How Rejection Can Make You More Successful at Everything

October 7, 2010

“Through my illness I learned rejection. I was written off. That was the moment I thought, Okay, game on. No prisoners. Everybody’s going down.”

Lance Armstrong


Rejection sucks.

So says Harriet Lerner, a clinical psychologist at Psychology Today who writes The Dance of Connection. Of course it does. Not only does it feel terrible in the moment, but it has a way of coming back to haunt us in the days, weeks, even years that follow it. We torture ourselves repeatedly, reliving our moments of humiliation. Some people, though, have a way of taking rejection in stride. A lucky few are seemingly immune to it – they just keep putting themselves out there until they get what they want. The truly courageous use rejection to motivate them, just as Lance Armstrong did.

Dr. Lerner speaks to our natural fears when we risk revealing our true selves:

“When we take rejection as proof of our inadequacies it’s hard to allow ourselves to risk being truly seen again. How can we open ourselves to another person if we fear that he or she will discover what we’re trying desperately to hide – that we are stupid, boring, incompetent, needy, or in some way deeply inadequate?

The fear of rejection becomes understandably intense when it taps into our own belief that we are lesser than others – or lesser than the image we feel compelled to project.

Rejection is a fast route back to childhood shame.”

How Rejection Benefits Us

1. It makes us high.

Despite our very normal trepidation, most of us subject ourselves to rejection repeatedly. It’s really the only alternative to shutting out life entirely. Rejection from an academic institution or potential employer sucks of course, but there is perhaps no worse pain, no more personal torture, than that of romantic rejection. A recent study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine used MRIs to study the brains of those suffering romantic rejection. Surprisingly, they found that during periods of strong feelings of romantic rejection, the brain’s reward and addiction centers showed increased activity. Specifically, dopamine production was higher in college students who were dumped by their partners but were still intensely “in love.”

“Romantic love, under both happy and unhappy circumstances, may be a ‘natural’ addiction,” said [neuroscientist Lucy] Brown. “Our findings suggest that the pain of romantic rejection may be a necessary part of life that nature built into our anatomy and physiology. A natural recovery, to pair up with someone else, is in our physiology, too.”

I don’t know if it’s comforting to realize we’re actually designed to feel this way, but most young women are familiar with the feeling of an unrequited crush being considerably more worthwhile, even entertaining, than utter disinterest in any particular male. As Mr. Bennet said to Lizzie about her sister Jane in P&P:

Poor Jane. Still, a girl likes to be crossed in love now and then. It gives her something to think of… and a sort of distinction amongst her companions.

2. It motivates us to do better.

The Albert Einstein study didn’t reveal differences between men and women, which surprised me. Both men and women experience rejection, but men suffer romantic or sexual rejection more frequently and more publicly. That means more humiliation, adding insult to injury. How could there be any reward in that for males?

Macleans published an article by Jane Switzer on The Benefits of Rejection, attributing the lack of female entrepreneurship to less experience with sexual rejection:

“Why are there still so few female entrepreneurs? According to one MIT researcher, the answer is simple: it all comes down to sexual rejection. Chizoba Nnaemeka, of the MIT Entrepreneurship Review, says women aren’t as practised as men at being turned down. As such, she says, they don’t learn some of the skills required to strike out on their own in business, such as “confidence and optimism, sales and marketing, resilience, and trace amounts of desperation.” To pursue romantic relationships, after all, is to risk repeated rejection, much like trying to raise significant amounts of capital to finance a start-up.”

Nnaemeka doesn’t attribute the difference to biology, but rather to the fact that men tend to take rejection less personally, perhaps having become more accustomed to the experience. Males chalk up rejection to poor preparation, which motivates them to work harder. Women tend to get stuck in a cycle of self-doubt, seeing rejection as confirming a lack of ability on their part.

Clearly, there is some kind of reward mechanism at work in the brain – it may be that the pain of rejection makes future success more likely. But how? What are the benefits of rejection, and how can we tap into them without suffering a lot of additional “practice”?

