Picture this: of all the people you could have fallen in love with, you chose someone who couldn’t love you back. Now you’re devastated because there is no easy way of dealing with romantic rejection. You may be grieving for a love that was never yours in the first place. Or you may have been rejected after a long-term relationship, as your partner may have evolved into a different person.
What’s interesting is that romantic rejection doesn’t come alone. It is always accompanied by negative feelings related to self-worth. It will leave you feeling spurned. Putting yourself out there and getting rejected won’t just affect your confidence but may make you resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as self-harm, substance abuse, or isolating yourself from friends and family. The psychological effects of romantic rejection can take a toll on your emotional well-being and mental health.
That’s why it’s vital to address the question: how can you cope with romantic rejection in a healthy manner? Read on, as we lay down some tried and tested tips to help you deal with romantic rejection, with the help of psychologist Aakhansha Varghese (MSc Psychology), who specializes in different forms of relationship counseling – from dating to breakups, and premarital to abusive relationships.
What Is Romantic Rejection?
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Romantic rejection doesn’t have any set definition. It may include breakups, unrequited love, being stood up on a date, rejection after sleeping with someone, or your feelings being downplayed. Such rejection may be subtle, in which case it may occur over a period of time, with someone not responding to texts or phasing out the relationship. Romantic rejection may also be instantaneous and sudden, as in the case of ghosting.
What is common about all such patterns of rejection is the feeling of being dejected and the painful feelings that they accompany. Yes, dealing with being rejected by someone you love hurts, especially if the relationship was a long-term one. It may lead you to wonder, “Why would someone reject love that was freely given?” or “Why would someone wish to break up when you had genuine feelings for them?”
But what people forget is that a direct ‘no’ can save both parties from further trouble and can save precious time too, allowing each partner to focus on their own paths in life. So, if the relationship is headed nowhere, a rejection is better than both or either of the partners dragging it on.
Signs of romantic rejection
When someone is being rejected by a romantic partner or by someone they fancy, there will be some prominent signs. Let’s look at some such signs of being rejected by someone you love:
- They will ghost you: Aakhansha says, “One of the not-so-subtle signs of romantic rejection is ghosting. They will completely ice you out. They will block you from everywhere. This could happen right after the first date or after a few dates.” When people ghost you, they aren’t just disregarding your feelings. They are also disrespecting you
- They will phase out communication: A person who doesn’t want you in their life will slowly take a step back. They will stop making plans with you and won’t respond if you ask them out on a date. They will try and phase out the relationship
- They will be hesitant to commit to you: Aakhansha says, “Sometimes, people might reject you because they aren’t serious about the relationship.” They may also think something is missing or that they can’t afford to be in a relationship
- You will end up doing all the work in the relationship: If you have been dating this person for a long time but you feel like you’re the only one giving your all, then it’s one of the signs of romantic rejection. They will slowly cut ties with you by participating less in the relationship, leading to a one-sided relationship
- They would rather spend time with their friends than with you: One of the signs of romantic rejection is that they will consciously choose to avoid you and not spend time with you. Instead of directly telling you that they don’t want to be involved with you, they will keep you hanging. This may leave you feeling spurned
- They will start showing you they don’t care: Yes, disregarding someone’s feelings is cruel. But, at times, when nothing works, some people tend to send the message the hard way, by being rude and showing you they don’t care. They may block you everywhere, pick fights, or try to demean you whenever you talk to them
Related Reading: 5 Signs He Is Ignoring You For Someone Else
What does romantic rejection do to a person?
Yes, rejections are part of life. However, there are many psychological effects of romantic rejection that can destroy a person from within. A study was conducted to find out how similar the experiences of physical pain and social rejection are. The participants who had recently experienced an unwanted breakup were shown photos of their ex-partners.
It was found that some of the same regions of the brain that light up for physical pain also lit up for images that induce social pain. That’s why rejection hurts, quite literally. So, if you’re wondering, “What does romantic rejection do to a person?”, we have listed a few of its devastating effects below:
- You may lose your peace of mind: You may not know how to respond to ghosting or other forms of rejection, without losing your sanity. The pain may be unbearable and you may end up thinking about it day in and day out, affecting your daily schedule or sleep patterns. In the worst-case scenario, you may sink into romantic rejection depression
- You may feel worthless: Rejection in love may leave you feeling worthless and incompetent, or that you were not good enough for your partner. It may fuel your self-doubt and affect your self-worth
- You may feel used: Romantic rejection, especially rejection after sleeping with someone, may make you feel used for sex. You may feel you have been taken advantage of
- You may give up on love: Years of romantic rejection may cause a person to stop trusting romantic partners or even prevent them from getting into new relationships. It may cause a person to stop showing any emotional reaction and go numb instead
All of the above psychological effects of romantic rejection may cause you to withdraw into a shell or sink into depression, affecting your quality of life in adverse ways. And how long does it take to get over a romantic relationship? Well, it may take anywhere from a few days to a few years, depending on the nature of the rejection and the depth of the bond you shared with the person but healing is possible.
