You’d think that once you’re in a relationship, you could stop worrying about rejection. No such luck. Rejection can rear its ugly head in intimate relationships and signs of rejection in a relationship are manifold. It’s not quite the same as being ghosted by a Tinder match, but it stings nevertheless, maybe even more.
Feeling rejected by a partner, whether or not you’ve both defined the relationship, can be both painful and confusing. Signs of rejection in a relationship can sometimes be vague and inconsistent, leaving you wondering what it means, whether or not they’re sending mixed signals, and what this means for your relationship. Also, what in the world are you supposed to do when love or liking suddenly turns cold?
There will be questions galore in your mind, and while we guarantee that the answers won’t be necessarily pleasant or what you want to hear, it is healthier to have clarity in a relationship than to be in a constant, uncomfortable limbo.
We spoke to emotional wellness and mindfulness coach Pooja Priyamvada (certified in Psychological and Mental Health First Aid from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Sydney), who specializes in counseling for extramarital affairs, breakups, separation, grief, and loss, to name a few. She outlined some signs of rejection in relationships, and how to tackle it without losing your mind.
What Causes Rejection In Relationships
Signs of rejection in a relationship can also be signs of a declining relationship. But, what lies at the root of this rejection? What causes people to start turning away from a partner?
“Rejection can be due to many reasons,” Pooja says. “Some people fear commitment or formalizing a relationship as they feel that their freedom would be curtailed. Many have anxiety regarding relationships or love and that leads to rejection, too.”
Relationship anxiety is real and fear of rejection in relationships can come from deeply-rooted trauma or a history of abuse. A commitment-phobe, on the other hand, could show emotional rejection, fearing changes in their lives that they do not want to cope with. This, in turn, leads to one-sided relationships, feelings of intense loneliness, and relationship insecurities.
It’s important to try and identify the reasons behind the rejection so that you know whether it stems from fear and needs reassurance, or if you’re just dealing with someone who doesn’t care about your needs, in which case you need to walk away from that relationship.
Top 10 Signs You Are Being Rejected By Your SO
Signs of rejection in a relationship are varied and can be subtle. Mind you, don’t fall into the pit of assuming a partner is rejecting you every time they’re out with friends or are actually working late. Here are some actual signs that you are being rejected by your significant other:
Related Reading: 19 Signs He Likes You But Is Afraid Of Rejection
1. They are always busy
“A partner has a right to their own time and a separate life but they also need to make time for you and the relationship. If a partner is constantly busy and has no time for you ever, it might mean that they are rejecting you,” says Pooja.
There is a fine line between ensuring that all parties in a relationship have rich, healthy individual lives and being present for each other by putting time and effort into the relationship. The much-used phrase ‘work-life balance’ also refers to focusing on things outside of what makes you ‘busy’. Mindfulness in intimate relationships is always important.
Ultimately, it’s a choice to not be a part of one-sided relationships and emotional rejection. And, it’s also a choice to not be someone whose behavior blatantly perpetrates signs of rejection in a relationship. You deserve someone who shows up for you when you need them and does put you first most of the time.
Of course, one or both of you will be busy with work, family, and commitments outside of your relationship from time to time. But it’s all about a balanced relationship and no relationship works out without effort from both sides.
2. They never respond to calls or texts
Oh, the agony of ghosting, when they simply disappear and refuse to communicate in any way. This is one of the classic signs of rejection in a relationship. Feeling rejected by a partner this way is possibly one of the worst since relationship communication is integral to maintaining the bond, and ghosting negates it completely.
“Their responses to texts are delayed and they barely ever pick up your calls. Daily communication is important in a relationship – it’s how you update one another on the little (and big) things going on in your life. If they’re not responsive at least most of the time, that’s one of the signs of a declining relationship,” Pooja says.
Now, let’s not assume that a text left on ‘read’ for a bit automatically heralds signs of rejection from a man or woman you’re seeing. But if it becomes a regular occurrence and you have to visibly struggle to forge any sort of communication with them, you need to let them know that that’s not okay, and then figure out if this is a relationship you even want to stay in.
