In response to about 5 letters I have in the Captain Awkward Dot Com Mailbox:
If only (he, she…usually she) had rejected me more (directly, honestly, sooner, after giving me a chaaaaaaance, nicely, indirectly, softly, didn’t have to be so MEAN about it, no I mean a REAL chance, emphatically, gently, if I just knew WHY, didn’t have to lead me on that way, didn’t have to lie and say ‘not ready for a relationship’ and then get into a relationship with SOMEONE ELSE because of SHALLOWNESS, wouldn’t even go on a date with me, went on three dates with me and they were good dates, so why not tell me sooner, does it mean I’m ugly and doomed?) the rejection would have been (better, okay, easier to understand) and I wouldn’t be so (sad, angry, lonely, rejected) about it. I’m not mad about the rejection, really, I’m mad about how (he/she (usually she)) did it and if (he/she (usually she)) would just (talk to me, tell me what I did wrong, tell me what I could have done differently, give me another chance, be my friend, stop trying to be my friend) I would feel better.
It’s okay to be mad about a callous text or other horrible delivery method, but when you focus on the delivery method vs. what happened, it’s almost always a sign that some denial is happening.
Rejection is rejection. It sucks in love and in work. It will suck no matter how (softly, honestly, after giving you a chaaaaaance, preemptively before giving you a chaaaaaance) the person delivers it.
Please trust me on this. If someone rejects you, and they don’t want to talk about it (texting you is a good indicator of that) a cool answer is “That’s sad to hear, but I appreciate you telling me” and backing off. (Think of it as payback if it helps: They’re bracing for some kind of feelingsexplosion from you, right? What if you didn’t give it to them?) A perfectly normal reasonable answer is to express your feelings of regret and confusion and hopes in that vulnerable moment and then back off. You don’t have to be perfect and composed, you just have to believe the information you’re getting. The other person who is separate from you made a decision about what they wanted (not you). Whatever you hoped for, this is what is happening: You are not with someone who doesn’t really want to be with you. It sucks, it hurts, it’s not your fault if you feel really upset, blindsided, rejected, lonely, etc., but your best bet about what to do is to accept the breakup. The sooner you do, the sooner you can start taking care of yourself and making choices that prioritize yourself.
Go hang out with your friends, lick your wounds in private, focus on other stuff, and live to seek another day. Your negative feelings are your feelings. You will learn to process them and comfort yourself, time will make it better if you let go of the illusion that there was a way that rejection sandwich could have been made tastier or that people who have rejected you owe you a self-improvement consult after-the-fact. Take that sense of entitlement you have about what the object of your affection owes you out to the back yard and shoot it like an infected zombie. Even if the person who rejected you did act like a big confusing jerk about it, the result will be the same: You. Rejected. How much more energy are you going to pour into a lost cause? Be nice to yourself. Let the person go. If the person changes their mind, they’ll come find you, and you can decide what to do then.
If you have a truly awful rejection story (as either the rejector or the rejectee), the comments section is open for business. We will pat you on the head and say “That sucks, dude. Forget about (him/her/them).”