You’re walking down the street (or stumbling through a bar), and suddenly it happens…
A particularly delicious human specimen caught your attention.
Come to think of it, delicious may be the wrong word to describe this person. A bowl of blueberries is delicious, but most blueberries in it are just as delicious as the next one. In this case, someone’s particular shade of deliciousness managed to rise above all the other blueberries in the bowl and somehow caused you to forget to pick up your jaw from the floor
It may be the expression on their face, the sway of their hips or just their “aura” in general, but something about this person just makes you think they are more delicious than all the others.
You look into their eyes from a few meters away, they look back into yours… And what happens next?
You confidently walk up to them and tell them you think they are a delicious blueberry. They find you a little weird for comparing them to a fruit, but otherwise love your direct approach. They’re intrigued and you both start opening up to each other and bonding.
First through conversation, then through casual touch, and 1 hour to 3 weeks later by becoming a professional sommelier of each other’s bodily fluids.
After that third step (which I admit was kinda gross but also really fun), you obviously realize they like you back, so you ask them to get married (or ask a friend to ask them to ask you to marry them because it’s a man’s job), make a bunch of kids and become king and queen of the world together.
...at least, that is one potential outcome of the situation. But what’s a lot more likely to happen in about 99.9% of cases, is that as soon as they look back, you avert your eyes and thank yourself that you were quick enough to not let them notice you were staring.
We don’t like to admit it, but fear of rejection is one of the most common fears we all have. And most people deal with it by simply avoiding any situation in which they might get rejected. Never talking to strangers they find attractive, never opening up about their feelings, never making the first move (women, I know you like men to initiate but let’s be honest, fear of rejection is at least half of the reason for that 😉 ). We use terms like “getting lucky” both when it comes to casual sex or finding your soul mate. Because when you’re not willing to risk rejection, getting lucky is your only option.
But wouldn’t it be much more beautiful if you actually had a choice? If you actually could open up to people when you had feelings for them? Or if you actually had the guts to walk up to that delicious person, leave out the weird blueberry part and sweep them off their feet (or walk back to your friends happy that you at least tried)?
Because when you leave it all to chance and put the burden of responsibility on the other person, what will happen to you if you don’t get lucky?
Why Does Rejection Hurt So Much?
There are 2 very important reasons for that. The first one is that it’s part of human nature. Humans are social animals. We may rule the planet at this time in history, but the only reason we rose to this position is because we evolved a language that included words to describe abstract concepts and share stories or myths. This enabled us to communicate effectively and outsmart other animals. Or out-technologize them, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a word.
Physically speaking though, we are very weak. We have no thick skin or no layer of fur that protects us. We’re not very strong. We’re not very fast. The only thing we can rely on for our survival is each other.
This means that no matter how little the amount of fucks you claim to give, your need for acceptance within in the group is so strong that you feel horrible when people exclude. Because in nature, being rejected from the tribe literally meant death. And that understanding is wired in us on a very deep level.
However, it’s not very to realize that getting rejected on a romantic or sexual level isn’t a rejection of the same caliber. The fact that one blueberry isn’t interested in swapping fluids with you is no reason for the others to throw you out of the bowl. You can still be buddy-berries without benefits.
For most people though, fear of rejection runs a little deeper than that.
It has to do with their source of self-worth. When you base your opinion of yourself (or how highly you regard yourself) on the validation you receive from others, rejection feels as if it immediately diminishes or discards your entire value as a person.
In my experience, nearly everyone suffers from this to some degree. The exact reason why you have this external validation system in place can vary from person to person (neglective parents, various experiences during early childhood, or simply living in a world that actively promotes it through social media). But the mechanism is the same:
The more people reject or criticize you, the more you think you’re a loser or have nothing going for you. The more people say you’re the shit, the more you start to transform into Kanye West.
The main problem is that this causes you to:
• Always play it safe and avoid rejection
• Keep quiet about important parts of your personality because you know some people won’t like them.
Those strategies are the only way to survive as long as you base your self-worth on external opinions. Because the more you act like you really are, the more you start differing from the norm, and the more criticism (but also praise) you’ll get to endure. For example, since I started this blog, there are people who hate on me for all sorts of ridiculous reasons. Going from “your diet offends me”, to “you stole a human that was my possession by brainwashing it with articles” or “I hate you because you don’t drink alcohol any more”.
So if I were to choose to base my opinion of myself on the validation I get from others, I could only fix it by having weekly barbecues, drinking three bottles of whiskey a day again and never trying to become friends with anyone that already has another friend.