How We Can Harness the Positive Power of Rejection

1. Accept the inevitability of rejection in life.

You don’t need to me tell you that everyone experiences rejection. Often the people who you think “have it all” are people who have endured more rejection than most. What sets them apart is their ability to use rejection to propel them forward. Their world view does not permit self-pity.

John Rowlinson, a life coach, explains why some people seem able to brush off rejection so easily:

“A confident person realizes that rejection is simply a part of the risk of living and that, in order to grow spiritually, we all have to take the occasional risk and step outside of our comfort zone. They don’t take rejection personally and often view it as a flaw on the other person’s behalf as opposed to feeling badly about themselves. In other words, they think it’s the other person’s loss.”

2. Embrace your personal rejections.

When you are rejected, don’t sit around wishing you could turn back the clock. That would only put you in a position of experiencing the rejection all over again. Don’t wish you’d never asked for what you wanted. That would just leave you wondering. You needed to be rejected, so that you can get on with what comes next in your life. Plus, there’s only so much self-pitying any of us can stand. I wrote a post a while back about surviving a breakup, and laid out how it works. After all the ice cream, the crying on shoulders, the endless analyses, the hygiene break, you will get sick of your own misery:

After a little while, you will get bored of all of the above. You will be crying your eyes out in your dark room, and you will catch a glimpse of the time. You will say to yourself, “Oh, look, Lost is about to come on.” You will wander over to the TV in the PJs you have been wearing for 72 hours, and you will turn it on. And at some point in the next hour, for just a moment or two, you will forget. And the healing has begun.

As Mr. Bennet said, rejection makes you the center of attention for a bit. Indulge in that. Nurture yourself and ask the people close to you for support. Then stop it before you bore everyone to death and invite more rejections.

3. Learn from rejection.

The best thing about rejection is that it can help you get better. Sometimes we’re rejected because we didn’t prepare enough. Other times we are rejected because we are not attractive to the other person. Whether you’re learning how to polish your game or that you’re wonderful as you are, there’s always something we can take away from a rejection experience. You may never know that you’re skinny and he likes ’em curvy, or that you remind her of someone she’d rather forget. You don’t need the specific reason – it’s not helpful. What you need to know in your bones is that you are not right for all markets. You’ll stumble into many dead ends along the way, and you’ll think you know what is best for you, but you’ll be wrong.

Remember that when a person says, “It’s not you, it’s me,” they’re usually right, even if they don’t know it. Lerner points out that a rejection often says as much or more about the person turning you down:

“You may even believe that the person who does the rejecting is automatically superior to the person who is rejected. Relationships are not some sort of bizarre competition in which the person who gets out first, refuses to attach, or suffers less is proclaimed the winner. Rejection can reveal just as much and often more, about the insecurities and fears of the person doing the rejecting.”

4. Give thanks for the bullets you dodge as a result of rejection.

Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in California, says he was the strikeout king of college dating. Many years later, even with success, positive feedback and a thicker skin, he is still sensitive to rejection. It always stings.

“It has been said that “rejection is protection,” which means that you are probably better off not having this person in your life. Truth is, you can’t really want someone who doesn’t want you. Most people pursue those who reject them because it’s a challenge or they just can’t take no for an answer. I think it’s a waste of time — and why would you even consider hanging out or working with someone who isn’t 100 percent on your team?…Even if you’re still reeling from a recent rejection, you must be open to what is around the corner. And chances are it could be much better than what just left.”

This is the same point that Greg Behrendt made in He’s Just Not That Into You, when he advised women: “Don’t waste the pretty.”

It’s emotionally counterproductive to pine for what we cannot have, and it also wastes a lot of time. You can make something good happen for yourself if you get out there and get better at sensing a good match.