Related Reading: 19 Signs He Likes You But Is Afraid Of Rejection
10 Tips For Dealing With Romantic Rejection The Healthy Way
Still asking yourself how to handle rejection from a guy gracefully? Or are you struggling while dealing with romantic rejection from a girl? Though easier said than done, moving on from rejection in love is necessary — and possible. It may not always be fast and people may cope with such sudden breakups or rejection in various ways. But at the end of the day, it’s important to not give in to negativities, either directed toward others or to yourself.
Aakhansha says, “Romantic rejection is quite common and happens to all of us at some point in our lives. The first step to moving forward is to accept that you have been rejected. You should also stop trying to fix things after being rejected. Love doesn’t work that way.”
Though it may hurt immensely while it lasts, there are healthy ways of dealing with romantic rejection in a relationship. Listed below are 10 tips on how to bounce back from rejection with grace:
1. Don’t blame yourself
Aakhansha says, “One of the best ways of dealing with romantic rejection is by not indulging self-hate. Many people think that rejecting someone romantically is the same as rejecting a person altogether. They fail to comprehend that the other person may have turned them down due to reasons that have nothing to do with their potential as a partner.” You need to accept that not every romantic relationship survives the test of time. Some crash and burn.
Related Reading: Being Married To An Emotionally Distant Spouse
2. Don’t associate your worth with the rejection
When someone doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, you may indulge in a lot of self-criticism. Your self-worth takes a hit and you may start questioning your physical appearance, your mannerisms, your behavior, and even your financial worth.
In such cases, your inner dialogue maybe something like this:
- “They would have loved me back if I were taller/curvier/just more beautiful.” — Your physical appearance has nothing to do with this rejection. The more you hate your body, the more trapped you will feel
- “There is something wrong with me. That’s why I am so unlovable.” — You are loved. If you keep living with this mindset, you will create more problems for yourself. This self-hatred will ruin your future relationships as well
- “I am not good enough to be loved.” — Aakhansha says that childhood trauma is one of the reasons that we have so many insecurities within us. Once we reclaim our self-worth, all such insecurities vanish
The minute you realize how illogical and flawed your thinking is, you will laugh at your thoughts and shrug them away.
3. Don’t insult your ex
If you’re wondering how to bounce back from a breakup, well, the first step is to be neutral toward your ex. The entire concept behind badmouthing an ex after rejection in love is in bad taste. It shows a lot more about you than about the person who dumped you. Insulting them for rejecting you will reveal your insecurities.
Aakhansha says, “Yes, insecure people tend to criticize and insult other people to make themselves feel better.” But, remember, the person who rejected you owes you nothing. Yes, you may feel bitter when someone downplays your feelings. But if you can’t be dignified about this rejection, then you will never grow emotionally.
Related Reading: What To Expect When You Love A Man With Low Self-Esteem
4. Accept that it will hurt for a while
Dealing with romantic rejection from a girl or a guy you loved is not easy. Know that it will hurt. Take time to self-reflect. You poured your heart out to someone. You imagined a life with them, however, your fairy tale came to an abrupt end because they didn’t love you back or because of some other unavoidable reason. So, a big part of your life is now gone, and you are bound to get hurt.
Yes, the breakup healing process is long but necessary. It will sting. It will burn your heart. And it will make you question the purpose of love. But you have to deal with it. Accept that it will hurt for some time. Friends and family might ask you to “forget about it and move on”. It’s easy for them to say. But you should take your time and grieve the loss of your love till it feels better.
5. Avoid negative or self-destructive behavior
One of the worst parts of romantic rejection is that the people rejected are often so devastated that they give in to negative emotions and indulge in self-destructive behavior. Some such instances are:
- Excessive drinking
- Substance abuse
- Becoming a serial dater
- Hooking up with a new person every night
- Gambling or excessive spending
- Self-harm, such as indulging in suicidal thoughts or physically harming oneself
Aakhansha advises, “In such cases, it’s important to deviate your mind from negativities. You can cry it out if you want, write down your thoughts in your journal, have sleepovers with friends, or watch sappy romcoms all night. You need to find healthy ways while letting go of rejection, instead of getting addicted to unhealthy coping skills.”
