A Word About Rejection

I think it’s fair to say that one of the many things ALL human beings have in common is our yearning for love and acceptance. And one interesting thing about love is that regardless of the country or the culture, no matter the language or the laws, and regardless of one’s socio-economic status, love is expressed in mostly similar ways throughout the world – w­ith a tenderness that warms the heart and lightens the touch.

It doesn’t matter if the object of our affection is a newborn baby, or a frail and declining elder; it can be a sibling, a parent, a close friend, or a lover real or imagined – when it comes time to express our love, something inside us shifts gears and we become all soft and gooey.

Sometimes, however, when our love – particularly the romantic variety – is not reciprocated, it can cause anguish that pierces the heart … an ache there’s just no escaping. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often, but I’m guessing each of us has experienced it at least once in our lifetime … more, if we’ve been particularly unlucky – or if our ‘chooser’ has been out of whack.

It’s Not You … It’s Me

This can be a very challenging time, both for us and for our friends who have to contend with us as we process this rejection. Nothing seems to hurt deeper than rejection, does it? Curiously, rejection in its simplest form can be a fairly straightforward matter – like any other potential transaction, we put forward an offer and it’s either accepted or declined. However, it’s the meaning we attach to being declined that really does us harm.

For some reason, when we offer our heart to someone and they refuse it – or worse, they accept it and then abuse it – we tend to internalize some kind of blame for this outcome, as if our love was dismissed as inferior or otherwise devalued … and this leaves us feeling bad about ourselves. It’s a peculiar reaction, really, to willingly assume we’re not enough.

Wait … Maybe It Is You!

There are many opportunities for romance throughout one’s lifetime … some liaisons are deep and enduring, some are intense but temporary, and some are peripheral – which is to say, they never quite evolve beyond casual. They all have their season, and each can contribute a unique thread to the tapestry of our life.

The trick is to recognize which is which, so that our expectations match our reality. When we allow ourselves to get out of sync with this reality, that’s when trouble begins. One partner wants more, the other wants less; one partner becomes insecure, the other becomes wary; resentments form, injury develops, war is waged, and eventually … all is lost. 

We Actually Have To … Talk?

The key to avoiding such heartbreak is sincere communication … the kind where both partners bring total honesty to the table and are willing to become vulnerable enough to share their true feelings; the kind that can germinate the seeds of common understanding and trust, identifying to what degree their wants and needs align, and to what extent it’s safe to reveal their heart – and then invest just to that extent, and no further.

Sadly, this quality of communication isn’t as common as one would hope … and as a result, Love takes the blame for failed relationships – when it’s likely more a problem of mismatched intentions from the very beginning.

Leave That Baggage In The Past …

So, how do you communicate your expectations in a relationship – are you open to having ‘that conversation’ when it seems time to take the plunge? Or do you just close your eyes and take a leap of faith – right over the edge? And if by chance it doesn’t work in your favour, do you grow from the love that was lost? Or does your heart become bitter and resentful – and if that happens, who suffers from such a shift? Honestly, was there nothing of value that you can take away with you? No lesson; no cherished moments; nothing that made the experience a rich encounter?

If you are one of the many people who still carry the baggage of a failed romance, why not re-examine it from the perspective of mismatched intentions and see if that helps bring some peaceful closure for you. Try to not need to assign fault, but instead accept it simply as misaligned expectations, and release yourself from the burden of resentment. Your heart will thank you …

… and while you consider this, remember focus on the Good Things in Life!



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About Lily-Ann MacDonald

Lily-Ann MacDonald is a fully-trained Certified Life Coach and author, whose engaging articles encourage readers to reconsider their perspective on a wide range of personal growth and social development topics. Her comfortable narrative puts the reader at ease, while giving them food for thought. To find out more about how to work with her, visit http://stepoutofthemist.com and get better acquainted.


A Word About Rejection — 14 Comments

  1. Lily-Ann,

    I think you summed it up beautifully when you said, “The meaning we attach to being declined is what really does us harm.”

    We give meaning to everything and make up stories to go along with it.

    It would truly be a gift to ourselves if we could keep our hearts open and let go of the resentment and fault finding.



    • Hi, Dawn …

      What a great observation … we do make up stories to put context to our perceptions. I never really thought of it that way, but that’s exactly what we do. The problem occurs when our perception is way off base because we’ve made assumptions that are not verified through meaningful dialogue. And for want of that, our stories can often read more like fiction than fact – but by then, the damage is usually already done.

