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Disability Resources & Educational Services

Rejection in Relationships-Oct 2015


It brings back painful memories just writing the word.  Rejection in relationships can take many different forms including: being rejected when you finally have the courage to tell someone you really like them, being turned down when you ask someone out on a date, feeling denied when a partner does not want to share in the same sexual experiences you propose, having a relationship break up or dissolve or being ignored from someone you’d really like to spend more time getting to know.  The one aspect these scenarios all have in common is that it hurts!

There are certainly a number of ways to handle rejection, in both negative and positive ways.  When rejection happens, whether it’s expected or unexpected, we have a choice of how we handle it, and depending on the length of the relationship, the depth of the hurt and what you want out of the relationship, a number of different approaches may be helpful.

Acknowledge Your Own Hurt

Rejection hurts.  It hurts our pride, and sometimes how we see ourselves as a potential partner, our worthiness, even our personhood.  What hurts the most is when we ignore it, stuff it down or pretend it didn’t happen.  Maybe in the moment we feel like we need to save face, but we cause far less damage to ourselves and to others when we are honest about how much rejection hurts.

It May Really Be About Them

Sometimes people say mean things, personal things, hurtful rejecting things….but it just doesn’t have anything to do with us.  This is another reason to acknowledge your own hurt.  Sometimes, when we are hurt, we take it out on other people, even when they have nothing to do with why we are hurting!  Sometimes the most awful thing that someone can say about us-the things that hurt our pride and our person-just aren’t true.

Know When to Walk Away

Rejection can be a blessing, an opportunity to walk away from a situation we haven’t figured our way out of yet.  It can also be an opportunity to escape when someone’s rejection is abusive, persistent or about them.  If you feel like you have to withstand pain someone else is placing on you in order to “prove” you care for them, this may be the time to leave the situation.

Learn Something

Although you may need some time to sort through this, look for what the rejection can teach you.  Rejection can teach us what we really want, how we really want to ask it, who we really want to be with, and what we’re willing to endure to find what’s best for us.  Rejection can be disappointing, but you can use the opportunity to learn more about who you are and what you want.

Do Something

This goes back to acknowledging your hurt-do something different!  If it’s getting involved in a different activity to meet new people, researching new information or resources, or just trying again, you can transform your hurt into action.  Acknowledge you were hurt, then go out, be brave-and have fun!