Love & Sex

Six Tips for Surviving Rejection

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Hey you! Stop feeling sorry for yourself and rejoin the living!

Muhammad Ali. Man the fuck up

You just got dumped. Ouch. That looks like it hurt. Now take a deep breath and get over yourself. We've all been dumped — and we've all dumped someone else — and unless you and your ex count your relationship in decades or adopted a bunch of kids together, it's probably for the best.

When we date we tend to view our compatibility with others as obviously subjective: do we have similar lifestyles? senses of humor? are our schedules complimentary? But when we get rejected we perceive that rejection, irrationally, as objective. We think: I'm objectively less hot than his ex-girlfriend. I'm dumber. People end up reading rejection as an outright judgment of their worth.

But it's not. That's stupid. And you're not stupid, you're smart. So don't write a sonnet or lock yourself away to weep over your Häagen-Dazs. This isn't Sex and The City. Read this list of things to keep in mind the next time you find yourself rejected. Then get over it.

1) It really, actually, isn't about you. Or maybe it is.

I've broken it off with many cute, smart, interesting guys for reasons that had little to do with them as individuals. Often, I just didn't want a relationship. Some people are into serious, monogamous relationships; I never have been. It wasn't some judgment on their character, and, except for some colorful exceptions, I always thought the men I dated were great people. I just didn't want them for my boyfriend. So if someone rejects you, it really might not be about you. It really might be about circumstances, timing, etc.

Or, it might be about you. But who cares, really? I personally believe that in a good relationship both partners should feel super-lucky that they're with the other person. If someone doesn't want to be with you — doesn't feel really lucky to have you — then what's the point? It doesn't feel great, but there are millions of amazing people in the world. Go find another one.

2) Holy shit, he cheated? Get over it.

I obviously don't think it's a good idea to cheat on someone because, come on, that's a dick move. But it does happen. And when it does, it's not something to dwell on in a fit of self-pity. It's nothing unique.

Also, have you ever cheated on someone? No? Well, that's impressive. I have. And I didn't feel great about it. And I haven't done it again. But it also wasn't the most terrible, soulless thing I've ever done either.

I once had a boyfriend cheat on me. He was a musician and spent most of his time in L.A. and abroad. Eventually, my sneaking suspicions that his friendship with a Los Angeles lady wasn't entirely platonic were justified. Of course it hurt my feelings, and I felt especially dumb for sitting around waiting for him at home. But in the end it helped me see that our relationship hadn't been working, and, being honest, I understood why he was looking around. I broke it off, got over it, and we're friends to this day.

Sometimes our imperfections can be messy and hurtful. But none of us are fucking martyrs or victims because some guy or girl cheated on us. It's just a commonplace, if unfortunate, relationship issue. Get out of that situation, then get over it.

3) Stop obsessively replaying that time you did something "wrong."

Ever been on a date with some banker and dryly asked him if he had a soul, only to discover that he didn't find that very amusing? (I was only joking!) And then he didn't exactly ask you on a second date? Yeah. In that situation it's easy to replay that one moment you think you fucked it up, in a flushed, self-flagellating OCD fit. But!

A. That probably wasn't it. That guy probably didn't call me again for a variety of reasons, only one of which was my dry, hilarious sense of humor. So no reason to obsess. Seriously, he probably just didn't really like my personality in general.

B. Even if that was it, it's not a bad thing. I actually do have a dry, hilarious sense of humor. It's not for everyone. If it's not a good match, it's not a good match.

4) Stop the (drunk) texts. Erase his number.

First thing you do when you've dumped/are dumping someone? Erase his number. You don't need to talk to him. You broke up, remember?

But there are those moments. You know the moments of which I speak: late-night loneliness, boozed-up indiscretion, boozed-up late-night lonely indiscretion, wrapped in a booty call. The answer is no. It's just bad for everyone involved. If you're the one who got rejected, I'm telling you this straight — you look super-desperate. If you're the one who did the rejecting, you're not being very nice, because your recent ex might still be all about it.

You can be friends! Later, I promise. But not now. Now you need to delete their number and fill your phone with new numbers from new eligible singles.

5) You said you wanted non-monogamy. Now you've got it.

We've all been there. You say we don't want a committed relationship, but then, suddenly, he's dating other people and you're like, "Whoa, didn't really want you to do that." Good news: you and I both get to create the kind of relationship that we want. And a non-monogamous one is possible, but you have to mean it.

Non-monogamy can be difficult — but for me, it's always been caring for another person more than you care about owning him. If someone other than you makes your partner happy, why should you begrudge him that happiness? Maybe you do, and I don't think that's wrong. Everyone has the right to set the boundaries that make them comfortable. But if you're not down with non-monogamy, then don't do it. And don't feel all rejected and upset when you said you wanted it, and then you got it.

6) You don't need "closure."

Ugh. This one is the worst. Why do people always feel that they need some sort of deep, explanatory conversation before they can get "closure" and "move on?" Sure, sometimes things are broken off suddenly and you're confused or hurt, but you just have to get on with it anyway.

Have you ever rejected someone and had them say, "Why? Tell me why." What do you do? You kind of lie, right? I'm not saying you should lie to someone when telling the truth would benefit them, but the truth doesn't always benefit someone. I've blamed breaking things off on my personality, on my career, and on a thousand other semi-excuses. None of these things have been flat-out lies, but the real truth was usually that we just weren't a match. That's it. Nothing to talk about there.

Maybe if you've been dating since high school or co-own a large mammal, you should feel entitled to a "closure talk." I understand that. But if your ex is ducking the conversation/generally avoiding you, then fuck it. You don't need this chat to move forward. And if he doesn't have the courage to even talk to you, he's definitely not going to have the balls to tell you the truth anyway. Go out there and find someone who's courageous enough to be direct. You will probably like it.