Podcast Ep.132 – How to bounce back from a Rejection

In this week’s episode, I wanted to talk about bouncing back from rejection in a way that looks at what you can do to bounce back, with a focus on changing how you view rejections. Basically, focus on the internal, how you feel, versus the external. Instead of strategies that rely on actions, like looking for rebounds, I want to focus more on changing how you think about rejections.

Here’s what you can expect in this episode:

  • How to give yourself perspective after a rejection
  • The importance of seeing the silver lining in a rejection
  • Why rejections have nothing to do with your self-worth
  • How to tell if it’s a good time to take a break from dating

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Good Luck Out There.

Intro song: Italian Disco Saints by Glass Boy

Full text from this episode:

Rejection is bound to happen in your romantic search. Whatever you might be looking for you are bound to meet some form of rejection. Whether that rejection comes before you meet someone for a date, after a first date or a couple of dates, or well after you’re dating. If you’re single now, chances are good that you’ve faced some form of rejection in your dating life. The question is, how do you bounce back from a rejection?

Here’s my method. It’s a three-step process:

  • Give yourself perspective
  • Look on the bright side
  • Push through

I know those steps sound really simple, and they are in theory. In practice, they are a bit harder, but I think you can do them. Maybe not with ease, but it’s possible.

Let’s start with trying to give yourself a bit of perspective.

First, before we get into the tough love, let’s be real here and acknowledge something. It hurts to be rejected. It hurts to feel like someone you liked, or cared for, or even loved, doesn’t want to be with you. It hurts to get your hopes up and then to have those hopes crushed. There is nothing wrong with feeling pain after a rejection, no matter how big or small the rejection may be.

But, and here’s where the tough love comes in, part of moving on from a rejection is realizing that  you can’t dwell on your rejections. You shouldn’t dwell on who you rejected you, how you were rejected, or the length and seriousness of the connection that preceded your rejection. Doing so will start you down a path where you begin to rationalize the reasons why they shouldn’t have rejected you, or you’ll start debating the method of their rejection. Dwelling on either of these is a bad idea. Dwelling will only lead to one thing, it will stop you from moving on.

So instead of dwelling on your rejection, or how you were rejected, or the circumstances of your rejection, instead focus on what that rejection actually means. Don’t focus on the words or methods of a rejection, those don’t matter too much, focus on what that rejection means to you in a fact-based way. Rejections hurt, and that’s valid, but what does the rejection you received actually mean? If someone rejected you after a first date, don’t waste time trying to figure out their motives, or what that might mean about your desirability. Instead, focus on the facts:

  1. I went on a first date with someone.
  2. The only thing I can be certain of is that they had reasons for not going on a second date with me.

What does that mean? Well, it means they didn’t want to go on a date with you, based on their experience and observations on that first date. Any other conclusions you might draw are conjecture and a waste of your time.

What if you’ve dated for a few months, and they end things? What are the facts of the rejection? They rejected you after a few months of dating. That’s it.

Whatever the reasons for a rejection, whether you’re told what they are or not, whether a person is honest or dishonest, the one fact remain the same. It’s over.

Which is a good thing. Rejections are a good thing. Because rejections give you an opportunity to find someone who is a better fit for you, and opportunity is a wonderful thing. That’s ultimately what perspective you should have about rejections. You can still be hurt by a rejection, but you should still look at them as an opportunity. Even if you believe in the idea that there is predestination in love, i.e. having a soul mate, think of a rejection as opportunity to find that person. If you don’t believe in the idea of soul mates, which I don’t, a rejection is an opportunity for you to find someone who is more compatible with you. If either of those ideas is hard to swallow, or you’re not looking for a love-for-the-rest-of-your-life sort of thing, think of a rejection as a way to, at the very least, find someone who wants to date you for the foreseeable future.

Here are some things to help give you some perspective:

  • A rejection isn’t a reflection of your worth
  • Everyone who has ever rejected you has been rejected
  • People who reject might be a good fit for you, but they weren’t a great fit for you

I hope that helps you get some perspective. A rejection isn’t the end of the world, in fact, it’s a good idea to think of it as a new beginning.

Which is what you should do, you really should try to look on the bright side, and consider it a new beginning.

No matter how great the person that rejected you is, no matter how lovely your connection was, it’s over. Which can feel bittersweet but remember, an ending brings a new beginning. Let’s stop thinking about the rejection, who rejected you, and how they rejected you, and look ahead. Look forward, look to the future.

