I recently wrote an article for a major media outlet that got rejected. Inspired by a recent study, it was about the benefits of opening your relationship if you feel that’s the best path to take in your love life. I worked hard on that piece like a busy bee, but I knew I was taking a risk since the subject matter is still pretty stigmatized.
The reason for the rejection is beyond this post, but the resulting feeling stung for a few hours, and it reminded me of the first time someone unsubscribed from my emails.
“Wait, what?!” I thought. “Someone doesn’t want to hear from me anymore?! Did I say something wrong?!” My stomach churned and my soul was trembling.
Both rejections made me feel like I was trapped in an “I’m not good enough” chokehold, even though a part of me knew I was better than that. I knew people could benefit from what I had to say.
Rejection is a very real thing in dating and relationships, as real as global warming, death, and taxes. You might tell someone how you feel, but it’s not always reciprocated. You might initiate sex in your relationship, but your partner might not be feeling it. Your partner might be critical of your appearance or behavior, sometimes making you feel like shit. You might be seeing someone for a while, but suddenly he disappears. Rejection comes in many forms, and it can feel like a punch in the gut.
It’s easy to ride an emotional roller coaster, blame ourselves, and get defensive when we’re rejected. It’s all completely normal, given that we’re human and emotional security tends to come with practice, just like any learned skill.
But risk, whether it’s gambling at the casino or initiating intimacy, comes with possible rejection (or possible loss, in the casino’s case). A well-buttressed mindset can be your best weapon in preparing for the possibility and dealing with it if it happens.
For example, let me tell you about my friend James. Long ago, I remember observing him while he was courting women here and there, and at some point, I asked him something along the lines of “You seem very confident after being rejected. Why is that?”
His answer was something like, “Well, it sucked getting my first rejection, but over time I realized all I needed to do was learn what women want and make adjustments.” He grew much more confident with practice and could simply say the next time it didn’t work out with a woman, “It was nice to meet you. Have a good day!”
Ladies, what would it be like to have James’ confidence every time we got rejected? All we need to do is learn from the situation (after we grieve a little if we need to) and move on.
Yes, that sounds easier said than done, so here are some exercises to try the next time you take a risk in your love life:
1. Consider the best and worst case scenarios, and be prepared for both.
Let’s say you want to talk to your man about moving in together, but you’re nervous that he’s not going to be ready. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience.) What’s the worst case scenario? Perhaps he completely freaks out and decides to end the relationship. If that happens, maybe he’s not worth it or has a deeper issue to work out.
Notice that your “worst case scenario” is not something like death by sharks with frickin’ laser beams or like waking up with missing legs. Our creative minds tend to make us feel like we’re in a horror movie, but as it turns out, we can survive a little rejection.
Of course, the best case scenario is he waltzes into your arms and suddenly starts speaking like Shakespeare when he says, “Ladybird, mine own heart hurts the longeth’r we art apart! Alloweth’s liveth togeth’r!” But we’ll take a simple “Sure, that sounds good.”
Also, be emotionally prepared for all outcomes. For example, when my partner Phillip felt nervous about moving in together (over four years ago), I told him, “Well, if you’re not ready now, you’ll have to be ready at some point if you want this relationship to work. I can find a roommate in the interim.” Fortunately, he decided to take the leap.
2. Consider the intention behind the rejection.
Let’s say you and your partner just made love, and then he critiques your performance a bit (which can feel like rejection). Instead of feeling insulted like a conservative grandmother finding a porn stash (“My word!”), you can ask him why he’s bringing this up. Maybe he has only good intentions and sees opening a conversation about your sex life as a way for you to grow as a couple.
If it seems like he has bad intentions, then that might be worth a larger conversation, for he could be feeling deeply insecure as well.
3. Whatever you’re feeling before taking a risk or after you’ve been rejected, examine whence came your emotions.
Try to identify the emotion you’re feeling and how it emerged. Maybe it’s tied to your inner “gremlin” (that icky voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough).
We are the sum of our experiences, but we can choose our futures. How would you like to feel instead? What baby step can you take to feel that way? You can give your gremlin a name to make it feel more real (like “Ms Liba Schmekel” or “Ned”). Understand that Ms Liba Schmekel (click the hyperlinks to learn what “Liba” and “Schmekel” mean) or Ned is trying to make you feel small to keep you safe. Tell your gremlin that you no longer need his or her services. You can take it from there.
4. Try to look at the situation differently (which overlaps with #2).
We live in a nuanced world, which means there’s plenty of room for miscommunication and misinterpretation. That also means there’s room for looking at a situation with a more open mind, like a creative artist.
For example, let’s say you were seeing someone for a few months and he stopped texting you after a nice evening out. That day turns into a few days, then a week, and so on. What the hell happened? He’s neither responding nor picking up his phone. His friends aren’t much help either.
Instead of panicking (which many of us do, which is normal), what are other ways of interpreting the situation? Maybe he had a family emergency the morning after your date. Maybe his phone broke and he hasn’t been able to tell you (or maybe he forgot). He might be distracted and will fall back on your radar if you have a little patience. Shit happens and no one is perfect; you can find ways to keep yourself busy.
However, if more time passes and he ghosts you (which has happened to me), what are other ways of looking at the situation? One way could be that he wasn’t mature enough to formally end it with you, and who wants to date a coward like that? You deserve a shit ton better! You’re a strong, independent woman who can pick herself up and move on with poise.
Bringing this back full circle like completing a lap around the Pasadena Rose Bowl, over time, I started looking at each unsubscriber as a “loyalty cleanse.” Whoever sticks around (particularly those who read most or all of my emails) are the ones who matter, the ones who are worth it, and one shouldn’t take the act of unsubscribing personally. In dating and relationships, each breakup is a “love cleanse.” Make lemonade out of that rejection. Take what you learned in that relationship and attract the love you deserve.
If the time is right and you need help trading in your relationship anxiety and insecurity for peace of mind, then hit me up here and I’ll be in touch ASAP.
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