This is the ninth article in a series about handling rejection.
Q: How can people handle rejection in dating relationships?
A: The divorce support.about.com website published an article of tips for handling rejection following divorce. First, a time-out for logical thinking is much better than making decisions and managing dating based on feelings left from divorce.
Furthermore, most people who date have a list in their minds of what they are looking for. If a person doesn’t possess those desired attributes, a person will move on. Daters also put their best foot forward, so if someone seems wonderful and perfect, the other person does not see the whole picture.
Because any rejection in dating can open old wounds from divorce, a rejection in dating might be related to one’s feelings about an ex-husband. If there are unresolved feelings from a divorce, those need to be identified and resolved.
Divorced daters need to keep in mind their current dating situations are far better than their former marriages. Keeping a positive attitude and positive self-talk matters because they have an influence on how relationships turn out.
David Wygant shares his dating philosophy. If rejected in dating, he views that as the other person making a choice that is not him, rather than a rejection. He wants someone who reciprocates his feelings and wants to share life with him. He states he does not obsess about what he did wrong or how to make that person love him.
Wygant recommends not viewing rejection as rejection but rather as a choice two people make. When attraction is mutual, it is far more powerful than a one-sided relationship. Wygant then recommends changing the way a person thinks. Positivity is a powerful mindset and thinking of dating as a process rather than rejection when it does not work out is more effective.
The staff from eHarmony presents some advice about how to handle dating rejection positively. First, weigh the importance of a failed romance against all the other positive relationships with family and friends. In addition, most people have jobs and interests that are fulfilling. EHarmony recommends thinking about dating like a salesperson sizes up the other person and when that person is not really interested, moves on.
Although used in many contexts, it is nevertheless true that “the best defense is a good offense.” Dating is essentially a numbers game in which the rejections far outnumber positive choices. The more a person dates, the higher the odds of finding someone suitable.
In dating, a person needs to assess the bottle necks in the process and make changes accordingly. The roadblock could be the phone calls, the dating profile online, one’s conversations or one’s general self-presentation.
In an article by Guy Winch, Ph.D., he makes a series of recommendations for couples in ongoing relationships. When feeling the need to talk, a person should tell his or her partner and they should choose a time for an uninterrupted conversation. The next step, once you have a partner’s attention, is to present the facts. The other person might or might not be aware of his or her behavior.
Winch then recommends stating what effect the behavior has had. He also talks about how important it is that the spouse does not speak in blaming, critical terms. The purpose of this conversation is not to put the other person on the defensive.
Next, the spouse with the complaint needs to state clearly a request for change. If there have been previous conversations about the problem, mention that there have been other talks about this same situation and the changes did not last.
If a partner gets defensive, or resists changes, then ask that person for some feedback. Ask the other person how he or she sees things, what he or she recommends for improving things, and if there are issues he or she is upset about that are affecting the relationship.
Winch then suggests a discussion about specific steps both can take to improve the relationship. A surreal step that can be implemented immediately is the best way to demonstrate an intention to work on the situation. Finally, Winch states periodic check-ins to make sure changes are maintained is recommended.
In another article about divorce support.about.com, the subject is how much is fear affecting one’s search for another relationship. The first fear is loneliness and being alone at meals, in evenings and on weekends. Closely following is the fear of potential social ramifications. These would include stereotypes of a person as a divorcee, a third wheel or a failure in relationships.
Then there is the fear of becoming old, fat or ugly. These feelings might cause a person to accept someone less than ideal due to feelings that one cannot do better. The next fear is financial insecurity. Divorces are expensive, and neither partner typically has the same income he or she had before the divorce.
Divorcees worry about their children lacking a strong mother or father in their lives. Guilt causes divorced parents to figure that perhaps they should have put their children’s needs first. Divorce also causes people to question their own value or worth. They generalize their failures in divorce to their life in general. Last, divorced partners face an unknown future. They need to resist playing, “What if something awful happens.” Honesty and self-awareness are the best ways to avoid fears, insecurities and neediness, and confusing them with love.
• Next week’s article will discuss positive strategies for handling rejection with both males and females.
Judy Caprez is professor emeritus at Fort Hays State University.