Off the Couch

Thoughts about the therapeutic process, and the dynamics of client-therapist interactions.

It's Not About You: Dealing With Internet Date Rejections

If it's not about you, what are internet dating rejections about?

 “I don’t think we are a good match. It’s not about you, it’s about me.”

 “The chemistry just isn’t there, you know.”

“I think I’m not ready for the next step.”

“I just don’t think this is going to work.”

If you’ve ever signed up for an online dating service, you’ve most likely heard or said – or both – something like this at some point or another. You’ve also probably had people disappear altogether. Silence. Missing in action. No phone calls, texts, or emails. Nothing.

And if you’re like almost everyone I know who has tried this way of meeting someone, you have struggled not to take the rejection personally. But, as you very likely know, it’s not so easy. When someone gives you the brush off, it hurts. Even if it’s someone you don’t particularly like. Maybe you’ve gone out one more time with a guy you thought was just “okay;” you don’t want to be too quick or too critical; and then he shoots you one of these lines. Really?

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So why do these rejections hurt so much? And what can you do to protect yourself from injury, or at least heal from them more quickly? Here are some suggestions:

  • First of all, it’s important to remember that being hurt is part of being alive. But hurting does not have to mean that we will be destroyed, especially if we can hold onto good feelings about ourselves and maybe even about the other person in the equation. Anger is a way that we try to make ourselves feel better, in part because it often makes us feel stronger. It also makes us focus on the negative part of a relationship, instead of the part we might miss (I wrote about this in my post on the best way to break up). 
  • Don’t take it personally. This may seem like a stupid statement – if someone tells you that there just isn’t any chemistry between you, how can you not take it personally? Right? Wrong. If there’s no chemistry, it may be because something’s going on with them. I have known all sorts of people in my life who don’t look like they go together, but who have terrific chemistry – because they’re both engaged and engaging. So if someone tells you the chemistry isn’t there, say something polite, and be grateful that you’ve gotten out of a potential relationship with someone who couldn’t respond to what you have to offer. (see my post Don’t Take it Personally)
  •  It really does take two to tango.  If you’ve gotten what you think might be more than your fair share of rejections, consider the possibility that you’re keeping something of yourself out of these dates. Maybe you’re trying to protect yourself; but that self-protection could turn out to be the very thing that keeps you getting hurt. Consider this: would it feel worse to be rejected if you put your whole self into the experience than it does when you’re not really letting someone get to know you?
  • And finally, take heart from this little-known piece of information from the business world. Most entrepreneurs fail many times before they are finally successful. Victory most often only comes after numerous risks and even fiascoes. Or as my grandmother used to say, “To make an omelet you have to break some eggs.” (Translation: to make a match, you have to have a few broken hearts…). After each rejection, pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for putting yourself out there, for trying, and for allowing yourself to get some injuries on the path to finding someone with the right chemistry! 
  • TEASER IMAGE SOURCE: http://creditcardforum.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/iphone...  

    TEASER IMAGE SOURCE: http://creditcardforum.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/iphone...  

F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W., is a psychotherapist, teacher, and author in private practice in New York City.

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