By Stella Ladikos. Mental Health Educator and Advocate.
So you’ve been on a few dates with someone, and it seems to be going pretty well – brushing hands while walking, easy conversations with just the right amount of flirting, a shared sense of humour, and a mutual distaste for tequila.
But all of a sudden, they’re no longer interested.
Whether they sent you a quick text to let you know they weren’t keen to catch up again, or if they did the slow fade, or worst of all – they ghosted you – it all sucks.
Rejection can really take a toll on our mental health, self-esteem, and confidence. And here’s the thing, it can affect everyone differently depending on our different attachment styles (for more info about attachment theory, my number one recommendation is Attached by Amir Levine).
Despite the pain, there are a few things that we can do to combat those feelings of rejection:
The first step is the two A’s – acknowledge and accept.
Here are some phrases that we’ll just kick to the curb right now: ‘Toughen up’, ‘Wasn’t meant to be’, ‘Plenty of fish in the sea’. While these may be helpful for some people, it can actually be much more beneficial and healing to acknowledge the way you feel and accept it. Whether you feel anger, hurt, embarrassment, or hopelessness, it is OKAY. I cannot express enough that you are allowed to feel these things following rejection (no matter the situation). In fact, the longer we take to acknowledge, accept and validate our emotions, the longer we can actually struggle with them.
Focus on the temporary.
Fact: rejection is a feeling, and feelings (no matter how strong or powerful they are) are temporary. Think about another example of rejection from a long time ago, such as not getting picked for a sports team in high school, or getting turned down when you asked the most popular kid in class to be your Valentine in primary school (this actually happened to me!)… All these years later, is that pain of rejection still strong? Most likely not. Because our feelings are temporary, and they do pass. So, you might find comfort in holding onto the fact that the way you feel now is not the way you’re going to feel forever.
Make time for the things and people that you love (and that love you back).
Distractions can be great and super helpful (because truth bomb: stalking their IG is not helpful). So think about who makes you feel loved, safe, and supported in your life? What activities do you enjoy doing that positively shift your mood? Now more than ever, self-care will be really important as you navigate these feelings of rejection. For some clear pointers for better self-care, head to my blog over at Meraki!
Create some psychological distance from any upsetting thoughts you’re having.
This is a technique that some therapists use, particularly using Acceptance and Commitment Theory. Basically, this is a mindfulness technique that aims to distance a person from negative or unhelpful thoughts they may be having. So, for example, it’s about changing the thought from “I’m not good enough” to “I’m having a thought that I’m not good enough”. This actually serves to create some distance and helps stop us from getting caught up in and believing every negative or unhelpful thought we have – because, let’s be real, sometimes our brains tell us some wild things!
Go to therapy.
If this feeling of rejection persists and interferes with other areas of your life, speak to someone about it. Therapy is something that we could all benefit from on our best and worst of days – I always say that when life throws you lemons, go to therapy! And let’s face it, relationships and the dating world have plenty of lemons ready to be flung!
Most importantly, remember that this one person no longer wants to date you right now – does not mean no one will ever want to date you again. You’re not broken, and you’re certainly not unloveable. You’re perfect as you are. Take some time to remember that you’re IT, and then get back out there. Someone better is right around the corner!
Stella is a Mental Health Educator and Advocate, and Founder of Meraki Mental Health Training.