3. They often repeat that they aren’t ready for commitment
Good old commitment-phobes! Where would relationship talk be without them! Mind you, someone saying they’re not ready for commitment might not always mean that they never will be. But it does mean they are at a different point in the relationship and in their lives, which means they’re basically rejecting what you need in the relationship.
Related Reading: 7 Fundamentals Of Commitment In A Marriage
“Repeated declarations of how they’re not ready for commitment could mean that a partner is already in resistance mode and looking for excuses for the rejection,” Pooja warns.
That’s just happened with Marina, a 30-year-old software programmer from Delaware. “I was seeing someone for over eight months and every time the topic of the future or commitment came up, he would clam up or say that he just wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment,” she says.
When looking out for signs of rejection from a man or a woman, commitment phobia is definitely one to be wary of. Commitment phobia may stem from fear of rejection in relationships as well, so if you’re really keen on them, you may want to delve deeper into their commitment phobia. If not, it’s time to move on and take this as overall signs of rejection in a relationship.
4. They are seeing other people
Listen, we’re all for open relationships and polyamory, but these mean that all parties involved in the relationship(s) have consented to where things stand in terms of honesty and fidelity. If you’re not up for seeing other people, but your partner is, that’s a rejection of your terms for the relationship.
“If they are keeping it fairly open-ended with you, you are likely in the high-risk rejection zone from their end,” says Pooja. Even if they’re being honest about seeing other people and not sneaking around behind your back, the reality is that they think this is a casual relationship or friends with benefits. Again, nothing wrong with that, unless you want different things that will only end up in you getting hurt. Types of rejection in a relationship include not being on the same page about the kind of relationship you want. And, you don’t have to take that.
5. They don’t make any concrete plans with you
“If you’re often their backup plan and not the main plan, this clearly means that you are not a priority for them,” Pooja points out. Rejection in relationships often shows up in the form of frustrating vagueness when it comes to making plans, or just being blown off constantly.
Related Reading: What To Do If He Is Keeping You As A Backup And Not A Priority
“I was seeing someone for a few months, and it seemed to be going somewhere. But then I realized he was constantly telling me he didn’t have time for me, but always seemed to have time for everything else,” says Andie, 33, a podcast producer.
Signs of rejection from a man or a woman can be painful when one of you is trying to cement a relationship and the other simply refuses to make plans, see you consistently, and so on. So, if every time you plan a mini-break or a date, they’re standing you up or telling you they’re busy, move on.
6. You haven’t met each other’s family or close friends
Not that you have to meet their entire extended family all at once (in fact, maybe you can avoid that forever!), but a truly intimate relationship is about getting to know the other person, and part of that is getting to the people they’re close to and whom they’ve known a long time.
If there’s no mention of introducing you to hang out with their friends or if the mention of you meeting their mother makes them break out into hives, that’s definitely one of the signs of rejection in relationships. Even if it’s all about talking to a partner about a dysfunctional family, it’s still a form of intimacy to discuss it.
This is especially one of the types of rejection to look out for if you’ve introduced them to your friends and at least spoken about them to your family. This just shows that you’re at different places in the relationship and have different expectations, which rarely ends well.
7. They’re not the first person you can call for comfort
No, this is not the same as being a clingy girlfriend or boyfriend. When you’re into someone and they’re into you, they’re the first person you want to talk to when you’re having a bad day, or even an especially good day. They’re definitely the first person you want to turn to for comfort when you need a little reassurance.
Related Reading: 9 Silent Red Flags In A Relationship No One Talks About
“I remember dating a guy who was always minimizing my bad days,” says Natalie, 26, a human resources executive from San Francisco, “I didn’t think much of it at first but soon I realized that I didn’t feel safe talking about my anxieties and triggers or any situation where I needed him.”
Your significant other isn’t always going to be available to you when you need them – that’s one of the harshest realities of a relationship. But one of the major signs of rejection in relationships is that the other person is never there when you need them, or brushes you off in times of need.
8. They rarely want to be physically intimate
Physical intimacy is a big part of a relationship and this includes non-sexual touch. Now of course, it’s possible that they’re just not into PDA or they’re awkward with physical touch in general, in which case it’s something to respect and talk about at some point.
But you’ll know if they’re specifically holding back from you. Maybe they’re fine with being physical and boisterous with their friends and hugging other people but rarely touch you. Maybe every time you go to hold their hand, they move away.
