Move On From A “No”

There has been a recent resurfacing of Mark Manson’s F’ck Yes or No article—it’s a good one, go read it. I’ve had three friends send it to me in the past few weeks… and I read it last year when it came out. He makes such a great point: don’t stick around if the relationship doesn’t work for you or isn’t what you want. And don’t live in the grey, indecisive land of a possible relationship if its not a firm “yes.”

So, that being said, what do you do when you like someone but you need to move on? Maybe you’ve been on a few dates, maybe you’ve just been in a few social situations together, and even though there is chemistry—or at least you feel like you get along well, nothing has happened, and you’re holding on to a “no.” If you’re one of those people who can move on quickly, bravo to you! What about a job you didn’t get or a family member who always gets under your skin and you don’t understand why? If you can let these things roll off your back, you can skip over this part and go read some of out other articles. Or, maybe you should read it and understand that you might be the catalyst, and let the other person have some sort of sign that they should move on with life. However, if you are a hopeful wisher, watching and waiting for a reason to step forward, or make a relationship happen, or do the perfect thing at the right time, and the other person will flip on like a light switch and finally see you standing in the middle of the room, just waiting for them… well, come with me. This journey is one you need to take.

I probably have close to fifty versions of this same story when it comes to these “kind of sort of but not yet really a relationship thingys”… for all intents and purposes I’ll call them “crushes.” I meet a boy/guy/man, there is some sort of zinger connection, and I am, for better or (mostly) worse, hooked. In any quiet moment, I sit and think over and over and over that moment of connection, the one that I swear to remember to bring up over a fifth date, and an important anniversary, possibly a wedding speech, and I analyze it. I think about and hope for other chance meetings, I look to see if his name is on invites for events, and if he’s confirmed his attendance, I’m more willing to go. And to bake something to bring. I’ll admit it sounds mildly psychotic. But first, I admit that I think like this. And better yet, second, I’ve learned how to stop myself.

Let me give you a scenario. One Saturday night, I go to see a friend’s show. Before the show, I’m chatting to a mutual friend I know and Mr. Tall and Handsome comes over to say “hi” to the mutual friend. T&H and I are introduced and I feel a zing in my stomach. Mutual friend is called away by someone else, and so T&H and I stand and chat. Now, I’m a great chatter. I’m also great at flirting—but more on that later (for how I do it go check out Flirting). I’m attracted to this man, who I’ve learned after about five minutes of talk is older than me, used to be in the arts but has now moved on and has a steady 9 to 5 job, and makes a steady pay check. Um… pause. In five minutes I’ve found out that this person who just randomly walked up, and I was left alone with has 5 out of 7 on my list of qualifiers—don’t judge, we all have them. (Turns out he made it to 6, has college degree, but found that out later in the evening). Since it was open seating, we sat next to each other and enjoyed the show. After the show he continued to chat with me while we waited for our friend who was in the show to come from back stage. The three of us chatted together for a bit, and then she went off to greet other guests. They were closing up the venue and the three of us head to get a slice of midnight pizza, and then we all ride the train home together, as we are only a few stops from each other. Show friend gets off first, and T&H and I have six whole stops to ourselves. Chatting continues. My stop arrives. He doesn’t ask for any way to contact me, (and this year I had turned over a new leaf, I was not going to offer mine—I used to be one of those gals who gave you every way to contact me possible if you seemed interested… I know. But not this time. If he wants to contact me, he’ll ask for my info) and resolutely, I give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek and walk off the train.

Two weeks go by. I wonder if he’s thought of me at all. He obviously hasn’t called, or texted, or emailed, or found me through social media. I wonder if I should have turned around and waved at him when I got off the train. I wonder if I should see if he has a Facebook page. I try to remain empowered by the thought that I didn’t throw myself at him, but instead stood tall and true to myself.

Third weekend since our first meeting arrives, and I’m attending a house party, that he has also been invited to—he is on Facebook, and he has been a “maybe” to attending. My hopes have rollercoastered all week, but on the day of the party, I’ve had such a packed day, I don’t even think about it until the friend (who rode the train home with that fateful night), texts me saying that he just confirmed he will be at the party. I do that panic/excitement thing where I think way too much of it in the first five minutes, and then try to remain calm and collected for the next two hours until I actually see his face.

At the party, I’m cool and collected when he comes in. Having a good time, enjoying myself. He comes right over, says hi, and kisses me on the cheek as we hug a hello. On the cheek. His lips squarely on my face. Outside I was calm and collected, trying to convince my knees to stay firm and steady. On the inside, I was jumping up and down, doing a touchdown dance, and screaming that I’d won the jackpot. All night long we flirt, and talk, and at one point we are even sitting next to each other on the sofa, and there isn’t much air between us. End of the night, party is winding down. T&H and our train buddy decide to walk to the train together, while I head off in a different direction. The party was in my neighborhood, so my apartment wasn’t far enough to take the train. Don’t panic, she has a boyfriend, and clearly knows my interest in this guy, so she doesn’t snag him out from under me. I find out a week later, though, that she asked him how he felt about me on their stroll. She says he said that he “likes me but is not in a place to date right now.”

So, what do you do with that? Obviously, he doesn’t want to date me, we’ve now interacted twice and no exchange of digits took place and he’s actually said that he isn’t interested. He hasn’t tried to find me outside of these social interactions. But he’s a 6 out of 7 so I should keep hope alive just in case in a few weeks he finds himself in a place to date, right?

