"Life has taught me that it is not for our faults that we are disliked and even hated, but for our qualities." Bernard Berenson

The biggest woe of dating besides superficiality, search preferences, ghosting, fizzling out, and ambiguity is the asymmetrical like. Nothing is more disappointing than liking someone and them not liking you back. I don't know about anyone else but when I like someone I have this dastardly habit of letting my imagination run wild, with them in tow no less, only to have it remain nothing more than a dream. There's nothing like being abrupt woken up from a good dream. It's all pinterest board weddings, rom-com love story arcs, and Instagram bae unbearable cuteness until reality hits, and the "I'm just not that into you" brings me back to down to Earth. The truth is being "in-like" is the same as actually liking someone. Sometimes I build people up so much in my head that who they are is distorted by who I imagine them to be. People are never who I script them to be, they're just themselves, for better and worse. Sometimes I like the idea of someone more than who they actually are. It's not necessarily them but who they could potentially be. That's not like, that's projection, and playing make-believe with real people, sets up some harsh realities to reconcile. Being in-like is not the same as liking someone. The former is disingenuous. It's okay to like people but no one is obligated to like us back. What we do with rejection makes all the difference.

Telling someone I'm not really feeling it will never not be awkward, but I know that whenever I get the blunt truth I appreciate it more than the other shady ways that people make it known that they're not quite about it. I strive as often as I am to be upfront, to be explicit, and to be kind in letting people down. Telling it how it is as quickly as possible saves those long term feelings that complicate things. You either like someone or you don't. If you have to figure it out, you probably are learning towards no. Being clear about what you're saying, what you're looking for, and who with avoids the enigmatic potential for lead-ons and prolonged agonizing. Quit playing games and get to the point for the sake of everyone. There's always a way to be compassionate, even with "bad news." I seriously hope that every time I leave a conversation with anyone that they feel at peace - that's how I approach those conversations. I prioritize them getting closure over me needing to avoid conflict. Life is conflict, and embracing it doesn't have to mean people have to get hurt in the process. Timeliness and temperament mean everything. 

What I have come to understand is that that so many of the life lessons I've learned and applied in other contexts are transferable, namely, affirmative consent, and self-autonomy. What I mean is that I get to feel what I feel, or not, and I don't owe anyone an explanation for why I feel those ways. Sometimes I feel strongly about people, and other times I feel absolutely nothing. I am not obligated to justify myself or my lack attraction to anyone. If that spark isn't there for me, it just isn't. Trying to convince me otherwise, or negotiating attraction is nothing than coercive, disheartening, and further reinforces why I'm not interested to begin with. When it comes to the science of attraction - things just click or they don't. Trying to force things never ends well. If its meant to be, it will be. If its not, then it's not the end of the world - just the end of a nonexistent connection. If I want someone I should be excited, ecstatic, and emphatic about it just like affirmative consent. I get to choose. The agency is with me and me alone. Nobody gets to tell me who I should or should not like. 

There's nothing more off-putting than people who remain persistent long after you've made it clear that you're not into it. It's just tacky, desperate, and uncouth. Berating someone about being led on, your hyperbolized feelings, and "being owed"- well anything - is nothing short of manipulative, maniacal, and malicious. Those moments where a conversation takes a dark turn and all of a sudden compliments and casual cordiality are replaced with name-calling, insults, and accusations. In those times I do well to not even respond, retaliate, or tolerate that highly-telling behavior. It's a reflection of insecurity and misplaced entitlement. Block, delete, unfollow, and unlike. Nobody gets to tell me, you, or anybody else how they should feel about themselves. Resorting to guerilla tactics says more about you and truly, sincerely, nothing about me. I don't like you, and that's my prerogative. Take the loss, bow out, and go gracefully. And when it inventably happens to you/me - let's do the same. Thanks for the honesty, and be well. Chuck the deuces and be gone. Case closed, done deal, roll the credits. I unlike you. X

What is it about me that makes me care ferociously about whether or not people like me? I don't know, and I know exactly why simultaneously. I think it's this incessant need to be liked that goes with the ways that I was socialized to strive to be good at everything. It probably harkens back to those fateful talks my parents gave me as a brown child growing up emphasizing that people may not like me for the color of my skin, and I, in turn, took that it was my duty to prove them that I was worthwhile, worth knowing, worth recognizing the humanity of, worth loving - hell worth liking. I have spent an ungodly amount of time worrying about if people disliked me because of my personality, my behaviors, my opinions, or were just apprehensive of me because my melanin is prominent. Those two reasons are always in play for me. No matter how much I try to treat it as insignificant or be nonchalant about it - it gets to me. I wish I could put my energies elsewhere. That is the insidious effects of racism though, and its pervasive impacts on all of our lives. I had a completely different point when I started writing this post and yet, here I am. Sometimes my fingers know better what I want to say than my head does.

I can still remember the first time I learned that someone didn't like me. It was in kindergarten, and it was my first day of school. It was recess. Nobody played with me. I was probably quirky and shy, but nothing stays with you more than someone telling you that you looked weird, had ugly skin, or were scary. Time and time again I can play the memories of times I found out people didn't like me. The reasons varied but each time it hurt. It stayed with me. It affected me. Oh how I wish it didn't impact me. I know that not everyone we meet will like us but being burdened with the knowledge that you and your existence are a problem for people will never not suffocate me. It makes me feel inadequate, invalid, and insignificant. It makes me feel small, foolish for believing anything I do is enough, and like I'm stuck constantly battling preconceived notions, prejudice, and bias of the most deeply rooted proportions.

I feel like processing through rejection is a skill that most people are not very good at. I think I realized I was a little better at it after being told no so many times, being rejected, and othered consistently. I guess I never much of a sense of entitlement because it has never been my narrative that things, opportunities, places, or people were obliged to me. So when I started liking and dating people, handling rejection has been no change from the ordinary. Let me tell you that liking someone and them not like you back hurts a bit but rationalizing that being "in-like" with someone is not the same as having a connection. That bond has to go both ways, and if its not there for anyone involved then there is nothing more to discuss. It's about being real,I think there are ways in which I build people up in my head, romanticize and romance them, and read too much into each and everything they do or say. It gets me into trouble or at least sets me up to be disappointed. I have no one else to blame but myself, and I might not be as good at reading people as I thought. I have much to learn, and more life to live. I have accepted the fact that being disliked will be part of it - and that's okay. 


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