Photo from velindapeyton.com
Photo from velindapeyton.com

Be honest: what’s really holding you back from dating?

Fear of rejection can be crippling and foil our best-laid plans. It’s why they say we are our own worst enemies. Where does it come from and what can we do about it?

Mini History Lesson!

Anthropologists believe our fear comes from our evolutionary history. Way, way back in time, for hundreds of years we lived in small tribes of around 100 people or so. Everybody knew each other, so social harmony was highly desired. So if we were socially rejected in our groups, it was the same as a death sentence. We would have been cut out of our tribe, removed from access to resources and reproductive opportunities. Other tribes were far away and unlikely to take in a stranger. So we learned to survive over the generations by making nice with people and avoiding rejection. You know, kinda like high school.

No wonder we’re all wimps when it comes to life, especially dating, despite our evolutionary progress with city dwelling, lattes and ipads.

But we don’t have to stay that way. Now that you’re empowered with knowledge, half the battle is already won! Practice is the final piece of the puzzle.

Write Your Rejection Rule

How do you know when you’ve been rejected? Is it a facial gesture, a script that you’re given or a feeling? When does it start? What is it like?

Most people can’t give a clear answer to these questions. And there are many who have thought they were being rejected only to find that they weren’t.

You may not have a clear set rule that lets you know with no uncertainty that you’ve been rejected. Let’s make one now based on two factors:

1)    It has to be based on your behavior, not on external events or circumstances

2)    You make it impossible to be rejected

Examples:

“I know I’ve been rejected if, I act like a jerk toward someone.”

“I know I’ve been rejected if, I intentionally lead someone on.”

“I know I’ve been rejected if, I ignore someone who requests closure from me.”

Take a minute and write some of your own.

Reframing

You know why the first book (the Bible) was ever published? So the masses would be able to interpret scripture for themselves.

We have freedom when interpreting events. We can choose to interpret them in a negative, neutral or positive way. A positive interpretation will make us feel better and is effective while a negative interpretation does the exact opposite.

For example, if someone takes a parking spot you were eyeing, you could interpret it as, “The punk ignored my indicator” or “She didn’t see me because I wasn’t in her line of vision.”

Let’s apply this to dating. If you feel you have been rejected, you might choose to think, “I’m not worth loving,” or “There’s something wrong with me.”  Instead, try thinking, “If he says no, then I didn’t lose any time or effort” or “Now, I’m free to find someone who appreciates quality when s/he sees it.”

How good does that feel?!

Be Curious

This idea guided my entire eHarmony dating experience. Infinite curiosity is the goal, not a chapel-or-bust mind frame. Treat each approach not as an opportunity for success or failure, but to see what happens.

So I’d go on dates with guys whose overall profiles I was interested in. Of course, I got excited about the potential for romance, but I never had the pressure of “will this be the one?”

To be very honest, I met each person expecting it to NOT work out. My curiosity was fueled by wanting to know what about them would be a bad match for me.

I was (almost!) always pleasantly surprised. It was fun meeting and getting to know a little bit about each person. But if he seemed more interested in complaining about his life, or showed signs of PTSD from touring Afghanistan and Iraq, or he exploded in anger because I wouldn’t kiss him good night – I walked away without a second thought.

Takeaway:

Leave rejection in the Stone Age where it belongs. Create your own rejection rule, reframe the situation and forget about the end result. Be curious in the present and it will take you were you want to be.

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