Coping with romantic rejection

It’s Not You, It’s Me: 6 Ways to Take Romantic Rejection in Stride

Romantic chemistry is a tricky, fickle business, and it’s usually something we get wrong quite a few times before we ever manage to get it right. But even knowing that romantic rejection is common, even downright unavoidable, that still doesn’t mean it hurts any less.
In one study, it was found that the brain regions that support the sensory components of physical pain also have a hand in processing social pain (such as an unwanted breakup, or being turned down for a date). In this particular study, participants who had recently experienced an unwanted breakup were shown photos of their ex partners (ouch!). The result: some of the same regions of the brain that light up for physical pain also lit up for images that induced social pain. So, when we say, it hurts, we really mean it! Being rejected actually hurts!
You can’t always avoid social and romantic rejection in your own life, but what you can do is use these moments to grow, to learn more about yourself, and to build yourself into the sort of person you want to be. Below we’ve laid out some basic steps and thoughts to keep in mind as you work through a brush with unrequited love.

1. Don't take it personally

It’s not you, it’s me is one of those cliched phrases we’ve heard so many times that it sounds hollow now, but it’s really the truth when it comes to romantic rejections. When someone declines a date, a relationship, or whatever it may be, it’s really just as much about the rejecter as it is the requester. There are a million personal reasons someone might turn you down for a date maybe their lives are hectic at the moment, or they’re already in a mess of romantic feelings of their own, or maybe the both of you just don’t click the way they need right now but none of this means that somebody else won’t find you absolutely irresistible later. Once again, chemistry is tricky. It isn’t about who’s good enough to date and who doesn’t measure up. Matching up with just the right person, at just the right time, is just plain hard. It requires trial and error.
As much as you can, remind yourself that this has nothing to do with your desirability to future partners; it’s only a lack of suitability to this one particular person and this one particular person’s particular needs. And as long as we’re dredging up tired clichés that also happen to be true, remember that there are plenty of fish in the sea.

2. Be kind

Turning someone down for a date, or breaking off a relationship, are not easy things to do. Most people don’t enjoy hurting someone else’s feelings and will go to great lengths to spare themselves that guilt or discomfort. So, when someone turns you down, try to meet them with compassion. This moment of rejection is difficult for both of you, and the best way to grapple with your own hurt feelings is to choose to be kind, to be understanding, and to be graceful and dignified. This is a chance to choose to be the best version of yourself. It didn’t work out the way you hoped, but you can still come away from it looking good.
The best thing you can do here, for you and for the other person, is to say that you understand, that it was worth a shot, and that you wish them well. The more easily we offer compassion to others, the more easily we can offer compassion to ourselves.

3. It's OK to feel hurt, but it's no one's fault

When someone rejects us romantically, sure, we’ll say it again, it hurts! It’s OK to feel that pain, to sit with it a while, to grieve our romantic feelings loss, but it’s important to remember: just because someone has done something that hurts us, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they wronged us in any way. It’s natural, when feeling hurt, to feel as if we’ve been attacked, but a romantic rejection isn’t an attack or wrongdoing. It hurts, but it’s no one’s fault. If the chemistry isn’t there, then the chemistry just isn’t there.
So, even when it hurts, try not to think about who deserves the blame for the way you feel. We’re all out here searching for something, trying our best. Make sure you don’t say or do anything to make them feel guilty, or to make them answer for your pain; That won’t make you feel any better anyway.

4. Distance is good

It can be tricky to put distance in between you and the object of your unrequited affections, especially if the person is a friend or someone you see often. But distance may be just the thing you need right now, or else you may find it difficult to get your mind off the painful episode. It’s always appropriate to say, I just need a bit of space for a while to work through some feelings. If this means hiding their Facebook posts for a while or canceling some social calls, that’s perfectly OK too. Right now, your mental and emotional well-being are your number one priority.

5. Keep busy

Don’t let yourself sit about too much, feeling sorry about everything. You need to get out of your head. Throw yourself into your passions instead. Get out and exercise however you prefer. Learn a new skill. Pick up a new hobby. Catch up on work. Catch up with old friends. When, in blue times like these, we busy ourselves with our hobbies and self-development, not only do we distract ourselves from that blueness, but we can also build ourselves up, grow in our own identities, and boost our self-esteem.

6. Keep Looking

We are hardwired to fear rejection. Instead of letting this one romantic rejection build into that natural fear we all have, try to use this as an opportunity to grow, and to find your courage. Think of it this way: the worst just happened, and you’re still here. Your life didn’t end. Tomorrow is still on its way. Choose to let this make you braver instead of more discouraged. Try saying yes to all the social invitations that come your way for a while, and get back out there. To find the people we really click with, we need to keep at it, keep looking, and keep introducing ourselves. Right now, as you’re out there looking for your person, somewhere someone is out there looking for you too.

