Are You Going Through the Eight Stages of Rejection?

Whether your partner dumps you, your friend turns you down or a potential love interest doesn’t find too much potential in you, rejection really hurts. Everyone likes to be liked and when you aren’t appreciated for who you are, this can really impact your sense of wellbeing. In turn, rejection, or the fear of it, can further affect your sexual health and wellness – rejection is bad enough, but rejection when you’re naked? No thank you! In fact, relationship expert and sexologist Dr Gabrielle Morrissey, author of Sex in the Time of Generation X, finds parallels between rejection and the stages of grief. So, which stage of rejection are you in?


1. The denial phase: In this phase, you’ll probably be a bit stunned and have trouble believing that you have actually been rejected. If this sounds familiar, Dr Morrissey advises, ‘Acknowledge that yes, sad but true, the relationship is over (or it’s not going to start). Try not to dwell on the negative.’


2. The bargaining phase: Dr Morrissey asserts, ‘More often than not, “what ifs” won’t get you anywhere. Generally, it wasn’t only one thing that led to the rejection, but several things, and no amount of bargaining will turn the relationship into a healthy one.’ So what does she recommend? ‘Get yourself out of this phase as fast as you can,’ Dr Morrissey urges. ‘”What ifs” can easily spiral out of control. Reflect on any learning you can gain from the demise of the relationship (or date disaster), and apply that learning forwards, instead of backwards.’


3. The loneliness phase: Sometimes, it’s not just the rejection of one person you feel, but this one-off rejection can make you go through a general feeling of rejection, leading to feelings of sadness, self pity and isolation. If you’re feeling lonely following a rejection, Dr Morrissey suggests, ‘Surround yourself with people who do care, and who openly say so. Get your support team – friends, family – to spend time with you to break you out of feeling this way.’


4. The heartbreak phase: How intense this phase in will depend somewhat on how deeply you were involved with the person who has rejected you. ‘When you find yourself having sad thoughts, snap yourself out of it by literally snapping a rubber band around your wrist, or snapping your fingers, and make yourself think a positive thought about something that makes you feel happy,’ says Dr Morrissey. ‘If this doesn’t work, reach out to someone for support and distraction (but not the person who rejected you!).’


5. The depression phase: This means you’re feeling sad, worthless and perhaps foolish. Dr Morrissey notes you should allow yourself to feel the pain, ‘but do not wallow. Keep busy, exercise and take care of yourself. If necessary, seek support through counselling or from your doctor.’


6. The blame phase: ‘Once some of the intense internal feelings subside, the brain often seeks external blame,’ Dr Morrissey explains. ‘You might start with yourself, and then extend to them, but any which way it’s important to move past this destructive phase. There are two players in a relationship and fault is usually somewhere with both. Think about what you’ve gained and what they’ll be missing. Move past the blame and try to glean some learning from it instead.’


7. The anger phase: Not much explanation needed for this one; it basically boils down to “How dare they reject you?” Dr Morrissey points you should only indulge yourself in this phase temporarily. ‘Give yourself a time limit on how long you’ll be angry for,’ she advises. ‘If you don’t, you can become bitter, and that’s not healthy.’


8. The acceptance phase: Finally, you come to the conclusion that it wasn’t right and you’re going to be okay. Dr Morrissey enthuses, ‘Move forward with an open heart, ready to focus on new potential. Good for you. Now get out there!’

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