Wrong. As Lesley and I conversed about this section, she said to me “Maybe you want to be distracted by a 6 out of 7, but 7’s and 7 Plusses do exist, and are out there for the finding.” She is exactly right—I say this to friends all the time. But why can’t I say it to myself when these instances come up? I need to move on down the road of life. Maybe, someday when he feels like he has all of his stuff together, his ducks in a row, his life as he needs it to be, maybe he’ll come looking for me. In the meantime, I need to get my own life, stop thinking about future scenarios in my head, stop hoping he’ll call, stop looking at his pictures on Facebook—we’re now friends so I can officially do that, and stop falling asleep dreaming of him. (Yeah, in black and white, it feels really horrible to read all of that. I’m cringing as I type it… and hoping that Lesley will edit this section, so I don’t have to read that confession again. All I can say is that, yes, even tall, beautiful, talented people fail at life sometimes.)

So, how did I move on? Well, a great deal of will power, and the lovely toolbox I’m about to dole out to you.

Above, I mentioned this also works for jobs and family members. It does, just adjust for whatever you cared about and were waiting around for a change to occur, that still hasn’t happened.

First, I used to get over these things by trying to make myself dislike the person (workplace, family member, etc.), thinking of the worst qualities, or attributes, or even making things up if I didn’t know any. This isn’t the best idea—in fact it’s probably the worst. One, it is negative, and there is enough negativity in the world, we don’t need to create more. Two, healthy people live and let live, and just move on in the world. Three, and this one is not a hopeful statement to get you (or me) wrapped up in hope, again, you never know when and where you might run into that person again—life has a funny way of reinserting people in my life. And finally, thinking about the worst things draws you into the person more, whether its thinking about them generally or whether you have a “bad boy/girl” complex that sucks you in, its just not a good idea.

What do you do instead: when they pop in your head, think about it for a moment, possibly send them light and love (this is what Elizabeth Gilbert suggests), and then tell the thought to leave you alone. I know it sounds corny, but it will work. If you acknowledge the thought, it won’t fester in your brain. If you put a positive spin on it, and let it go, its even better. It’s a mini-forgiveness. Let it all go: the person doesn’t deserve to be in your life, and neither does the thought of them.

Second: And this one may seem really obvious or repetitive, but live your life. If you’re a regular Live ClareLesley follower, you know that we preach this! But it’s the truth! Really throw yourself into the things you enjoy, especially the things that get you out and moving and being physical. Join sports teams, join a book club, go to yoga classes, go to the book store, go to a movie and dinner with a friend, get up and out and moving. The more you fill your time, the more you prove to yourself that you’re a worthy person, and you don’t need that crush or that few date person in your life to make you feel fulfilled. You can do that on your own. In fact, any person that you bring into your life can make you feel a certain fulfilled way, and really—and here is the kicker—they’re just reflecting you. Yup. Let me restate that. The people you bring into your life are reflections of your life at that time, and therefore can give back to you what you’ve given out. Therefore, go out, live your life, and find people to reflect your happiness.

Third: Get out of your comfort zone. If you find that you’re generally attracted to the same types of people, figure out where you keep finding them, and steer away from it and find a different place (Go read Lesley’s “Duty Dating” and review your picks—do you continually date the same type?). I’ve now made a personal edict, I should not date any actors. Ever. They’re always so handsome and they always suck me in, but It just never seems to work out—probably because actors have to be very self-involved in their careers, and never know what direction they’re headed next. I need someone more stable than that. I’ve spent the last year trying to date any type of guy that is not an actor. I haven’t had a ton of success, but I do know what I don’t want now. For a job, apply for ones you have qualifications for but wouldn’t apply for normally. Or apply for those that seem really interesting that you might not be quite qualified for, and write an amazing cover letter! Family members: approach them in a way that you haven’t before. Remember change in a family usually received best when coming from a caring place.

So to reiterate, move past the old person by getting out and living life. Once you’ve done that, you can start looking again. Go read Lesley’s chapter on Duty Dating. You’ll enjoy yourself, and it will distract you. Remember that dating is a hobby and you should treat it as such—when it becomes confusing/frustrating/questionable, STOP. When it becomes a relationship, then, you can allow yourself to be in a tractor beam, but until then, live your life and stand up on your own two feet! The amazing thing is, a few months from now, or after you decide to let go, you’ll think about the person. It will be a random, drifting thought through your brain, and you’ll say to yourself, “huh, I haven’t thought about that person in… I don’t know, a while. Which is weird because I was so invested at the time.” Its really ok. There are many relationships on the journey of life. You have to experience and live though all of them to find out who you are, and to live your best life. Move through both the good and the bad, and try not to let it damage you. Instead, grow through and move on to the next!


7 thoughts on “Move On From A “No”

  1. I love this line ” The people you bring into your life are reflections of your life at that time, and therefore can give back to you what you’ve given out.”

    Thank you for this!


  2. Ugh…yes! To all of this YES! Sometimes the hardest part is getting the courage to walk away, to figure out for yourself that there are better things out there, that you deserve these better things. A great post and a great reminder on how to really move on from a “no”. 🙂


  3. This is so great! I really loved reading it. I am usually trying to fit a round peg in a square hole or in the case of your post; trying to stretch a 4 to a 7. I have to remember there are 7 and 7pluses out there that are worth the wait. If I focus on being me, rather than wasting my time waiting on a 4 to become a 7, Ill be more aware when my 7 (or 7+) shows up


  4. Pingback: 101 pieces of advice | Live ClareLesley

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