You see where I’m going? This fear of rejection is not just about approaching people you find attractive or telling your best friend you have feelings for them. It has a good shot at robbing you of the freedom to openly be who you really are deep down.
Now I know most people know they shouldn’t give too many fucks on a rational level. You may even have dabbled in sharing the occasional motivational meme about it. But that’s not enough. You also need to really feel it.
I know a lot of guys who think they are over their fear of rejection, because when some woman rejects them they say “It was a stupid bitch anyway. Her loss.”. But that’s pretty much an indicator that they feel bad about it and care too much.
It’s like all those artists who say “Fuck all my haters, they’re jealous”.
It sounds cool to you to say that, but it’s simply not true. Some of them are jealous, but there’s a whole lot of haters out there who just genuinely don’t like your art. Just like there’s probably a whole lot of people you find attractive that have no interest in you, and only 5% of them are bitches or fuckboys.
If that sounds like you, the first step to becoming rejection proof is actually realizing that some of your haters just genuinely don’t like you and that there are people who think you are unattractive. Because you can’t get over rejection without admitting it’s there. And you can’t get rid of this external toxic validation cycle (where you feel rejected and then try to grab people’s attention to get some praise or likes that can make you feel good about yourself again), without admitting that a lot of people on this planet probably think you’re pretty lame.
And that’s okay.
The whole point is that you shouldn’t be liked by everyone. The world is a lot more fun that way. If you got along swell with everyone you could ever meet, why would you still enjoy making friends? All the excitement would be gone. You’d just know what it would be like up front. You’d basically walk around in this gigantic pool of people being bored with all your interactions because they always end up the same.
Isn’t it a lot more fun to not know what will happen? To discover a person’s unique quirks and fall in love with them (or back away slowly) because of that?
The second step to breaking this cycle is by finding internal sources of validation.
The best way to do this, is to make a list of all the things you genuinely admire in people. Write down everything you believe makes a great person.
Then have a good look at yourself and vow to make a conscious efforts to be that kind of person as much as possible. Especially at times when you believe you know it will lead to disapproval from others.
Imagine for example, you really admire honesty in people. And you’re on a date with someone you’re interested in, who is ranting on and on about how their previous partner cheated on them and they think all cheaters should have their genitals cut off. Then they proceed to ask “You’ve never cheated before, have you?”
Since you’re interested in that person, you know bringing up the fact that you have cheated on a partner before but would never do it again, may ruin your chances. Now this is a crucial moment. Because if you were to lie to them and tell them no, you would gain their approval and reinforce the cycle of external validation that causes your fear of rejection.
So regardless of the circumstances (one exception could be that they look pretty crazy and are holding a butcher’s knife), you have to tell them the truth now. Because when you do this, you live up to the idea of what you consider to be a great person. And it’s especially these situations (when things get hard), that have the power to diminish your fear of rejection and make you more courage.
The more you can give yourself a pat on the back for doing the right thing and acting like whatever it is you believe constitutes a great person, the less you will feel dependent on other people’s opinions to feel worthy.
Doing this just this but doing it consistently, will already dramatically decrease your fear of rejection.
Rejection and Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is an effective treatment for anxiety that’s based on taking little baby steps in the direction of facing your fears, and gradually progressing to more intense situations. For example, someone with fear of spiders could start by looking at pictures of spiders. Then maybe sitting in a room with a very small, but real spider. Perhaps removing it from the room with gloves the next time. The final step of the therapy would be this.
I know a lot of guys (not sure if women do this as well) in the seduction community who go out specifically to get rejected and “crush their egos”. They mass approach random women and do their best to get rejected as harshly as possible. The idea behind this is pretty much the same as the concept of exposure therapy. They want to get rejected so much that they stop being afraid of it anymore.
This sounds like it makes perfect sense, right?
As much as I would like to say that it works, it doesn’t and everyone should stop doing it.
Lemme explain why:
Reason numero uno: If you already know up front you’re going to get rejected, it will not feel like real rejection. You’re just putting yourself in a slightly uncomfortable situation, but that’s it. You are acting differently with the specific purpose of getting rejected. So when you get rejected, you know deep down that she rejected you for your behavior, not for who you are. This means that if you would later walk up to a woman and be normal, open and honest, you would still not be able to deal with that kind of rejection.
Reason #2: Practicing bad social skills will not help you get better with the ladies, period. It will just teach you to have bad social skills, which you then later have to fix, or it will increase your chances of getting rejected.
Reason #3: You are in no way crushing your ego, you are protecting it from getting hurt. You know up front your goal is to fail, so by failing, you actually succeed and thus feel good about yourself. She can’t even hurt you with anything because you want to get rejected, so the harsher she rejects you, the more you will think you are a badass, causing your ego to inflate, not die.
