At a party recently, a friend discreetly told me that just across the room was her "Tinder Stalker." Someone she’d met through the dating app and gone on only one date with, but when she directly told him she wasn’t interested in being more than friends, he said his amorous feelings were too strong to handle a platonic alliance.
Instead, he began sending her strange and emotional messages, and now shows up at events where he knows she’ll be. Since these events are open to the public, he’s free to attend — and it’s not like he’s particularly threatening or dangerous. But when I heard this story, it was so evident to me that he didn’t have a healthy knowledge of boundaries and dating decorum.
Even a short-lived attachment can take some time and care to recover from.
Rejection is something everyone deals with sooner or later. And the sooner you learn how to handle it gracefully, and begin the process of getting over the object of your affection, the better off you’ll be. It might sound excessive to mention "getting over" them if they’re someone you’ve only gone on a date or romp around or two with, but I’ll level with Tinder Stalker Man on this. (Note: "Stalker" is used lightly here, but real stalking is a serious thing.)
I’ve definitely met someone before and felt instantly connected. A stars dancing in my eyes, heart screaming electric boogaloo, you’re the fries to complete my Happy Meal sort of connection. And that feeling wasn’t mutual, much to my chagrin. I felt like a sack of potatoes for several weeks after he enthusiastically agreed to riding bikes with me and then blew me off. Even a short-lived attachment can take some time and care to recover from.
If you stick around and continually make it known that you are pining away after someone has already tried to be firm but polite with you, you’re just going to look foolish. Scram! Nurse your bruised ego and keep an eye out for some fox who does buy your brand of crazy. This way everyone wins. Because I’m sure Tinder Stalker Man isn’t a lame dude by any means; my friend just doesn’t feel the same chemistry he does.
Regrettably not far enough in my past, there was a guy I hung out with a time or two, but ultimately decided I wasn’t interested in. I tried to let him down easy. But he wasn’t having it. I allowed myself to feel guilted into having dinner and beers with him to talk about why I didn’t want to date him. I found myself apologizing for not having feelings for him. He told me how badly his ex-girlfriend had broken his heart, put on the most cloying puppy dog eyes, and embraced me, stroking my hair for what felt like an eternity.
I swear, if I hadn’t pulled my head up eventually to say, "Erm. You know, Modest Mouse wrote a song about this," I would still be standing there with his solemn little hands in my hair. The thing is, it sucks to be on either side of the equation.
The hard part of this truth is continuing to put yourself out there after getting tossed in the rejection pile. It could be easy for Tinder Stalker Man to internalize all of that and feel a lot of totally valid, but untrue and harmful self-doctrines. We are all prone to this stuff. It’s what makes it so hard to approach the cute guy or girl you’re crushing on and make your affections known in some way.
For most of us, more times than not, we strike out. But, as some baseball legend once said, "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!" Don’t stop believing. You never know unless you ask. But if you ask and they say no, move along. Move along.