There is no denying the fact that rejection hurts. But have you ever noticed how some people give up on life after being turned down, while some bounce back strongly after facing a rejection? Rejection stings everyone the same way, and it is how you choose to respond to it that decides how your life will be shaped. The question remains: How to deal with rejection in love the right way?
When your heart has been shattered into a million pieces and you’re living with a gnawing pain within, acting pragmatically can be hard. When your judgment is clouded, knowing what qualifies as a healthy way to deal with rejection in love and what amounts to self-destructive behavior becomes increasingly confusing.
Just this other day, my friend Alex was saying, “My crush rejected me but I still like her.” Trust me, it’s absolutely fine to have the same feelings even after being rejected by someone you love. What is not okay is to let the other aspects of your life get crumpled because of an unreciprocated emotion. It is not okay to keep pursuing or badgering that person though they have made it abundantly clear that they are not interested in you.
I agree, feelings don’t evaporate like that, out of the blue. The hurt, the pain when you are trying to deal with rejection from a crush will linger on for some time. You have to learn to live with the ache, to channel it into productive distractions, and gradually let it go.
To help you understand the difference between the healthy and the self-destructive coping mechanism and decipher how to deal with rejection in love, we spoke to counseling psychologist Kavita Panyam (Masters in Psychology and international affiliate with the American Psychological Association), who has been helping couples work through their relationship issues for over two decades.
8 Sensible Ways To Deal With Rejection In Love
When speaking of dealing with rejection in love, be it from a crush or an old partner, Kavita says, “For one, you need to know your attachment style. The first one is the secure attachment where you can say no, you can take no, and you can let go of people. You can allow people to let go of you. You can ask for help. So, if you have a secure attachment style, you can accept rejection and move on without creating drama, being clingy, or trying to rekindle or plotting some agenda to get them back, etc.”
“But, for people with an insecure attachment style, moving on isn’t easy. Especially, if you are ambivalent, then you can’t see people go. You want people to stay with you and not leave you on your own. You may end up being clingy or chasing people to bring them back into your life. In this case, you should understand that you cannot force people to love you or stay with you. In a connection, the equations keep changing.
“So, if two people are not able to create new equations from time to time, then that connection cannot sustain. So, that is the time when breakups happen. When it does, you must focus your energies on understanding the best way to take it in your stride rather than chasing a former partner or pining for them. You need to understand the reasons it didn’t work out. If you only think about the love-bombing days, you cannot see the whole picture.
“To see the whole picture, understand why you got into a relationship in the first place. Do you see signs of a codependent relationship? Did this person add value to your life? Did you add value to theirs? Was that person codependent? Were you trying to help them? Were you good friends? You need to understand why you got into a connection and why the breakup happened.”
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Kavita also explains that there are five stages of grief that also work in the case of rejection, from denial that it has happened to not understanding that you can also go through this, leaving you in the “Why me?” phase. Then, there is anger, where you ask questions like “How could it have happened to me?” “Why should it happen to me?” “Why am I the chosen one for pain?”
And later on, comes bargaining – “I wish I did this and not that to not get rejected.” At this stage, you try to get the person or the relationship back. After this comes depression when you understand the futility of the earlier stage and that nothing is going to help. You have been rejected.
So, how to deal with rejection in love? What to do when you are rejected by someone you love? Love rejection, in short, is not easy to handle no matter who you are. But there are ways to emerge from it stronger, happier, and healthier than before, irrespective of how much time it takes for you to fully process and go through all the stages of dealing with rejection.
Let me give you a little insight on how to deal with rejection from a guy. You may come across thoughts like “How can he reject someone so pretty and smart like me?” “I opened all my heart to her and she simply crushed it.” But, the point here is, just because you felt a certain way for the person, doesn’t make them obligated to feel the same for you too.
Think, how many times have you rejected other people because you thought they were not compatible with you? Being rejected by someone you love is not exactly a fun picnic. Neither for you nor those whom you discarded earlier in life. It’s all about handling the situation like a sensible adult. To overcome rejection in love, we give you 8 ways to cope and come out a stronger, better person.
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1. Acknowledge your feelings
Life is not always fair, and it may hurt at times. Remember, it is okay to feel embarrassed, low, depressed, and disappointed. These feelings are natural when dealing with rejection in love, and you need to acknowledge them, not suppress them. Strong people face life and its problems head-on – this is essentially the best way to deal with uncomfortable situations life throws at you. Being rejected by a potential romantic partner or rejected for a date will be a difficult situation and you should cope with the discomfort with confidence in a healthy manner.
Do not dismiss your feelings with “Ah! It was no big deal!” because inside you know that it is affecting you and you need to acknowledge it. Feeling hurt or let down is not a sign of weakness. You have to face and deal with love rejection and come out a winner. It is important to remember that the emotions you are feeling are valid no matter how horrid they may make you feel. It is understandable to want to chase after them, pine for them, and mope around for a while. Kavita says that is all part of the grieving process.
