Who likes getting rejected? The most likely answer for most people is, “not me!”. Rejection is often an unpleasant feeling for most of us. Many people fear it and go to great lengths to try to avoid being rejected. This can even mean passing up opportunities that because of that fear.
When we start talking about the rejection of love and intimacy, the anxiety for some people can climb twice as high. Our society places so much pressure on dating, relationships, and love that rejection can feel totally earth-shattering. So what can we do? Should we just never take a chance? Always wait for the other person to make the first move? If everyone did that, no one would end up happy. We have to take our chances with love. If we don’t it’s the only way to guarantee we’ll never find it.
We can’t stop the potential for rejection from happening but we can change how we process and take it.
Unpacking Why Rejection Stings so Much
One of the first steps is taking some time for a little self-discovery. -Why are we so afraid of rejection? This answer is going to be unique to every person. You will have to explore the real reasons behind what causes your rejection anxiety. You can ask yourself questions like,
- Is it this particular person’s rejection or rejection in general?
- If it’s about one particular person, what about this person increases your rejection anxiety?
- What do you feel rejection says about you?
- Do you fear that the rejection will reflect badly on you to others?
- What kind of emotions do you experience when rejected? How do you process them?
- Do you feel like being rejected makes you a bad or undesirable person?
Many people struggle with rejection because of self-esteem or the concern of losing esteem in the eyes of their colleagues. Once you can determine for yourself the main causes of any serious discomfort with rejection, you can begin to change the things within your control.
Negative Reactions Can Make Things Worse
When we put ourselves out there to another person, we usually don’t know how they will react and we can’t do anything about how they will react. A good portion of the time, we also usually don’t know the intimate details of what the other person may be going through. Even if we are friends with them and know lots of things about their life, we can never know everything. They may be facing desires, motivations, or struggles we are not any witness to. These things are all variables in how someone responds.
Once we put our intentions or desires out there, all we can do is wait to see what kind of reaction there will be. In the case of rejection, how you respond to it can make a huge difference in how the interaction goes. It can be natural to feel hurt or angry and it’s also natural for these feelings to be quite damaging to the relationship you have with this person.
Being the person to reject someone else usually isn’t something that most people enjoy either. The majority of people feel awkward, embarrassed, or guilty for rejecting someone. Cis-gendered women, in particular, are raised to be emotional caretakers and can have a hard time rejecting someone romantically. It can be harder for the rejecter if they care about the rejectee. If the rejectee gets angry, extremely upset, or accusing it can damage any friendship or platonic relationship that exists between the two people. The negative emotions form a wedge between them. If either person holds onto those negative emotions and communication continues to break down, it can end the possibility of any positive interaction between them again.
Controlling How We Respond to Yield the Best Results
Controlling the negative emotions we may feel at a rejection will help us maintain the best possible relationship with the person of our interest. We can re-evaluate our feelings towards these feelings and determine if we value them enough to cultivate a good friendship with them. If the answer for us is yes, we won’t have a chance to even do that by having an explosive reaction to the rejection.
If the rejection is going to come, it will come. There is nothing we can say or do that will change the result. If someone isn’t interested in us romantically, they aren’t interested. Period. Not only how we respond but how we act at that moment can have a big impact. Society has told us, especially cis-gendered heterosexual men, to never accept the first rejection. That we should keep pursuing our interest. This is a terrible idea! If someone has indicated they’re not interested then we should respect their consent, take them at their word, and drop the matter. They could choose to change their mind in the future but they are less likely to if we are making a scene, harassing them, or refusing to accept their consent. If anything, doing any of these things will only affirm that they’ve made a correct choice in rejecting us.
“But what if they’re just playing hard to get???” The question is do you really want to be with someone who toys with your emotions, plays games, and puts you through the wringer? If you answered no, then take the first rejection. If the other person is playing hard to get, they will have to make the next move and you can decide from there. If they don’t, well then they probably weren’t interested in doing more than playing a mean game with you. Who wants to trust their emotional balance to someone like that?
Increasing Our Comfort With Rejection… When it Happens
Rejection will probably never be the goal we shoot for but we can decrease our discomfort with it over time. The more we can keep calm, respond to the rejection with grace, the less awkward and overwhelming the whole experience will be. Over time if we can practice this, it can also help us reduce our negative feelings and anxiety about rejection. Part of what makes rejection so hard is how much pressure we place on ourselves and others to fulfill our desires. If we treat the person of our affection as the end-all, be-all that will change our lives forever… we are setting ourselves to feel completely shattered if they don’t feel the same way.
Some people will say, “Don’t get your hopes up” but it’s not really about getting your hopes up. You can have hope and wish for it but this one hope should not make or break the happiness of your existence for the rest of your life… or even your week. When we hope, we are really looking at a dream of what we want things to be like. This is a good thing, it’s what keeps us going. We should have many hopes and dreams, not just one that we hang our happiness on. It’s too much pressure.
The secret to reducing how much rejection hurts is to place an appropriate amount of hope on it. If you are relying on a relationship with someone else to fulfill your life’s happiness, there’s a good chance that you’re in a fairly unhealthy place in your life. You should consider connecting with a therapist, counselor, or good friend to help.
Don’t Let Fear of Rejection Rule You
Rejection is rarely ever fun but we shouldn’t let it stop us from taking a chance for happiness. It is part of the process. Choose how to handle rejection on your own terms and gain confidence from handling it with grace!
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