      Blame and fault-finding are two of the most useless exercises I can think of, and can only lead to more resentments and bitterness. And with that kind of negative energy surrounding us, it’s hard to imagine our next relationship faring any better … and that’s the trap. We have to learn to stop ourselves from becoming so toxic that we’ve forgotten how to be tender and sensitive and nurturing of our partner. Instead, we should focus on building trust and creating understanding – and that would indeed be such a gift to ourselves, and each other.

      I’m glad you stopped by and left your thoughts on this subject … I found them very thought provoking.


  2. Since 1976 I have had my heart ripped apart three times. Now, I figure I’m too old & set in my boring ways & feel that I’ll never let anyone else take my heart again. I have family, friends & 2 pets to sleep with at night.
    I’m the type that hates conflict so I quietly stew over things that bother me or silently weep over hurt feelings but never say anything because the “what ifs” that I play in my mind might turn out worse than just ME being hurt. I know it’s wrong. I don’t give the other person a chance to explain or fix the problem. I’d work on that but it’s too late now. I expect to die single & lonely & all I ever wanted in life was to find someone to love forever.

    • Hi, Kate …

      Well, that’s quite the picture that you’ve painted. Sounds like your mind is made up, and you’re not willing to even entertain the possibility that there’s someone ‘out there’ who’s looking for someone to love, and who may have the exact same fears and insecurities as you – someone who might be such a perfect partner for you, who won’t think you’re “too old” (for what, by the way?) and too set in your boring ways (compared to whom?) …

      The thing about relationships is that they’re risky. Sometimes we get our heart ripped apart – I’ve had my share, and I’ve learned it’s possible to heal from a broken heart. But is that the fault of Love, itself? In my case, I needed to become more flexible and at that time was unwilling to yield – and it cost me dearly. That’s something I brought onto myself, and could have averted … but I hadn’t learned that lesson yet. I had to learn that Love isn’t a take-it or leave-it proposition – Love is hard, and it requires a lot of compromise and effort from both participants. But if you’ve been careful in selecting the object of your affection, and have identified a spark of interest from them that could grow into a flame, then your next step is to explore where you’re compatible and where you’ll (both) need to make some adjustments (if you want the relationship to thrive). You have to be willing to do at least that much, right? Love is rarely an ‘off-the-rack’ proposition.

      Maybe your ‘chooser’ has been on the fritz … and you keep being drawn into relationships that were never a good fit for you. There’s a lot to consider before starting a relationship with someone – important things like compatibility, shared values, enough similar preferences to be comfortable together, enough differences to keep things interesting. Then there’s learning to trust each other – because trust isn’t simply granted … it takes time to develop – you can’t push that river.

      The best thing about sincere communication is that it actually avoids conflict, rather than creating it. Conflict usually only happens when expectations are dashed … but if you establish your expectations during the ‘getting to know you’ period, conflicts are significantly diminished – although certainly not eliminated. Occasional conflicts are inevitable when two people live together – whether in a romance, in a family, or just in a friendship. It’s probably unreasonable to expect to never disagree. The key is to establish the rules around how to approach disagreements or conflicts – and then live by them. And be honest and candid about your feelings or your position on an issue. If you can be forthcoming and truthful about your thoughts or preferences (instead of staying quiet and stewing, which is patently unfair to your partner, by the way), conflicts get a negotiated settlement, rather than becoming a silent (but deadly) battle ground.

      If you really want to find someone to love forever, you must consider adopting a more up-beat attitude … one where you contribute positive energy into the mix, rather than draw energy out of it. It sounds as if you have given up on even making an effort to be happy, much less find a loving relationship. If that’s the case, then you will very likely create a self-fulfilling prophecy that matches your lament. But if you’re really being truthful to yourself about Love being the only thing you’ve ever wanted, then as long as you draw a breath, how can you turn your back on that yearning?

      Instead of resigning yourself to a self-imposed state of loneliness, why not do some soul-searching and look for changes you can make that will rejuvenate your spirit, perk up your attitude, and become a breath of fresh air that will be like a magnet that draws people to you – one of which may be the very Love you so long for.

