Taxi Dispatcher: Where’s the pickup?
Me: Grand Central Station.
Taxi Dispatcher: What’s the address of the station?
Me: I don’t know.
Taxi Dispatcher: *hangs up*
Rejection happens in life – whether it’s from arguing an internet bill with Road Runner or a job interview. Or of course dating. At least with job interviews, employers aren’t supposed to discriminate based on age and looks for example. However, with dating, everyone intentionally discriminates based on these things!
Rejection stings. If it doesn’t, you’re probably not human. You could try to structure your life to avoid rejection (e.g. never ask someone out) but then you would be avoiding life (e.g. staying single). To have meaning in your life, rejection is going to be inevitable so we all need tools to lessen the pain. Here is my three step approach:
1. Understand: We need to understand that rejection is not necessarily a reflection of our worth as people. There are many reasons for rejection that are out of your control e.g. you didn’t have good role models growing up, the other person is having a bad day, has other preferences, or even has a hidden agenda.
2. Accept: A rejection will continue to nag at us – and we can never truly move on – if we don’t accept that it happened. Maybe you did or said something cringeworthy, but everyone makes mistakes. So spend some time to grieve and to acknowledge the hurt or the loss. But then accept that this is the past and cannot be changed, and more importantly realize that everything in the future is your chance at a fresh start.
3. Improve: Now that you feel a bit better about what happened, think about just one thing that you could improve (e.g. clothing, a different haircut, or something you said). But don’t be so hard on yourself and second-guess every single thing that happened on that date. And at some point in the future, try the improvement.
Over time, by following this approach, you will be able to put increasing distance between the negative feelings from rejection and your feelings about yourself. Rejection will become something that you recognize but will feel less shameful about.
On a final note, I disagree with the approach of intentionally flooding your life with rejection to “get over it”. I think too much rejection can cement negative feelings. Additionally, the notion of “getting over it” is straight from toxic masculinity where men pretend not to feel emotions, such as the ones caused by rejection. Sociopaths don’t feel bad after rejection – don’t emulate sociopaths!
Until next time my friends, keep dating!