There are so many opportunities out there for you to meet new people if you seize them. My advice to you is to not only avoid dwelling in the past, but take a very proactive approach to dating if you’ve recently been rejected. If you still feel like you’re rebounding, it’s okay to say that when you meet someone new. Just try to put yourself out there, instead of waiting for someone amazing to come along. They might be out there, but you might need to take the initiative to find them. Whatever initiative looks like for you, I would urge you to take it. Sign up for dating websites and be proactive about messaging new people. Sign up for dating apps and be proactive about swiping for matches, and actually start conversation. Go to events, bars, clubs, where you think you’ll meet like-minded, single people and strike up conversations. Ask a friend about their hot friends. Do things different from the way you did the last time you were single.

Even if you meet more rejections in your search for something new, try to not get discouraged. Remember, each new rejection is an opportunity to find someone who is a good fit for you. And each new rejection brings a new opportunity for growth. You can look at each rejection you receive as an opportunity to build up your mental tolerance for rejection. Do you remember how hard your first rejection felt? My first real romantic rejection came when I was in 5th grade, and it was devastating. The next one came in 7th grade, and was a little less devastating. In my thirties, someone used a friend’s death to leave a date early and I didn’t even bat an eye when I found out that she was probably lying. Each rejection I’ve received in my life has made me that much more resilient. You’re tougher than you think, and you’ll get tougher the more times you’re rejected.

Each rejection is also an opportunity to learn things about yourself, and improve your approach to dating. For each message that you send that doesn’t garner a response, you can hone your skills at sending first messages. Each time you approach someone in public to strike up conversation is an opportunity to learn and build on your conversation skills. The more you date, the more skilled you get at it. Practice makes perfect after all.

But, I know that this all sounds good in practice, but it’s much harder to do when you’re actually struggling with being rejected.

Which is why the last step in the process is to simply push through.

I wouldn’t have led with acknowledging how painful rejection could be if I didn’t want to end with it. Being rejected sucks, even with perspective, even when you try to look on the bright side. Sometimes the only way to move forward is to just…move forward. Push past the pain. You can acknowledge how a rejection hurt you and still move forward. You have to move forward. Sometimes you have to do it while you’re hurting. And if you never get to the point where getting a rejection becomes easy, that’s okay, but what won’t be okay is languishing in your sorrow.

A simple truth to remember when you’re struggling to push through is that whoever rejected you had a reason for rejecting you, whatever that reason might be. At the heart of that reason is their belief that you weren’t a good fit together. Maybe it comes down to timing. Maybe it’s unresolved feelings about a former partner. Maybe there wasn’t a romantic spark. Whatever the reason, there is a reason. Whether you disagree with that reason or not is, sadly, inconsequential. What matters is that they thought you weren’t a good fit. Which means, whether you accept it or not, you are NOT a good fit. There is someone out there who is a good fit for you. The only way to find them is to push through and search for them.

It’s not easy to bounce back from a rejection, but it’s not impossible. I’ve been rejected more times than I can count and I can promise you, you can recover. I’m not some exception to the rule when it comes to rejection, I’m the norm. If I can face countless rejections, and recover, you can too. I’ve got faith in you. You can bounce back.

And if you’re still struggling to bounce back from a rejection, it’s okay to take a break from dating. Even with all the rejection I’ve faced, and the resilience I’ve built up, rejections still get to me. I’m not above taking a break from dating when I’ve been rejected, especially if I’ve received several rejections in a row. As resilient as I am, as resilient as you are, we’re only human. At some point, constant rejection will wear on you. Whether it’s people not responding to your messages, or ghosting, or flaking on you, or the never-ending cycle of dating for a couple of months for a relationship to suddenly end for nebulous reasons, it wears on you. Sometimes a break is what you need more than anything else.

If you do decide to take a break from dating, make sure it’s a full break from dating. Delete your dating apps, cut off contact with the people you’re sort-of, kind-of seeing. Take some time to be alone and regain your confidence and resilience. Most important, take some time to remind yourself how great you are, and how lucky someone would be to be with you. Spend time enjoying your own company so that when you do meet someone new, they’re adding to your life, and not just filling a void.

And if that person ends up rejecting you, remember to give yourself some perspective on the rejection and what it means, and what it doesn’t mean about your worth. Try to focus on the bright side and look at rejection as an opportunity to find someone who is a much better fit. If you struggle to do either of those things, try to push through the pain, it might help you recover. And if all those things fail, take a break from dating until you’re ready to start dating again.

Good Luck Out There.

Also published on Medium.