6. Practice self-care
Still wondering how to handle rejection from a guy gracefully? Well, caring for yourself and tending to your needs should become your top priority while dealing with romantic rejection in a relationship. You need to know how to love yourself instead of going down a ditch of low self-esteem. Here are some basic self-care tips you can follow if you are going through a breakup:
- Stay active. Avoid sitting in the room and binge-watching shows. Go for a walk and spend time with nature
- Get enough sleep, at least 7 hours each day
- Eat healthy but avoid emotional eating or starving yourself
- Get back to your old hobbies or learn a new skill, be it painting, journaling, collecting stamps, reading, or knitting. Start doing whatever makes you happy
- Try to stay away from social media. The more you look at happy couples posing online, the more you will feel alone
- Stop stalking your ex or their new partner online. Being connected with someone who doesn’t care about disregarding someone’s feelings will only bring you more pain
Related Reading: 12 Ways To Find Happiness After Breakup And Heal Completely
7. Avoid rebounds
Aakhansha says, “Though rejection hurts, most people have no clue about healthy ways to handle rejection. They end up in the dating pool immediately after being dumped, just to numb their emotions. What you need to do in such situations is give yourself a break. Don’t go back into the dating scene as soon as someone rejects you. Respond to romantic rejection by giving yourself the time to heal.”
However, there is no set or recommended time in such cases. Some people get over people very quickly, while others can’t even after years. It’s up to you to decide how long you wish to stay happily single or how quickly you want to fall in love again. But remember, you should never try to be with a person just to forget another one. It’s not fair to the other person either. So, take your time to heal, and once you feel you’re not preoccupied with the thoughts of your ex, go ahead and hit the dating pool. Don’t give up on love. You will find someone who will love you for who you are.
8. Don’t beg them to love you back
If you’re still wondering how to deal with rejection from a crush or a former partner, well, don’t go back or try to bring them back into your life. When someone downplays your feelings, you’ll only be wasting your time if you try to change their mind and heart. You can use your time more creatively by focusing on yourself and your personal growth and well-being.
Aakhansha says, “You love them, adore them, and can’t stand to imagine a life without them. You feel rejected. But nobody should ever beg to be loved even if the love was true. Remember, they didn’t love you enough to fix things or go ahead with the relationship. So, what’s the point of begging for love?” Even if you have had a pure soul connection in the past, persuading them to go back to those good old days won’t bring those moments back or change their mind. They may have evolved and may not feel the same love for you.
9. Meet new people
One way of letting go of rejection in a healthy way is to meet new people. And this doesn’t mean you should hook up with whoever is available or start swiping on dating apps right away. Meet like-minded people, indulge in hobbies and activities, and focus on ways to get over your breakup in a positive manner. Here are some tips on how you can do that:
- Go on a solo trip and socialize at hostel dorms
- Go for a meditation retreat and meet like-minded people there
- Attend events with friends and meet their friends
- Build your network and a support system
10. Use rejection as an opportunity to grow
Yes, you may be feeling spurned temporarily, but instead of wasting precious moments sulking about it, use this as an opportunity to learn what you don’t need from a relationship. Remember, when you’re moving forward into your next relationship, you will do so with renewed self-worth and more experience. And if you still feel you can’t deal with rejection or manage your emotions, seek professional help. Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists is here to guide you through the process and paint a path to recovery.
Aakhansha advises, “Ask yourself what you want to do while you are feeling spurned. Tap into your core values. Do you want to cry for a while? Go ahead. Jot it down in your journal. Watch sappy rom-coms all night. You can turn this into a slumber party with friends. Find healthy ways to deal with this denial instead of getting addicted to alcohol and drugs. They may bring you momentary relief but they will destroy you down the road.”
- Romantic rejection may include breakups, your feelings being devalued or overlooked, or you being stood up on a date
- Some signs of romantic rejection are ghosting, hesitancy to commit, and phasing out communication
- When you are rejected by someone you love, you may feel worthless and incompetent, feel used, and lose your peace of mind
- Some tips to get over romantic rejection in a healthy manner are indulging in self-care, meeting new people, avoiding rebounds, and not blaming yourself
Putting yourself out there and getting rejected hurts. Grieving is normal when you are rejected by someone you love. It’s also not unusual to feel dejected when your romantic advances have been overlooked or have not been reciprocated. But, by dwelling over the rejection for a long time, you may be delaying a lot of good things that are in store for you, be it in terms of romantic opportunities or advancement in other aspects.
Still wondering how to deal with rejection from a crush or a former partner? Use the time after a rejection to fall in love with yourself. Don’t sink into romantic rejection depression. Remember, relationships may come and go, but you are your only constant. The person who rejected you may wake up one day and regret losing you, but you can’t afford to lose yourself. Likewise, don’t jump into new relationships right after a rejection.
Even if you’ve been through years of romantic rejection, take your time to heal, instead of using other people to forget your ex/exes. But how long does it take to get over a romantic relationship? It may take a few days to years, but what’s necessary is that you grow and learn from such rejections and become a better person.