I have been on a lot of first dates, most of which do not progress to seconds. Between my single girlfriends and me, we've racked up dozens. And a pattern has emerged, showing a glaring difference between the way that men and women handle rejection.
Men who are rejected tend to argue their case. Women who are rejected slink quietly away.
I've been rejected after one or two dates. It's horrible, particularly if you really like the guy. But the idea of pleading for a second chance, or arguing with the dude that he's wrong, is completely bizarre. What on earth would be the point? Who would want to go out with someone who gave you a second chance under sufferance? Who would want to go out with someone who rejected you???
But men think differently. I have had several men debate with me when I've told them very politely that I don't wish to see them again. One man told me that I owed him a chance to 'do better', and that really he wasn't at all the way he appeared on the first date. (Presumably he was acting when we met?) Another made the fine point that my rejecting him left us both still single, implying that a) it was my fault that he was alone, and b) it would be preferable to be with someone I didn't like than to remain unpartnered.
I have had men argue with me over the reasons for my rejection, telling me that my feelings were not valid, that my impressions of them were wrong, that I had no right to judge them. (Which begs the question: What are dates for?)
And, when I've gone the easy route and said a simple 'Sorry, I'm just not feeling it' I have been told I am too superficial. It seems that a man is allowed to reject a woman when they don't feel any chemistry, but if a woman does the same it makes us shallow.
Not all men are like this. But I can tell you in all honesty that the vast majority of men do not take rejection well. There is an overwhelming sense of entitlement, an expectation that if they like me, then I should try harder to like them.
And it impacts on me, this sense of entitlement. It makes me feel guilty every time I politely tell a man I'm not interested. It makes me feel anxious when I open my inbox, in case there's an angry response from the guy I had a drink with yesterday. It makes me feel pathetically grateful when a man accepts my rejection gracefully and doesn't beg or berate me.
But it doesn't work in the reverse. Not even slightly. A man can reject a woman without a second thought, without any guilt or explanation or attempts to soften the blow. Men don't feel they owe women anything, particularly not women to whom they're not attracted.
Dating is about assessing whether you want to get to know someone further. No-one owes anyone anything other than honesty and kindness. Rejection hurts - trust me, I know - but you can't argue someone into liking you. Say 'Thank you, it was nice meeting you,' and move on. Eventually you'll find someone who doesn't need convincing.
And if you don't, well, at least you'll still have respect.