“Firstly, if you are codependent, you find it difficult to let go so you will keep chasing them. If you have an ambivalent attachment style, you can’t see people go so you will still chase them. And if you don’t understand that you cannot force people to be with you, then it is more of an obsession and may not even be an attraction or love.”
“Irrespective of your attachment style or whether you were codependent or obsessive, the first step of dealing with rejection in love is to go through the 7 stages of breakup grief. You need to go out and meet people. Get involved in physical activities – gym, skipping, swimming, horse-riding, or jogging. Eat healthily. Practice mindful living where you think about what you speak, think, do, and say.
“Try to cook your food, practice hygiene, look after yourself. Go to the doctor if you have a health issue. Learn new skill sets and prioritize yourself. Mostly when you obsess over somebody, you put yourself second to them. So, it is time to prioritize yourself and make sure you don’t let yourself go. There are boundaries you should not cross or let your emotions go to the point of obsession,” says Kavita.
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2. Talk it out with a person you feel close to
You are upset about being rejected in love. You want to share your feelings and shout and scream and even mouth a few cuss words. Wait. Clearly, you are having a tough time figuring out how to handle rejection from a crush or a romantic partner. The best thing to do at this moment is to have a healthy talk with someone who is really close to you and who can show you the other side of the coin as well. A close friend can help you sort out your feelings and even put a limit on your brooding period.
Maybe you are not yet ready to accept logic. Even so, having an attentive listening ear can help get out the turmoil brewing inside you. And eventually, you try to implement the thoughtful suggestions your friend offered in your life. They only want the best for you, isn’t it?
However, know the difference between emotional dumping and venting, and refrain from spilling your feelings all over social media. You will only come across as a whining, dramatic adult who cannot handle life as it comes. The internet never forgets anything, so never go online with your problems, no matter how upset you are.
3. Accept it early on – Give yourself time to grieve
Dealing with rejection in love is not easy, even though love and rejection do go hand in hand. It is all right to spend a day or two crying, gorging on tubs of ice cream and binge-watching a sad series on Netflix to cope with the pain of rejection in love. Give yourself time to process the rejection. Practicing self-love more and more is your remedy here.
It is all right to be upset about being rejected, and it is wise to allow yourself some time to brood over it. Do something that relaxes your mind – a long walk, cooking, or simply watching television. Just make sure you don’t go overboard with your period of grieving. But make sure to give yourself time and grieve as much as you’d like during those days. After that, be strong and rise up. Even though it may sometimes feel like it, the hurt does not last forever.
So, is there any approximate time period for grieving when you are trying to deal with rejection from a crush? Now, we cannot generalize that, can we? It entirely depends on how close you were with that person, what were your hopes from this relationship that didn’t pan out as expected. Moreover, we should also take into consideration your nature as a human being. Are you a very practical-minded person who sees every matter in black and white? Or, do you nurture a lot of passion, and emotion which make it hard for you to let go of the past?
However, Kavita suggests, “After about 3 weeks, you start feeling a little bit better. You probably would not get up feeling grumpy and low. You would start getting up and taking more interest in day-to-day activities. You would feel inclined to see whether you’re having tea or coffee and pay more attention to your life compared to those initial days about being rejected by someone you love.”
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“And I would say you’d take between 3 to 6 months to gradually start meeting friends and going out, going to the gym, and looking after yourself. And focusing on your goals and paying more attention to mindfulness. Typically, it can take up to a year to fully recover from rejection in love. But it can take longer, depending on how long you were together, how strong your feelings for them were and how the rejection happened,” she adds.
4. Don’t take the rejection as a reflection of you
No matter what, never feel that love rejection defines you or is a reflection of you, even though the pain of rejection in love can make you feel that way sometimes. If a date has stood you up, there could be a hundred reasons – not that you aren’t good enough. If your love interest says something mean, do not let that define you.
It is true being rejected by someone you love may hit your self-esteem real hard. “Did I say something stupid to chase her away?” “It must be because I put on weight, he doesn’t find me attractive anymore.” For heaven’s sake, do not let such self-destructive thoughts get into your head.
One person’s opinion does not define who you are. Concluding that you are unworthy of being loved if you have been rejected by a potential partner does not really make any sense. Do not let self-harming thoughts engulf your mind just because someone does not show love interest in you. Avoid making sweeping generalizations and keep rejection in the proper perspective.
“You also need to know how much of it is fact and how much of it is imagination. You don’t feel so alarmed. You feel calm. You know things aren’t going out of proportion. Once you can separate the facts from the overhyped fiction that your pain-struck mind may be conjuring up, you let go of the imagination and only keep the facts. This can make moving on that much easier,” says Kavita.
5. Get your mind off the subject
Distraction works not only for kids but for adults as well. Love and rejection may leave you feeling gloomy and depressed but there would still be something that can make you smile right away. You could try helping someone in need, and this will make you understand that there are a lot of other people who are dealing with situations worse than yours. When you put your issues in a larger perspective, it will seem a lot easier to handle rejection from a girl or a guy.
