Many people will be familiar with this scene. ‘He’ meets her at a social gathering, finds her attractive and attempts to catch her eye from across the aisle. After a few failed attempts, he walks over and introduces himself. They make small talk, and after a while, he asks her if he can have her number. She says no. He could have walked away thinking he tried. He keeps trying to the extent that she feels uncomfortable. Eventually, he pushes her to the brink of thinking whether men are incapable of understanding the meaning of ‘no’, or they just don’t get the meaning of ‘it is over’.
In the wake of the recent tragic incidents of men aggressively reacting to rejection, which left two young women dead, it is high time we think about the issue. Why can’t some men handle rejection and why do some people continue to stalk even after they get rejected?
“The degree to which we are able to handle a rejection depends upon our involvement and contentment in a relationship, and that of our partner. Once you get into a possessive relationship, there is always an inbuilt fear of rejection. Most of the time, excessive possessiveness results in insecurity and inferiority complex in a person. This might affect negatively when that person gets rejected and uses means of verbal or physical abuse to control the situation,” says psychologist
Dr C.J. John. “The hesitation to accept the end of a relationship or start a relationship is mostly the sign of unstable minds. The recent issues show that the attacker has a personality disorder and could not handle the situation when the victim said no. Their own life experiences are also factors which lead to aggressiveness. Some men, with this sort of mentality, might think if she is not in a relationship with me, no one else should, too.”
He says relationships should be healthy and the lack of space or freedom will result in these kinds of tragedies. “When it extends to stalking, it’s about power and entitlement over the person.” He points out that sometimes men find crazy ways to express love — like writing love letters in blood — which makes women think they can’t get away with saying ‘it’s over’. “Physical attacks, in most cases, happen in phase four or five of their relationship struggle. When she rejected him, he might have stalked her and verbally abused her. When they find it is not working, they start physical abuse which results in murder. So, people should identify this danger in the first phase itself.”
According to Priya Varghese, clinical psychologist, Pushpagiri Medical College, the upbringing of a person is a key factor in shaping up the character. “Sometimes, men are falsely entitled to react violently than women in a situation where he is rejected in a relationship. Sometimes, they play as the narrative of society which taught him that being aggressive is the form of pure masculinity, which is totally wrong. And we teach our daughters not to be violent and to be patient. This is absurd and when it comes to relationships, a mentally unstable man, with false masculinity ideas may find it hard to accept it when he is rejected. Stalking is an extended version of these disorders and this is not at all healthy for him or for society.”
Anitta Mary Nicolas, consulting clinical psychologist at Lourdes Hospital, Kochi, opines that the aggressive mentality towards the person who rejects them is seen in both the genders, but the numbers don’t favour men. “The number of women victims is alarming. Physical advantage and false ideologies in some men like ‘masculinity qualifies violence’ always result in aggressive reaction to rejection. There are women who attack and stalk men, too, but in very few instances. There are many ways to tackle this issue and how we and society raise children and teach them how to treat others has a serious role to play.”
Men’s acts of stalking and aggressive reactions to rejections are definitely the derivatives of social stature and each and every person is responsible to play their role well....