It’s easy to walk away amicably from a date when both parties know there is no mutual attraction. But what happens when you walk away from a great first date (or even a second one) smitten with the person yet not seeing the same interest from him?
Ginnifer Goodwin makes it look easy in He’s Just Not That Into You—she just tears up a man’s business card when the guy fails to follow up with her after the perfect first date. For the rest of us, it’s usually more complicated than that. Imagine being on a date where all signs point to a second or a third—when the conversation flows, when he insists on paying for the meal, or when he offers to walk you home—but then . . . nothing.
What on earth happened?
Recently, I was in this situation. Great date. No follow-up. Weeks later he texted me about a random happy hour. A little bitter, my impulse was to give him the shruggie ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and then hold on to my hurt feelings and wish that he be cursed with a hundred years of singleness. But, if I’m really intent on finding my so-called “happily ever after,” I should make more of an effort to rebound from this disappointment with positivity and good feelings. So, I followed up—post-shruggie—after I’d had time to cool off. Here are a few tips to keep you upbeat and moving forward when a date doesn’t go the way you hoped it would.
01. Pout, but not for long.
Yes, I suppose there are “other fish in the sea,” but it’s OK to be wistful and disappointed about this fish. Chances are you had good reason to like the person, especially if things escalated to a second or even a third date. Pet rabbits and goldfish don’t die without a proper burial service; why should short-lived relationships? So pout, but then move on quickly.
Remind yourself of all the positive things your crush is passing up. Adopt a “high-value mindset,” as New York Times bestselling author and dating expert Matthew Hussey advises:
“A high-value mindset makes moving on from rejection so much easier. And it’s not about being delusional and giving ourselves positive fluff to feel better. It’s about saying the truth: ‘This guy has only been on one (or a few) dates with me. He couldn’t possibly know what he’s missing out on.’”
Honor your judgment (and his good taste in asking you out in the first place!), and give yourself permission to be a little sad that the relationship didn’t progress. But don’t let it get you down for long. Convince yourself of the truth—it’s not personal, and this guy doesn’t know you enough to reject who you are.
02. Seek closure.
Feeling a a sense of closure is an important part of relationships—even a short-lived one. As journalist Ellen Goodman said in her final column for the Boston Globe, “There’s a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over—and to let go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving on rather than out.”
A friend of mine recently relayed the story of a woman who desperately liked a guy who didn’t return the feeling. In my friend’s case, the man—realizing how badly his female friend was crushing on him—confronted her and gave the woman some much-needed closure. But not all the men we date are emotionally mature or aware enough to provide closure in a relationship. In those cases, it’s up to you to seek closure on your own. If the guy ghosted, it might be helpful to kindly confront him. Be prepared to get the runaround and possibly continued radio silence, but letting him know that you enjoyed your dates and would have appreciated more clarity from him will help close that chapter.
03. Wish him well.
One of my favorite literary heroines is Molly Gibson, a young woman in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, who for years secretly crushes on a man who falls for and proposes to her charming and beautiful stepsister.
Even after Molly’s unrequited love proposes, and later when the man becomes deathly ill during a trip to Africa, Molly continues to wish him the best long after she’s given up hope that he would love her back. “Lord . . . grant that he may come home safe and live happily with her whom he loves so tenderly,” she says.
When I’m disappointed by a man, I’m tempted to harbor bitter feelings, especially if he’s being evasive or apparently stringing me along. Resist this temptation. Ask yourself what it is you truly like about the man who doesn’t feel the same way about you. If you truly like him, wish well for him regardless of whether he gives you the courtesy of bringing closure to the relationship. You want to find that special someone meant for you, so be generous enough to hope that he finds the same joy and happiness—with or without you.
Realize that everyone is looking for their happily ever after. And, though not every man may be able to tell you point-blank that he doesn’t see a future with you, don’t let someone else’s ambiguity derail you from pursuing your dreams. Who knows, maybe in endeavoring to hold indecisive dates accountable, they’ll be better equipped to communicate their feelings to the next person.
Photo Credit: Erynn Christine Photography