Dealing with the Pain of Rejection
The most common reason for anxiety that I encounter from men is around rejection.
The most important message I can give to men who have this fear is that rejection is not something that can be avoided. Learning how to handle rejection is a key to being attractive, experiencing success dating, and in establishing a great relationship. Many men have the idea that once they are past the scary part, asking the woman out or the first kiss, that they are past the point of rejection and they will never have to worry about that again. For some men their anxiety is so bad that they harbor a deep hope that that the woman will make the first move which will relieve their anxiety and they can then act like themselves. To depend on this is a huge mistake. So, let's get the fantasy that finding a relationship, or the woman making the first move, will be a real solution for your anxiety about being rejected out of the way.
Rejection will continue once you've locked down a date, once you are dating, after taking the next step into a committed relationship, and throughout marriage. Your partner may reject your advances, she may develop a crush on another man (celebrity or real person), she may criticize you, say hurtful things to you intentionally or unintentionally, she may tell you that your sex life has become boring and routine… the list can go on. Bottom line, rejection is a part of life that we all have to face and learn to cope with. I would go so far as to argue that being able to tolerate rejection is the key to navigating your way into and keeping a relationship going!
Let's break down this fear a bit. When a man is fearing rejection, on a basic level, it involves some idea that the woman will not reciprocate his interest or like him back. Often men create stories that are much more dramatic that create anxiety, since someone simply not liking you back should not in and of itself be that anxiety provoking, right? The story men create usually involves some sort of public embarrassment, judgement by others, being laughed at, or even emasculation.
The source can be for many reasons. Some men may have had an abusive mother growing up, may have witnessed their mother rejecting their father, or saw their father emotionally hurt at the hands of their mother. Maybe his parents divorced and he developed a story about what happened that is driving his fear of rejection at the hands of a woman. Another source may be growing up in a family that promoted a culture of shame around sex, gave the message that sex bad or something that is reserved only for marriage. This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully it may help get people thinking about some reasons they may be experiencing anxiety about being rejected.
These experiences as kids are powerful, and that is an understatement. When we are kids we look to our parents as these all powerful, god-like beings, who know everything and are impervious to everything. In our minds they are our protectors, and to see them vulnerable or in pain breaks this illusion, and we are faced with our own vulnerability. I think this is especially true for boys and their fathers.
If we think about it this way, rejection and disappointment are lifelong experiences that start when we are children and continue throughout life. Rejection and disappointment are part of life. To think otherwise is not accepting reality. I don't mean to be dour. I truly believe that accepting this reality frees us from unrealistic expectations that make us unhappy. Getting rid of these unrealistic expectations provides us the key to real happiness.
Once you realize that another person cannot GIVE you happiness you let go of the unrealistic expectation that you can only be happy if a woman accepts you, or likes you, loves you back or gives you what you want. Happiness is self-determined, it comes from within yourself. That happiness and all of those good feelings you experience when in a great relationship may be inspired by your experience with another person, but those feelings are coming from within you. That means you can re-experience those feelings without that other person as well. Once you master this the fear of rejection no longer holds so much power over you.
I am beginning to line up topics for the next few months for the Tele-Seminar. This month is dedicated to rejection, which is the most common form of anxiety men have when it comes to women and relationships, and how best to deal with this anxiety. On the docket are "The Nature of Man," which I'm aiming to host for November, and "The Power of Surfing" which I am scheduling for April the prepare for the regular surf season opening back up (in New England at least). I would love to hear what sort of topics would interest you. If you have any in mind please email me and let me know!
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