If you’ve heard “Really, it’s not you….” one too many times as a relationship ends, you may be a little gun shy about swiping right again. Will this new person be any different? Will this be the time I find someone who likes me for who I am? In our Evanston and Chicagoland therapy practices, we hear the stories of the anxiety around dating and rejection all too often. We witness our client’s pain of feeling disconnected from someone. Whether it was a long-term relationship or not, the sting of the rejection still hurts.
Patrick Wains, Ph.D., a behavior and relationship expert in Los Angeles and Miami, says, “We are hardwired to bond, unite, and to form connections with people. Rejection results in the loss of connection, and instead creates the sense of feeling isolated, cut off, disconnected, unwanted, unloved, or inferior.”
Yes, we’re social beings, but I’m still afraid to put myself out there
Deep down, we all know this to be true. We know we are social beings, and we long for love. Yet, the pain of rejection can sometimes seem too large to risk stepping out one more time. “The body can react to social rejection like it’s feeling physical pain. Social rejection can trigger the overstimulation of your vagus nerve, which can lead to neck soreness, tension headaches, chest pain, nausea, and more,” Wanis says. The heartache is real.
What if we could escape the rejection anxiety?
Let’s look at ways to manage and master rejection anxiety. You might even end up wanting some of the healthy benefits of embracing alone time.
Managing Rejection Anxiety
Simple strategies exist to lessen the worry around being ghosted. We would say they are easy to implement initially but will take time and effort to maintain.
Here are our 5 helpful therapy tips
Acknowledge your fear – You honor yourself when you own your fear. Holding it up to the light will also lessen some of its perceived power.
Practice makes progress – Try to see each date or relationship as a chance to learn more about yourself and what you want for yourself. If the next person you date is not your soulmate, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of person might be a better match.
Go in the direction of your fear – This tip is probably one of the scariest, let’s just be honest. However, even though your anxiety is trying to keep you safe, it could also be keeping you from finding some fun with a new person. You could set up a series of baby steps leading to the ultimate goal of going on a date. For example, setting up the Bumble profile is a goal within itself. This first small step will get you closer to your big dating goal.
Hang out with your friends– Spend some good hang time with the people who always have your back. Get emotionally filled up by the friends and family who laugh at your jokes or always have an encouraging word. They will remind you of your worth.
Seek help from a therapist – We are here for you. If you want to take the plunge and go in the direction of your fear, we can help you to set up a game plan of progressive steps with some relationship therapy. We’ll also take a look at something called “cognitive behavioral therapy.” We’ll provide encouragement and feedback along the way to help you to feel successful. Request an appointment today.
Takeaway: You can manage your anxiety with the help of a therapist and a few simple strategies.
Could taking a purposeful pause have its benefits?
Could it be helpful to take some alone time, get reacquainted with who you are and what you want before hanging out on Hinge again? We’re not advocating running from dating.
But….So that you can enjoy the dating process the next time around, take a step back and do some evaluating. How do I want to show up in a relationship? What kind of person do I want to be with? Have I been choosing the same type of person (who ends up leaving)? We’ll work with your thinking patterns, and help you create a different, stronger mental and emotional script.
In your pause from dating, consider how the rejection has affected your ego. Do you need to work on building up your confidence before dating again? We can help you to consider how your anxiety and previous relationships are interfering with your self-esteem.
Take a break from dating (a real one!). It may be tempting to hop back in the game before you are ready. You may feel you want to get back at the person in the last relationship by dating someone new. Yet, remember that revenge dating isn’t fair to you, nor the person you are going out with.
Give yourself the time you need to grieve what you have lost. It’s not the time in and of itself that will heal you; it is what you do during that downtime from dating. You might pick up the habit of journaling. To help you better examine your dating patterns, writing out the thoughts you are processing might lead you to powerful breakthroughs.
To date or not to date?
Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, a neuropsychologist at Columbia University, states that “dating rejection is among the most personal—and painful—kinds of rejection since it brings our innate insecurities to light.” However, we don’t have to let our rejection anxiety prevent us from finding and creating a healthy love relationship. Reach out to us, and we will help you to calm your rejection anxiety. With your new thinking and behavior patterns, you can be confident that you are ready to swipe right!