The Issue of Rejection

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Sophisticated conventional daters will sooner or later come across the mindset that “dating is a series of rejections” and that to be successful dater, it’s about getting okay with the inevitable. One aphorism you’ll hear is “if you want to get more comfortable with rejection, go out and get rejected five times,” — the idea being that you will learn to stop taking it so personally. In a way, I applaud these efforts as a step on the way to realizing that dating doesn’t have to hurt so much, having gone through a similar process earlier myself. I remember a time being afraid to date because it seemed so awful to have to reject people, and I often hear women saying the same thing. Having to reject can be almost as painful as being the rejected one.

Some conventional daters use a phrase they’ve learned in 12-step programs that “Rejection is God’s protection,” helping them see that perhaps this was not the right person or the right time and that maybe the “rejection” happened for a good reason.

But what happens to us when we use this word “rejection?” What does “rejection” feel like? Terrible, bad, and humiliating. It also feels horrible and cruel to “reject” another human being. We must be careful in the way we choose our words — they can create all kinds of states, situations, and mindsets, and the word “rejection” can create incapacitating feelings.

What if we do away altogether with this concept of “rejection?” Instead, we could see dating situations as we do with potential friends: you meet somebody at an event and hang out; you have a good time talking, but you aren’t necessarily moved to make plans to see them again. In dating, this would be called “rejection,” but in ordinary life there’s no rejecting going on, you just aren’t going to hang out. In dating it’s experienced as painful, and it doesn’t have to be any more so than it is meeting someone at a networking event.

What if we said instead “it’s just not a good fit” or “s/he wasn’t my cup of tea,” or “seemed like a lovely person, but there must have been things I wasn’t seeing about him/her.” How about if we say if we’re “ghosted:” “My goodness that’s a person who doesn’t seem to communicate very well, because they seemed like they did but then suddenly dropped off the planet. I need to be with a better communicator.”

In using words the conventional dating mindset encourages us to use we may become tougher and harder steeling ourselves against “rejection.” The whole concept of “rejecting” comes from the ego: this person is not good enough for me, or I am not good enough for them. What if we just enjoy our precious time with this person, and if it’s not right to be with them again, it doesn’t have to hurt us.  It could be held in a loving way that’s not rejecting people or being rejected by them.

© 2017 Catherine Auman  This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Tantric Dating: Bringing Love and Awareness to the Dating Process 

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Catherine Auman is a Los Angeles psychotherapist specializing in transpersonal psychology, also known as spiritual psychology.

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