Dating 101: Rejection, How to Overcome It
Updated: Jul 17
Rejection. Not the most popular of words. Just reading it, probably rubbed a sore spot for you. We are a blend of generations who do not like the word "no." The dislike grows stronger the younger the generation.
Notice there are more positive and exciting options to like, love, laugh at, or exclaim a post than there are ways to thumbs down or show anger towards one. Today's society works extra hard to be inclusive of everyone. I commend these efforts! The thing is, it seems to go as far as to eliminate rejection altogether.
But rejection is healthy. Yes, you read that right. Though we may not like the sting of its initial feeling, the healing of the hurt helps us. Helps us to withstand hardships. Helps us to listen to and voice opposing opinions with respect and gentleness. Helps us to humbly face the "no's" of life.
We tend to think of rejection in dating. However, it applies in every relationship - a disagreement among friends, family estrangement, business-to-client, business-to-employee, in marriage and, of course, in dating too. As promised, I am going to be transparent. Over the past few months, rejection has been the theme. From old college buddies to difficult clients, but today, as a part of the series, I am touching on rejection in dating.
I've been rejected plenty of times. Let me just go ahead and put that out there. Obviously the heartbreak from exes is a terrible pain and tends to tag along for what seems like will be forever. The rejection of repeated cheating by my first love left me gasping for air. If you have experienced that kind of rejection, it's hard to subject yourself to the chance of it happening again.
Our insecurities certainly can get the best of us when we've been rejected. We didn't have the perfectly witty response in every conversation. We weren't pretty/handsome enough. We weren't rich enough to take her on the perfect date. Our car wasn't luxurious enough. We weren't skinny or "thicc" enough. We weren't enough.
Ouch. It digs deep in our gut to come up short. The thing is none of us are enough. The point isn't to be enough, it's to be compatible. We'll touch more on this in a later post.
However, the rejection from a first date...I can honestly say has not stuck with me.
Accepting rejection in dating is a part of the risk. Dating is exciting and flirty and fun! Lighthearted. It's when we put our expectations on every guy to be "the one" or every woman to be the "future mother of your children" that we escalate situations way too quickly.
Just enjoy getting to know someone new.
If it works out - best risk you took! If not, maybe you gained a new friend. I love new friends!
Having been on several first dates recently, I have been rejected. The reasons vary from not sharing the same values and boundaries, to career aspirations. However, to the ones who were bold enough to call or text to be straight forward about it not working out, I commend you. I respect you. No guess work or mean games. One of the best fails came from the absolute most boring date. This guy and I spent about two hours trying to force conversation. I'm pretty sure I nodded off at one point. Not a good look for either of us. At the end of the date, we said our goodbyes and even good luck! Clean and simple. No rejection necessary.
In dating, not only are we rejected but we are faced with rejecting others. Some days, I'm not sure which one is harder?? But I took a note from the guys who had been direct with me and I committed to showing the same courtesy to those I just knew it wouldn't work out with. Surprisingly, I have actually been thanked and one guy told me it was the "sweetest rejection [he] had ever experienced." Whew. Thank goodness there is something in life that I'm excelling in...
But what happens when you do not want to reject the other person?
Learning to lovingly reject a romantic relationship, yet start an amazing friendship. This lesson has been a real one over the past few months. What started as a few flirty encounters at events, eventually turned into a first date. A great first date. The story of this coming about is still one we laugh about. It was after an event, we were strolling over to a local restaurant through the beautiful Uptown Shelby. My mama bear, Rev Mom as we like to call her (she's a reverend + mom = Rev Mom), following closely in her car. Oh, yes, that happened. No matter our age, I hope we will always have those "oh, mom" moments. Super embarrassing, but incredibly loved. We got to the restaurant where we were all meeting. Wiped from the event we had just finished up, she was ready to go, but clearly waiting to be sure this guy did not try anything slick. After basically signing off on my protection in his own blood, he passed her interrogation and she left us to enjoy the evening. On our chilly walk back to the car, he helped me zip UP my jacket (ladies, find you a man who respects you that much) and he asked me to go for drinks with him the following weekend.
He surprised me the week-of with concert tickets in the mountain city of Asheville, NC. All the heart-eye emojis.
Oh, this guy...he was a catch. Though I'm not a fan of the phrasing, he "checked all the boxes," he did in ways I didn't even realize I needed. Intelligent, witty, laid back, and oh so kind. The kindest guy I have ever dated. Observant to an impressive degree - my likes, dislikes, and behaviors so that he could always be a step ahead in acts of service (my love language). He was never overbearing, but comfortingly protective. I'd keep going, but honestly, it's sometimes hard to think about how good I had it with him.
From the beginning we listed out our top three deal-breakers when it comes to dating. Below are my three:
1. He has to love Jesus. Not in the present-for-Sunday-school-each-week way, but in action, loving Him and loving people.
2. Making me feel secure enough to submit. Like he’s protection over me and I’ve got his back and together we can trial and error through life and just laugh in the face of what comes our way, because of our foundation built on deal-breaker number one.