The only way to actually treat fear of rejection with exposure therapy the right way is to constantly make yourself vulnerable. Open up and show people the real you. Open up about your scary emotions and insecurities, have the conversations you don’t want to have. Risk a few kicks in the heart and punches in the nether region.
That’s the only way to gain true, relevant reference experiences about dealing with rejection.
How to Deal with Negative Self-talk
Let’s put our tough acts aside for a moment and be honest: Rejection always stings a little. But when you blow that sting way out of proportion until it’s reached the size of Kim Kardashian’s left buttock, that’s when it becomes a problem.
People who are dependent on external validation often take every rejection very personally. As if someone has just seen their true nature and proven that they are worthless.
But in reality, getting rejected says nothing. The other person may be married, may have a different sexual orientation or just a bad hair day. Also, realize that if we’re talking about first impressions here, it is simply impossible for them to reject you. They don’t even know you yet, so how could their rejection say anything about you as a person?
It may, but you can not be sure. There is simply no use in dwelling about all the possible reasons for your rejection.
That only makes you feel worse.
It’s okay to feel bad, but when it does, just let that feeling pass through you. Cry if you need to, but don’t make it worse by attaching all sorts of meaning to it. The feeling is just a feeling you experience, it doesn’t make you less worthy of being loved or liked as a person.
When you attach too much meaning and thoughts to it, it will only cause you to shy away from social interactions out of fear for further rejections, while what you really should be doing is not removing the rejection itself from the equation, but all the self-defeating thoughts that come after it (or the imaginary disaster scenarios that come before).
What If It Really Is About You?
I’m kind of hesitant to mention this, because most people who read this article may have incorrect inferior beliefs about themselves. However, sometimes, especially if you keep hearing this from people in your environment, it may be that you are exhibiting some behavior that makes people feel uneasy, causing them to reject you.
Once again keep in mind, that this does not make you unattractive, it just means your current behavior or vibe is unattractive to most. And that’s something you can change. Maybe you came across as creepy or too aggressive. You can alway ask for feedback and honestly tell them it’s something you’re trying to improve because your intentions are good and you want people to feel that.
Most likely though, if we’re talking about giving off a creepy vibe, your fear of rejection itself is what causes it. You are attached to a particular answer in this interaction, and that makes you appear more needy and clingy.
Think about it. When you talk to a stranger, or tell someone you know you’d like to take it a step further, what are you doing in essence?
You are sending out an invitation.
Nothing more than that. You are inviting someone to spend some time getting to know you (in new ways). But! When you are not willing to accept rejection as an okay option, it ceases to be an invitation.
If you can only handle the thought of the interaction going the way you want it, it is no longer an invitation but a straight up demand.
Now how would you feel if someone you have no interest in could not take no for an answer? Would that scare you?
I bet it would, because you don’t know what that person is capable of. And when combined with a lack of respect or social awareness, it could easily turn into some form of sexual assault.
So the way to fix is, is simply by dealing with the fear of rejection itself through the other methods mentioned in this article.
One side note about “being creepy” though: You have to realize that it’s a very subjective term. One person thinking you’re a creep doesn’t make you one.
Hot guy throwing stones to your window in the middle of the night, standing in your front yard in a wet t-shirt with a boombox over his head that somehow doesn’t electrify him, playing your favorite song? Super romantic!
Ugly guy throwing stones to your window in the middle of the night, standing in your front yard in a wet t-shirt with a boombox over his head that somehow doesn’t electrify him, playing your favorite song? Ugh... What a creep.
Extremely sexy female co-worker constantly speaking in sexual innuendos that you are not entirely sure she’s conscious of or not? Major hard-on!
Morbidly obese female co-worker with a mustache bigger than your dad constantly speaking in sexual innuendos that you are not entirely sure she’s conscious of or not? I’ll leave it to your imagination 😉
Similarly, one person may love your behavior and personality while another think it’s creepy as fuck. There is no universal definition of what’s creepy, sexy or romantic. You have to dare to be creepy sometimes. But stay aware of people’s nonverbal signals. Just like some people get sarcasm and others don’t, some people will find your personality attractive and others won’t. But if everyone seems to think you are a little “off”, you’re probably doing something wrong that you’re not aware of. Use your good judgement here.
