Dear Chump Lady,
I was in a six-year relationship with a compulsive liar, so I have really appreciated your articles. We broke up last year. He proposed on my birthday. Unproposed two weeks later saying his parents did not approve. He got married last month. That’s that.
I was wondering whether you could give me some insight on rejection and moving on in general.
Ever since I got out of that relationship, I have actively put myself out there instead of being mopey. If I like someone, I express my interests. Recently, I asked a person out. We went out for dinner. But I got drunk over the weekend with some friends, transformed into an adolescent hormone and drunk called and texted him. Thankfully I did not profess my undying love of less than a few days. However I did make a full display of silliness and stupidity. I sent him an email the next day saying something along the lines of how alcohol makes you do dumb things, an apology and goodbye.
He has not responded. No text. No call. No email. Nothing. He has been furiously tweeting about his work and other stuff so aliens have not abducted him either.
Sigh. I know I have made a complete fool of myself. I accept that. I accept that he does not want me anymore. But I have just been angry at being dismissed so flippantly. He is a journalist and he does not have anything to say? Like seriously…how difficult is it to be polite and say “no worries, see you around”? Just having a hard time dealing with this abrupt systems shutdown. Am I over reacting? I shouldn’t be complaining if I behaved like an idiot? I mean I barely know this person and I guess he really does not give a shit about me. I am making it an ego thing, aren’t I?
Would love to hear if you have something to say to this.
Thank you so much,
New at This
Dear New at This,
Your letter is a cautionary tale of why we need to work on our pickers before we put ourselves out there again. The flip side of I’m going to hole myself up in a bunker with cats and never love again is Hey, you’ll do! I’m going to get drunk and make you love me. These are both pretty awful life strategies.
You invested one whole dinner in this person. Yes, you’re taking it way too personally that he never called you again. He doesn’t owe you an explanation, and in fact, I’d argue he’s reasonably gone no contact on you. Drunken texting is a red flag. He heeded it. His picker didn’t pick you.
And rightly so, because it doesn’t sound like you’re quite ready for prime time. There’s no shame in this, New. None at all. It takes awhile to get your sea legs and be comfortable with being alone. Before you date again, get secure in yourself, heal. That doesn’t mean you have to be “mopey.” It just means you’re learning to be content with your own company.
A chump hazard is needing validation from other people that we’re okay. Needing it too much. Placing an inordinate amount of value on what Mr. One Dinner thinks of us. Clearly you wanted follow up from this guy after the dinner. And you weren’t leaving things to chance, so when you were drinking and your inhibitions were down, you tried to move things forward, goading him into noticing you, answering your texts, flirting with you… anything. To the point that, as you admit, you were later mortified.
If you were healed up and in a better place, you could tell yourself — hey, maybe he’ll call, and maybe he won’t. Whether he calls or doesn’t call is no measure of my worth. Instead of concerning yourself with Does He Like Me?, you’d be asking yourself — do I like HIM? Is he a good fit for ME?
Let’s say you answer yes, I do like him! He checks all my boxes! I do think he’d be a good fit for me. It doesn’t end there. There’s another step you have to master — hand it over to Jesus, New. Give your “what-ifs” to a greater power, the Universe, whatever you believe in. You can’t force these things. You’re going to be okay if he reciprocates your interest, and you’re going to be okay if he doesn’t. Because at the core, you KNOW you’re okay either way. He’s not the final say on your self worth.
Sure, I’m allowing you some disappointment — but this shit cannot rock your world.
You are not ready to date until you can dump and be dumped — and roll with it. You don’t need to self soothe with other people.
And I’ll tell you who is attracted to Am I okay? How may I please you? chumps — narcissists and abusers. They can sniff you out a mile away, sidle up to you, and are more than happy to fill every void with their colossal entitlement. You’ll take the lack of reciprocity because they validate you as a Coupled Person. You’ll buy their bullshit, and not ask the hard questions because you need. You need to please the un-pleasable person. You need to win them over and prove your worth. You’ll buy their self importance because you’re a pleaser who could use a bit of that.
Those jerks will love bomb you, and because you’re hungry — deep down hungry for that validation — you won’t question it as you should. As in, hey you don’t really know me well enough to say those things. Or… aren’t things moving a little fast? Or… I’m not really comfortable with that.
Healthy people don’t put up with narcissist “love.” They dump. They don’t spend six years with a “compulsive liar.”
Before you date, you need to be that healthy person. Examine yourself, your picker, why you invested in a compulsive liar — and then forgive yourself. Build yourself up with other life successes. Surround yourself with friends who get you. Be a better friend yourself. And when you’re strong and assured, (and okay, hesitant and awkward too, because we’re all human) — THEN get out there and date.
My sermon isn’t over.
Don’t ask men out. I know I’ll catch holy hell for writing that, (REVOKE TRACY’S FEMINIST CARD AT ONCE!) but you asked my advice, so I’m giving it to you. Maybe you know exceptions to that rule. I don’t. I know straight women who “win” guys they then have to find jobs for, and apartments, and are rewarded with years of commitment limbo.
I didn’t make the gender rules, I’m just reporting on them. I’m not saying if it’s egalitarian or just. I’m not saying it’s fair that straight men have to take rejection on the chin and ask women out all the time — I’m simply saying Don’t Ask Men Out.
Why? Because IMO instead of coming across as jaunty and self-confident, (which you may well be), you will set the bar low for that man. He won’t have to do much to “win” you, and he will ascribe value accordingly. You’ll be fine to pass the time with, or fuck. Next you’ll find yourself in charge of many other things, because you will fret that If You Don’t Do Them, They Won’t Get Done. Which sadly, often includes pressuring someone for a commitment, as well as doing more than your share of the laundry.
You can dance up to the line. Absolutely show interest. You could say something like “Boy, I like Will Ferrel movies. There’s that new Will Ferrel movie out, have you seen it?” Big cue for him to Take the Next Step. If he doesn’t? Give it to Jesus. He’s not interested.
Look, in my experience, if a guy is interested in you, it doesn’t take a ton of encouragement to get him to bust a move. Share a sandwich. Smile at him sideways. Good guys take INITIATIVE. (Sure, bad guys take the initiative too, but they wave other red flags.)
What kind of men don’t take initiative? Men who aren’t interested in you. This is good to know. Direct your attentions elsewhere. The other men who don’t take initiative are bad men, who are interested in you in a fucked up way. Passive aggressive drips who send mixed signals and are quite content to let you do the heavy lifting on this relationship thing. Cake eaters. Commitment-phobes. You don’t need that.
New, you know what’s really great for your self esteem? To feel secure in someone’s attraction. How do you know they’re attracted to you? They SHOW YOU. In word and deed. They’re consistent.
Do you have some panicky inner fear that no one will ever, ever be attracted to you? Nonsense! Are you a cyclops? (Actually, I think even cyclops find love at MythicalMingle.com) There are a bazillion people in this world and you only have to find ONE. He isn’t the dinner guy. Okay. Chill. There will be other men.
Rejection isn’t lethal. It’s one person’s opinion. That’s it. Know your worth. Tattoo it on your forearm. Internalize it. Hum it as a mantra when your bad coffee date doesn’t ask you a single question about yourself. Know your worth. Tell those voices of doom in your head to shut up. Know your worth. You don’t give your love to just anyone. You don’t drunk dial your worth and you don’t midnight text your worth. You KNOW your worth.
Thanks to all our mighty veterans and service members out there. Happy Veterans Day! Hope you’re all having a well-deserved day off!