Rejection and Dating – Why Rejection Hurts

| 11/09/2009 | Comments (7)

Rejection…when it hurts, it hurts like HELL. For most humans, rejection leaves one swimming in a sea of diminished self worth, drawn up into a proverbial ball, licking one’s wounds. In our society rejection takes many forms and may be compounded by racial or gender slurs, religious or political conflict, and denial of legal rights to equitable housing, salaries and job opportunities. But for most singles, the rejection that hurts the most is experienced when we want someone to love us the way we love them, and they let us know that they’re not interested.

You can teach a child about life and death, and about good or bad. We teach our young how to tie their shoes and eat by themselves, and even to do trigonometry. However, teaching a child about how to deal with rejection is something many parents don’t put on their little darling’s educational calendar.

That’s too bad.

Rejection is as much a part of life as breathing. Dealing with rejection successfully is a valuable skill set which could mean the difference between failure and the highest levels of achievement in life. Why? Because those that are afraid of rejection sit on the bench of life and remain bystanders. These folks are so afraid of losing that they never take their turn at bat, so of course they can never hit a home run either. They are so afraid of a losing, of looking silly, of not getting what they want that they never step to the plate and take a swing at the ball.

What they don’t realize is that rejection may hurt, but never under any circumstances should rejection ever be taken personally.

rejection, bad date,, no second date, breaking up, dealing with rejection, getting over rejection

Few of us want to intentionally hurt others, so it’s safe to assume that whoever rejected you will most likely choose a method of rejection that causes them the least pain. Sadly this method might and probably will, be the way that causes you maximum discomfort. Some will reject you to your face, but modern singles might use an impersonal approach such as sending a text or email.

However, most will assume that you just know, that someone else will tell you, write to you, phone you and let you know the interest isn’t there. Letting you figure it out on your own may not be the kindest approach, but it is the path of least resistance and the route most often chosen.

Women have a slight advantage when it comes to dealing with rejection. The opportunity to recognize, deal with and sort out rejection, is often mastered through “girl talk”. Women get together and vent their frustrations with men and feelings about their failed relationships to other females. Women gain sympathetic support, are allowed to cry, explore their feelings without censure, and have their spirits buoyed when friends rail against such “clueless assholes.”

Women leave such ego boosting gatherings feeling confident that it’s his loss and that she is a valuable, important person, a beautiful woman, regardless of a man’s rejection of her.

Sadly, the male community does not provide the same type of sympathetic support system that women provide each other. Men need to understand that the pain of rejection needs their attention, much more than a band-aid provided by pint of cognac, a couple of beers, or some silly and boyish antics.

For most men the fear of being seen as “weak” strikes terror into the deepest part of his ego. This fear of exhibiting anything less than steely strength often forces men to suffer their emotional pain in silence. Men are expected to “suck it up” and deal with rejection without complaint “like a man should.” Crying about being rejected is totally out of the question. But with his hopes dashed, a man will withdraw to lick his wounds. He may become hesitant to risk enduring such pain again.  Getting on with his life and trying again then becomes a major challenge.

Other guys turn the anger and pain of their rejection outward. Some who may have felt entitled to get what they wanted from women will purposely mistreat (“dog”) every female they encounter. Their goal is to “get back” at the gender that they feel is responsible for their wounded heart and shattered feeling of self-worth. These men will often begin behaving in crass, crude, disrespectful ways towards women. Such a man is subsequently labeled a misogynist and avoided by aware women, which merely increases his inability to connect in healthy ways with the opposite sex. His rage at women for rejecting him becomes a vicious cycle.

When a man courageously accepts that he is disappointed by a woman’s lack of interest, or the failure of a relationship, he can begin to address his emotions and do so honestly. It’s a lot like when someone stands up at an AA meeting and says “Hi, my name is XXX, and I am an alcoholic!” Acknowledgement of the injury is the first step to healing. 

Self-Love Is the Best Love

On the road to healing we first have to deal with reality. How do we really feel about the rejection we experienced? Did we approach the situation with a sense of entitlement… after all Mommy always gave us what we wanted, so why won’t these men and women? Did we focus on the outcome (getting what we wanted), instead of the process (getting acquainted)? But most of all, how do we really feel about ourselves?

many dates started off great and ended in rejection

Each of us must love ourselves more than we love any other. And just because someone whose steps have crossed our path doesn’t share our love of ourselves does not mean that each of us isn’t worth loving. Some men and women seek “closure” when a great first date results in no second one, or a budding relationship ends in disappointment. What I wish they could understand is that even if such a closing conversation with their rejecter did take place, it is unlikely that they would ever get the whole truth anyway. Most people are not only dishonest with others, but with themselves.

