Understanding and overcoming rejection in midlife
Rejection is one of the worst parts of dating, but you should never take it personally. Rebecca Perkins shares her top tips for understanding and overcoming rejection in midlife
A fear of rejection is one of the main reasons why many midlifers don’t even consider embarking on an online dating journey. They’ve heard too many stories from too many friends that have led them to believe that it’s just not worth the anxiety.
Yes, rejection is horrible, but it’s also part of life. It’s something we grow up with; someone didn’t want to talk to us in the playground, we didn’t get to date our teenage crush, the job we were pinning our hopes on went to someone else. There’s no escaping it.
Unfortunately, most of us tend to buy into the belief that it’s all about us, that we’ve been personally rejected. We believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with us, but in reality, that’s simply not true.
Why is it that we take rejection so personally? I understand that is what it feels like, that it’s something about us that has led to the other person ending a relationship, not wanting to go on a second date or not liking us back on a dating site. We have so many thoughts and feelings invested in things working out that we forget it isn’t about us.
Relationships don’t need to define who we are. Being rejected isn’t an attack on our identity, yet this is what so many people believe it is. There’s a whole record industry devoted to love and heartbreak, after all!
I’ve had my fair share of rejection and the ensuing heartbreak, and this is what I’ve come to learn, over time, with a little wisdom:
- It doesn’t mean I’m any less lovable than I was before
- Sometimes there’s a sell-by-date on relationships
- It’s not about me
- It’s normal to feel sadness and loss at what might have been. Don’t be fearful of emotions; feeling them means I can move through them quickly. Taking time to wallow is okay; feel the emotion and then decide to move on
- Rejection is a part of life – and believing and knowing that I’m resilient and can rebuild my life after a rejection is important
- What do I believe about myself? How have I been rejecting myself day-to-day?
- Remind yourself that I’m good enough and lovable enough, and perhaps it is time to really look after myself
- I don’t need a relationship to define who I am
- All of the clichés weren’t true – I’m complete and don’t need another person to complete me, I’m certainly not missing a jigsaw piece!
Some further thoughts:
Yes, we all feel inadequate and devastated when we’re rejected or when a relationship ends. We do ask ourselves, ‘What did I do?’, ‘What is it about me that means this person doesn’t want to be with me anymore?’
The person rejecting you might have even told you that it’s about you, but believe me, it’s not. You are not flawed. Their rejection has nothing to do with your inherent nature – it’s simply their opinion.
The most important thing to ask yourself is why do you feel so devastated? Make sure that you aren’t rejecting yourself.
Are you showing yourself love and kindness? Your sense of self and who you are must be at the top of your to-do list. That way, whatever someone else does, whether that be not responding to a message, not following up on a promising date or ghosting out of a relationship, it’ll hurt, but it won’t shake you off course. Don’t let anything stop you from fully living and enjoying life.
There really are plenty more fish in the sea.
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