“I just can’t,” he said.

I had been sitting naked and cross-legged on his bed for several minutes, without so much as blanket coverage. I had gotten so cold, my nipples could have cut his frosted glass window. I stared out that same window, blinking back any tears that threatened with their sting. The rejection was embarrassing enough, I would not let this guy see me cry.

“Okay. That’s cool,” I said weakly. I grimaced at the lack of conviction in my voice.

We had been fooling around for half an hour and, finally, things had escalated. I had been seeing this guy for about a month and it was my first night at his place. I had shaved, found my laciest red lingerie, and made sure I smelled amazing. To be blunt, I was fuckin’ ready. Evidently, he wasn’t.

“I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling it. It’s not you, I just have a lot on my mind,” he said. I assumed he was trying to backtrack, but the consolation just added insult to injury.

I nodded meekly and quickly grappled around on the floor for my clothes. I stumbled twice trying to get my legs in each hole of my leggings. The situation couldn’t have been more embarrassing unless my father suddenly decided to show up after 13 absent years. I shuddered at my disturbing imagination.

“Are you okay”? he asked.

I gave him a polite smile and told him I had to go before rushing to his front door.

“I have to head out,” I said. “I’ll talk to you later.”

I barely got out that last sentence on my way out the door.

In the weeks following that awkward encounter, I ghosted the guy and talked incessantly with friends (men and women alike) about the situation. I couldn’t shake that one question we all have after any rejection, albeit brutal or kind: what was wrong with me?

My girl friends all had similar reactions to the story – “You’re amazing.”

“He’s obviously an asshole. Or crazy. Or a crazy asshole.”

“You’re just so great, he can’t handle it.”

I didn’t believe any of it. No guy has ever rejected a girl for being too great. And though I had faced brutal sexual rejection, I didn’t believe he was just a crazy asshole. I knew something else was going on.

I turned to my guy friends. They were just as helpful as the girls.

“Sounds like something was going on in his head.”

“Is he gay?”

“The guy sounds like an asshole. You’re hot. Forget him.”

I appreciated the confidence boosters, but I didn’t need them. I needed answers. What was wrong with me? If I’m so great and hot (which I was indeed both), then why the flat-out bare-naked rejection?

I started to question everything about myself: Was it my body? I knew he liked thinner, more active women. Was it something in the bedroom? Did I make a weird face during climax? Did I make weird noises? Did I accidentally shout out “daddy!” unawares? What was wrong with me?

I lost it.

After several weeks, and a night of a few-too-many drinks, I finally broke down and just asked the guy. Yes… I drunk-texted him.

“What was wrong that night? Is there something wrong that we could work on?”

“I know it seemed that way, but you didn’t do anything wrong,” he replied.

“Then what?”

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

I was frustrated. Everyone says that. What was he playing at? He didn’t have to play nice. It was too late for that.

But after further texting, I got a little more information out of him. He was stressed, struggling with anxiety, and having trouble getting intimate with anyone. He had a lot on his plate. Before we started dating, he had gotten out of a serious relationship that he hadn’t gotten over. He also lost his job and was about to lose his apartment. His world was crumbling.

It wasn’t me.

Though I empathized with him, I was pettily relieved. It was him, not me. He had issues with intimacy, life, and not making what we had complicated.

I had been beating myself up for weeks. I had gotten rejected and, of course, assumed something was wrong with me. I had put down every minute detail of myself. Why? I knew I was beautiful, sexy, intelligent, funny as hell, and a total catch. So why had one moment of rejection destroyed all that?

Because we’re our toughest critics. We believe it has to be us. It can’t be them.

We need to change that mindset. We need to understand that, most often, it isn’t us. We need to believe in ourselves and remember the positives about us to recover from the hurt of rejection. Rejection never feels good, but we don’t need to hurt ourselves more than others hurt us.

Imagine what you would say to your best friend if she were rejected by a guy, and tell yourself the same things. You’re beautiful and he can’t appreciate that. You’re smart and he’s too dumb to see it. You’re kind and he’s not good enough for you. You’re sexy and someone will love all the things you say and do in bed. You have a lot to offer.

Ladies, stop putting yourselves down. You’re beautiful. You’re talented. You (hopefully) have your shit together. You kill with your jokes. You give the best head. You’re amazing.

It’s not you. It’s definitely them.