How to deal with rejection

The world of love is close mates with the world of painful rejection. If you’re making yourself vulnerable, there’s always a risk of getting knocked back. But how do you cope with being rejected? And, also, how do you turn people down nicely? Read our guide on how to deal with rejection to find out.

A young woman is on her phone. She is coping with rejection. This is a wide-angle image.

Being rejected is a part of life

Some people will like you, some people won’t – after all, no one likes everyone they meet. This applies to a potential romantic partner as well. But knowing all of this doesn’t make coping with rejection any easier. Real life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Rejection stings and rejection hurts, and that’s normal

When you pluck up the courage to let someone know how you feel and your love interest says no, you’re bound to be upset and embarrassed. If you’re feeling low during this time, it’s important to take a moment to process everything. The key is to just let any negative emotion you’re feeling flow over like a river. 

Rejection doesn’t mean you’re unattractive

Remember – just because one person isn’t interested doesn’t mean you’re unattractive by any stretch of the imagination. So try not to get caught up in negative self-talk about why you’re not good enough. At the end of the day, we’re all attracted to different things. This means that not everyone you like in that way will automatically feel the same, and vice-a-versa.

The good news is that at least you know where you stand. There will be no more late nights worrying if they feel the same way. As difficult as it is, think of rejection as an opportunity to move on to better things… when you’re ready of course. After all, you don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t realise how amazing you are, do you?

Coping with rejection from a friend

This is probably the most painful rejection and it comes with a lot of messy aftermath as well. You see, if you were mates before everything went down then you’ve got a decision to make – should you stay friends? Honestly, it depends on how close you were to begin with, and how hard you find being around them right now. Whatever you decide, it may be a good idea to get some space from them for a while. That way you can figure out how you truly feel about them being in your life post-rejection. 

If you need some more advice, our article on falling in love with your best friend might help.

How to deal with rejecting someone who fancies you

Being rejected is really hard. So if someone approaches you and you’re not interested, be gentle with them. Turning someone down can be really unpleasant, but letting them keep the hope that something is gonna happen is worse. Our main tip is to be nice, but firm.

If you’re spending a lot of time with someone and you’re getting the sense that they want more, have a conversation with them. You need to be open and upfront about how you feel, otherwise things can get pretty awkward, really quickly.

Christine Northam, a counsellor from Relate, suggests that you say something like: “I’ve been wondering whether you’re interested in getting closer to me than I am to you?” If the answer is yes, then you can avoid leading them on. Explain your feelings and give rational reasons why you don’t want to be in a romantic relationship with them. We can’t lie, it’s gonna suck, but it’ll be better for everyone in the long run.

You can say that you ‘don’t want to be in a relationship at the moment’, but beware that if you then meet someone else you do like, your friend will probably feel betrayed. Also, if you say you’re not ready for a relationship, the person might just wait for you. So you need to be very clear about shutting all doors to a potential relationship, otherwise they might need emotional first aid.

If they won’t take no for an answer

If you’ve been really clear and firm about your feelings and they’re still persistent, then you have to be straight with them. Say: “I think we’re seeing too much of each other and we need a time out.” Sometimes a friendship can’t happen if the person just can’t let go of the idea of a romantic relationship between you two. On a serious note, make sure to beware of the threat of them having stalker potential 

How to deal with rejection that’s taken badly

Don’t be too surprised if the person makes it clear that they’ve taken your rejection personally – after all, if you were in their situation, wouldn’t you feel upset? You have to remember that when you feel rejected, you become a little more sensitive. 

All you can do is try not to make it too personal and be as gentle as possible. If you feel you’ve tried your hardest to cushion the blow, then there’s no reason for you to feel guilty about them being upset; sometimes it’s just part of the process of healing from rejection. In situations where the person has a lot of emotional problems they may appreciate some help. But you offering that help after you rejected them might seem like a low-blow. So it’s probably best to reach out to one of their friends and make sure that they’re being looked after.

Have you got some tips on how to deal with rejection? Or a story about rejecting someone else? We’d love to hear from you on our discussion boards.

Next Steps

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By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 22-Dec-2021