However you were rejected and for whatever reason you were rejected, there are a few key steps to recovery. These steps won’t stop it from happening again but they will make you a better person for your experience.

#1 — Allow your disappointment and anger to surface. Do not be rude or abrasive towards the person that rejected you, but it is helpful to let your friends and family know that you are in pain, and that if they can constructively help, you welcome their assistance.

#2 — Be kind to yourself even if you know you unintentionally behaved in a way that would warrant rejection. However, don’t pretend to be a wonderful person if you were intentionally harsh and biting with your rejection. Polite consideration of others and their feelings should always be of paramount importance. If you don’t have this interpersonal skill set yet, work on developing it. There is no excuse for a man to approach a woman and for her to give him the up and down, turn to her friend, and scoff at him. There is no excuse for a woman to find out that you aren’t interested in dating her anymore by asking if you can have her best friend’s phone number.

#3 — Be prepared to accept that your rejecter might never know just how much they have hurt you, or want to know, or even care. Chasing someone down for an apology or to ask “why?” is therefore pointless.

#4 — Prepare yourself to feel the sting of rejection but don’t dwell on it. Whatever we focus on in life becomes bigger and stronger. Instead of focusing on pain from the past, focus on polishing your dating skills and learning how to approach the opposite sex in a manner more likely to receive a positive response.

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Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray," and "Why Vegan is the New Black" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.

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Category: Date Smarter, Not Harder

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  1. Matt_1980 says:

    Great article. I enjoyed reading this. I’ve always considered myself a confident and resilient person that can get back on the horse easily. With regard to rejection in the dating world, I always tell myself or others that ‘for every one that doesn’t want to be with you, there is another who does, or another 100″

    The points about self-love and always seeing the bright side are good, as well the advice for people not to take it personally. And then there is the useful advice for men coping with rejection in a man’s world where the strong are supposed to prosper and the weak perish

    One thing though, the article seems to dwell on the point of attraction = interested, not attracted/not attracted enough = not interested. As men we meet many women who find us attractive. We work with them, socialize with them, are friends with them, and date them. Many women we meet are clearly attracted to us, but they don’t want to BE with us. This a key point. Now, there are no absolutes, and we shouldn’t generalize, but it often seems to me that with many men (maybe 90%) attraction and the green lighting of a relationship is often of the equation “attracted to her =interested”, “not attracted to her = not interested in her’. When Bill does not find Mary attractive, he won’t give her the time of day. I think there is an argument to be had that is more a case of ‘all or nothing” for the fellas. Maybe that’s just science and how we have been genetically coded to be. Also the socialization process and the role of gender in society (there’s patriarchy and a sexist double standard here. A woman can’t be to definite and clear cut in her rejection because she’ll be labeled a “bitch”.I think it’s is a real credit to women in that many will give a guy they aren’t too mad about a fighting chance in hope he’ll grow on her later)

    With many guys it often seems to be case of all or nothing (after being in a relationship with her you realize that she isn’t right for you, and then there is terrible pain for her when you have to end it. I have been down this road. it was awful).

    Why do some women want to be in a relationship with him, and not that other guy. Why do men always go for these types of women, and not those type. Put the discussion of coping with rejection in the perspective of that larger picture.

  2. SMSinTexas says:

    this is great; thank you!

  3. jim says:

    To: RAZ,

    You are trash and clearly hate men. Who are the men who “cant keep up?”. Also any person who defines himself by money is truly not worth knowing. The hatred in your post coms thru so clearly. You have a superiority complex and seem to get off on this lie about women somehow being inferiror to women. Of course all of this is based on ‘education’ as if academia or someones level of social conditioning represents ‘education’. Your comments are so typical of angry man hating black women. You just spew hate. I am HAPPY for the man you rejected. I am sorry that he bothered to try and chat with you. He saved himself much heartache. Perhaps he went and found a white woman who does not have these man hating notions of female superiority in her head. Obviously its you who do not love yourself Raz, perhaps you love your money or the degree that defines you. Clearly that is where you get your self worth from. And how pathetic that is. I wouldn’t touch you with 40 mile pole. Pure disease and a disease to all black men who struggle in a system that is truly stacked against them. You play your role very well in it. How is your white jewish husband doing? Or do you not have one?

