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It's a very personal matter, of course, and no two relationships are the same, but whether it's a recent flirtation, a life-long crush, or a long-term partner who says it, being rejected is horrible.
Of course, it's also a part of the human experience; we are, all of us, rejected by someone at some point. The fact that someone you care for doesn't want to be with you doesn't define you—how you handle it does.
The First Step - Battling Entitlement
The first thing to do when facing rejection is remind yourself that you are, in fact, not entitled to anyone's time or affection. As hard as this is to accept (for all of us) your crush or partner (and certainly the cute person at the bar) does not owe you an explanation as to why their feelings are not what you want them to be. They don't have to stay with you or be with you and so even though you have every right to be hurt unless they have done something wrong you have no right to be angry.
When you do feel angry, take a deep breath and ask yourself; has this person done wrong by me, or am I just hurt? If they have hurt you, but done no wrong, it's time to process your sadness.
If they have done you wrong and hurt you there are two questions you must ask; do I need to take further steps, and how do I process this?
Let's be real; most of the time there will be no further steps you can or should take. Cheaters may deserve to pay for what they do, but it's not your job to dole out punishment. If you were physically abused, however, that is a different matter; call the police.
Step Two - Processing Anger and Hurt
Maybe you were led on, or perhaps a long-term relationship ended badly... or perhaps they just didn't want you the way you want them. In any case, your first and only priority should be your own mental and emotional well-being.
Your only job is to ensure that the hurt or anger (or both) doesn't damage your self-esteem, your personal relationships, and your health.
- Drink to mask upset, hurt, and anger.
- Throw yourself straight into a rebound relationship.
- Seek unhealthy validation.
- Pester or beg the person for a reason or a reconsideration.
- Allow yourself an appropriate grieving period.
- Talk to someone who understands.
- Immerse yourself in self-improvement.
- Ask yourself if there is anything you can learn from this.
Very often there will be little you can learn when someone you don't know rejects you, but if a long-term relationship breaks down, there will be something there for you to take away. Even if you were not at fault, there may be something you can learn from what went wrong; if your ex-partner gives you no explanation you should take the time to consider what you feel to be the key moments of your relationship. Recover the black box, so to speak, and make up your own mind about what you could have done differently.
Even if all you could have done was leave earlier, you will have this knowledge in future and be better for it.
Step Three - Trust, Confidence, and the Next Try
Once again, how this plays out is very much dependent upon your own experiences. If you are recovering from the breakdown of a serious relationship, it could take a long time for you to grieve that loss, and that is perfectly normal.
When you lose a long-term relationship you lose all the plans you made together, as well; there is no shame in feeling that loss fully.
Likewise, if your partner cheated on or mistreated you, then you will need to learn to love yourself and get to a place where you can trust again. Having confidence after a serious break-up or divorce is not easy.
If you yourself cheated or treated your partner badly, too, you will need to take time to understand why you behaved badly and fix that before you move forward. It is key that you are in a place where you can treat people the way they deserve to be treated.
When you are ready to move forward:
- Jump head first into a relationship with the first person that catches your eye.
- Promise more than you know you can give to another person.
- Run away at the first sign of trouble.
- Be honest about your emotional state with any person you see potential in.
- Be open about your emotions.
- Take time to reflect after each date.
It is so important that you go forward in good faith; this is how you rise from the ashes with style.