We want to hear your stories. How have you used romantic rejections to grow? How do you cope with rejection? Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #BeWell, #BeHeard, and #BeThere.

For more of our thoughts on heartbreak and breakups, go here. And for even more thoughts on pulling yourself out of the romantic blues, check out this article from Vox.

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time and would like to talk to someone about it, there are people who want to help. For teens who want to talk to other teens, call Teen Line at 310-855-4673, or text TEEN to 839863. You can also text LA to 741741 to talk with a trained Crisis Counselor for free, 24/7. For more information check out

How to separate romantic rejection from your self-worth

Turn rejection into reflection. Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto

> Life > Sex, Dating & Relationships

When the text flashed on my screen, I had the answer to the question I'd been afraid to ask. His reply didn't surprise me, I had known it deep down inside but needed to hear it from him.

The person I had feelings for had just told me over text they didn't want to pursue anything romantically with me. Tears rolled down my face as I cried silently. It felt terrible.

But the worst part of this rejection was that the first thought that popped into my head was: I need to change. My thoughts were not 'I deserve better' or 'he's clearly an idiot' or 'onwards and upwards' but instead 'I'm not good enough'. I translated his romantic rejection as commentary on my worth, the message felt clear and resounding: it's you, not him. Nothing could convince me otherwise.

With the benefit of hindsight, I know this is all wrong. But at the time, I was certain of my own supposed shortcomings. I wasn't pretty enough, wasn't thin enough, I needed to lose weight, change my hair, change my personality, be less 'me'. I acted on some of those misguided beliefs in a bid to shape myself into a version of myself that I deemed more 'dateable'.

There was nothing anyone could say that would change my mind and I didn't know how to pull myself out of the pit of self-loathing that this rejection had pushed me into. Time, as we know, is a great healer and eventually I reclaimed my self-worth. But, the experience served as a lesson. It was clear that romantic rejection brought up some of the very worst things I think about myself and made old wounds sting as if they were new.

The entire ordeal made me question whether my sense of self-worth is tethered to how 'desirable' other people find me. How can I ensure I don't sink into the abyss the next time someone ends things? How can I begin to see that it really isn't me, it's actually them?

So, how do you separate romantic rejection from your self-worth?

Relationship expert Rachael Lloyd from eharmony says romantic rejection is one of the most painful types of rejection. "It literally cuts to the very heart of who we are and how attractive we deem ourselves to be," says Lloyd. "And no one is exempt. A recent report by eharmony and Relate found over 60 percent of men fear rejection, particularly in terms of their age and appearance. This echoes what women tell us."

SEE ALSO: I haven't had a boyfriend for a decade. Here's what I've learned.

Low self-esteem and past trauma can prolong the agony of a romantic rejection. "Thankfully, most people can weather their way through the painful feelings by leaning on good friends or family. But those of us who already have low self-esteem and carry hidden reserves of childhood trauma can find ourselves derailed for months, in some cases years," adds Lloyd.

So, how do we make it less painful for ourselves? As Sam Owen, Hinge UK relationship expert, tells me, "Dating, like life in general, is about looking for the people you click with." Let's face it, we don't get on with everyone we meet — otherwise we'd be best friends with everyone we've ever encountered. Owen says that the process of dating allows us to learn about who we are, what we want, as well as enabling you to build resilience by interacting with people who are and are not right for us. "So when someone 'rejects' you, not only is that saving you precious time, but it's also the universe ushering you towards potential mates who are worthy of you, your time and your love," says Owen. "Thus, rejection is rewarding: it both teaches us something and it nudges us towards our goals and happiness."

You're not being rejected, the relationship is

Lloyd says that rejection is never attached to one person. "If our partner ends the relationship, it’s because something in the relationship wasn't working for them, rather than something purely in us," she says. "It can be really empowering to separate our sense of self, from the combined self we become when we bond with other people."

So, when someone breaks up with you or says no to taking the relationship further, it's not necessarily you as a person that's being turned down, it's the relationship that's being rejected. "We also need to realise that rejection is never entirely personal, it’s often reflective of key needs or wants that aren’t being met within a mutual dynamic. "

Remember this is about them, not you

"Dita Von Teese once said, 'You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.' And she was right," says Ruby Payne, in-house sex and relationship expert at sex toy retailer UberKinky. "When someone we want doesn't want us back, we immediately start to question ourselves: Why am I not good enough? What did I do wrong? Am I ugly? We start to become defined by the fact that another person has rejected us, and we deem ourselves unworthy of future love," says Payne.

"Dita Von Teese once said, 'You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.' And she was right."

"The simple fact is that the rejection was less about you, and more about them, with absolutely no reflection on your worth as a human being," Payne adds. "It doesn't mean that you aren't attractive, fun, or a good person to be with – it simply means that they weren't the right person for you. "

Payne says it's absolutely fine (and healthy) to be down after a rejection or breakup. "Take time to heal and lick your wounds, but once you learn that the break-up wasn't about you, the quicker you'll get back on your feet," she adds.

