I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.
- Ulysses S. Grant, Dispatch to Washington during the Battle of Spottsylvania
Now, so that we don't get off on the wrong foot, let me clear a few things up...
- I know this advice isn't applicable to everyone
- I know many people need to reconsider their dating strategies altogether
- I am in no way diminishing or being unsympathetic to the hardships that many people face in the dating world
- Although this take is applicable to both genders, it is primarily aimed at men since they, like it or not, are still generally the ones who will do most, but by no means all, of the approaching
- I am not saying that dating is a military conquest. I am using an analogy, and analogies aren't perfect
- I know Grant was a very flawed man, but I don't wish to enter a debate about his merits and vices.
So, many of you know that Grant was a fairly successful general during the American Civil War. Like virtually all great people, he made many mistakes, both during his military career and his presidency. Also like virtually all great people in history, one of the biggest distinctions between Grant's greatness and the lives of many of us is that he continued to shoulder on in spite of his failures. This trait, to continue on in spite of adversity, is very often what sets apart truly great people form the rest of us.
The result of Grant's first encounter with his Confederate counterpart, Robert E. Lee, was in fact a tactical Confederate victory at the Battle of the Wilderness. Yet in the aftermath, Lee realized he had ultimately lost not only the campaign, but probably the war. Why? Because unlike every Union general which Lee had faced before, Grant, although defeated, did not act defeated. Grant continued the offensive and, after much more hardship and misery than the most unlucky in love has ever dreamed of, eventually went on to victory.
So how does this apply to dating? Well, among many young people, and it's usually men but not always, I have noted that so may adopt a very defeated posture after a few mean remarks, or a few rejections. This translates later to a love life as bleak as Antarctica. However, many refuse to see that it was their own giving up which caused this lack of any fullfilling relationships. By the way, I'm in no way diminishing the pain of rejection or saying that people who rejected us rudely are free from blame. However, I am saying that there is usually no wisdom in giving up after some rejection...or even a lot of rejection (and yes, I know it's difficult and I feel for those who are hurting).
My friends, rejection is the norm. Granted, it is more usual for some and less usual for others, but the outliers don't define what is normal. Most requests for a date end with a "no." Most first dates don't lead to second dates. Most second dates don't lead to a relationship. And so on. Like Grant in his campaigns against Lee, there is great wisdom in shouldering on in spite of the pain.
Be this very clear, I am very aware that for some (a minority) love will remain illusive all their lives, and I so deeply feel and sympathize for them. However, I've noticed that for many (but by no means all) who claim that they'll never find love, it is often this very attitude which makes their fate a self-fullfilling prophecy.
I am also aware that very often we must re-evaluate our tactics and change them (a subject for another take in the future, perhaps). I am in no way advocating that we shoulder on doing the same thing again and again and again when it always fails. I am advocating that we learn, adapt, and shoulder on.
I am also in no way suggesting that we just keep asking the same person out, again and again. Grant had no choice in who he had to fight. He couldn't just "move on" to another general. We do have choices in moving on to someone else, and we must stop pestering someone who has said no and move on to the next. But I advise that you don't give up. Shoulder on through the pain and heartache.