Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Can’t Get Over His Initial Rejection”

Eight months ago I moved to a new city to start graduate school, and around this time met a guy. Kevin,” whom I instantly connected with. I was dating someone else at the time though and Kevin became one of my two best friends in my program. I knew I had feelings for Kevin but pushed them aside and watched him try to date other women, even giving him dating advice, talking him up to these women and anything I could do to be a supportive friend.

Finally, I ended my relationship and I couldn’t take it anymore, so I told Kevin I had feelings for him. At the time, his response was not as I had hoped; he said he didn’t like me “in that way” even though we had so much in common and he found me physically attractive. I was hurt, but I dropped it in an effort to save the friendship. I began dating around, and he even met and befriended a few of the men I was seeing. Then one night out at the bar with friends he professed his feelings for me and told me that it had just taken him a little while longer to realize that what he wanted was in front of him the whole time.

We are dating now, and it is by far the most connected to a person I have ever been. There are no red flags and everything is wonderful, but for some reason his initial rejection of me has left me with a lingering sense of self doubt. Having watched him try to date other women has left me feeling like a consolation prize and I feel like I can’t fully appreciate this budding romance. Admittedly, my pride was wounded but I don’t want that to sour this experience for me.

Wendy, how do I get over this feeling and really appreciate what could be the best relationship I could hope to have? — Insecure inamorata

You say yourself that your relationship is wonderful and that Kevin is the person you’re most connected to, so whatever issue you think you have is truly in your head. In order to move on and enjoy what you have, you need to change your perception. You keep thinking back to when you confessed your feelings to Kevin as the start-point that led to where you are now, so consequently, you think of his rejecting you as the beginning of your relationship. But it wasn’t. Your relationship — at least the friendship portion — began when you two met, months before he “rejected” you.

Have you considered that when you met, Kevin felt what you felt — that initial attraction and magnetic connection? Have you imagined how learning that you were unavailable, he had to reject the idea of you two becoming something more than just friends? And have you considered that once someone convinces himself to reject the idea of someone as a romantic partner, it may take a little time for him to come back around when that same idea is presented in a new light?

Kevin never rejected you. He rejected the idea of you as his girlfriend because he had to — because you were not initially available to him in that way. Rather than turn from you altogether, he convinced himself you were not whom he wanted to date so that he could enjoy you in his life as a friend. How romantic, really.

You are not a consolation prize. You are the prize. You’re the prize Kevin didn’t even allow himself to imagine winning for fear that he could never have you. And now he does. How wonderful for you both. Let go of your self-doubt and any other sabotaging fear you may have and enjoy what sounds like a lovely relationship. Lots of us meet the right guy at the wrong time. Not so many of us are lucky enough to have him still be there when circumstances change.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

41 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Amy January 23, 2012, 11:03 am

    Such sweet advice Wendy. I hope things work out for you LW.

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    Michelle.Lea January 23, 2012, 11:18 am

    sometimes, what grows in friendship is so much *more*. when my fiance and i initially met, he was not available, and neither was i. I never once thought of him as more than a friend for a long time. when we both found ourselves available, i still didnt for awhile. but what came out of our friendship has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. not all relationships start with love at first sight, but can still end up just as passionate and happy. dont give up on this because of something that happened before you were together, feelings can change for the better 🙂

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    • avatar

      rangerchic January 23, 2012, 2:48 pm

      So true Michelle.Lea. My husband and I actually started out as roommates. Didn’t date for a while because he was not what I thought I wanted. We were friends but that is it. But then something changed…I don’t know what or when but it did. We began dating and that was that. We’ve been married 13 years!

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    Michele January 23, 2012, 11:20 am

    My fiancé and I were friends for over a year before we started dating; I was interested and he knew it. In his words, it just took him a while to wake up. Some people just need to mull things over a bit. You aren’t a consolation prize; he just needed the time.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl January 23, 2012, 11:26 am

    My BF and I always say we experianced “love at second sight.” We met working at a restuarant in college and seriously disliked each other for the first 5 months we knew each other. We did everything in our power to avoid each other at work and disagreed on everything when we did have to interact. I left for the summer and when I returned 3 months later something instantly clicked. We were inseperable from that day on. 4 years later we are happier than ever.

