Han­dling re­jec­tion

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING -

You will feel crushed, dev­as­tated, hu­mil­i­ated … but at least you will know where you stand with him.

How things have changed. It used to be that so­ci­ety took care of a woman un­der such cir­cum­stances.

Way back in 1288, no man would have been able to just re­ject and run like that. For it was in that year that a law was passed in my na­tive Scot­land that re­quired a fine to be levied if a man re­fused a mar­riage pro­posal; fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion was set at one pound ster­ling in or­der to soften the blow. In some places, the tra­di­tion was re­stricted to pro­pos­als made on Feb 29.

Fast for­ward to 2012, and what do you get for get­ting your heart and ego shred­ded by a re­fusal on leap day? Not even one measly pound. But isn’t that what women have been fight­ing for all this while? To be treated the same as men?

These days, women can do any num­ber of things that weren’t so­cially ac­cept­able in 1288. Even so, I can still see the mod­ern woman, for the most part, stand­ing at the back of room, wait­ing for a guy to ask her to dance. Or hop­ing that the cute guy liv­ing down­stairs, or work­ing in an ad­ja­cent cu­bi­cle, or catch­ing the same train ev­ery morn­ing … asks her out. Or wish­ing that the guy she’s been dat­ing for a gazil­lion years pops the ques­tion be­fore her ovaries shrivel up.

Even ask­ing some­one to dance takes courage. If more women had to walk up to a stranger and in­tro­duce them­selves in a catchy way be­fore ask­ing for a dance, there would be a lot less men be­ing turned down. I’ve never asked any­one to dance, so I’ve never felt the sting of re­jec­tion, or had to en­dure the long, lonely walk back to my side of the room, or heard the sound of gig­gling male voices as the ob­ject of my de­sires and his friends re­act to the au­dac­ity of Miss Plain­ness seek­ing a dance with his Royal Hunky­ness.

At the same time, I’ve only ever re­fused a dance when the asker was be­ing ob­nox­ious in some way.

I’ve also never asked any­one out on a date be­fore, but as a mid­dle-aged woman, I now have the wis­dom to know when some­one is more than in­ter­ested in me, and the nec­es­sary courage to be the ini­tia­tor. Not that I’m look­ing, mind you.

If I could do it all over again, and be armed with the wis­dom and ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve gained over the years, I think I would have had more fun. For a start, I would pluck up the courage to ask a cer­tain class­mate out on a date; the one who made me laugh a lot. The same one who con­fessed to me as an adult, that he’d of­ten thought of ask­ing me out but could never find the courage.

The risk of re­jec­tion is great, but the po­ten­tial loss could even be greater.

I wouldn’t wait for leap year day to do any­thing. I would start to­day. n Check out Mary on Face­book at face­book.com/ mary.sch­nei­der.writer. Reader re­sponse can be di­rected to star2@thes­tar.com.my.

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