Romantic rejection is an excruciating feeling. Your love wasn’t enough to make someone stay or make a crush reciprocate your feelings. Rejection hurts. It makes you feel terrible about yourself and your mind turns into a breeding ground for negative self-talk. You wonder if this rejection will affect your future relationships.
Some people don’t know how to handle rejection from a girl or boy and give up on love altogether because when your heart has been shattered into a million pieces and you are living with a gnawing pain, your judgment gets clouded. Instead of looking at rejection as an opportunity for self-exploration and improvement, you may engage in self-destructive behavior. This is when it becomes crucial to know how to deal with rejection in a healthy way.
To help you cope with the immediate aftermath of rejection, 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, about ways to emerge from this setback with minimal emotional damage.
She says, “For one, you need to know that things happen. Some people will like you and some won’t. Someone will love you despite all your flaws. At the same time, you might also get rejected by some people. That may make you feel like something is wrong with you. For once, can you entertain the idea that this person wasn’t the right one for you?”
Why Does Romantic Rejection Hurt So Much?
According to Stanford research, people differ in whether and how they link romantic rejections to themselves. People with a fixed mindset about their personality – those who believe that their personality is simply fixed and unchangeable – allow romantic rejections to linger longer in their lives. These people are more likely to struggle with recovery and carry rejection with them into the future.
Kavita says, “Rejection stings everyone the same way. However, different people deal with it differently, which is determined by their attachment style. The first one is the secure attachment, where you can let go of people who don’t want you. You can accept rejection and move on. But, for people with an insecure attachment style, moving on isn’t easy. You want people to stay with you and not leave you on your own. In this case, you should understand that you cannot force people to love you or stay with you.”
Romantic rejection can be a major blow to one’s self-esteem and personal identity. That’s one of the reasons why rejection hurts. There are so many good times shared with this person, the memories of which can be hard to shake off. The sudden absence of this special someone can cause the serotonin levels to drop, which can even trigger a Major Depressive Episode because your vision of a future with a romantic partner has been shattered.
Related Reading: 10 Tips To Stop Loving Someone But Stay Friends
How Rejection Affects Your Body
One of the first and most important things that happen when dealing with rejection is your dopamine and oxytocin levels drop. These love hormones get replaced by a stress hormone called cortisol, which puts your body in a fight-or-flight mode.
Your body is reacting to your romantic partner’s dismissal of your feelings. This can manifest in the form of mental and physical symptoms when you are facing rejection, such as:
- You may experience a lack of appetite or emotional eating
- You may feel physical pain
- In extreme cases, a person may suffer from Broken Heart Syndrome which can trigger heart attack-like symptoms
- Your brain will prioritize this pain and that’s why you keep thinking about it
- Your thinking, logicality, and rationality will get blurred
- It can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression
8 Sensible Ways To Deal With Rejection In Love
There are five stages of grief one goes through when dealing with romantic rejection.
- Denial – You are numb, in shock, and want to shut down
- Anger – You are frustrated, embarrassed, and feeling out of control
- Bargaining – Overthinking, longing for the partner/love interest, and looking for ways to win your ex back
- Depression – Uncontrollable sobbing and increased alcohol consumption
- Acceptance – You finally learn to adapt and cope with the situation
These stages of dealing with rejection will make you go through so many emotions. Negative thoughts and negative self-talk are nothing peculiar when you are dealing with rejection. It happens to all of us. Always know that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. You will reach the acceptance stage steadily and at your pace. There’s no urgency to reach there. You can take your time. While you are battling these stages of grief, here are some sensible ways to deal with rejection:
Related Reading: How To Help A Friend Through A Breakup
1. Acknowledge your feelings
Life is not always fair, and the immediate aftermath of getting rejected by a romantic partner will hurt. Remember, it is okay to feel embarrassed, low, depressed, and disappointed. These feelings are natural when you are being rejected by someone you love. You need to acknowledge your emotions instead of suppressing them.
Kavita says, “It is all part of the grieving process. The most important thing here is to not dismiss your feelings even though you feel like you won’t be able to endure them. Experiencing pain is not a sign of weakness.
“You have to face and deal with love rejection and come out as 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 your love interest, pine for them, and mope around for a while.”
2. Vent it out to a trusted friend or family member
Rejection hurts and you may feel lost when it comes to figuring out how to handle rejection from a girl/boy in a healthy way. People typically handle rejection in two ways:
- Bottling up their emotions
- Letting it all out by screaming, yelling, and even hurling cuss words
Neither is a healthy approach to deal with rejection from a guy or a girl. The best way to get rid of negative thoughts at this moment is by spending time with people who will make you see your self-worth. Learn how to let go of resentment by talking to someone who is really close to you and who can show you the other side of the coin as well. A trusted 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 empathetic and compassionate listening ear can help you bounce back. Talking about these things with a family member can also be beneficial to your mental health as it will help you alleviate the emotional turmoil inside you.