    Just because you don’t initally have a great romance with someone, doesn’t mean you won’t or can’t. Each part of you and your BF’s story has created the couple that you are today, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Be happy with where you are today!

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray January 23, 2012, 11:59 am

      So, do you think one of you changed over that summer or did you just miraculously stop disliking/disagreeing with everything?

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        GatorGirl January 23, 2012, 12:17 pm

        We both did a lot of growing up over that summer, and both realized the relationships we each were in weren’t working out. I stoped being such a HUGE snob and he stoped being such a whiney emo kid. When we met the second time it was the right time for our relationship to happen.

        But we still laugh about how much we couldn’t stand each other to start. Now we are the most co-dependent people ever.

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      liza January 23, 2012, 5:39 pm

      What restaurant? I am a Gator too – miss the comradery of Gainesville now that I am out in the working world! Go Gator Nation! 🙂

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl January 23, 2012, 8:30 pm

        We actually met in North Carolina, but you should go to Zuzu in Gainesville- best bartender in town.

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  • Budj

    Budj January 23, 2012, 11:28 am

    Good response, Wendy. Totally agree that he may have pushed those feelings down and “moved on from you” while you were unavailable.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay January 23, 2012, 11:34 am

    Being “rejected” initially would hurt. But I feel like the happiness of being with someone you really like should mean so much more. I think maybe you’re wishing for the feeling of someone having love at first sight for you. To me, though, having someone decide that they have feelings for me after getting to know me would be so romantic. They know exactly who you are, and that’s what wins them over!

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  • MELH

    MELH January 23, 2012, 12:05 pm

    When my husband and I met he liked me very very much. And I was attracted to him, but hesitant to really be in a relationship. So we hung out alot, but never really started being in a relationship. Frankly, I just didn’t want to put myself out there and get hurt, so I was trying to keep him at a distance. I eventually realized that even though we weren’t dating, I cared about him so much, that I would still be hurt if we stopped hanging out, so I was really just shielding myself for no reason. Its not exactly the same as your situation, but people resist dating for all kinds of reasons. Wendy is probably right about why he intially rejected you. Or maybe it was even simpler and he was afraid of losing the friendship should things go wrong. No matter what his initial reason was, it doesn’t change his feelings for you now. Just because I initially told my husband I wanted to keep things casual and not date exclusively doesn’t mean I love him any less now.

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  • Leroy

    Leroy January 23, 2012, 12:33 pm

    I wonder if the way that she’d revealed her feelings is what threw him. Because I’ve run into this situation a couple of times, and it was the fact that she was already in a relationship mindset that caused me concern. Especially with a friend, because you’re likely to lose them if things go wrong. So the response that he’d given makes a lot of sense, because it’s true – he probably didn’t feel the same about her, because he hadn’t been considering her as a girlfriend. It’s not a rejection of her as a person, which is obvious in this case because they’re together now.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar January 23, 2012, 12:44 pm

    I’m glad my husband isn’t racked by self doubt because I didn’t return his feelings the exact moment in time that he wanted me to. I took a little longer to realize that he was the perfect man for me and that a life with him was worth any risk.

    As you can see by all of our comments timing doesn’t have to be synchronized to have a successful relationship – I dare say it usually isn’t when a relationship develops out of and existing friendship. I’m, of course, bias but I think the relationships built on a foundation of friendship are very special so don’t do anything to sabotage yours. Let go of your doubt. This is how things go sometimes. Timing isn’t always perfect – few things are – but that doesn’t diminish the commitment between two people at all.

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  • avatar

    Mel January 23, 2012, 12:52 pm

    I “baaaaaaw!”‘d and my dog looked at me funny :I

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  • avatar

    cporoski January 23, 2012, 12:54 pm

    So, we all have that little mean voice in our heads… Eckhart Tolle (SP?) calls it the Ego. You have to ignore that stupid voice because it causes fights when there are none. I actually, out loud, say ssshhh. You need to do that because there is no conflict here. Allow yourself to just be happy.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 23, 2012, 1:08 pm

      Perfect!