3. Hygiene - smells and teeth gotta keep them clean.
Number two can comes across quite strong, especially in today's equality climate. It doesn't mean I'm less-than, but honoring him. His reaction, though...right in line. This guy was a great combination of supportive and a leader. He found my leadership position attractive; it was one of the first things he noticed about me. That was refreshing. Especially having been on a recent date where the guy found my ambition intimidating and I was rejected for it. Yet with this particular guy, when we were together, he took the lead and I submitted and I felt incredibly secure. I had the comfort and his support in voicing my needs and wants and boundaries. He not only respected them, he proactively helped me to keep them. I had never experienced that before, which inspired me to respect and honor him even more. Some of my requests were "out there" by today's standards of dating. I was upfront about my boundary of us not hanging out at each other's houses alone. We once had a date planned of the perfect Friday night after a long work-week. This night involved pizza, movies, his couch, and my best friend as our accountability appointee. He didn't skip a beat when I first asked if she come along, nor when I told him she had to cancel, subjecting our plans to a last-minute change. He immediately jumped in with a change of venue - ice skating at the U.S. Whitewater Center. By far, the best date I have ever been on. We walked the wooded trails lined with enchanting light sculptures, wobbled around the skating rink until I wiped us both out, and ended our time at the center sipping craft beers by the fire pit. "Do not kiss and tell" ranks up there in my personal rules, but for the sake of the story, I might have to break it. In a swift move to pull me in from falling to the ice, it was on the rink under the market lights, that we shared our first kiss. He remained a gentleman and kept it to a simple kiss. Sweet and patient. For that, I am grateful. I'm not one for the sappiness, but this straight-out-of-a-movie date left me swooning. Goodness.
So what could have possibly been the problem? It was one I was very aware of in the beginning then tried to hope it away the more I got to know this guy. One that I tried to push down, but kept making its way right back up. One I could not ignore, and after previous experiences, it was one I did not want to ignore.
This whole time I knew he was not pursuing Jesus. He was upfront about life situations and where he was with God. I understood; all of our walks with God look a bit different. While I wanted it to work with him, I wanted him to have that most important relationship more. A fresh reminder of why this would not work right now came from some very unexpected people I am close with who are extremely happy in their marriages. They shared with me that even though they work so well with their husbands and love being married to one another, the believing wife feels the giant hole of their husband not having that relationship with Christ. Different convictions, missing the community of church they could be sharing, and the unity that comes from the grace of being forgiven and loved by the Creator of those very acts. In the most heartbreaking of reminders, God pressed on me the "why" from an experience that occurred just before we went on our first date. One Sunday, our church worship leaders called us to come to the alter in prayer for the person we had on our hearts who needed to know Jesus. After I had finished my prayer for an old friend and stood to return to my seat, I felt the most pitiful of clutches grab my dress hem. Charged with desperation coming from the deepest of pits, I could not ignore that tug. I turned to see a woman heaped on the stair behind me, looking up through a stream of tears. I have never felt someone else's pain course through my entire being like that. I dropped down on the stair with her.
Me: "Okay, who are we praying for?"
The woman: "My husband."
They were the only two words she could get out before the sobs ate up her speech. We clung together and called God into that situation - surrendering our control and submitting to His power. Even months later, writing about her shoots a sharp pain through me. I stood up from praying with her and noticed the only other person who had come to the alter was a young, teenage girl. I sat back down, yet still couldn't ignore that gut feeling - that deep elbow nudge from the Holy Spirit - prompting me to come alongside her.
Again, I asked, "who are we praying for?"
The girl: "My dad."
Man...we just do not know what families are going through. We prayed together and her crying eased. We hugged and you could feel the relief. That's what community will do for you. Helps you to know that you do not shoulder the burden alone, and that ultimately God takes it all from us, if we intentionally and constantly give it to Him. That Sunday and comments since then, have kept it in my mind the severity of dating and marrying someone whose relationship with God is in question. There are rare men like this guy I was seeing. It makes it hard to say "no" to going further into a relationship with him. While I am sad right now, I am grateful that God steadied my heart to bring it back to friendship. I would hate to lose him altogether.
I am grateful to this guy and for my experience with him. Grateful that he showed me what it is to date a real man - a kind, gentle, strong protector. A man who is capable of quietly leading - he doesn't have to be the loudest. Me being so loud in my outgoing personality, I tend to listen more to quiet voices. A man who respects my opinions, yet can speak up with loving authority when my ways of doing things could be simplified or are downright wrong. One who approaches life with the best sense of humor.
I am learning that we feel that rejection with God too. Rather, we cast it on Him. When we pray for something over and over again and when we do not feel that we are getting a response or the answer is a direct "no," we hurt as if we have been rejected. We react as if we have been rejected by a date. We act sheepish to interact with God or we flip that psycho switch on Him and blame Him for all of our problems and what we feel like we are lacking. "See, God, this is why nobody trusts You. You say You have our best in mind, but look how good this is and You still shut it down. Nope. I'm done listening to You." What God is trying to make stick in this hard head of mine is that His "no" always means there is something more. He does not withhold good from me.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (NIV)
For the Lord is a sun and shield. God gives grace and glory. The Lord does not withhold any good thing from those who walk with integrity. (EHV)
- Psalm 84:11
My limited vision tends to press itself up against one part of the big picture, meanwhile I am missing the beauty of its entirety. The truth is, God does not promise to give us all that we think is good. Our good tends to be based off of what we can see in that moment. His good is based off of what is permanently good for us. He may call us to some wild paths, but He also provides the means to successfully navigate them. When we are walking with Him and obeying Him, He holds nothing back to help us.
“In true faith you must accept that God’s infinite wisdom (along with His love, goodness, etc.) ‘will bring about the best possible results, by the best possible means, for the most people, for the longest possible time.’ With your limited insight and wisdom, you may not know or understand why it is the best, but in faith you accept God’s wisdom as perfect.”
- Chip Ingram (The Real God)