5. Take the initiative.

Steve Pavlina has a very successful blog called Personal Development for Smart People. In his book of the same name, he says:

“People often take circuitous paths to their goals to minimize the risk of rejection. For example, they’ll send out feelers through their social network to try to determine in advance whether their requests will be accepted or rejected. The idea is that if they can sniff out a negative response in advance, outright rejection can be avoided. If a positive result seems guaranteed, then action can be taken with minimal risk.

There’s really just one problem with [this approach]: it’s stupid...It’s weak, dishonest, and manipulative. People who go out of their way to avoid rejection only weaken themselves in the long run. They expend enormous amounts of thought and energy trying to manipulate circumstances…If you want something, ask for it. Accept the risk of rejection, and summon the courage to ask for it anyway. If you get turned down, you’ll survive. You’ll learn from the experience and grow stronger. If you don’t get rejected,  you’ll achieve your outcome in the shortest and simplest way possible. When you risk rejection, either you get what you want or you build some courage. Either way the outcome is positive.

There needn’t be any embarrassment if you simply accept the outcome instead of resisting it…take solace in the fact that you successfully exercised your courage. Don’t worry about rejection, just accept that it’s going to happen now and then.”

I’m a firm believer in Saying What You Need to Say. It feels great, even when you know you can’t get your way. There is comfort in being authentic, and known. You can hold your head high afterwards, not cringe in humiliation.

Conversely, fearing rejection means giving away your personal power (Livestrong):

“It’s the act of giving to others more power than I give to myself over how I feel about myself. What the others say or feel about me is the determinant of how I feel about myself. I am completely at the mercy of others for how happy or sad I will be. My self-satisfaction and belief in myself is in their hands. Fear of rejection is the abdication of power and control over my own life.”

6. Choose Actions in Accordance With Your Values

If you fake it in some scene where you don’t belong, you’re not going to make it. You will be sniffed out as an impostor and you will be rejected, repeatedly. Peer pressure is built on the power of fear of rejection.

From the Livestrong site:

“Fear of rejection is the underlying process in the power of peer pressure that grabs hold and makes people act in stereotypic, “pop” culture, counter culture, punk, hipster, preppie, yuppie, and other styles. They crave recognition and acceptance from the reference group with whom they want to be identified.”

The worst outcome when you’re pursuing goals that are not congruent with your personality or objectives is when you manage to go along and get along. Embracing actions outside your true nature will have you living in constant fear of detection, and you wind up spinning an intricate web of denial, rationalization and cognitive dissonance just to survive. That’s quite a toxic cocktail, and it’s not possible to be truly happy in your life with that strategy.

Be true to yourself. If and when that causes you to be rejected, give thanks. When you are not rejected, you’ll know that you have found your people, your home.

  • GudEnuf

    Funny that you would publish this the same day Marginal Revolution talks about Rejection Therapy.
    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/10/rejection-therapy.html
     
    P.S. Steven Pavlina is not an author I would recommend taking advice from. Remember that polyamory experiment that ended his marriage?

  • What really sucks is being rejected without ever having been asked to be accepted in the first place. I would loved to have just been ignored from the ages of about 11 to 15.

    You have to find a way to frame rejection that makes it possible to try again. Have something going with at least a couple others so one can’t  hurt you too much.

    I suspect trying something new, you are highly likely to fail and be rejected. Meeting women from online sites after not having done it for a long time, I have found that at first they have a pretty negative reaction to me, because I come across pretty uptight. After the first two I seem to loosen up.

    I plan to try cold approaches, but I want to have a couple sex buddies first, as confidence backstops.

  • @Gud Enuf

    Hey, good to see you! That is too funny that Marginal Revolution covered this today. Usually my husband sends me those tidbits, but he didn’t forward this one. I actually think that rejection therapy game sounds extremely useful. It’s Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and it makes total sense to me. I think I’m going to do it. (Even though I have little fear of rejection – anyone who doesn’t love me is an idiot.)

    .

