I’m wincing remembering getting rejected by a long-time friend and former lover.
We hadn’t seen in each other in a while, so we went out for a couple of drinks to catch up before going to a show together. When we sat down next to each other in the theater, I was so happy to be with him that I threw one arm around him and put the other hand in his lap.
His body tensed up a little bit, so I checked in. “Is this ok?”
He turned to me and smiled awkwardly. “It’s a little much...”
I was so embarrassed. I was excited about being affectionate with him, but he didn’t want that with me. Worse, I had crossed his boundaries out of my eagerness to connect. We all reject and get rejected by others throughout our lives, and it’s painful on both ends. In fact, now we hide behind our devices and “ghost” people we don’t want to connect with anymore, so that we can avoid witnessing another’s pain upon getting rejected.
But what if rejection conversations made us more connected to each other? Here is a formula for Rejection in Connection: Part 1) Lead with an acknowledgement of the other person’s experience. Part 2) Say your truth, ie. “the no.” Part 3) End with a connecting statement that both acknowledges the other person and states your authentic experience or desire. Examples: “I’m flattered that you want my number, but I’m not available. I hope you find someone great to connect with.” “I appreciate that you’re excited to hang out with me, but I don’t want physical touch. I’m happy that we‘re hanging out, though.” “I’m enjoying our connection, but I want to take it slow. I would love to just cuddle tonight.” “Thanks for telling me the kinky thing you want to try, but I’m not up for that. I am willing to try [name activity you actually want to try] with you, though.” Obviously, if you don’t want to be connected to the person you are rejecting because they approached you in a disrespectful way, you don’t owe them anything. But if you want to maintain connection with the person you are saying “no” to (which makes the rejection easier for both parties), this is a winning formula.
And if you're the person getting rejected, a wise friend once told me once:
Rejection is protection.
If someone says "no," to you, you just dodged a bullet. They weren't the right fit for whatever you were wanting with them.
Be mature in your response to the person rejecting you. Yeah, it sucks. It's embarrassing. But you'll feel better if you stay in connection with them by being gracious.
And be sure to do some self-care afterwards. You are worthy of love. That person who just rejected you made time and space in your life for someone who won't. ♥️