Dealing with Rejection


So there’s someone you find attractive and you finally work up the courage to tell them only to be rejected. It feels like you’ve been punched in the heart and you can’t understand why they don’t see you as desirable and worthy of their affection. And if it happens over and over again you might wonder what you did wrong, if there’s something wrong with you, something obvious to everyone else, but something which only you seem unaware of.

What do we do with this feeling? Where do we go from there? How do we deal with rejection? How do we move past it and go on with our lives?

Sometimes a person turns us down without offering any explanation. The mystery of why they aren’t interested in us can drive us crazy, and we’ll find ourselves spending so much time trying to figure it out. Or maybe they do offer an explanation, but the explanation is vague, or it seems deceptive or inaccurate. Maybe they’ve got the wrong impression of us. Or maybe they’re not telling us the whole truth in order to spare our feelings. But having the sense that we’re not being given an accurate explanation only hurts all the more. We might not ever know the real reason.

It might be that they find something specifically repulsive about us. Or it may that they find nothing repulsive, but just aren’t necessarily attracted. Maybe we’re not their type, or maybe we just don’t have the qualities they’re looking for in a partner. Maybe we’re just different. Or maybe we have a great deal to offer, but they simply fail to see our value, and do we really want to be with someone who doesn’t value us, who doesn’t recognize our worth?

The truth is that it really doesn’t matter what the specific reason is. All that matters is that they’re not interested. And if they’re not interested in us, regardless of the reason, that means they’re not willing to invest any time or energy with us. And for this reason alone, we can recognize that they aren’t worth our time and energy either. Why would we want to invest our energy with someone who’s not going to reciprocate?

So if they turn us down, and we go on longing after them, trying to figure it out, hoping that maybe one day they’ll come around, or simply dwelling in a sense of loss and loneliness, then we’re still wasting our energy on that person.

We need to recognize it’s not worth it. We need to move on. And I’m not saying that we can just switch our feelings off and get over it immediately. These things take time. So take the time you need. Don’t hold back the tears. Cry as much as you need. Allow the feelings to flow. But at the same time keep reminding yourself that someone who isn’t willing to invest in you is not worth investing in.

And I don’t mean this in a way that devalues who they are as a person. If we saw something beautiful in them, we should continue to honor that. But at the same time, we need to let go of the desire to be with them. It’s not that they’re unworthy of our love and affection. It’s just that it’s not worth our time and energy to pursue or pine over them. And we can continue to love them in a way that doesn’t require physical intimacy. We can learn to love them the way you love a friend or a sibling.

But as with all things, be kind and patient with yourself. Remind yourself of the wonderful qualities you have to offer, and that, because these qualities are so valuable, you would do better to share them with someone who would truly appreciate them. So when someone doesn’t reciprocate your interest, don’t think that you are being rejected. Rather, know that they’re simply letting you know that they’re not a good match for you.

Now, as I said, there may be any number of reasons why someone might turn you down, but the thing to understand is that their reasons are very personal to them. We have a tendency to think it has something to do with us. We think maybe we’re not good enough. And this is one of the reasons why rejection can hurt so much. Because what we’re feeling is a sudden decrease in self-esteem. We interpret their rejection as a measure of our worth. And the reason we do this is because we make our sense of self-worth dependent on others. The truth is, it’s not.

Another thing to understand is that we all value different things, and value things differently, and this is especially true in regard to romantic attraction. So if the other person doesn’t find enough value in what you have to offer them, it doesn’t mean that what you have to offer isn’t valuable. It just isn’t valuable to them. For instance, some people may value finance and fashion more than they value loyalty and honesty. Does that mean that loyalty and honesty are less valuable? No. To that person they may be, but if you recognize the value in the qualities you have, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. We all have valuable qualities that others, for whatever the reason, are unable to appreciate. But that’s their problem, not yours.

What’s important is that you see the value in yourself and what you have to offer, and that your sense of worth is based solely on those qualities, not on how others value those qualities. Realizing your worth is going to help you immensely in getting over the feeling of rejection.

I want to stress that if you’re even thinking there might be a chance with this person, that maybe you just need to approach them again or try something different, the more you pursue them the more likely you’re going to push them even further away. No matter how sweet you might think you’re being, if they’ve made up their mind, they’ve made up their mind. And if you’re even the slightest bit desperate, they’ll pick up on this, and desperation is very unattractive because it’s a sign of insecurity. You might think you just need to be more persistent, but if your persistence is coming across as neediness or harassment, the other person will find it very unsettling, annoying, and they’ll likely try to avoid you as much as possible.

One of the most attractive qualities to any person is confidence, not to be confused with conceit, which can appear as confidence, but is actually rooted in insecurity. Genuine confidence comes from a sense of feeling secure. So confidence means that you recognize your value, without inflating your ego, but just knowing your worth. And in being confident, you can remind yourself that anyone who doesn’t appreciate your worth isn’t worth your time and energy. So when someone turns you down, the best thing to do is be cool and accept it, and move on. If you need to, take time for yourself to process. This means cutting off contact for a while. And if you happen to see that person in public, don’t give them too much attention, other than the kind of casual politeness you would show to a stranger. Keep any conversation short and casual, and don’t hover. Look for any opportunity to politely walk away.

This is going to help you to take the time you need to let go of that attachment. If you’re not around that person, it’s going to be much easier to process your feelings. We really need some perspective, to be able to see the whole picture with clarity, and sometimes it’s difficult to see through the haze of infatuation. Often we put the other person on a pedestal. We envision them as perfect, either by ignoring their flaws, or by inflating their positive qualities. But we need to see them as they truly are.

Something that will be very helpful is to look for flaws and imperfections in the other person, to look for negative qualities and to recognize your differences. And this is not for the purpose judging them, but simply recognizing that, like everyone else, they’re not perfect. It might be that they have qualities which conflict with our own, only we just hadn’t noticed before. Or maybe they have interests that we don’t like, or vice versa. Maybe when we’re able to really step back and see them as they truly are, we might realize that we just aren’t compatible. And if you realize that, you wont have much interest in them other than perhaps being a friend. In some cases, you might realize that you don’t even have enough on which to build a friendship.

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