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  • avatar

    RMM0278 January 23, 2012, 1:29 pm

    I agree with Wendy’s advice, but there’s only one thing I’d add. If I were the LW, I’d have a frank discussion about WHY his feelings changed. I’m sure it wasn’t as though a light bulb went off, but something made him change his feelings over time. Until she knows this, she’s right to be skeptical. I highly doubt she went through some romcom-esque transformation (like take off her glasses) that made him see the light.

    I say this because a handful of friends and me have dropped some weight only to find some guy friend who was never interested before all of the sudden seem interested. Gee, is there a connection? Or maybe it’s because I’ve started seeing someone else and I’m not pining for you any longer? Or is it because I’ve lost interest in you and moved on that you suddenly miss my attention?

    Bottom line: be with someone who appreciates who you are now, not someone who appreciates you when you’re gone.

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    • avatar

      kittyk January 23, 2012, 1:42 pm

      I agree with your bottom line in general, but at this point I don’t think a frank discussion on this is important. Maybe if she had brought it up when he first had a change of heart, but she says everything is fine now other than this little nagging. Digging for reasons such as this reeks of self-sabatoge and stirring the pot. Perhaps he did notice he missed her attention, or started to see her as more attractive for some reason or another-bottom line is they are together and happy now. Why dig for a reason to doubt his intentions and possibly hurt her self esteem in the process?

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      • avatar

        jaybro January 23, 2012, 1:44 pm

        I agree, I think it would be a bit nit-picky and could lead to more bad things than good things. Does it really matter all that much WHY his mind changed?

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        RMM0278 January 23, 2012, 1:51 pm

        It’s not self-sabotage to question why someone likes you. It’s totally normal. I mean…how would you like it if the only reason your SO liked you is because you’re blonde or worked at a certain place or made a certain amount of money? Wouldn’t you want to know that? I know I would.

        Yes it does matter why his mind changed. There’s a big difference between liking her because she’s a good, generous, patient person or because all the women he dated rejected him and she’s the only one who liked him back. (I think that’s what’s really nagging her when she says she feels like a consolation prize.)

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        kittyk January 23, 2012, 2:18 pm

        I understand what you are saying, but from what she said everything else seems fine and she has no reason to doubt that he actually truly likes her for who she is. I guess she wrote in about this particular thing so it does bother her and maybe she does need some closure. If she does say anything it needs to be casual and not some serious discussion. “Just curious why you changed your mind.” Re-reading the time-frame they haven’t been together as long as I thought, so maybe its still fresh enough she can casually ask.

        That said, you seem to be looking at it from a very negative angle- but maybe he dated those other women and they made him realize what a catch she was afterall. Maybe they did reject him, but that just opened him up to realize his true feelings for LW. I think Wendy is spot on on this one- she was initially in the ‘friend’ corner so he wasn’t thinking of her as more, but it seems both of them danced around the friends-or-more idea before coming to the realization that they wanted to be more.

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        amber January 23, 2012, 2:52 pm

        i definitely agree with this. making the jump from friends to more than friends can be risky and scary. i mean best case you have a great SO, worst case you lose one of your best friends. for some people it’s just too scary/risky and i can understand that. i can also understand how crappy it must have been to watch him date other people, but from the letter it doesn’t seem like she was a consolation prize.

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        Ktfran January 23, 2012, 3:14 pm

        But when they initially met, the LW was in another relationship. He liked her, so immediately went into friend mode. He was dating others while she had her SO. She finally realized and told him how she felt . . . and wanted him to go from friend mode to relationship mode. That has to take time to think about what you want and make sure it’s right. Not only that, she dated others while he sorted his feelings.

        I don’t view this in the least as a consolation prize. I view it as two friends who had different things going on in there life, different relationships. And to the benefit of both, were able to meet at the same point at the same time, finally. I think I’m responding more to RMM0278 than you, Amber.

        Personally, I would leave well enough alone. Realize I have something great – because that’s what it sounds like – and move forward. LW, be secure in your relationship.

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        iseeshiny January 23, 2012, 6:32 pm

        Plus, I wonder if the LW has considered that maybe when she broke up with her SO and came to him he felt like a consolation prize? And maybe needed some time to see that she was serious? Just a thought.

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      • avatar

        cporoski January 23, 2012, 4:32 pm

        He liked her as a friend so it wouldn’t “just be because she lost weight” (only an example). That would be a reason to sleep with her, no get in a relationship. I see no reason to pick at a perfectly good relationship.