      Animals are great companions, but they’re a poor substitute for a loving partner. Step outside yourself and greet a new day … you control what you think and how you feel – if it doesn’t feel good to you, then change it. Turn it into something else. Become proactive in your own life … even if it’s only baby steps. Just keep taking them, and before you know it, you’ll have made some noticeable progress – it won’t happen overnight, but it WILL happen if you feed it. You absolutely don’t have to feel the same today as you felt yesterday … you have to at least try to steer yourself in the direction your heart yearns for. In fact, you’re the only one who can.

      I hope you value yourself enough to invest some effort into such an introspective adventure. Please do come by again and let me know how you’re doing … and thanks very much for sharing these feelings, Kate.


    • Hi, Louise …

      Well, thank you very much – I appreciate the compliment! :-)

      Heartbreak is a pain in the … well, heart … but it can also make a person hurt all over, and it’s the kind of hurt that can be debilitating. I’m happy that your experience worked itself out, and I wish such was the case for everyone – but it often isn’t. And more is the pity, because I think just some simple ground rules at the start and a commitment to abide by them could really be a game changer for a lot of couples – if only they would risk it.

      I’m glad you enjoy my writing, and I sincerely hope to see you drop by again … I try to publish an article by the end of each weekend, more or less.


  3. Sometimes we learn the wrong lessons. Getting rejected usually means that we need to try harder, or change our approach, but for the people who have low self esteem, it could lead to the limiting thoughts such as: I’m a failure! The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself.

    • Hi, Milan …

      Sometimes we do learn the wrong lessons, I agree … but while perserverence is often effective in the pursuit of worldly achievements or personal goals, I’m not sure I agree that in the theatre of Love, it will necessarily bring success – more often, it’s more likely to bring annoyance (and possibly stalking charges or a restraining order!). If someone tells me they’re not romantically interested, will they become interested just because I try harder? Love is a chemistry thing, usually, and not very often an effort thing … at least, that’s been my experience.

      I have worked with many people who believe that if they just try a little bit harder, the object of their affection will somehow come to their senses and return their love. This is usually so futile, and can really damage the self-esteem of the person vying for the affection … because it amounts to repeated rejection – each time diminishing their self-confidence a bit more. It’s also not fair to the other person, because they begin to feel harrassed – and again, resentments and bitterness are almost certain to follow.

      I believe it is far better to accept ‘no thanks’ as the truth of the matter and, while possibly salvaging a friendship from it, turn our romantic energies further afield in search of a more appropriate (and willing) connection. Nobody wants to fall into the trap of loving someone who doesn’t love them back – that quickly becomes unhealthy and more than a little dysfunctional, and I’ve seen people get stuck there many times.

      But I sure do agree that the story we tell ourselves has a huge impact on how we frame the message. If someone doesn’t return our affection, it doesn’t mean we are un-lovable, or a failure, or anything negative. It just means that the other person isn’t interested in a romantic liaison. And I believe that if we can take that at face value, the story we tell ourselves can be growth-promoting rather than destructive.

      Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this, Milan … it’s an interesting perspective to consider.


    • Hi, Merlene …

      Welcome to my blog page … I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I’m glad you got something from my message, and I hope you’ll stop by again. I try to post before the end of every weekend, more or less. I sometimes get delayed, but mostly not …


    • Hi, Lyndah …

      Thanks … I always appreciate your feedback.

      This subject is one that was weighing on my mind because of what a friend was going through, and as I thought more about it, this article popped out. Sometimes it just goes like that. It seems it struck a chord with a few people, and that’s always rewarding.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours … may it be a joyous time for you all.


  4. Great reflection Lily-Ann! What I have learned about love lately, whether it is for a Child, a Friend, a Lover, etc. is that we need to be able to open up and make ourselves vulnerable in order to let love in.

    If we do not express our feelings, like you said then the other person does not know our needs, and just how much we care.

    If both can make themselves vulnerable, and REALLY listen to the other, then it can open up to a much more deeper and meaningful love along the way.

    Thanks Lily-Ann!

    Love and Blessings,

    Ang :-)

    • Hi, Ang …

      I believe that’s exactly what it takes to build a successful loving relationship … and therefore the very reason so many relationships fail. Becoming vulnerable is hard, isn’t it? And the more often we ‘test the waters’ and come up short, the harder it is to trust someone next time. I understand that, and have even experienced it myself … but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try. Love is a risk – especially when it’s romantic. But when it clicks … there’s nothing like it in the world – I guarantee it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Ang … it’s always nice to hear from you!


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