Why Women Should Risk More Rejection in Dating

Success in any endeavor requires constantly assessing one’s environment and adapting to changing conditions. It’s true for meerkats in the wild and it’s true in corporate America. It’s also true in the arena of relationships and sex. Some women choose promiscuity as a means of gaining access to desirable men. It’s a high risk strategy with dubious results. A better alternative approach involves taking more initiative with men who are relationship-oriented.


Traditionally, it has been the role of men to display their assets, and for women to select among them. However, the last 50 years have brought great changes to the sexual marketplace (SMP), and women now find that men put less effort into “display”: minimal dating, courtship or romance, especially when young. This is entirely understandable, as the most desirable men achieve great success with little effort. They are unlikely to prefer monogamy, for obvious reasons. Of course, the idea of being “the exception” fuels the dreams of many women, who now happily assume the responsibility for displaying their assets in hopes of being chosen, even if it’s just for one night.

Meanwhile, large numbers of men fly under the radar, doing their best to adapt to an environment that penalizes them for displaying romantic behaviors. They learn the hard way, after being friend-zoned umpteen times, that nice guys finish dead last. To be successful, these men must adapt by copying the behaviors of men who score with ease. This requires them to embrace the very real risk of rejection in every encounter. I respect that, and I believe that women can benefit from meeting men halfway in this dystopian SMP.

Recently I wrote about embracing rejection as a normal by-product of a healthy life. Getting rejected is good because it means you are an active participant in making your life better, not a passive bystander. The best thing about risking rejection is that you shorten any potential period of misery and quickly usher in any potential rewards. Risking rejection can get us a lot more of what we want. It’s efficient.


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If you are not getting what you want, you have the power to do something about it. The action must come from you. Don’t wait to be noticed. Virtually all of the life choices available to men are also available to women. Why do we act like the weaker sex, expecting to be courted, when in every other area of our lives we know how to go after what we want? Feminists eagerly embraced the idea of female sexual agency. Why not female relationship agency?

Harlan Cohen is an author of books for college kids, including the bestselling The Naked Roommate. He talks about the Universal Rejection Truth in dating and relationships:

The greatest obstacle we face when taking a risk in love (and in life) is called The Universal Rejection Truth. The URT is an unspoken and largely secret truth that says, “NOT everyone we like will always like us.” Rejection doesn’t mean that you’re not attractive or desirable; it just means that not everyone can be with everyone.

He understands that this is difficult to accept, but accept it we must. “[It's] all about getting comfortable in your skin. It’s changing things about yourself that can be improved (in a healthy way) and embracing what can’t. For example, my ears stick out. Some women love them; some don’t. I can’t worry about the ones who don’t – it’s their loss.”

Elizabeth, a college student in Boston, wrote for advice:

Dear Harlan,

How do I talk to a perfect stranger who I’m attracted to? I’ve always been really socially awkward in the dating department, and I don’t know how to strike up a conversation with someone I’m interested in. I should mention that I have accepted The Universal Rejection Truth but still, all the boys I find attractive here are guys I see in the dining hall or maybe just in passing. There actually are two guys I’m really attracted to, but I don’t know what to say to either of them! What do I do in that situation?

Dear Elizabeth,

Until you make applying it part of your everyday life, you’ll stink at taking risks. A few questions for you: Do you have any attractive qualities? Would someone be lucky to date you? Do you deserve the very best? I’ll assume the answers are YES, YES and YES. So, if you approach these guys and they don’t want you, will you still have these same attractive qualities? YES. Is there a chance you’ll feel embarrassed after getting rejected? MAYBE. But you have no reason to be embarrassed. You’re giving anyone you approach the greatest opportunity of their lives. This isn’t being cocky — it’s accepting the URT. One more thing you must know: Men are intimidated when it comes to approaching attractive women — especially men who are interested in you.

Once you can accept the truth and the fact that you’re difficult to approach, you can start approaching men with a different mindset. If you’re eating alone, you can ask to sit with a guy who interests you while sharing with him, “I’m not a fan of eating alone.” If you spot a guy on the way to class who interests you, approach him and tell him, “I’ve seen you around campus and want to introduce myself — I feel like we should know each other.” In other words, just say what you feel. Once you give men permission to NOT want you, it’s easier to think of things to say because you aren’t consumed with what everyone is thinking. Once you’re no longer consumed with what everyone is thinking, you’ll be free to think clearly and say what you feel.


Fellow blogger Dagonet has this to say about rejection:

Making Lemonade

Every challenge is also an opportunity. You never have to get discouraged by any single girl’s rejection. It doesn’t mean anything objectively… we attach meaning to it because of our fears and insecurities, and we try to explain the reasons our desires don’t become realized, and come up with formulas and theories and data for why it didn’t work out.

But at a certain point, you’re allowed to dismiss the results as random. It’s liberating.

You should put great effort into your process. Work your ass off to figure things out, to improve, to understand. But keep in mind that…you should not be attached to your results. Because your results are subject to the fluctuations of randomness, of standard deviation, of variance. There is no sure thing, so you should never punish yourself when the results (which you can’t control) don’t go your way.

Your process is within your control. Strive to make it better.

You get what you ask for. Not every time. Maybe not even most times. But sometimes. It beats watching from the sidelines.

Make someone’s day. Tell a guy you think he’s cute, or maybe even that you like his big ears.