Six survival tips to help maintain your self-esteem following rejection.

I’m sure—at one time or another—you were rejected by someone you thought might end up becoming your life partner. No matter how hard you may have tried to protect your heart, I suspect you’ve experienced the so-called “agony of defeat,” or the pain that comes from being “dumped.” It’s happened to the best of us. And it will continue to happen because the journey in search of love is fraught with vulnerability. Enter online dating.

Online dating is the rave, and with good reason. It seems to offer the greatest opportunity—certainly the most efficient one—to find love. There are literally millions of people scouring online dating sites with the hope of finding “the one.” Who can blame them? But alas, danger often accompanies opportunity, and online dating offers its share of danger—for one, an exponentially greater danger of being dumped.

If you participate in online dating, you probably know that you can be dumped in a variety of different and quite creative ways. You can be dumped by a private e-mail, via text, through technologically public means such as Facebook, by way of the old fashioned telephone, via the ancient and dreaded face-to-face method, or as Dr. Seuss once said: “in a box with a fox.”

Some old-school dumpers have nerve enough to tell you that it’s over; others simply disappear like a Copperfield trick: One day you’ve got something, the next you don’t. A veteran of online dating told me that although he’s looking to settle down, he keeps a number of women in his “pipeline.” His excuse: “I could start out the week with five potential dates and end up with zero within days. It can be over that fast.”

We all know that there’s no sure fire way to protect you from rejection in the game of love. But given the ever-increasing number of people risking rejection, I thought I’d offer a few suggestions for coping with this special type of loss. Here goes:

1. Don’t automatically personalize a rejection. Most people lack insight and therefore unconsciously look for the same type of person who already gave them a terrible experience. So, if you’re a quality person, the individual who rejects you may be in the market for another abusive creep. The rejection may therefore, be a sign that you’re healthy…too healthy for the rejecter.

2. Never pursue a distancing rejecter. If someone doesn’t want you…let go! Trying to hold on to a rejecter might seem like a good, less painful experience in the short run, but in the long run…it won’t be—and you’ll be very sorry.

3. Be patient. As I’ve said, there are millions of single people out there; and many are participating in online dating. There will be many more opportunities to find someone following a rejection. A female friend of mine likened online dating to a bus station. “If one bus leaves without you,” she said, “you’ve got to buck up and wait for the next one: You just have to say to yourself: NEXT!”

4. Stay grounded in reality by paying homage to red flags. The less in denial you’re about the rejecter’s negative qualities, the easier it’ll be for you to move on. I found in a study I published many years ago on divorced women that the more realistic they were about the problems in their marriages, the easier it was for them to thrive in the post-divorce process.

5. Grieve appropriately. Okay, a loss is a loss. And so it’s perfectly normal to feel shitty after a rejection, particularly if you’ve just lost a relationship of some length and promise. I understand this. But letting a rejection “take you down” or “knock you out of the game” isn’t appropriate. Process the rejection and get back on the horse. Chances are the rejecter isn’t giving up…why should you?

6. Throw out the words “dumped” and “rejected.” By looking for a partner you’re simply participating in the journey of life. And in life, you have to take the good with the bad—it’s as simple as that.

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© Copyright 2013 Stephen J. Betchen, Ph.D., All rights Reserved.
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Dr. Stephen J. Betchen is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist, as well as a critically acclaimed author and regular contributor to the popular Ladies’ Home Journal column, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” He currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University. For more than 25 years, Dr. Betchen has helped couples repair their relationships and reach new levels of happiness, whether they’re battling about in-laws, sex, parenting, infidelity, money, careers—or anything in between. (Case in point: He once treated folks who were at odds over the wife’s weight and the husband’s constant criticisms!) Dr. Betchen’s approach to couples therapy is refreshingly simple: He offers no gimmicks, slogans or quick fixes to nagging problems. Instead, Dr. Betchen believes that individuals change only when they discover what’s really driving their behavior—and that relationships change only when couples develop empathy for their partners and understand what really drew them together. (Turns out that physical attraction is just part of it.) Dr. Betchen provides in-depth analysis of couples’ attitudes and behavior, enabling them to see themselves and each other in a new light. And from there, he delivers real-world advice that teaches couples how to change themselves—and their relationship. Dr. Betchen is the author of numerous professional articles on relationships and makes frequent media appearances. His expert opinions often appear in national publications, including Family Circle and Men’s Health. In addition to Magnetic Partners, Dr. Betchen is the author of Intrusive Partners-Elusive Mates.