Play with your pet. Ask about the well-being of your near and dear ones. Most importantly find a healthy distraction like a new hobby or an old one you have given up on a long time back. Start journaling and record your emotions, both good and bad. Soon you will realize that the pain of rejection is not the center of your universe.
Maybe for a while, you ponder on the awesome advantages of being single. Is it really that bad to be the hero of your own story? You might actually enjoy the freedom if you give it a shot. Your disappointment in getting rejected by a love interest is not as devastating as you think it is. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, make yourself useful to others.
“Open yourself up to pleasant experiences. Let people give you gifts, celebrate important milestones, focus on your friends and family, and count your blessings. Think about the present experiences and link them to the negative experience so that each time you feel negative, the positive experience will water down the negative ones,” advises Kavita.
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6. Don’t take it personally
Rejection is very much a part of our life; we reject people, things, and opinions on a daily basis. The same happens to you, me, and everyone else. But when we get rejected by someone we are in love with, we find it agonizing and it stings us deeply. This happens because to some degree we feel an attachment to that person.
“My crush rejected me but I still like her,” you say. Are we noticing the signs of unconditional love here? Yes, you can experience such feelings. But even so, it should not be difficult to understand what to do when you are rejected by someone you love. Given that your love is unconditional, you are not supposed to expect your feelings to be reciprocated the same way or blame the person for not loving you back.
At times, we tend to blame ourselves for the rejection and feel that there must be something wrong with us. One may even feel inadequate upon being dismissed by a love interest. Don’t take rejection too hard; there could be many other reasons why your love interest does not feel the same way about you; these may have nothing to do with what you do and who you are.
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7. Be kind to yourself
Rejection can sure be a bitter pill to swallow, and you may feel tempted to wallow in self-pity and despair for a good time. Though there is nothing bad in taking some time to grieve while dealing with rejection, eventually, you need to face the world with dignity and pride.
So, how to deal with rejection from a guy or girl? Do not beat yourself up if someone’s search for the right partner does not end with you. It is a personal choice and you cannot do anything to change it. Be kind to yourself, pamper yourself, and do something that you enjoy thoroughly and makes you feel good about yourself.
Indulge in something that makes you feel happy and joyous, instead of holding on to the negativity. How about you take a solo trip and rediscover yourself? If nothing works, you can always give yourself a new look or restyle your wardrobe to beat the boredom and gloom.
8. Learn from your experience
Rejection brings with it a stinging pain but also an opportunity to learn about yourself and grow stronger and better. You can learn about yourself and a few relationship lessons from a hard rejection and you know which part needs improvement. If someone rejected you because you appeared too clingy, make it a point to learn from it and ditch the habit of suffocating your partner. Rejection can be a good teacher, as it gives one an opportunity to become a better person and move forward in life with greater confidence and wisdom.
To this, Kavita adds, “Giving and receiving are important so you should understand that when you are not receiving anything from that person, automatically you stop obsessing over that person. You’d understand that there are others in this world and this person is not the only one.
“If you realize a relationship is moving too fast and you are the one trying to seal the deal quickly, you need to understand that you have to wait for it to unfold naturally. So, if you’re trying to hurry a connection after being rejected by someone, it is a rebound and not a healthy connection that won’t help you deal with your obsession. This is when you sit down and ask yourself if this is what you had done earlier too, which caused the rejection.”
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“If you’re codependent, go to therapy and seek help dealing with rejection. Join a support group. Join yoga or aerobics. Meditation helps too. Change your wardrobe. Maybe change your job if you work in the same place. Try to expand your friend’s circle. And buy your favorite soft toy. Go to the spa and get a nice massage. There are a lot of unique ways to deal with such an obsession. The point is to focus on yourself instead of the person you’ve been obsessing over,” she adds.
If you feel the need for professional intervention, remember that skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s counseling panel are here for you. In the end, it is important to emerge from the experience a healthier, stronger, and more sorted person instead of losing yourself completely. Take this opportunity to learn more about yourself instead.
If you are interested in someone but he or she tells you that they do not see you that way, you really can’t do much about it. It is not worth pursuing someone who is not interested in you for reasons more than one, and it will do you more good if you are able to move on with your life and look for another partner for a fulfilling relationship.
There are 3 steps to accepting rejection and moving on. You begin by separating the facts from the imagination. When done, you start to let go of your fantasies. Once you accept the facts, comes the third step where you are able to let in new experiences. This is when you spend time with friends, let people spoil you a little, celebrate tiny victories, and count your blessings.
According to our expert, depending on how serious your feelings were, how long you’ve known them, and how long you spent pining over them, etc., the entire process can take anything from 3 to 6 months to a year.
Dealing with the heartbreak of rejection is similar to dealing with grief so you need to go through all the stages of grief before you can fully accept and let go. Engaging in fun activities, hanging out with loved ones, pampering ourselves, and spending time to know ourselves better can all help deal with the sheer sadness that takes over once you’ve been rejected.