected, ever. Not only is this a manifestation of their insecurity, but it’s unrealistic. Being rejected saves me so much time and effort. If I had to go on a date with every single girl I found even mildly attractive, I’d probably lose my mind.