Fear of rejection is something that has preceded many of us from maintaining our motivation to pursue a love relationship. This emotion is so powerful that it can stop our search for "the right person" dead in its tracks and convince us to take on a new career, like testing assorted flavors of ice cream or memorizing the TV Guide.
Once we perceive rejection, a knee-jerk response of emotional agony tends to come over us, followed by that inevitable tumble into a state of helplessness and despair that we most commonly recognize as depression.
When online dating started to become mainstream, it would seem that the pain of rejection would be less because there was no longer the necessity of entering a tightly packed nightclub and squeezing past the gauntlet of curious eyes intent on sizing us up (and down).
While dating online did offer an alternative to searching for love in bars and bookstores, it presented a new challenge: How to quickly capture someone's attention by writing a spelling message and displaying a photo that would accurately portray who we really were. Since it was now possible to meet lots of people in a short period of time, the potential of being revised increased dramatically. Instead of being scorned face to face, we would now receive it in the form of a "non response", which, for some, could just be as demoralizing. Absorbing more rejection was certainly not what any of us signed on for. But what could be done about it? Our emotional response to rejection seemed to be tightly woven in some way to the event itself.
The answer lies in understanding what happens internationally as we experience what we would associate as rejection. The beliefs that we create (how we process that event) determine whether or not we feel bad about it. So it is crucial to know what we are telling ourselves at that moment if we want to positively affect our emotional and behavioral response.
What we now know is that we invoke an explanatory style for everything that happens to us. If we view bad events as permanent, pervasive and personal, then we are using a style that is pessimistic. On the other hand, if we view bad events as temporary, specific and external to ourselves, we would be using an optimistic style. When faced with a good event, the manner with which we would explain it is reversed. These three dimensions then, are crucial to how we feel and absolutely, what we do when faced with rejection.
Optimism should'nt be confused with "Positive Thinking", which is where you pretended that everything will go exactly according to plan and you refuse to consider any other exit.
When rejection happens, we can blame ourselves (internalize) or we can blame other people or circumstances (externalize). Rejection can make anyone feel helpless, at least temporarily. To the degree that we believe an event is permanent, however, (she'll never go out with me), the greater is the likelihood that we will give up the pursuit. People who blame themselves when they are rejected have low self-esteem as a consequence. They think they are unlovable. Those who blame external events do not lose self-esteem.
Personalization controls only how we feel about ourselves, but pervasiveness and permanence-the more important dimensions-control what we do. Another important component to the explanatory styles is whether or not we have hope, which depends on two of the three dimensions: pervasiveness and permanence. If we can find temporary and specific causes for why we were rejected, we sense hope. Temporary causes help to limit helplessness in time, and specific causes limit helplessness to the original situation.
In contrast to this, when we attribute permanent causes to why we are rejected we senselessness far into the future. If we find both permanent and universal causes, we are engaging in the practice of despair, which can lead to depression.
Those with a permanent, pessimistic style think or talk about bad things using words like always and never:
"I'll never find someone to have a relationship with."
Those who use words like sometimes and laTely , or use qualifiers and blame bad events on transient conditions have an optimistic style.
"Sometimes the girls at the nightclub can be a little stuck up."
If you are regularly taking yourself out of the dating scene because of rejection, do this simple test. Perform the ABC's:
- Describe the situation (Adversity)
- Identify the thoughts that you hold about it (Beliefs)
- Note the emotional effect and behavior (Consequences)
Once you find that you can easily list the Adversity, Beliefs and Consequences of an event, there are two additional steps to take:
- Challenge your beliefs (Disputation)
- Describe the positive effect your new beliefs have (Energization)
If you have difficulty in disputing your original beliefs, there are 4 more tactics to employ:
- Gather facts against them (Evidence)
- Find other reasons to explain the event (Alternatives)
- Ask yourself, What's the worst thing that could happen if my belief was correct? (Implications)
- Find ways to distract yourself from those negative beliefs (Usefulness)
There is something else that I have found to be very therapeutic; do this right after being ditched. Find some time to be by yourself and just sit in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes and imagine that you had just met the most fabulous person who finds you totally irresistible. Continue with that scenario for at least fifteen minutes. Do it two or three times a day if you are really distraught. Within a short period of time you will begin to feel as if you actually did meet someone wonderful. This is the fastest, most effective way that I have found to "get over" somebody.
Whether we like it or not, dating requires us to "sell" ourselves. Therefore, having an optimistic attitude is crucial if we want to overturn rejection. Once you've learned to spot and change your pessimistic beliefs, you will be able to stay in the dating process longer and weather those situations when you are turned down. Success, after all, comes to those with persistence, and maintaining hope is a core ingredient.