I'm Sensitive, Afraid of Rejection and Push Men Away
Evan,

I wanted to see if you had any tips about modifying my own behavior, because I’m driving myself (and a progression of men) at least a little batty.

Reading your blog has been so useful to me over the last 2 months of intense dating, thank you. I try to – and often do — successfully apply your advice. It’s been up, and down, and absolutely wonderful and then total hell. I’m 34, attractive to people who like my physical type, and I do okay – many men like me, and I like some of them back. I have the usual frustrations with bad dates, vapor trails, and the men who are just emotionally available enough to keep me around but won’t let anything progress, but I’ve learned to accept this as part of the ride.

But I’m very emotionally sensitive and naturally very defensive, and it’s killing me. When a man pulls back just a little bit – even very early on, and very possibly just in my head – I start to freak out on the inside, to write the death warrant on the non-relationship, and to become tense about the whole affair. I write “you’re obviously not interested – nice to know you” emails way too quickly, leaving men going “Wait. What?” They often stick around to work it out – I swear some of them even *like* it – but I’ve poisoned the natural progression of our discourse, and I think the long-term effects are usually negative.

I know this is bad. I logically know it’s very bad. But when I’m in the middle of an “it’s over and he doesn’t like me! I must defend myself!” attack it feels 100 percent like the only course of action. Then I write the email/leave the voice message and… instantly feel horrible. I sit in dread of the response. I suddenly see the mature, thoughtful way I could asked them what was going on with them that I didn’t take.

Do you have any mechanisms, anything at all, for heading off this behavior at the pass? I feel like a slave to my fears of rejection, and it’s causing a “let me reject you before you reject me!” nuclear reaction that slimes everything in radiation and leaves everyone, self included, emotionally flayed. I hate it.

Thank you, even if you just read this! Your blog really is the best.

Best,
Emily

Oh, Emily.

I’m about the last person you should be asking for advice on defending yourself.

I’m constantly writing long-winded, emotional, poorly-thought-out responses to the various ways that my words are minced, mangled, and misinterpreted – and every time I do, I feel a piece of my soul break away.

Being understood is tiring work.

If you consistently fly off the handle that every man in the world isn’t following your imaginary script as to how he’s supposed to act, you’re essentially writing your own unhappy ending.

Being right requires constant maintenance.

And letting everyone know that you’re right is like a full time no-paying job.

Which is the key point – there are NO REWARDS for being right.

All you do is end up alienating the people who have the potential to care for you.

Are your negative impulses “correct”? I’m betting they often are.

But if you consistently fly off the handle that every man in the world isn’t following your imaginary script as to how he’s supposed to act, you’re essentially writing your own unhappy ending.

Remember: Men do what they want, not what you want.

Stop expecting them to do what you want, try to understand where they’re coming from, and you’ll soon discover that they start appreciating you a lot more.

I’m not an easygoing person, but I will be the first to tell you that there are few qualities more valuable – in a wife, in a friend, or in a business partner.

If you don’t learn to let things roll off your back, then most men – unless they’re blindly whipped on your intoxicating beauty – are just going to conclude that you’re too much work. Or, as other men have been known to say, you’re “hot and crazy”.

And a man can only deal with so many tantrums, so much criticism, and a finite amount of drama before he concludes that he’ll date someone less attractive, intelligent and impressive and find himself a nice girl who makes his life easier.

In fact, I just did a teleseminar last month, called “Being a Great Girlfriend” in my FOCUS Coaching group. Took a bunch of questions and spent an hour teaching women how to better understand and connect with men in relationships.

When you fire off angry missives to guys who barely have anything invested in you – much less a real boyfriend – you’re certainly not understanding him, appreciating him, or making his life better.

As “research”, I asked my Mom and wife to tell me the three things that made them great partners. After they both said, “Oral sex”, we got down to these three things: not emasculating him, appreciating everything he does for you, and doing your best to make his life happy every day.

When you fire off angry missives to guys who barely have anything invested in you – much less a real boyfriend – you’re certainly not understanding him, appreciating him, or making his life better.

You’re just telling him he’s an insensitive schmuck.

Yeah, we don’t like hearing that. Especially if we have valid reasons for not doing what you want us to do.

So, are there any mechanisms for heading off this behavior at the pass?

Apart from taking a deep breath, a time out, and a full day before you write something you regret, the only thing I can think of is this:

“Why He Disappeared – The Smart, Strong, Successful Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men and Keeping the Right One Hooked Forever.”

It’s the best summation I can offer about why men marry some women and not others, and I think you’ll really get a lot out of it. Please come back and let me know what you think. And don’t worry: there’s a money-back guarantee!

Thanks, and please come back here to let us know how it goes.