Earlier this year I wrote a piece for Boundless called, “Being a Man is Worth Losing a Friend” and relayed an experience of asking out a girl I’d known for many years.
Instead of telling me how she felt (or I suppose, didn’t feel), she chose to ignore me. She stopped returning my calls, emails, etc., and I haven’t really spoken to her since. Aside from the initial disbelief that a longtime friend would prefer to dismiss a years-long friendship rather than take 10 seconds to send me a text message, “Hey, not interested,” I didn’t lament the situation.
That may sound a bit unbelievable, but while I valued a potential relationship, what was substantially more disappointing to me was the loss of that friendship. To know that a person I had previously held in such high regard valued me so little as a person that I wasn’t worth 10 seconds of her time, that was the difficult part.
Admittedly, self-confidence has never been an issue for me, and how I dealt with this is probably different than most people would have. While I had a romantic interest in the girl, I wasn’t bothered when the interest wasn’t returned. Sometimes the other person just doesn’t have those same feelings, and that’s OK.
Once I realized the time and effort I had shown this young woman wasn’t returned, I was completely at peace with the situation. This girl I once had a wealth of respect for was clearly not the type of girl I wanted to be with. Better to find out now than months or years later (Ephesians 5:33).
But since then, I’ve thought about how most people would have handled the aftermath. I’ve realized that the self-confidence I have now is perhaps not something I’ve always had and perhaps something others may struggle with. It made me think about friends who have gone through similar situations and the difficulties they faced in engaging in relationships in the future.
The Bruises and Scars You Inflict
Imagine (I’ll use my example) that you have an honest sit-down with someone and tell them how you feel. Instead of giving you an answer respectful of the time you gave them and perhaps the nervousness you overcame, they ignore you.
For most people, that would be quite a blow to the ego. It would certainly make you think twice about laying it all on the line again. The next time you come across someone you’re interested in, it might be close to impossible not to think, Well, the last time I shared myself with someone, it got spit back in my face. Chances are you’re going to hesitate doing that again.
Ladies, if a guy takes the initiative to tell you how he feels, he’s already gone above and beyond what 90 percent of our culture tells men how to act. He’s one of the guys that Christian ministries like Boundless applaud and encourage. Don’t make him regret that decision. Give him an honest answer, even if the answer is no. By messing with his head or just flat out ignoring him, you’re discouraging him from acting that way again. If that’s what happened when I was honest, why would I do that again? he might ask himself. I’ll go back to “playing the game” like all my friends told me to act.
Remember that guy will most likely one day be another woman’s husband. And every emotional bruise or scar you inflict on him will be an obstacle he has to overcome. At some point his potential future wife will have to deal with this damage as well. Don’t ruin it for her.
It Extends to Both Men and Women
Guys, if you’re interested in a girl, tell her. Seriously, just do it. Drop the act, ditch the routine and treat her like that sister in Christ the Bible tells us about (1 Timothy 5:2). Don’t mess it up for the next guy who approaches her. The mental scars and bruises will emerge once again. Well, the last time I let myself get serious about a guy, he said one thing and did another, wasn’t honest, wasn’t faithful to me, etc. Now that next guy, whose intentions may be perfectly pure, has to overcome the obstacles you placed in his way. He has to undo the seeds of discord or pain that you may have planted, even if planted unintentionally.
Don’t ruin it for the next guy (or girl.) Remember that in almost every case, the guy or girl you’re dating, interested in, or even breaking up with, is going to one day be someone else’s husband or wife.
If and when you end up dating or getting married, you’ll be hopeful that the last person your significant other was romantically interested in, treated them with the respect you’re now showing them, the same respect they’ve always deserved.