Turn rejection into reflection

Qualified life coach Puja McClymont says that if you do feel your self-worth has been compromised, it can be helpful to reflect on any lessons that you can draw from the experience.

"Rather than focus on what might be wrong with you (there's nothing wrong with you but this is where we tend to go) focus on what you can learn from the person or experience," says McClymont. "Are there any red flags that you missed? By reflecting in this way, you're looking to improve your experiences rather than put it on yourself as a failure."

SEE ALSO: What to do when body image is affecting your sex life

"The ultimate key to not feel like you're being rejected is to actually work on your self-worth. Who are you? What do you stand for? Do you live your life aligned to your values? Do you believe in yourself? What do you need to do to build more self-esteem so that your worth is never in question?" McClymont continues. "Some deep reflective work can be a real game-changer when looking for love. Building you up each time rather than bringing you down each time will help you bounce back from a relationship that didn't work out in a much healthier way."

Turn it into a positive

As Hinge's Sam Owen points out, it's important to remember that rejection also helps you avoid wasting time in the wrong relationships. "Even though 26 percent of Hinge daters feel worried about hurting the other person's feelings when they want to end an undefined romantic relationship, a huge 85 percent said they would rather know if the other person isn’t interested in them. This highlights how 'rejection' is not about a person's worth, it's simply how each individual seeks a mutually exhilarating connection. And that's what romantic love is all about," says Owen.

Rejection is part of the process that leads us towards what we're looking for. "So, in reality, romantic rejections are road signs and redirections all set up to help you achieve your relationship goals, not a reflection of your worth," says Owen. "Your job is to work on being happy and healthy within yourself. If you're feeling deflated from rejection, consider prioritising working on your mental health. Taking this time for self-care will lead to more resilience, energy, and mental clarity for your all-important dating and relationship goals moving forward. Then, you can focus on finding someone that truly deserves you."

If I could turn back the clock and tell myself that absolutely nothing about me needed fixing or changing, I would. Rejection really stings and, depending on how we're feeling about ourselves in that moment in time, that pain can linger a little. Take as long as you need to nurse your hurt but remember the rejection isn't about you — it really is about them. Someone out there will love you just as you are.

Related video: How to remove your ex from your digital life

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Features Editor

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Rachel Thompson is the Features Editor at Mashable. Based in the UK, Rachel writes about sex, relationships, and online culture. She has been a sex and dating writer for a decade and she is the author of Rough (Penguin Random House, 2021).

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6 Ways to Deal with Rejection

Redaguwati translation

12 August 2019, 21:16

 We will teach you how to deal with your emotions when you are rejected. 

Romantic relationship has come to an end; didn't get a call back from your dream job; suddenly dismissed from a position - this and much more can become a situation in which it is realistic to get a refusal. And if you know how to take a different point of view, then this material is not for you, but if after the rejection you feel depressed and exhausted, then we have collected six useful tips for you to help overcome these feelings.

It is natural to feel unwanted or not good enough after experiencing some kind of rejection. But if this emotion does not go away, but only becomes more absorbed into your daily life, then you just need to try to test at least one of our recommendations on yourself.

Tip #1: Open up!

Tell someone about being rejected. Don't keep it to yourself. Call a friend or arrange a meeting with someone you love and trust. Talk heart to heart with a colleague or someone who has gone through a similar situation. By discussing this, you will not only feel stronger, but the emotion of rejection will gradually lose its hold on you.


Tip #2: Don't turn down others' help

Let other people watch over you, hug you, and give you good food. It's great to lift your spirits and help fight feelings of worthlessness. You would definitely do this for someone else.

Tip #3: Don't be hard on yourself

Don't criticize yourself too much. You may be heartbroken, shocked and saddened, and your body and mind need time to recover. Don't push yourself too hard, allow yourself to take a break and take a break.

Tip #4: Make time for laughter

Put some humor into your schedule. Read funny articles online, watch funny YouTube videos, or visit your favorite Instagram page. Humor will bring you back to normal life and mood.


Tip #5: Do a good deed

Do three good things every day for other people. This can seem like a pretty daunting task when you're feeling tired and exhausted. Find the strength in yourself to start doing good, even the smallest, and you will soon see dramatic changes in your emotional state.

Do charitable things for others, such as buying a homeless person a cup of coffee and a croissant, smiling at someone sad on the bus, or donating to a refugee charity. When we give kindness to others, we feel better.

Tip #6: Don't forget the positive

Take notes about yourself every day. Again, this will force you to focus on your positives and moments, and not on what you consider your failure.

We hope that our advice will help you overcome this emotional barrier and never take rejection to heart again.


#psychology#failure#balance on marriage, tips, help articles, goals and more, November 2022

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