Getting rejected is grim, which is why we all go to lengths to avoid it. Tirelessly working out and shoring up attractive personal qualities – much of our self-development efforts are really about warding off the possibilities for rejection.
But attractive people also get rejected. Nobody is immune from it. And so we all need to learn how to cope better with rejection when it happens. You can even start to develop an appreciation for the process of regrouping following a rejection. (Okay, maybe that is stretching things.)
Rejection has come a long way since the blatant dumpings of the school playground. As single adults, we need to navigate the growing category of ambiguous endings, designed to spare feelings or keep options open.
This post presents the new rules of getting over a rejection, taking into account the combo platters of it now being served up.
Rule 1: Don’t deny what has occurred
This has always been the most important rule of getting rejected. In modern times, this has become especially important, due to the ambiguous endings thing.
In the early days of a relationship, things can go from hot to cold (or lukewarm to polar bear icecap) quickly. That’s normal. And because most of us are too nice and cowardly to communicate a change in heart upfront, sometimes as rejects, we need to kill off any remaining hope ourselves. Otherwise we risk getting simmered or iced – not so enchanting.
It’s usually at this point that we struggle against the rejection, latching onto the false hope given by the unclear way it was delivered. My recommendation is not to delay in computing that a rejection has happened. You’ll get over it quicker.
On to the most important aspect of Rule 1. Let yourself feel the agony. Don’t be brave; aim for pathetic.
You probably already have various consolation strategies to hand. We all have our favorite things. The most important thing is to process your feelings. Book a flight to Senegal, or cut off your hair and dye it blue if you have to; just don’t block the hurt out.
Lots of us get busy with work. This is good because it serves to distract you for long enough to process your hurt feelings in increments.
Do you own animals or have access to young children? Both are good for healing a rejection. I have nieces and nephews, and they don’t give a shit if I just got rejected (although actually, I suspect they secretly know). Regardless, I’m still fair game as a tool to be used for their entertainment. And so I can lick my wounds in privacy alongside their obliviousness.
And for a final piece of psychobabble: without processing your rejection, you are likely to begin to unconsciously defend against future rejections, affecting your romantic prospects generally.
Rule 2: Apply the 50 rule
As with the first rule, Rule 2 is absolutely key to getting over a rejection.
Only place 50% of yourself up for rejection to begin with. Keep the other half protected.
The fact is that people don’t see you as you are – partly, they see you as they are. The cliche that ‘it isn’t you, it’s me’? That really has some truth to it whenever a rejection situation is happening. People reject us for reasons to do with their own filters on life.
It really is them, not you – at least partly CLICK TO TWEET
Also, we have to all choose ourselves before other people can choose us. It is cheesy but it is just how it is. Without choosing ourselves foremost, we are walking around in a needy state of incomplete.
How to choose yourself
So how do you choose yourself?
There is lots to learning to choose yourself in life. For me, the highest impact thing has been figuring out my values and living by them.
The practice of acceptance naturally helps you to choose yourself more. You direct acceptance to yourself, and to the aspects of your experience that you have no control over. Love, sex and attraction can fall into that category. The truths about these things can be quite harsh and complex.
For example, a person’s capacity to feel attracted to us lies outside of their will and ours. We are all on the search for pleasure and occasionally our ideas of pleasure aren’t synchronous. But a lot of the time they are, too.
Rejection is specific and situational – not a full throttle remark on our appearances and character. W all have to remember that. It is the only way to prevent a rejection from destabilizing your sense of worth.
#3. Assess the situation for personal growth opportunities
Only do this once Senegal/blue hair phase is over.
Rejection should spur a bit of healthy reflection. You might be led to exercise greater caution in who you allow yourself to become emotionally involved with. Or you may decide to adapt your behaviour. Rejections, once we accept them as per Rule 1, can be learning opportunities.
The question of whether there are lessons from a rejection situation really depends on the situation itself. But I encourage you to use your experiences as insights into your personality, and identify possible directions of personal growth.
I’ve uncovered plenty of me-centric observations doing this, which I am not going to list here. I have developed some more global wisdom too about love and sex:
Men generally tend to like women right away, whereas women take a bit longer but generate a stronger attachment in their minds once they do. Both could do with being a little more like the other.
Attraction relies on two people being slightly off balance with each-other. ‘Being totally yourself’ or extreme game playing are both undesirable, but a middle ground is probably ideal.
Meeting someone when you are busy and fulfilled in your life is best.
Develop your own handbag wisdom on dating. For me, developing wisdom from my experiences is a key driver in my life. The idea of just having experiences and remaining at an arm’s length of understanding them is not satisfactory.
This might not be the same for you, but I encourage you to be like me just for rejection situations, if you want to cope with rejection better.
I’d also recommend keeping this reflection positive.
What you don’t want to do is use other people’s rejections as fuel for reinforcing a low self-image or worth. If you find yourself admiring people that don’t want you, and very suspicious towards people that are into you, then that is a warning flag. I would suggest that you invest some time into changing your mind and beliefs as regards love and relationships.