Failed relationships and rejection by prospective partners are relatively common scenarios today. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with either of these situations. The pain can linger for quite a while and not everyone knows how to cope effectively.
The difference between failure and rejection
Let’s first understand the difference between failure and rejection. Failure means the inability to live up to one’s self-set standards of something. For example, I may believe that I failed as a parent because of certain things I did that didn’t work in the favour of my child’s wellbeing. Or I may believe I failed as an entrepreneur because my business isn’t flourishing the way I would want it to.
Rejection, on the other hand, means being dismissed because you do not fit into someone else’s predefined standards or framework. Some classic examples are being rejected in a job interview, rejection in a marital alliance, etc.
In the context of a relationship, a big difference between failure and rejection is that in order to believe that the relationship has failed, you need to be in the relationship, whereas rejection usually (but not always) happens right at the beginning, before the start of the relationship.
If you’ve had a difficult relationship experience recently, here are some healthy ways to deal with it.
1. Remind yourself that a relationship is just a part of your life, and not your life in totality. We end up investing so much time in relationships that we forget we have a life outside the relationship too. The relationship may undoubtedly be a significant part of your life, but the keyword here is ‘part’. The same is true for rejection. One often invests so much time and effort to be in a relationship, that being rejected often comes as a big blow.
2. Learn to ‘depersonalise’ yourself from the equation, by understanding that a failed relationship does not mean that you are a failure. Just as it takes two hands to clap, it takes two individuals to contribute to the success or failure of a relationship. You cannot be solely responsible for either.
In case of rejection, being rejected doesn’t mean that you are not good enough. It only means that the other person doesn’t want to be with you. Even if someone tells you that you are not good enough, it is up to you to either believe it and feel miserable, or tell yourself that this is the opinion of the person, and not reality.
3. Do not blame your partner for the failed relationship. Just like it is not entirely your fault, it is not entirely theirs either. Blaming may make matters worse. It is better to accept that the relationship is not working out, and make choices based on this acceptance. Similarly, do not go about justifying rejection. There could be genuine reasons why someone doesn’t want to be with you, just like you may have your reasons to be with the person.
4. Do not get bogged down by social pressure. Often when a relationship is moving towards failure, you may get worked up by the image you already have in front of family and friends, who probably cite examples of your love story. It can, therefore, be anxiety-provoking to come out in the open about your new relationship status. Therefore, you must make a choice between two scenarios, both of which are disturbing and unpleasant: the discomfort of denying the real scenario and pretending as if everything is okay, versus the discomfort of disclosing reality. You make that choice and take responsibility for your decision.
Social pressure exists in case of rejections too. It may be too overwhelming to talk about the various instances where you were rejected. But a lot depends on how you perceive these rejections. If you allow them to define yourself and look at it as a personal failure, you are bound to feel overwhelmed. So look at it as just another unsuccessful attempt. You may still not be happy about it, but you will definitely not feel miserable.
5. Do not wash your dirty linen in public. This is as important as the earlier point. Even if you decide to tell your near-and-dear ones that the relationship isn’t working out, you do not have to get into the explicit details, lash out at your partner or play the victim publicly. It will make it more difficult for you to come to terms with reality.
6. Spend alone time, irrespective of your relationship status. Do it as a choice, and not out of compulsion due to the absence of a partner. While spending alone-time, have constructive conversations, reminding yourself of your qualities, your journey, your learnings, etc. Work on building a beautiful bond with yourself, and value yourself irrespective of external circumstances. This is a sure-shot way of coping with failures and rejections, not just in relationships but in all areas of life.