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        kittyk January 23, 2012, 6:26 pm

        Besides, if she felt it was something specific along the lines of her losing weight and him finding her more attractive now, don’t you think she would have mentioned that?

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  • avatar

    jaybro January 23, 2012, 1:42 pm

    I agree with Wendy. After all, at the time of the initial “rejection”, he even said that he was attracted to you! That’s more than some other people can say in similar situations. 🙂 You also mention how he admits to having taken a little longer to recognize his feelings, so believe him! You were just ahead of the game, and he needed a bit to catch up. Timing didn’t work out then, but it has now!!

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  • avatar

    SweetPea January 23, 2012, 1:51 pm

    I was friends with my current beau for almost 10 years before we got together… and I can honestly say I never thought of him “that” way until we both found ourselves single and spending time together. He didn’t either. We were both too loyal to the relationships we were in in the past to even consider it. And I guess I could go around wondering why it took him so long to see me as the catch I am (ha ha!), but in all reality… it is probably because he is such a good guy! We were usually with other people throughout our friendship, so it would be wrong for us to pine after each other.
    And we always say we are glad it took us so long because all of the bad stuff in the past helps us appreciate what we have now that much more.
    Try to think of it that way LW… he had to shut you out as an option for a while! And the fact that you finally found each other makes it that much sweeter. Be happy! And good luck!

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph January 23, 2012, 3:55 pm

      Agree with you completely. My bf and I have a similar story (shorter timeline). I had been dating another guy (long distance, too!) for 6 months when I met my now-bf. I would never in a million years have thought of cheating, and he would never seduce me away from my boyfriend, and so we were friends (not super close, hung out with mutual friend groups from time to time). My ex and I broke up, but I didn’t see my now-bf for a couple months. When we saw each other again I was over my ex (and another guy I dated shortly after) and recognized that I had feelings for him immediately, but he was just finding out that I was single. So it took him another few weeks to come around to the idea.
      I tease him that he didn’t want to date me, but its really that he had to move me from friend column (or the “another man’s woman” column) to the “available female I find cute” column before he could wrap his head around it.

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  • avatar

    HelloJello January 23, 2012, 1:57 pm

    The important thing is how he makes you feel now. Maybe he was confused and overwhelmed when a romantic relationship between the two of you because plausible. My boyfriend and I had one of those weird instant connections, that I don’t usually recommend to be honest, where after one date we were “in a relationship”. After a few weeks I got a phone call in the middle of the night and he told me he couldn’t do it, and he didn’t want a relationship, and blah blah blah… We couldn’t see each other anymore. Of course, after two days he was calling me telling me he missed me, and that he had just been overwhelmed with how things were moving. I took a chance, ignored my throbbing pride, and I haven’t regretted it since, because ever since then, he’s been fantastic, and our relationship has only gotten stronger.

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  • Budj

    Budj January 23, 2012, 2:59 pm

    Thought of something to add..

    Instead of feeling like a consolation prize…(which implies assuming the women ended all of those dating relationships he had)…you could view it like the other girls didn’t fit what he wanted and nothing came of those relationships because he wasn’t feeling with them what he feels with you.

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    • avatar

      Ktfran January 23, 2012, 3:06 pm

      Exactly!

      This is how I choose to view all relationships. I’m 32 so I understand there’s a past. Heck, I have a past. That’s why I’m completely fine with people being friends with exes. For some reason, it didn’t work out. And that leaves one open to find the right match.

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        kittyk January 23, 2012, 3:14 pm

        This is so key! “I understand there’s a past”. EXACTLY!

        Sounds like they are still young so maybe this is something she hasn’t had to deal with much. I’ve got a friend that has such a hard time with this- she can’t stand to see a picture or hear about an ex of her fiance without getting all worked up. She knows its irrational but can’t get past it. I understand this might not always be a super-positive experience, but there’s a point where you just have to accept that they had a life before you and realize that YOU are who they ended up with and see that as a positive thing.

