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Dealing with Rejection | How to Grow from a Painful Experience

Woman dealing with rejection
Dealing with rejection is an inevitable life experience. Nobody is exempted from that sting.

I’m sorry. It’s not you—it’s me. I just don’t see this working out. I just don’t see you that way.

When you hear those lines and their numerous variations, you feel like reality has painfully hit you in the face. You then begin to question yourself and your worth.

That is a picture of rejection.

Being rejected is a horrible feeling. And unfortunately, it’s something we’re all bound to experience in life one way or another. No matter how much we try to run away from rejection, we will experience it. Regardless if it’s a job application or a dating app match, someone will sadly turn you down for someone or something else.

And while painful, you shouldn’t let that keep you down forever. Hanging on to the pain can have serious consequences, from your relationships to your mental health.

Dealing with rejection isn’t a pretty experience. However, it will help you in the long run.

Why Is Rejection Painful?

Rejections hurt, and that’s not because you’re a weak person.

Humans are biologically wired to look for belonging and acceptance. We can trace this back to the time when mankind lived together in hunter-gatherer groups.

Individuals who integrated better into tribes had more chances of survival. People who couldn’t create close bonds were, unfortunately, cast out or left behind. And as time passed, the need for inclusion was ingrained into the human psyche.

Besides evolution, rejections hurt us because of our attachment styles. Attachment styles are models we follow when building relationships. If you happen to have an insecure attachment style, you’ll have a harder time coping with being turned down.

Being vulnerable and getting rejected is an even greater recipe for disaster. This is why in order to better deal with rejection, you must understand your own character and personality.

Stages of Rejection

Man standing outside a restaurant
Every person goes through the stages of rejection. Knowing which stage you are in will help you know how to cope better.

If you want to recover from rejection, you should understand how it works. You’ll process your feelings better when you’re aware of your situation.

Much like grief, dealing with rejection is a process. These are the five phases you’ll find yourself in as you come to terms with your feelings:

1. Denial

Let’s say a person you’ve been going out with dumped you without explanations after a few months of dating. When the rejection comes, you’ll be in disbelief and think it’s a cruel joke. And with that, you may feel that the person’s just having a bad day and they’ll come back to you.

2. Anger

Once you’re past the denial stage, you’ll feel rage brewing within you. For example, when you’re feeling rejected by your partner and they don’t see that, you’ll be livid. You’ll even feel tempted to go on a tirade and unleash your anger in an attempt to make them realize their mistake.

3. Bargaining

After some time, you’ll start to think that the person who rejected you turned you down because there was something they didn’t know about. And because of that, you’ll believe that you’ll change their mind if you sit them down and have a conversation.

This is the bargaining stage in a nutshell. And when it lingers longer than necessary, it can be scary for the person giving the rejection. Why? You may not leave them alone until you get something from them.

4. Depression

Along with the anger, you’ll feel waves of embarrassment, sadness, and confusion crashing into you. Your confidence goes into a downward spiral, and you’ll start to view yourself in a bad light.

All these feelings are valid. You’re only human, and you can only take so much pain until you can’t take the sting any longer.

Woman being comforted through a hug
Being vulnerable and getting rejected feels awful, but you’ll learn to move on eventually.

5. Acceptance

You’ve allowed yourself to feel the intense emotions of the previous stages. Once time passes and the dust settles, you’ll find yourself having a clear head and heart. This clarity allows you to look at the rejection without your feelings clouding you.

You may have made a few mistakes. Perhaps you’ll realize that the person who rejected you isn’t worth your time. It’s also possible that you don’t have the answers regarding your situation. That’s fine! As long as you’ve gained growth from that pain, you’ll be alright.

Common Reasons for Rejection

In modern dating, rejection is unfortunately all too common. These are a few reasons why people turn matches down:

1. They’re taken.

People reject potential matches because they’re in committed relationships. There’s nothing we can do about this but move on and look for other people.

2. Their appearance doesn’t fit a person’s preferences.

This is painful, but maybe you’re simply not a person’s type. As much as people like to say that looks don’t matter, we can’t deny that it’s a relevant attractor.

3. The approach was scary.

Some people don’t like straightforward approaches. When a match looks at you in confusion, or worse, horror, just back off and don’t force anything.

4. They don’t want anything serious.

Serious relationships take commitment, and that’s not everyone’s priority. A girl may reject a guy because their current desires don’t align.

How to Manage Rejection

We cannot control what we feel emotionally when we get rejected. However, we can control our responses. Here are some tips that’ll teach you how to handle rejection gracefully:

1. Accept that rejection is inevitable.

Denying rejection is one of the worst coping mechanisms. If you want to learn how to overcome your fear of rejection, you’ll need to accept the fact that it happens to everyone.

2. Don’t take your pain out on people.

The last thing you want to do is hurt an innocent person during your healing process. Just because you got rejected doesn’t mean you get to be angry at everyone.

3. Be kind to yourself.

It’s more than okay to take time off for yourself to process your experience. Don’t blame yourself for your feelings because you’re allowed to feel them.

4. Prioritize your well-being.

Your overall health is important. You may feel down because of your rejection, but don’t forget to look out for yourself. Never chase a woman who rejected you because that’ll just make you feel worse.

Dealing with rejection leaves a painful scar. Bouncing back from that will take time, so don’t rush the process. You’ll thank yourself by going slow and steady.

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