    Did Steve Pavlina’s marriage end? I do recall that polyamory business. It was very clear at the time that he gave his wife an ultimatum, so that he could be a tomcat with permission. He’s also become quite the huckster – with his conventions costing thousands. He reminds me of a corrupt evangelical preacher. However, having said that – his advice on personal development has been incredibly well received. He probably gets 100 x’s my traffic! This is a case of needing to separate the message from the messenger, if  you can.

  • @Omega Man

    What really sucks is being rejected without ever having been asked to be accepted in the first place. I would loved to have just been ignored from the ages of about 11 to 15.

    That’s a really good point – bullying is an extreme form of peer pressure rejection, and it’s very difficult to cope when you’re just a kid. Kids have an incredible gift for cruelty without the necessary corresponding empathy. That kind of rejection in adolescence leaves real scars.

    You have to find a way to frame rejection that makes it possible to try again. Have something going with at least a couple others so one can’t hurt you too much.

    Another excellent point. It’s diversification, and it makes sense – lessening the potential pain of any one rejection by having numerous things in the works. This is very true with a job search. If you hear about a job, and apply for it, and have an interview, you’re going to be focusing on that one opportunity, and not getting the job will feel devastating. On the other hand, if it’s one of six jobs you’re actively pursuing, you’re much more likely to say to yourself, “OK, cross that one off the list.” It always feels better to take action, so there’s a double benefit in taking active steps to go after numerous opportunities.

    I suspect trying something new, you are highly likely to fail and be rejected.

    Agreed. It’s important to realize that upfront. It enables you to gird yourself for failure as part of a learning experience. If you cut yourself some slack while you’re learning or getting comfortable, you can write those early attempts off and get more invested as you feel yourself getting comfortable.

    .

    Awesome insights, Omega Man. Thanks very much for the comment.

  • I have been universally rejected by women and it hasn’t made me more successful with them.  And like with Omega Man I haven’t even asked to be accepted by most women and not in a long time, yet I still get “rejected”.
    The only way this can make sense is if they mean successful in a more global sense.  My rejection by women did inspire me to become self employed where I deal with less BS and make more money.

    “Why are there still so few female entrepreneurs? According to one MIT researcher, the answer is simple: it all comes down to sexual rejection. Chizoba Nnaemeka, of the MIT Entrepreneurship Review, says women aren’t as practised as men at being turned down.

    While it’s true that women don’t really experience rejection that isn’t the reason for the lack of female entrepreneurs.  It has more to do with women being less capable.  That’s why you see women and not men clamoring for a return to communist East Germany (which you can read about at The Spearhead).

    • It has more to do with women being less capable.

      No. Not acceptable. I try to stand up against misandry – you think I’m going to tolerate misogyny? W&N, statements like this offer clues as to why you may be unsuccessful with women. You don’t like us very much, and you disrespect us as well.

  • Robson

    “When you are not rejected, you’ll know that you have found your people, your home.”
    BS indicator goes from yellow to red: what if your people set contains only one element:  you?
    BUT: when my younger brother had a painful breakup with his first girlfriend I thought of him “lucky bastard, at least had his chance”.
     

    • BS indicator goes from yellow to red: what if your people set contains only one element: you?

      I do not believe that anyone needs to be alone. Whatever characteristics a man may have, there is a female with characteristics of similar “value” in the SMP. This goes for both sexes.

  • filrabat

    All in all, a good post.
    However, all the first five steps will NOT come to pass if you don’t learn 6 first
    i.e. Choose Actions in Accordance With Your Values.
    I learned this the hard way, so I know this through all too personal experience!  Without having point 6 branded deeply into the depths of your heart, mind and soul, I assure you that the other five points are just rhetorical feel-good sloganeering and nothing more.  Put it this way, I didn’t start feeling good about myself (as in “I feel worthy and it shows!”) until I figured out just exactly what kind of person I was deep deep down in side, then started acting in accordance with that kind of person  – i.e. my authentic self.  It only took a little while (a few days, a few weeks at most) for my life to be so much more relaxed, fulfilled, and generally at peace with myself!  ONLY after I learned (as in “spiritually realized/understood”) what Point 6 truly means could the rest of the list even begin to fall in place for me.   The subsequent results for me were near-miraculous.