Physical rejection can be especially hurtful, so remember it doesn’t mean you repel them, but it might mean they’re not keen to be intimate with you. And, this is definitely one of the signs of rejection in a relationship. Physical touch love language isn’t for everyone, however, so while this might be one of the types of rejection in relationships, it’s worth it to have a conversation about it before assuming anything.
9. They shut down whenever you want to talk
Whether you want to discuss the future or just have any sort of meaningful conversation, they shut down immediately. Maybe you’re trying to talk about their past relationships or their childhood, but they’re just not willing to share.
This could stem from a fear of rejection in relationships on their part, too. They could be afraid that if they share things from their past that sound unsavory, you will reject them. Maybe they’re just trying to avoid getting hurt by rejecting you before you can reject them, even though you have no such plans.
Healthy relationships are formed when people share their stories, their past, and (hopefully) shared visions of the future, both as individuals and as a couple. So, if your significant other is pulling their emotional shutters down the minute a serious conversation arises, that’s definitely a relationship red flag and one of the types of rejection in a relationship.
10. You feel alone even when together
Are you feeling single even when in a relationship? You’re sitting next to your partner on the couch and yet you’ve never felt more alone? A good relationship needs that level of intimacy where you know you’re bonded to each other.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be together forever since the future is forever uncertain, but there needs to be a mental and emotional connection that makes you feel safe and connected to them even when you’re not together, rather than make you feel at the receiving end of signs of rejection in a relationship.
If you’re feeling lonely in your relationship, rejected, and miserable even when you’re together, there’s a chasm in your relationship that you need to address. Sometimes, types of rejection in a relationship can be felt even if nothing has been said, and often, those are the feelings that most need to be looked at in depth.
How To Cope With Rejection – Expert Tips
So, what do you do once you know you’re being rejected by a partner? There’s no point in being in one-sided relationships or constantly facing emotional rejection from a significant other. It’s time to regain your mojo and take action. Here are some things that Pooja recommends to cope with rejection:
1. Acknowledge your emotions
Name your emotions and acknowledge them. No matter what you are feeling – anger, hurt, frustration, sadness, loss, grief, or multiple emotions – let them wash over you and feel them all. Don’t try to repress anything, you need to feel in order to heal.
Related Reading: 9 Signs You’re In An Emotionally Draining Relationship
2. Think of rejection as an opportunity
Rejection, while a painful experience, can always be a pathway to do better, be better. Think of it as a temporary setback from which you will learn to become a stronger, more confident person who knows what they want and will not compromise. Or, maybe you learn to have difficult, deep conversations with your partner and get them to see that they’re hurting you and figure out a way to make things better. Either way, rejection can be a major learning experience.
3. Treat yourself with compassion
You know we love us some self-love here at Bono. As we said, rejection stings and can lead to low self-esteem in relationships. A rejection doesn’t define you in any way, so be kind to yourself. Do things for yourself that make you happy, remember that you’re way more as a person than someone who’s been rejected.
4. Don’t take it too personally
“It’s not you, it’s me” might actually be true sometimes. Remember, it is better to be rejected at the onset than to be with someone with whom you have no relationship compatibility. Remember, it’s not that you are not inadequate as a person or as a partner, maybe you’re just not the right person for them. Or maybe they’re not at a place in their lives where they’re ready to accept you and your love.
Rejection in relationships can feel like an emotional calamity, and it’s normal if your initial reaction is to lash out at your partner or sink into despair. But it is prudent to remember that their actions could come from their own fears and insecurities, and also that their rejection could have nothing to do with who you are as a person.
- Signs of rejection in a relationship include failure to make concrete plans, reluctance to talk about the future, and shutting down emotionally
- Causes of rejection can stem from individual insecurities and fears, childhood trauma, or simply a fear of commitment
- To cope with rejection, be kind to yourself, see things clearly and remember that being rejected does not define you
It’s tough to take rejection in your stride, no matter how confident a person you are. We all want to feel wanted and loved and cherished, after all. But once you see and acknowledge the signs of rejection, you’ll have a better idea of how to cope and hopefully, you’ll be able to do so with dignity and kindness, both to yourself and your partner, even it means ending a toxic relationship.