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5 steps for dealing with rejection

So, you’ve worked up the courage to ask someone on a date, and they’ve said: ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ Or you’ve spent ages constructing the perfect email to someone on a dating website, and you don’t even get a reply. Being rejected is never fun. It can be painful and embarrassing, it can batter your confidence – it can even put you off approaching anyone ever again! But rejection is a fact of life in the dating world, so we need to find ways of dealing with it…

1. Remember, we all face rejection

Yes, ALL of us – that includes the gorgeous ones, the funny ones and the successful ones. When I found the courage to make the first approach online, I was sometimes ignored – ouch! But chatting to other cyber-daters, I discovered it’s par for the course. Face-to-face rejection from someone in real life is tougher, but take comfort from the fact that it’s a universal experience.

2. Don’t take it personally

I know, I know: how can it not be personal? But if someone ignores you online, they’re not rejecting the real you, just a vague snapshot of who you are. Remember, some people are swamped with more messages than they can cope with (I know a woman who joined a dating website and by the next morning, she’d received over 200 messages – she was so overwhelmed, she simply closed her account). Perhaps the person you’ve contacted is only online to test the water or assess their own attractiveness, and they’re not looking for a relationship at all (it happens). On the other hand, maybe they recognise something in your profile that means you’ll be a bad match for each other.

Face-to-face rejection feels more personal, because… well, because it is! But it still may not be about you. They may be getting over a broken heart, or are in a difficult period in their life. Or perhaps you’re just not their type. Being turned down doesn’t mean you’re not attractive or likeable, or that you won’t be a perfect match for someone else. Look at it this way: by not wasting your time, they’re clearing the path for you to meet the right one.

3. Accept their decision with grace

It’s horrible being turned down, but we must respect a person’s right to decline. They can’t help how they feel any more than you can. So don’t react with anger or pettiness. Don’t pressure or pester them. Don’t try to punish them for wounding your feelings. Instead, say a prayer for their happiness, and move on.

In fact, I’ll go a step further and say: make it easy for them. Yes, you read that right! A kind person finds it painfully difficult to reject someone. A spiritually mature ‘rejectee’ will recognise this. So assure them you understand and they don’t need to feel guilty. It may seem a big ask, but with God’s help, you can do it.

‘I’ve had to turn down two gentlemen recently,’ says one of my Facebook friends. ‘I tried to reassure them they were wonderful guys, just not right for me. Unfortunately, things turned nasty and I had to end the friendships because of the unpleasant things they said, and their attempts to make me feel guilty.’

If you see the person regularly, resolve to not let it spoil your friendship. Behave as normally as you can and the awkwardness will soon ease, making it more bearable for both of you.

4. Don’t let it drag you down

If someone rejects you in a way that’s rude, obnoxious or hurtful, it’s easy to internalise a sense of worthlessness. Here’s the truth: that kind of behaviour says nothing about you, and everything about them. Be grateful their true colours came through early and saved you from wasting any more time and emotional energy on someone who’s not good enough for you.

If being ignored online is getting you down, and you’re focussing more on the rejections than the potential, give yourself a break for a while and focus on other things you enjoy.

If rejection is seriously affecting your self-esteem, seek counselling and prayer. ‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ says Psalm 34 v 18.

5. Use it as a learning tool

If you’re consistently ignored online, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your profile: is it too long, too short, too negative, too trite? What about your photos: could they do with being clearer, more smiley, less posed?

How about your initial messages: do you message people indiscriminately, demonstrating no interest in them as a person? People who sent me cut-and-paste messages and clearly hadn’t read my profile weren’t taken seriously. Do you approach people who’ve set criteria you don’t fit? I was often messaged by people overseas when I’d clearly stated I only wanted local contacts.

Take a lack of responses as a prompt to reassess your online presence. Maybe ask a friend for their honest opinion, too.

Over my last two blogs, I’ve shared the story of someone with great asking-out technique, who I sadly had to turn down. So, how did the gentleman respond? Some people react angrily to rejection, but not this lovely chap.

‘I’ve been turned down before, but never in such a gentle and beautiful manner,’ read his email. ‘When you write to a man you want, it must be wonderful! Many thanks for replying and I wish you all the best.’

And that, friends, is how it’s done.

(You can read the full, unedited story here)

Do you have any tips for dealing with rejection? Share your stories and advice!

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