In this week’s Hola Papi!, the advice column by writer, Twitterer, and prolific Grindr user John Paul Brammer, a reader writes in for dire help: he’s desperately single and his town has run out of eligible bachelors.
While many of us may live in a BIG GAY city like New York or Los Angeles where it can feelas if LGBTQ people appear in droves everyday — this is not the case for so many around the world.
Thank goodness Hola Papi is here to help!
If you want his advice, just email him [email protected] your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start out your letter with Hola Papi!
To be honest, I’ve been bitter lately. It seems like no matter what I try and no matter how much I put myself out there, I keep getting rejected. I’m on Grindr, I go to bars somewhat regularly, and I have a healthy roster of squirrel friends. But I haven’t met anyone yet, and my singleness is really starting to get to me.
It probably doesn’t help that I don’t live in one of the huge gay cities, and everyone knows pretty much everyone here, which means the dating pool is small enough. It makes each time I’m turned down that much worse, and I’m starting to feel like I want to stop putting myself out there altogether.
Papi, how do I deal withrejectionwithout hating myself?
You’ve come to the right place. As both a writer and a gay man, I walk with rejection every day. Rejection is my boyfriend. Rejection is my middle name. It’s me, Hola Rejection Papi III.
Yes, putting yourself out there is never easy. It reveals that we want something, which is information that can be used against us. Being told “no thanks” after taking that risk can feel like a betrayal. Or, at least, that’s one way of looking at things.
The other way of looking at things is accepting rejection as part of trying. Of course, trying can be frightening, exhausting, and frustrating. But those emotions are things we can learn to cope with. They can be managed.
Far more pressing would be a situation in which we have given up and sealed ourselves off from opportunities that could improve our lives. Bitterness is exceedingly good at getting us to do just that. It is a parasitic mindset that wants to nestle into your life and get comfortable. It dismisses the good and emphasizes the bad with the goal of self-perpetuation. “See?” bitterness says. “This is why we don’t try.”
Why are we more afraid of rejection than we are of trying, Betty? My guess is it’s because we aren’t very confident in ourselves and rejection is a form of feedback that’s easy to interpret as evidence that we’re not good enough.
When paired with imposter syndrome (that sneaking suspicion that you’re woefully inadequate and could be exposed as such at any moment), rejection works to confirm our worst fears. You think you’re unattractive? Surprise! You’re right. This person doesn’t think you’re cute. Therefore, you are not cute. That’s just math, ugly.
Simply put, rejection takes a bat to the hornets’ nest of our insecurities. That’s why it stings, and that’s why we so often prefer the blissful ignorance of not trying at all.
But not trying doesn’t change anything, Betty. The people who don’t find you attractive already don’t find you attractive. The people who find you to be an irresistible snack already feel that way. It’s just, you haven’t found out. You don’t know.
Don’t get me wrong, knowing things can be exhausting and entirely not worth it. There are many things I know that I wish I did not. I’ve seen some shit, Betty. But do any of you care? No. It’s always me this, me that. Hola Papi! Find me a boyfriend. Hola Papi! Do my taxes. Hola Papi! Help me bury the body. It never ends.
In any case, we tend to think of rejection as the end of a narrative. We wanted something. We didn’t get it. We are thus losers. But the truth is much more dynamic and forgiving: We live in a perpetual exchange of acceptance and rejection, of “this” and “not that.”
“Not that” makes way for “this.” It creates it. When someone turns you down or doesn’t look your way, it doesn’t mean they’re above you, and it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. It just means it’s not happening. Lots of things aren’t happening. To find the thing that will happen, you have to look for it, and that’s what you were doing. What is there to be ashamed about in that?
Ultimately, Betty, the only way to absolutely avoid rejection is to do nothing. Ask for nothing. Try nothing. No rejection will befall you, but neither will good things.
My suggestion instead is to change the way you think about rejection, and about putting yourself out there. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not always going to be pleasant, and bitterness will certainly come knocking here and there.
The way to avoid letting it in is to acknowledge the hurt and the sadness when they come. Don’t dismiss them. Take a deep breath. Take some time alone, or with friends, people you find it easy to be around. Be genuinely proud of yourself for trying. And then try, try again.