And while you’re working on it, aim to use every encounter with people as a valuable opportunity to get a more realistic view of what’s causing you to get rejection. Instead of focusing on your own thoughts, feelings and possible mistakes, focus on the other person’s reactions and facial expressions. Ask them how you’re feeling. If they seem nervous, tell them you notice it and that it wasn’t your intention to make them feel that way. This alone will make them feel more at ease and improve your social skills/social awareness, which will help you come across as less creepy in the future.
Getting Rejected by Someone You Genuinely Love
While all the tips in this article will shield you against feeling afraid of rejection by the general population of earth, it’s true that occasionally someone can manage to get under your skin.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a beautiful thing. It means you’ve really opened up to them and let them in.
I know there’s a lot of dating coaches who talk about “abundance vs. scarcity mindset” and a lot of drunk friends who think “there’s plenty of fish in the sea” is a fact you’ve never realized before. On one hand, there is truth to those statements, and most of us gradually start to realize it. When I look at the people I fell for when I was 14 years old, I think the deciding factor was simply that they liked me enough to show interest. That was all that was required to think they were special.
As we get older, we start to get more and more selective in our choice of mate. For years I hadn’t been afraid of rejection anymore, but the first time I met a woman who had exactly everything I looked for, I immediately reverted back to such a scarcity mindset that made me afraid of getting rejected again. Since then, I’ve met multiple women like that and once again the fear is gone.
But let’s be real here: Some people in your life will always feel special to you.
Don’t trick yourself into thinking they are replaceable just because "there is an abundance of potential partners out there". That is just something you tell yourself to make you feel more badass. I’m not saying “become a stalker and never let them go”. But definitely don’t lie to yourself and say that getting rejected by someone you truly, deeply care about doesn’t hurt in one way another.
It's not that there aren’t millions of other people on this planet you can care about and form a deep connection with. But every relationship in your life is unique. And if they leave you, you will miss the shit out of that person for a while. That doesn’t make you scarcity minded (unless you tell yourself you’ll be forever alone without them). It’s called accepting your emotions, and dealing with them instead of being a social robot 🙂
Consciously accepting these feelings and going through a period of grief if needed, will actually help you become less afraid of rejection. Because you will have experienced it in the worst way, and realized that 5 minutes you were still fine. Nothing has changed, you are just in the same situation as before you got rejected. Pushing these feelings away? Well, that just teaches you to avoid rejection even more 😉
What a “Rejection Proof Mindset” Looks Like
A person who is not afraid of rejection doesn’t necessarily feel all jolly and gay when it happens. They just know that when they give in to that fear, they are actually making it come true.
If your fear of rejection causes you to hesitate, pause, and give in to that weird feeling your stomach, you are actually rejecting yourself. By not talking to them or opening up about your feelings, the dreaded “no” has already become a reality. Everything you wished would happen has now become impossible. Everything you feared would happen in the worst case scenario, has already happened by not acting.
So in away, when you are afraid of rejection, you should be so afraid of it that you consciously stop being afraid of it because you know that’s how it’s most likely to happen. You with me? 😉
When you really like someone you know (or don’t know yet), don’t reject yourself on their behalf, before you have tried! Recognize your fear and do it any way. They’re probably just as afraid of rejection as you.
And while you walk up to them, replace the usual thoughts of “Oh my god… What if (s)he will say something very rude to me and other people will see it and I’ll be embarrassed.” with more positive ones like “I’m just a fluffy pink unicorn bouncing around this playground. Hey there you sexy blueberry! Wanna play with me? Yes! Awesome, let’s go o candy mountain! No? That’s okay, I’ll just bounce along and find someone else who is in a more playful mood! *Bounce* *Bounce* *Fart rainbows* *bounce*”
Or you know, if you’re a little more (wo)manly and tough inside your head, you can just think:
“I’m here to give us to get to know each other. Perhaps rock each others world a little if there’s time for that. Yes? Well let’s start rocking then! No? Oh, that’s okay, I’ll just move on until I meet someone who's more interested in people like me.”
Does this attitude sound a little weird to you? Well, for me it works wonders. Because when you think about what the adult world of dating really is:
It’s one big playground full of grown-up kids pretending they know what the fuck they’re doing while really they're just as nervous as you.
Just like on the schoolyard, some people are immediately drawn towards you, and some people hate you right off the bat for particular reason. But the majority of people, you’ll get along fine with if you give each other the chance to get to know each other.
If you walk through life with this attitude, a genuine harsh rejection is very uncommon. You’ll get some excuses for various reasons when they're not immediately into you. But more often than not, people will at least give you a chance to give them a change to get to know you.
And no matter what happens after that. Whether you end up as friends, lovers, or part as strangers:
You are still you.
You didn't lose anything.
You can never lose. Unless you reject yourself up front.
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