On the path to finding love, there will be highs and lows along the way, and rejection is just part of it.
Remember that part of healthy relationships is being vulnerable, so it’s only fitting that sometimes you don’t click with someone else—just like someone else’s true self might not be the right fit for you. With any person you decide to pursue, there is the risk of dealing with rejection in the future. While it’s a normal part of life, we hate to think about it happening to us.
But it’s important to know how to deal with rejection so that you’re prepared if and when it happens. In this guide, you’ll learn about why rejection hurts, why some types of rejection hurt more than others, and tips for coping with it in a healthy way. Turn that rejection into just another one of life’s challenges that you need to overcome to evolve into a more confident, self-assured person who can continue on their romantic journey.
Why does rejection hurt so much?
People deal with rejection throughout their life, from not being picked for the team at recess to getting a “no” on a college application. No matter how seemingly insignificant or incredibly important, rejection is painful. But if it’s just another part of life, why does it hurt so bad?
Being rejected goes against our need for acceptance and belonging. From early humanity through the modern age, people have needed community. In fact, there’s plenty of research out there that notes that the stronger a person’s community, the better their general and mental health. Being accepted into a group gives humans confidence and a sense of safety. That’s why dealing with rejection can be so hard—because it turns what you thought of as a solid foundation into shaky, unsure ground.
Not only that, but being rejected can also feel like a form of abandonment. Being accepted into a community, whether that’s just your partner or also their friends and family, can give you all the warm feels. Being rejected from it, well, feels like just the opposite.
It’s no wonder that rejection hurts so much when humans’ desire for love, community, acceptance, and safety is deep-rooted.
What kind of rejection hurts the most?
It’s no secret that some types of rejection hurt more than others. For example, rejection from a crush or from being ghosted might hurt less than one from a long-term partner, but it all boils down to how much time you invested as well as your personality. The more time you spend with someone and investing energy in a relationship, the harder it will be to let it go.
Your attachment style also plays a role in how quickly you might be able to overcome a rejection. Someone with a secure attachment style, who is independent and has a high level of self-worth, is more likely to have an easier time coping with rejection than someone with an anxious attachment style, who is fearful of abandonment and codependent on their partners.
But all of this really boils down to the specific situation, the other things you have going on in your life, and your ability to move on.
Tips for dealing with rejection
Thankfully, we have helpful advice for how to deal with rejection, so you can get on the path to healing again.
- Accept it
Instead of denying that the rejection happened or trying to reason with the person in the days that follow, try to accept that it happened. This might not be as simple as it sounds. We get it. It can be so difficult to come to terms with rejection from someone you’ve been seeing for awhile or even rejection from a crush. But once you’ve gotten over the shock, nip the denial or wishful thinking in the bud and accept that you’ll have to move on.
If the person who rejected you continually tries to reach out, be mindful of your boundaries. It could be painful to have the door opened again. Remember that rejecting someone should never include stringing them along.
- Process your emotions
Don’t push away your feelings. Emotions are normal! Acknowledge them and think about why you’re feeling certain emotions and where they are stemming from. For example, consider where your anger is coming from. Did the person say something specific that makes you angry, or are you angry at the situation itself?
It’s important to walk yourself through your feelings not only for your own awareness but also so that you don’t take them out on someone else. Bottling up your feelings just means they’ll have to come out another time.
- Be kind to yourself
A crucial piece of advice when dealing with rejection is to avoid negative self-talk. Negative self-talk is a slippery slope, and one you don’t want to slide down.
As you’re processing emotions, try not to sit in the “why” or overthink the situation. By this, we mean acknowledge your feelings, but don’t come up with reasons why the person rejected you. This can lead to developing false beliefs about yourself that might harm you in the future.
Instead, be positive and talk to yourself with compassion, just like a friend would. Tell yourself that you’re strong and that there’s someone out there for you—you just haven’t found them yet. The key here is reminding yourself that you are one of a kind and have qualities that someone else is looking for.
- Talk to someone
We all deal with emotions differently. If you find that it’s taking you longer to come out of the rejection fog, it could be a good idea to seek professional help.
While talking to friends and loved ones is a great way to find support during a difficult time, sometimes you might need someone who is trained in helping people develop healthy ways of coping with rejection. A therapist can help you find the root cause of feelings you’re not sure what to do with and give you tangible methods to help you with moving on from a relationship.
- Practice self-care
When dealing with rejection, take time to do things that help you relieve stress, whether it’s picnicking in the park with friends, working out at the gym, meditating, or playing your guitar. Whatever your favorite activity is, do it! Not only will it help to take your mind off of things, but it can also give you a much-needed serotonin boost.
When the rejection doesn’t feel as raw anymore, try to reflect on the relationship. Think of this like a debrief meeting that you might have when a work project is completed. What went well, and what didn’t? What did you like about the person? How did you feel as part of the relationship (generally happy, a little bit anxious, safe and secure, etc.)? Is there anything that you could’ve done better or want to work on for next time?
Before seeking out a new relationship, remember your answers to these questions to help set the next one up for success.
- Put yourself back out there
No relationship rejection should keep you from pursuing another one. As with any challenge you encounter in your life, after you’ve done the work to accept, process, take care of yourself, and heal, then pick yourself back up and start again. Chances are that you’ll be a more experienced, whole, and confident person because of it!
Use this experience as a chance to grow as an individual and a future partner. Reinforce your self-worth and remember that you are worthy of love after love. Don’t let dealing with rejection keep you from taking future romantic risks—because the next person might be the risk worth taking.