    • Raz says:

      Jim: “I wouldn’t touch you with 40 mile pole. Pure disease and a disease to all black men who struggle in a system that is truly stacked against them. You play your role very well in it. How is your white jewish husband doing? Or do you not have one?”

      YAWN! Oh please ya big whiny he-motional he bitch baby, grow up. You just mad because a fool like you could never pull a woman who has it all together in her life and you don’t measure up. This post shows that you can’t handle rejection.. You just threw a whiny tantrum in your response lolol. A rejected no pussy having idiot who is at the bottom of the heap with the rest of the rejects.. Nobody wants to be touched by you and that’s why your dumb butt is so mad. LOL, I actually had to laugh at your rant.. A whiny baby mad because nobody wants him.. Dry your tears now…You want a lolipop?

  4. Bootleg B says:

    I cannot believe you wrote this article. I always thought by listening to your podcasts that you believed that when men get rejected that they should “suck it up and deal with it”. Like a man should just be an emotionless logical robot that’s programed to treat rejection as a prompt to delete all previous feelings up to that point and instantly follow a new task. But it’s not that simple.

    This article highlights that the lack of support among men dealing with frustrations is a problem that I believe could lead to depression and high stress levels in general. Women don’t help in this either, since women for the most part expect men to never show sadness or frustrations, since women (as well as men) see these emotions as a sign of weakness.

    Good article.

    • Thank you, glad you enjoyed it. But we need to be clear. Though I am explaining to women how men feel about rejection, and how men fail to support other men’s emotions (as well as their own), I still believe men should not wallow in their feelings of rejection. Men must also take the blame for socializing themselves and women to believe that “manliness” means that one is an emotional rock, never showing fear or sadness or weakness in any form. You all did that to yourselves! It’s part and parcel of the patriarchial society you all designed to give yourselves the upper hand in gender relations.

      Men’s groups can be instrumental in advancing men’s understanding of themselves and their emotional connection (or lack thereof) to women and children. Until men can understand that the value of life lies not in what you own and can brag about to other men, but in the relationships they have with others, men will continue to live in emotional wastelands.

  5. Raz says:

    This is a good article on rejection. I recently had to dish out a bit of rejection and it was hard for me. I know personally what it feels like to be rejected so it especially makes it hard to be the one who dishes it out. Noone likes to play the bad guy. But to my credit unlike the person who rejected me, I refuse to take advantage of someone’s infatuation with me and use it against them and to my advantage. If I know my intentions and my feelings towards someone is not sincere then I will end things and be straightforward with that person.

    A clean cut rejection is better than the jagged edges that a lot of people take when they take the path of least resistance to ‘them’ and just flake out and not get back to that person. But ultimately regardless of how someone rejects you, the dumpee has to have the inner resolve to not let someone else’s rejection of them break their spirit. They have to pick themselves up and keep pressing forward. Hopefully they will meet someone who will love them in the way they need and want to be loved.

    “Self-Love Is the Best Love Did we focus on the “outcome’ of what we wanted instead of the ‘process’ of getting acquainted? Each of us must love ourselves more than we love any other. And just because someone whose steps have crossed our path doesn’t share our love of ourselves does not mean that each of us isn’t worth loving”

    This part excerpted is HUGE! Often people approach potential relationships with the thought of what they can ‘get’ rather than what they can give. This mindset provokes the sense of ‘entitlement that Deborrah mentions. It is coming from a selfish standpoint. We act as though just because we want something from someone we are entitled to get it. We don’t stop to think about what we have to offer this person and why should this person give us what we want just because we want it. Nor do we invest in ourselves enough to make us attractive to others to get what we want?

    Guys are especially guilty of this. You’ll see a guy who on a scale of 10 they are 2 or 3 and they want to date the hottest women they see on reality tv shows but have they invested in their bodies to provide the hot bodies to the object of their attraction? They expect women to overlook their less than physical offerings but they want the ‘arm candy’.

    Women often times play into this as well when they want men to ‘take care of them financially (but this is lessening to a degree as more and more women are out there making their own money and are often bringing home the bacon in greater numbers and it is the men who can’t keep up). Amongst Black men and women, black women are more educated and far more likely to make equal to more money than their male counterparts.

    My recent experience where I rejected someone left me feeling a bit sorry for the person. However one thing that stood out with me is he kept saying, “I just want you to like me’. Which made me wonder, ‘Did he really like himself? Regardless of if someone else likes me or not, I have to like myself.
    So self love and a healthy self esteem will help one take rejections as a part of life.

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