3. How to deal with rejection? Give yourself time to grieve
It is all right to be upset about being rejected, and it is wise to allow yourself some time to get over it. Even though it may sometimes feel like it, the hurt does not last forever. Give yourself time. The first step in overcoming strong negative feelings is to experience them fully. Get it out of your body, your heart, your soul.
Kavita suggests, “After about 3 weeks, you will start feeling a little bit better. You will start waking up and taking more interest in day-to-day activities. You will feel inclined to see whether you’re having tea or coffee and pay more attention to your life compared to those initial days of being rejected by someone you love.”
Related Reading: How To End A Relationship On Good Terms
4. Don’t take the rejection as a reflection of you
Romantic rejection hurts and can make you feel like something is wrong with you. You will question your self-worth. No matter what, never feel that love rejection defines you or is a reflection of who you are. If a romantic interest has stood you up on a first date or your romantic partner has suddenly started to amplify your insecurities and use them as an excuse to reject you, then that should tell you a lot more about them than yourself.
Joanna, a 40-year-old hospice nurse from San Diego, says, “I thought I can’t handle rejection when my husband of 14 years left me because he was tired of dealing with boredom in our marriage. He said he wanted to explore other people. It took me a long time to understand that it had nothing to do with me. That was his decision, his actions, and his mindset that changed. He broke his vows. I didn’t. I was always a good wife.”
5. Get your mind off the subject
Distraction works not only for kids but for adults as well. Kavita advises, “Open yourself up to pleasant experiences. Let people give you gifts, celebrate important milestones, focus on your friends and family, and count your blessings. The breakup healing process happens gradually. All you have to do is think about the present experiences and link them to the negative experience so that each time you feel low, the positive experience will water down the negative emotions.”
Love and rejection may leave you feeling heartbroken but there are things that you can do to bounce back. All you have to do is take the first step toward distracting your mind from negative thoughts. You can try to help someone in need, you could do volunteer work, take Zumba or guitar classes, or read a book. Reading and journaling can also help you forget about your romantic partner and the rejection they put you through, albeit momentarily.
6. Don’t take it personally
You know, when I didn’t know how to deal with rejection from a crush, I kept thinking maybe there is something wrong with me. Am I not pretty enough for him? Am I not good enough to be loved back by him? These were recurring negative thoughts in my head that were only damaging my self-esteem. It built a house of insecurities inside me. We take rejection so personally that we start blaming ourselves for it. That’s not a healthy way to deal with rejection.
Don’t take rejection too hard; there could be many other reasons why they lost interest in you; these may have nothing to do with what you do and who you are. If you can’t shake off the thought, “My crush rejected me but I still like her”, know that it’s not unusual. Just because a person didn’t reciprocate your feelings doesn’t mean you can instantly get rid of them.
It takes time to get over someone you love. Until you’re ready to cross that bridge, you can love someone and not be with them. It’s unrequited love. Yes, it’s painful but it’s not despicable. Just because they aren’t your romantic partner, doesn’t mean you can’t love them.
Related Reading: 7 Steps To Find Peace After A Toxic Relationship
7. Be kind to yourself
Rejection hurts and it can sure be a bitter pill to swallow. You may feel tempted to wallow in self-pity and despair. Though there is nothing wrong with taking some time to grieve while dealing with rejection, eventually, you need to face the world with dignity and pride.
You don’t have to judge yourself for how rejection affects you. You don’t have to beat yourself up when 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 and pamper yourself. It’s high time you let go of the negativity.
8. Learn from your experience
Kavita says, “The best way to handle rejection from a girl or a boy is to learn from the experience. 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.”
Take rejection as an opportunity to learn about yourself. Rejection hurts but it can also help you understand a lot about life and love. If you are struggling to break free from the patterns that may be contributing to your experience of being rejected in love, working with a mental health professional can be immensely helpful. If you are looking for professional help, Bonobology’s counseling panel is here for you. In the end, it is important to emerge from the experience as a healthier, stronger, and more sorted person.
Dos And Don’ts When Dealing With Rejection
If you are interested in someone but they tell 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. As simple as that. We don’t have to measure our self-worth based on someone’s acceptance or rejection of us. Yes, this is easier said than done, but the following dos and don’ts can make it easier for you to figure out how to handle rejection from a girl or a boy
|Accept that you have been rejected||Don’t disrespect them or abuse them for rejecting you|
|Normalize rejection. It happens to everyone||Don’t trash talk about them with your friends|
|Understand that just because your crush said no, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you||Don’t beg them to accept you as their romantic partner|
|Do spend time with your friends and family||Don’t overthink about it|
|Practice self-care||Don’t give in to your negative thoughts|
|Shift your focus on things besides the rejection||Don’t act petty and block them on social media|
|Try to get back on the dating game||Don’t think of this as the end of your love life|
- Accept and acknowledge that you have been rejected
- Give yourself time to heal in a healthy way
- Act nonchalantly. Don’t block them on social media and don’t stalk them either
Lastly, Kavita adds, “Love is all about giving and receiving. It’s important you understand that when you are not receiving anything from a person, you need to stop obsessing over them.” Don’t ever give up on love. There is someone out there who will love you for who you are.
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.