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Not every great date will turn into a great relationship.

Q. I just suffered some serious dating whiplash: I met a girl, and we went on three dates. First date – short but great, easy and fun. Second date – meal and cinema, easy and fun, hand holding and kissing. Third date – drinks and fun, lots of chatting, lots of kissing. 12 hours later, the next morning – a text to say we weren’t right for each other, then another later saying she’d just got out of a relationship. I know it was only 3 dates, but I got my hopes up very high.  -Confused.

Dear Confused,

I’m so, so sorry. You had a few nice dates and probably were beginning to like her. Then? She hits the brakes—hard.

Good news: You will get over it. Bad news: It could happen again.

This, as you may know and are just reminding yourself, is what makes dating dating, and not marriage-on-sight. You were doing what dating IS: Trying each other on for size. For whatever reason, she decided it wasn’t a fit.

But we had fun! We made out! I know, I know. And this is not to say she didn’t have fun; something was happening that you don’t know about and will likely never know about because…she’s someone you don’t know! She’s a virtual stranger with whom you shared some time, and at this very early phase in the game, there’s no way to know what else was at play in her world.

Though it won’t make you feel any better, let’s consider what likely happened, and unless it’s something insane it’s one of these:

She was already seeing someone else, and decided to spend more time with that person instead;

She is just out of a relationship, and…

–is sorting things out with her ex

–realized it’s too soon to be consorting with new beaus, and hit the brakes on herself

–her ex came back; she’s considering another go. 

Or, she enjoyed you, but is being just completely honest: It’s not a fit for the long haul and she doesn’t want to waste your time.  

Unless she’s involved in some kind of high-stakes organized crime and decided to spare your life, it’s one of those three. And yes, while the sudden rejection is dizzying, it is what it is. (As you know from reading my post about another gent who got “blindsided.”)

In other words, it’s likely about her and her life, and has little to do with you.

The thing too many daters do is use any kind of rejection as a mirror to inspect themselves in. And while it’s worth taking a look at yourself of course (do I dive in too quickly, am I all over her, am I ramping up too fast), chances are, honestly, this was out of your hands.

(Though speaking of hands, the only thing I remotely question is holding hands on date #2. Call me crazy, but holding hands is a pretty public statement, and usually reserved for those who are IN a relationship, which you, at this stage, were not. Did you reach for her hand? Or did she slip hers into yours?)

There’s nothing to “do” about it of course, except try again. And again. (Why you should get rejected more.)

But there is something I beg you NOT to do: Do not let this experience embitter you against dating/chicks, or pen another chapter in the story you’re writing for yourself called “I’ll Never Meet Anyone” or “Bitches, Teases, and Whores: Story of My Life.”

You suffered the expected pangs of having your ego bruised. It’ll heal up.

My hope for you is that you chalk it up to the process, and, as counterintuitive as it may seem, allow it to teach you empathy and also compassion—for her and for yourself. This isn’t easy. Dating isn’t easy, being married isn’t easy. None of it is. The most you can do is give someone the very best of yourself to the next lovely person you meet.

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