    • @Filrabat
      Wow, that is a powerful testimony. Yes, perhaps 6 should really be step #1. I agree that it’s the most important thing – and something I believe many young people lose sight of. Contemporary cultural, media and peer pressure all combine to ramp up the fear of rejection to staggering levels. Kids worry that stepping off that treadmill signals defeat, when in reality, it’s a sign of real growth and maturity.

  • filrabat

    P.S. when you “act in accordance with your values (also, ‘with your deep-down authentic self’), you have a more solid basis for justfying your actions.  You feel good about yourself, and you begin to realize that it’s NOT a matter of what mainstream society or the “right” crowd thinks – it’s a matter ow what’s good for you.  You’d rather die alone than jump through the hoops to gain the approval of others (those others, you soon learn, are usually picky, petty, judgmental -not to mention egotistical – anyway.  So in addition to being away from them, you no longer find yourself polluted by those peoples’ value system).  Result: you become more free-thinking, confident, and actually enjoy being alone to do your own thing.  No obligations to anyone except yourself, except to the extent where true morals, ethics, integrity, and general values come into play.

  • Robson

    “Embracing actions outside your true nature will have you living in constant fear of detection”
    Either you really REALLY mean that, or silently assume that everyone has a better “TRUE” inner self to discover.
    I did many introspections in my past and I decided I don’t like what I see. In order to change that I must act against myself. Of course, one may say: hey, but that was not REAL you what you saw! WHO could judge better than me then? Do you pollute my value system  by judging me this way?
     

    • @Robson
      You raise an important point – what if we genuinely want to improve on our natures? I think we all need to choose which aspects of our natures to let flourish, and which aspects we need to tamp down. If I’m impulsive and that tends to get me into trouble, I’d better summon the self-discipline to perform my responsibilities well. So perhaps it’s a question of what constitutes one’s nature – personality, character, values, life goals? I believe that people living in constant fear of rejection are more likely to succumb to pressure that makes them do things they don’t feel comfortable with. And the reason they don’t feel comfortable is because they believe those actions are wrong. There’s no way to be happy if one is making choices that one suspects are wrong. A narcissist or sociopath can be happy because they lack conscience. Perhaps it should read that embracing actions that bring out the worst in your nature will lead to crisis at some point – when the disconnect between your actions and your values becomes too wide.

  • “still so few female entrepreneurs”…the number isn’t actually all that small; according to SBA, 30% of new-business starts in the US are by women. True that many of these are “lifestyle” businesses which have no intent of being the next Microsoft; they are businesses, with a risk of failure, nonetheless.

  • Robson

    “which aspects of our natures to let flourish, and which aspects we need to tamp down”… and which plant from seeds.
    I strongly oppose the idea that the end (if any happens, death is only definite point) of this process is more true than any point between. There’s no measure for that except ones POV.
    PS:
    A story about man who found his true inner self and revealed it without fear of rejection:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xToPCaNxaow
     

  • @Robson

    I love Michael Palin – that really is a classic. I like the part where the guy writes the letter to say that many of his friends are lumberjacks, but only a few are transvestites.

