Why Rejection Doesn’t Hurt Me as Nearly as Much as It Used To.
What is rejection? You walk over to a pretty girl at the Chic-Fil-A counter. You offer your number. Rejected. The guy you’ve been giving flirty eyes and twirling your hair to cold shoulders you for your blonde friend. Rejected. The dear friend you’ve known for two years and want to explore so much more with. Also rejected.
Have you ever seen a movie, good or not, when the protagonist walks up to a girl at the bar, walks back to his group of friends with his invisible tail tucked beneath his hiney, and the broster friend says “Bro. You just got rejected,”? Stop. “You just got rejected,”. There’s a great danger in legitimately using phrasing like “You just got rejected”. It’s nonchalant, innocent, and commonly used, but technically untrue. You see, whenever you’re let down by another person, you aren’t rejected — the offer is.
When we’re “rejected”, it is our natural inclination to take the rejection personally. “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not attractive enough.” “I tell too many jokes,”. As Guy Winch points out in his book, Emotional First Aid, rejection can seriously “impact our ability to use sound logic and think clearly…,”. To go back to my earlier example, if a guy walks up to a girl, talks to her for two minutes, and “gets rejected”, it truly isn’t possible for “him” to be rejected because he only talked to her for two minutes! A woman can’t possibly reject the entire being of a person because she doesn’t know him inside and out. And the same can be said vice versa. This, in of itself, hints at the reality that a person can not be rejected on the basis of all the sum parts of his identity — which is exactly the thing that feels threatened or shattered to the person “rejected”! In that example, maybe she could have had a boyfriend, was already engaged, been going through a phase of personal bitterness through her life, or could legitimately be gay. It’s easy for us in our “hero-stained” eyeglasses to know about ourselves so well, talk to your crush like your favorite movie’s exact cinematic lighting in your head, and assume it’s “us” — our identity — that’s rejected.
Though sometimes it might not have anything to do with the girl (the rejector)! It could be, at least in part, the guy’s/“rejectee’s” fault, but on a behavioral level and not a personal level. For example, perhaps he’s not experienced with girls or his skills are just rusty. So he asks for her number too soon, or asks her out on a date too soon, or simply believes attraction works the same in the world of James-Bond-one-liners and the real world! In which case, the decent guy simply has a social skill to brush up on.
Moreover, these types of romantic rejections don’t have to apply to the one-minute run-ins, but also people ranging from anywhere between “we’ve known each other for two months” to “we’ve been incredibly close friends for three years”. Guys are trained since they’re young through mainstream media that all you have to be is kind and funny and honorable and “you’ll get the girl”; girls, I imagine, are taught their Prince Charming will come for them and when you know he’s “the one”, you’ll know. It’s incredibly hurtful to hear that the crush you’ve been into for so long just isn’t into you the same way. But even in these circumstances, it’s completely possible to look at your situation more objectively, gain some understanding, and feel most of that hurt subside. Some particularly artistically chosen examples might be, “He’s a Calvinist, but you’re a Buddhist, so your beliefs misalign,”. “She might be looking for someone older and more established, and you’re still in a period of your life where you’re figuring yourself out.” “He’s a llama, you’re an alligator.” “He could be into blondes, but you’re brunette!” “She’s into tall dudes, you’re several inches shorter than her!” Or maybe you’re even “too good for them”, in a sense, and they simply have personal issues (they love drugs and don’t want to stop, they lack kindness, or they have commitment issues). Or, for the closest friends, you act so much like a friend to her that she feels nothing but feelings of friendship towards you (a separate topic).
Often, it could even be a mix of both, but the point remains is that it helps a crap-ton when one trains him or herself to take rejection more objectively. How is this done? Well, listening and putting yourself in his or her shoes helps. Be it he or she has prior commitments; they have personal issues they should work through; they have a particular taste; the timing’s bad; there’s simply something in your life that you haven’t figured out yet; or there’s something you don’t understand about the opposite sex’s psychology yet (always majorly helpful to study), there’s a more objective reason. You can rest assured that the reason why your romantic hopes and dreams weren’t fulfilled wasn’t because of your entire identity, but only a piece of you at best and a heavy factor regarding themselves at worst.
It’s a rare occasion that rejection is truly personal (i.e. spite). And this is why it’s so “dangerous” to say things such as “You were rejected” — because it’s commonly heard and accepted. And if you hear it enough, you’ll believe it. So, next time you’re quote on quote “rejected” (or even if you’re going through a rejection right now), it is the author’s recommendation (that’s me) to train yourself to look at rejection more objectively. It’s not your entire identity that’s being rejected, it’s the offer. You do have things to offer; and you, as a human being with life breathed into you, have the opportunity to take this lesson, grow from it, and become stronger. In time, the blow of rejection can soften if this mindset is practiced.
And on an off note, if you’re bad with girls, learn about them! If you’re bad with guys, learn about them! If the way you approach them doesn’t work, try a different route!
God bless, God first,