Dear New Shrink,
I am wondering if you can give me advise about handling rejection. I have started to feel really bad because I lost my job and cannot seem to find another one; several times I have gone on job interviews, and not even had a call back. But what is really troubling me is dating. I have no trouble getting dates but here too, often there is no second date. I did date someone I met online for about two months but it ended out of the blue. I just don’t understand any of this and I am starting to feel like one big reject.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a sign of the times. I think you are far from being alone on this one. Searching for a job or a partner, looking for work or dating, they are both two of the most difficult things to do right now.
I am not certain how much of it applies mostly here in California because we are certainly in financial trouble as a state and when it comes to dating, I am constantly being told how difficult it is to meet someone here.
Most people seem to be using online dating services and while they may be great for finding people and some have found their life partners on them, there is also a lot of inherent rejection as well. There are actually studies and psychological literature that talk about what has been referred to as the “flawometer.” It seems that we tend to look for what we don’t like or what seems wrong with someone rather then giving them a chance, when we are viewing them from an online web site. Part of the problem is that the questions tend to categorize people in a somewhat simplistic way; all of us have a lot more to us than can be expressed by checking off a box. This is simply the nature of the beast; there really is no other way to do it online.
When you first meet, it is somewhat contrived and most likely both parties are a bit nervous. If you use these online sites, it’s best that you get to know each other through e-mail and phone conversations before actually meeting.
But more importantly, regarding the issue of rejection, it is a bit similar in looking for a job these days. Many positions get hundreds of applications. The employer looks through them very quickly and if your letter of intent and resume are not ideal, just like that “flawometer” in online dating, you won’t even get the first meeting. If you do get the interview but are not the one chosen, you just have to realize that it was not a dislike or rejection of you but that they chose someone better suited for the position; someone they just “clicked” with or had the best chemistry with.
The same goes for dating, if there isn’t chemistry or an attraction, most people keep moving, looking for someone that they have this with. Attraction can and often does grow with time but few of us are willing to wait. In this age of technology, most people want quick results and actually may be passing up some real opportunities without knowing it.
I honestly feel that we can’t or shouldn’t take this all so personally. It is impossible to make yourself attracted to someone; you either feel it or you don’t. Chemistry is a complicated thing; it pulls in the physical, the emotional and sometimes subconscious, and definitely the psychological draw or match. This may or may not be healthy, ideal or even the best choice.
But as much as we would like to think we have control over this, we don’t have as much as we might want to believe.
So what is rejection really? I think of it as a very active and often aggressive act. If we cannot control our attractions, cannot make ourselves be attracted to or have chemistry with someone, then are we rejecting them?
Maybe we need to rethink rejection. In a job interview, there are several excellent candidates but we can only pick one and the one we decide on seems the best fit out of the three. Are we really rejecting the other two?
Or is it simply that we go with what feels the best, then and there. Who knows? It could be a mistake but I really question if we should call it rejection.
Of course there are times that we all “feel” rejected, or are concerned about making someone else feel rejected and I do not mean to minimize these feelings. But feelings are not facts and I think we just might want to start rethinking what rejection really means.
Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist with offices in Brentwood. Please send your anonymous inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org Got something on your mind? Let us help you with your life matters.