A pattern of comparison and rejection: why do they always choose him over me?

Lake view with snowy mountains
This post is about

There’s some sort of story about me that seems to be manifesting pretty creatively in different contexts and quite often. There’s a lot I don’t know about it. For now the only thing that’s sure is that it keeps happening. It’s as if there’s a message I need to get which I don’t seem to get.

The last time it happened I was out with a friend Josh at a club. It’s not his real name but I’ll call him Josh, for the sake of clarity. I was having a good time, dancing around and not really caring that much about the people around me. I was telling myself I didn’t really need attention and I didn’t need to flirt or kiss with anyone. When someone seemed to be checking me out I was ignoring him.

Josh was getting some attention too, which I was happy for. At one point some guy passed by and smiled at him. I thought out of nowhere “Josh is better than me and that’s why he gets all the attention”. I’m weirded out by it but I try to ignore it. My friend is a handsome fella but I can’t complain about the attention I usually get either.

A few minutes later and as me and Josh are having a dance there’s this handsome guy coming to dance next to us. I check him out and he smiles towards our direction too. I think I really like him. I not only like him, I think he looks perfect. I mention this to Josh. We go on dancing.

Later on we leave the dance floor and we see that person again, walking next to us. I point him out to Josh and as he turns to have a look they look at each other. Josh waves at him. We sit on the sofa and a few minutes later that guy comes and and sits next to us. He chats with Josh and it’s becoming obvious that he likes him and not me after all. I’m like, okay – I don’t seem to mind that much. But on the way home it hits me. I feel rejected and sad. Out of all the hours of fun we had I seem to focus on these 15 minute, obsessing about them, sometimes trying to minimise it and others just realising how much it hurts.

This is not the first time this happens. It happened a few months back with another friend and it also happened many times in the past with lovers and boyfriends. The pattern is the same: men I like always seem to choose the person next to me. Or to be more accurate, I seem to be choosing men who like the person next to me – and I obsess over the rejection, forgetting all the attention I might be getting from other men. They all seemed like weird coincidences but I now see that there’s a pattern. There’s something that confirms the story that I’m not good enough, I will never get what I want, that others are better than me and I will always be chosen last.

I’m starting to get suspicious about the validity of this story. I’m starting seeing the signs that lead to its manifestation: the fact that out of the crowd I seem to choose the one person who is obviously not into me; I seem to be unconsciously doing my best to become invisible in places with a lot of men; or even the fact that I don’t feel anything till later, when I wallow in the feeling of rejection – these all seem to be signs that my subconscious is smarter than I could ever imagine into convincing me that I’m not okay.

I’ve collected a few of those experiences over the years and they often seem to come to mind and hurt me. I try to remember the first time I experienced that sort of thing but I can’t. Was it family-related? My brother was older and often got more attention than I did. He was allowed to stay out longer and he was always given more money or more grown-up gifts than me. Did I maybe always compare myself to him and felt less-than, just because I was gay? Or perhaps I was made to feel less-than by others because I wasn’t boyish enough. And maybe, is it to do with the harm caused by the sometimes competitive nature of my past romantic relationships? I don’t know

There’s difficult feelings around this but what makes it more difficult is how I judge myself about it. How could I possibly obsess over something so small? Why the fuck does it matter that one person didn’t seem to fancy me? And why does it seem to be so important to me? Why do the feeling lingers on for hours or even days? Am I that shallow?

The good thing is that Josh and I are close, we have a good way of communicating and I can talk to him about this. He was indeed understanding and respectful of my experience and open to hearing me out. This helped a lot – it opened up lots of possibilities for exploration. I also thought, how could I creatively find a way to explore this feeling? I imagined how it would be if I dominated Josh and that guy, having them in front of me and giving them instructions about what to do to each other. As I fantasised about it I I felt calmer. It was up to me how the scene would evolve.

There’s a lot more to figure out but I start to see that this is not simply a story about looks and flirting and dancing and clubs and superficiality. It’s a lot more about comparison and acceptance and visibility and control.