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    NicoleMarie January 23, 2012, 3:07 pm

    LW, I feel you on this one! My bf and I were friends all through college, but I always had a “crush” on him secretly, even when I was dating other people! We hung out, watched each other date other people (funny how it always worked out that we were never single at the same time), up until 2 weeks before graduation. I made the first move, and initially he hesitated to take things anywhere, so I felt rejected. We ended up becoming exclusive & things were great, but I always had that little seed of insecurity about whether he had settled by being with me. I ended up bringing it up once during a petty tiff, and he was shocked that I ever felt that way. The point is, many things can contribute to that initial hesitance to jump into something more with someone who has been platonic, even if you ARE into them, just because their role in your life was already established as something else. For my boyfriend, it was being in school & wondering where graduations would take us, as well as worrying that if things didn’t work out, the friendship would be ruined. Basically what I’m trying to say is: I had to remind myself to stop focusing on this perceived issue and enjoy living in the moment with my bf. Just enjoy your new relationship! 🙂

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  • avatar

    DebMoore January 23, 2012, 6:24 pm

    I rejected my husband twice! The first time he had asked a mutual friend if I was single and was told yes, only to have me show up to the party with my “new” boyfriend (we still tease each about that). Fast forward to 2 years later my husband told me he had a crush on me, only to have me informa him that while I liked him I had been in a series of relationships and just really wanted to be single. He said ok, but could he call me and could we be friends (rather than just acquaintances, I used to hang out with large groups of friends) I agreed he could call me. Soon after we were together and have been for over 11 years. And I love that man so very much. I am so glad he didn’t give up on me and understood the rejections were’t him, it was timing. I really feel I needed those other relationships to happen, so I could/will always apprecaite him and what we have together.
    I understand how rejection hurts but keep in mind he is with you now and things are great. Wouldn’t you rather he questioned that sooner rather than later? It sounds like he questioned it, thought about and made a wise decision.
    I also don’t believe in love at first sight, I have known my husband since I was 12 and he was 10, back then a 10 year old liking me when I was 12, Gross!!!

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  • avatar

    *HmC* January 23, 2012, 7:52 pm

    This is the kind of relationship “problem” that neurotic types fabricate so they’ll have something to worry about. I’m not trashing you, LW, I do the same thing sometimes! But Wendy is right, you’ve got to find a way to overcome feeling like you were some sort of consolation prize.

    Every relationship, even great ones like the one you seem to have with “no red flags” are going to have some minor bumps and hiccups along the road. Everyone has some insecurities and growing pains in a relationship. If you don’t learn to let the minor things, like irrational insecurities, go, they’re going to build up on you like monkeys on your back until your relationship is paralyzed from moving forward. Weird analogy, but that’s how I think of it for some reason. You’ve got to have perspective on what matters and let issues that have been resolved go. I mean, really let them go once they’ve been dealt with. And you don’t even really have anything to deal with here. You weren’t available to this guy, and it took him a while to come around. Who cares?! His behavior is totally reasonable. And you have a great relationship now! Enjoy every minute of it.

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    • avatar

      *HmC* January 23, 2012, 7:58 pm

      p.s. Oh and, a guy who takes his time to thoughtfully enter a relationship instead of just jumping in head first? That’s keeper material. Children throw themselves together like Romeo and Juliet, and look how they turned out. Adults who take time to process their feelings and consider the repercussions of their actions before taking them? Gold star in my book.

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      • katie

        katie January 23, 2012, 10:23 pm

        thats what i was thinking too… as in, he actually made a conscious decision to be with you. not one motivated by lust, by sex, by money, by anything bad, or even by anything “instantaneous” – he actually thought about it and came to the realization that it was right. that seems like the best kind of relationship starter, to me… totally opposite of being a consolation prize.

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  • liz

    Liz January 23, 2012, 7:58 pm

    I think that it’s important you live in the moment now and don’t try to create a self-fulfilling prophecy..if there’s no red flags then be happy! It sounds like things are great with you two. I can relate to this kind of insecurity myself but try to focus on the present and how good he makes you feel. Sometimes it takes an objective point of view to see what really matters. Good luck to you two!

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  • rubyroo

    Ruby January 23, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Even if he didn’t want you when you first initially wanted him, he wants you ‘now’. Isn’t that what’s important? Stop over-thinking and looking for problems and just enjoy it.

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