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How hard it is to be rejected! How painful it is when you have invested your heart, time and money in someone, believing that your future together was golden and assured. You have finally found true happiness! Remembering how you loved, how wonderful and sweet your courtship. Then, to find it reduced to memories, old texts, cards and emails.

I have been in this dark cellar more times than I want to admit. The shock of hearing your partner’s words of goodbye, if you are even lucky enough that you are told versus hearing it from a friend, or worse yet, finding that your lover just disappeared never to be heard from again. This has also happened to me, and brings even more fear, disbelief, and worse, never ending questions in your mind that can’t be answered.

What hurts the most is when you believe that you have been loving, giving, a best friend. Remembering all the plans you made that you were so looking forward to and had ever reason to believe would come true. I am amazed at how far in the future my mind can go in planning my future with her. Many times I am too cautious to share them for fear that I will scare her away. It doesn’t matter whether she knows them or not….if she bails,  its as if we made the plans and now she is backing out.

It is hard to imagine that anyone who has loved has not been in this place. I don’t sure whether it is more painful when I was  younger or older, but I am thinking it is more painful now. Middle and later age dating has its own set of challenges. The baggage we carry is usually heavier because we have had more life experiences that have wounded us and challenged our optimism. We have more commitments with children and work, yet less avenues to meet someone who shares our values and preferences.

Online dating brings its own kind of rejection. Yes, there are many sites  that introduce us to many women. As I have found however, it is the women who are meeting all the men. Men have a much harder time meeting women they find attractive because they are swimming upstream with many men all vying for that person’s attention. So, the cards are stacked against us in online dating.

Online dating also brings its unique kind of rejection. Many times I have emailed a woman only to never hear back from her. Worse, I hear back and she sounds interested, may correspond for a few emails, and then never responds again. Or, you are able to establish an online relationship of sorts, but she won’t agree to meet you. Different than traditional methods of dating,  you can actually develop a friendship her online, only to find out that she won’t let it go further by actually meeting. There is also the times you get a symbol that she “likes” you, or is attracted to you, but won’t answer back.

I am here to tell you that with all the new ways of meeting men and women, there are also more ways to be hurt. A term known as “ghosting” is increasing in frequency. This term refers to someone you have been texting, dating and emailing that inexplicably disappears, without any warning or explanation. In fact, in the vast majority of cases you never hear back, even if  you have a date already planned. Talk about a bummer!

By now I have probably got you crying, believing that I am just trying to drum up business for my practice. That’s not my intent. My words are  letting you know that I have been there a number of times, even recently, and know how painful and discouraging rejection is.  I hear these stories from my clients, and I have done a lot of learning and research on how we recover when this happens.

One writer from Psychology Today puts rejection and its effects in a succinct way. Dr. Guy Winch, in a column titled “The Squeaky Wheel,” says that “rejection sends us on a mission to search and destroy our self esteem. “ He adds, correctly, that “rejection does not respond to reason.” Duh. How many times have you tried to think it through with logic and reason in hopes of ameliorating your pain, only to feel even more in pain.

Rejection creates an open wound in us. Depending on our commitment to her/him and how many dreams and history we had with them, our wound can vary from a two stitch closure to major hemorrhaging. Unlike those physical wounds, the emergency room,won’t help.  Unfortunately we must close this wound ourselves. But not all by ourselves.

When I hurt, I am getting better at identifying what will help close my wound. I ask myself whether friends and/or family are a good option to share what has happened and find support. In trying to find support however, it is easy to look in all the wrong places. Some family members and friends won’t get it no matter how much they try. Better to avoid them.

Rejection is one of the best times to start psychotherapy. It has helped me a number of times. Why? Because it opens a window into our inner selves. This only opens when we are either having a peak experience or suffering pain. Pain is the universe’s way of helping us evolve, grow, and learn more about ourselves. Life lessons often present themselves during these painful lessons. 

Since our self esteem is more fragile during rejection, it is always tempting to blame the other. While there will be some truth to your complaints, watch for how long you play the blame game. If this is your major way of closing your wound, then you will miss a golden opportunity to make real headway in your life, and less the possibility that you will repeat this same script again.

Remember to exercise. To breathe slowly and deeply when the memories come back as they will frequently do in the early days. You all have dreams that are painful that will give you what I call an “emotional hangover.” Trust me, it will pass.

The more you seek out support, the quicker the wound will close. Equally important, the more you are curious about your contribution to the ending, cleaner your healing. But, give yourself time first. You are repairing your self esteem, and that will happen, but it make take time.

Ultimately, you will come away stronger, emotionally lighter, and having found what is most important… a better relationship with yourself.

If I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to email me @john@meetjohnlee.com.