  • There’s a valuable lesson about rejection from the Pickup community.  I forget who told it first.  Maybe I never knew.  But it’s viral now.  It goes something like this:
    Suppose an attractive girl starts getting hit on seriously when she’s sixteen.  Counting every unsolicited approach, every cheesy one-liner, booty call text, offer of a drink, or plain old awkward smiles in supermarkets, she probably gets hit on ten or more times a day every day she goes out.  Let’s just call it ten.  Let’s say she goes out in some fashion 300 days of the year.  That’s 3000 per year.  By the time she’s 25, that means she’s been hit on 27,000 times.  The odds that you are approaching her with the only line she’s never heard before are extraordinarily low.
    The thing is, your approach probably won’t work.  If she’s a normal girl at 25, she’s probably rejected approximately 26,994 of the come-ons she’s heard so far.  But the important thing to remember is that she’s not rejecting you.  She’s rejecting what you represent, which is just another chump giving her just another line on just another day.  She doesn’t know you.  She hardly cares what you look like.  She just knows she’s being hit on, and it’s only the fourth time today, and she’s going to have to do it another six times before she goes home.
    For me, this train of thought is liberating.  We like to think of ourselves as the center of the universe.  We are the center of our own universe, but everyone else is also the center of theirs.  Until we are known to them, and in more than just a superficial social way, we are just “some guy” or “some girl.”  Our approach is just another approach.  Even if it’s really good.  So for a starter, we can accept any rejection that doesn’t involve someone close to us as just a function of unfamiliarity or overload, or whatever else.  Once we’ve learned to let these roll off our backs, we can focus real attention where it matters — towards rejections from people who know us well enough to know why they’re rejecting us.  Those are the ones that matter, that we can learn the most from, and that give us the most strength in life.
     

    • @Hamby

      Once we’ve learned to let these roll off our backs, we can focus real attention where it matters — towards rejections from people who know us well enough to know why they’re rejecting us. Those are the ones that matter, that we can learn the most from, and that give us the most strength in life.

      That’s such a good point – not all rejections are created equal. Being rejected by a long-term partner is a very different experience than being rejected by a player (or should be). We should all practice blowing off the rejections that mean absolutely nothing. We’ll never know the details, and they don’t say anything about us. A rejection for a job we were hoping for or a relationship that we thought was going well – those are worth considering. We still may not get a satisfactory answer, but those rejections at least merit evaluation – and may teach us something, as you say.

  • Great article, Susan!

    -Dan

  • I try to stand up against misandry – you think I’m going to tolerate misogyny?

    There’s plenty of misandry around here you tolerate.

    W&N, statements like this offer clues as to why you may be unsuccessful with women. You don’t like us very much, and you disrespect us as well.

    For someone who claims to be against misandry you jumped to a code purple anti-male shaming tactic very quickly.
    Since when is liking women a prerequisite for being successful with them?  Most men who have a much lower opinion of women than I do are successful with them.  I know you know this.  We can both name plenty of examples such as Roosh.  Of course I get the attacks and not those men simply because I’m not getting laid.  That’s what it’s really about.

    • W&N

      There’s plenty of misandry around here you tolerate.

      Hmmmph. If that’s true it’s not intentional. I try to be fair. I assume you’ve seen the comments from women raising concerns about the tone of some of the commentary from males here. I’m trying to maintain balance and respect without stifling debate. It’s not always straightforward.

  • clarence

    White & Nerdy:
    I’ve supported you on your own blog, and I even support you here and now a bit: Susan is a bit more tolerant of misandry than misogyny on here, but honestly I think its unintentional and I don’t detect that much of a difference. I have seen her come down on male hating harpies before, and I’m reasonably sure that if I felt I had to complain about a given woman commenter she would take action after she looked into it. She’s a woman, but overall she does a fair job with both sexes I think. I give you the benefit of the doubt – I believe what you say has happened to you, and that most of your responses to these injustices have been logical. But I do think in the process of toughening your heart up to protect yourself due to this crap,  it’s made you a bit reactive and sometimes less patient than you should be when it comes to Susan. The fact that this is her space, and also a bit more of a “woman’s space” naturally makes you feel less at ease, but honestly, Susan doesn’t deserve to be treated like those harpies at your work,  or like she’s some Amanda Marcotte Feminazi, just because you and her disagree on some things. She lets you speak, and she would protect you from abuse under most circumstances on this blog, though she might disagree with you as to where to draw the line.
    I can only speak to my experiences as a man, like you. I’ve run into competent women, so I know they exist, and I’ve ran into brave women, so I know they exist. Of course I’ve had my own experiences with SH and false accusations, though luckily for me they’ve not been as extensive or damaging as yours.
    This is one of the safest blogs for you that is not your own. Some women on here really do represent their sex well. You’re the victim of a society that doesn’t believe in feminine evil, and more often both deliberately and inadvertantly empowers it. But if many of the women who post here were in charge to make changes , I truly think men would get a far better deal than they are these days. Susan isn’t your enemy. A considerable portion of the time you two even agree on something. I hope you can remember that.

