In Which I Talk about Rejection

Rejection Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.


It’s pretty Suck-tastic.

No one likes it, and dealing with it can be difficult to say the least.

In my opinion (which is humble. obviously. Why else would I have a blog to air my opinions were they not among the humblest?) lack of closure is the hardest part about rejection.

We like to know what we did wrong. [Because surely, if we could just fix those few behaviors that made all the difference, it wouldn’t have happened. We can make sure to never do that one thing  again and could thereby convince the object of our unrequited affection that they want us after all! Right? Right???]

It doesn’t really work that way.

And one of the most difficult parts of turning down or breaking up with a genuinely nice person is trying to articulate WHY.

Recently, I had a guy  (not My Physicist) ask me why I wasn’t interested. What had he done to offend me? Why wasn’t I responding? Why wasn’t he good enough?

And I could sympathize. I’m personally not the sort to actually ASK those questions directly, but when faced with rejection, they haunt me. The only real difference between he and I is that I long ago acknowledged the futility of trying to get a meaningful answer from someone regarding those questions. There is no answer that will truly satisfy a person who is being rejected. No matter how right the decision to end a relationship or decline to begin one may be, rejection translates as inadequacy, insufficiency, and general not-good-enough-ish-ness.

My Physicist told me the other day that some answers are better than others when it comes to finding closure; and he gave me a few examples of things he would have found helpful had they been articulated at the end of previous relationships. But even that is hindsight. And I’ve come to the conclusion that closure is not something that can be offered by another  person. Rather, it is something you must find within yourself.

When I look back at my former fumbling attempts to turn down a date or break up with someone, sure I gave “reasons” but those reasons, no matter how true they may have been, were only a small fraction of the real reason. And the real reason is that I HAD reasons.

I wasn’t always able to articulate them, but I had them. And you can’t change them.

It will never really be an issue of behavior modification. It’s not one thing you did or that one weird quirk you need to learn to control. It’s not even your family or your pets or your fondness for cheesecake or whatever else have you. It’s that deep internal sense of “You know what? I just can’t see myself spending the rest of my life with this person, no matter how nice they are.”

That guy who asked me how he had offended me? I hadn’t been offended at first. His persistence ended up irritating me because I couldn’t even give a small response without inadvertently encouraging him to write paragraphs in reply. And when I DID attempt to explain my choices, he misinterpreted what I said. So I stopped communicating with him at all. (And have since accumulated half a dozen attempts to re-engage in communication.)

But even that is not something I can label as a “How creepy–he won’t leave me alone!” reason for rejection. It may be irritating, but let’s face it, the only difference between a stalker and a potential boyfriend is how much the attention is desired. If I were interested in the guy, I would call it persistence, and it would be a great thing that he wanted me so much that he were willing to pursue me even in the face of my refusal to respond. It is my lack of interest which turns potentially flattering attention into email/comment notifications I dread to open.

So how is one supposed to handle rejection? What do you do with it? How do you keep it from overwhelming you? How do you keep from drowning in the depths of despair or the fear that you will never be good enough to be loved by someone?

Those are great questions. And honestly, the only reason I can write about this topic right now is because I’m NOT dealing with it.

But there are a few things I DO know for sure:

*Your worth is not wrapped up in the reciprocation or lack thereof offered by the object of your affections. It’s hard not to feel that way when you are in the midst of dealing with the rejection. But trust me: It isn’t.

*Being not right for someone is not equivalent to being WRONG. I am quite conservative in many of my preferences and less conservative in others. And if someone does not share some of my preferences that I hold in extremely high importance, it does not mean that they need to change because their preferences are wrong. Nor does it mean that mine are wrong. It just means that I am not the girl they are looking for. And neither of us need to feel as if we are WRONG simply because we have ideals that disqualify each other from potential relational bliss.

*You can’t argue someone into being attracted to you. If someone provides a few of their reasons for rejection, even if you changed those things, it wouldn’t make them want you anymore than they already don’t. So, if you are going to change anything, rather than focusing on changing the things they used to justify their rejection, change those things which will make you a better person in general. All of us have areas we need to improve you. But improve yourself for the sake of being a better person, not for the sake of winning the approval of someone who has already chosen to seek something other than your heart.

*It’s OK to mourn. 
Rejection hurts. And it’s disappointing and deflating and kinda crushing. So go ahead. Eat a pint of icecream. Cry. Watch a whole season of a cheesy show on Netflix. Spend a little time recovering.
Just don’t stay there. Life is for living. So someone you care deeply for doesn’t want to live it with you? Don’t let that stop you from living. Join a club. Take a class. Read a book. Start a blog. Learn a Craft. Distract yourself with life. It might take a while, but eventually, you’ll find yourself enjoying it.


3 thoughts on “In Which I Talk about Rejection

  1. Adrea

    I’m so with you on this topic right now. I just had to tell 2 guys that I wasn’t interested in going out with them again because I too felt like, “You know what? I just can’t see myself spending the rest of my life with this person, no matter how nice they are.” And I usually don’t send a definitive break off text, I just usually stop texting until they get the hint (the chicken way we all hate) but I found them to be persistent as well and like you I found the persistence irritating. And yet if I had liked them I would not have. Like you said the difference between stalker and boyfriend is how much the attention is desired. You are so on point with all of this. And I’ve certainly been on the other side of the coin and wondered ‘what I did wrong’ when it was the guy who rejected me. And we’ll never know so like you said you have to find closure yourself. Mourn then move on.


    1. I personally wish I could master the process of moving on. I used to hate it when people would tell me to “get over it” because they never explained HOW. Ah, life. Such it is. And it gets sucher and sucher every day.


  2. Pingback: In Which I Must Take My Own Advice | Euphonic Charity

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