  • Lavazza

    One way of avoiding unnecessary rejections is to qualify, that is to see what grounds you would have to reject the other, in the opposite situation.
     
    I normally do this by speaking enthusiastically about something that is important to me. If that does not elicit a positive response, the person is not worth the bother.

    • @Lavazza

      One way of avoiding unnecessary rejections is to qualify, that is to see what grounds you would have to reject the other, in the opposite situation.

      I like that. So often we chase something we wouldn’t really even necessarily want. Testing for compatibility or mutual interest up front gives us at least some information with which to assess the risk. We can save ourselves a lot of heartache by not going after things we are extremely unlikely to get.

  • There’s another side of this issue that we often ignore. It’s difficult enough learning how to deal with rejection; how about learning how to reject other people. How many women go along with hookups because they do not want to reject someone who seems to them to be weak and vulnerable? How many women are so afraid of being rejected– which is akin to being shamed, incidentally– that they refuse to say No?
    As it happens, according to the rules of courtesy and good manners, when someone is asked to do something that he or she does not want to do, he or she is not supposed to reject the offer… he or she is supposed to say that he or she has another commitment. Good manners require that we not reject people outright and explicitly.
    But what if you are backed up and cannot find an elegant way out. Perhaps this happens to young women more than we imagine, and they are facing the choice between rejecting a man with what feels like cruelty and saying Yes.
    Isn’t this one of the tactics of those famous pickup artists… they must at some level back women into a corner until they run out of excuses and deferrals.

    • @Stuart
      That’s a really good point – I think most people have specific ideas about how they do and do not wish to be rejected, if rejection is inevitable. Guys in particular seem to feel resentful when a woman soft pedals rejection or comes up with excuses, because they may fail to pick up on the rejection at all. They feel foolish if they learn after repeated efforts that the woman was never attracted at all, but was just trying to let them down easy. I think this is easier for women – they usually have some plausible deniability. A woman flirts with a guy, and he doesn’t reciprocate. She can pretend she was just being friendly. Or a woman hooks up with a guy and the next night she sees him hitting on someone else – she pretends it was always meant to be casual. Women feel rejection, but they suffer it more privately, in general. Maybe we need to worry less about saving face and more about dealing honestly.

      But what if you are backed up and cannot find an elegant way out. Perhaps this happens to young women more than we imagine, and they are facing the choice between rejecting a man with what feels like cruelty and saying Yes.

      Many women hook up, even have intercourse, because doing so is less awkward than bringing a halt to the proceedings. In one study, 12% of women said that it’s less awkward to have sex than have a conversation with a stranger. Which leads to this ludicrous rule of thumb:
      If you’re with a guy, and you realize you have absolutely nothing in common, or you find his personality or intelligence lacking, have sex as quickly as you can so that you can get out of there and away from him.

  • Lavazza

    Susan: Thanks. If the girl is interested she will find a way to respond positively even if she has not given whatever I am waxing about a thought until now.
     
    Another quick way to qualify women is to offer them a drink. A “no” means it is a good woman who is either not interested or who wants to know more about you before accepting a drink. A “yes” can mean that she is a drink whore who you will be happy to lose a s quickly as possible, or somebody who enjoys your company and who will offer you the next drink or suggest going somewhere else. Anyway you will be able to make a pretty good character assessment in 15-20 minutes for the cost of 0-10 euros.

  • Great post! I wrote about rejection recently myself.  I’m of the mindset that if we are confident, we are much less likely to feel the sting of rejection:
    http://singleagainonlinediary.blogspot.com/2010/10/ten-reasons-why-its-not-about-you-say.html

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