I Was Rejected. How Do I Cope? | Advice

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I've recently experienced rejection from someone I had strong feelings for. Could you offer some advice on how to handle this rejection gracefully and protect my emotional well-being?

Absolutely. Rejection can feel like a personal affront, but it's a universal part of the human experience, not confined to any one experience. However, for members of the LGBTQ community, the stakes can sometimes feel higher due to smaller dating pools and the nuanced dynamics of dating within these spaces.

When you face rejection, the first thing to remember is that it's okay to feel hurt. These emotions are not just natural; they're necessary for healing. You might feel a range of emotions from sadness to anger. For example, you might find yourself replaying the rejection over in your mind, wondering if your identity played a role. It’s important here to treat yourself with kindness, as you would a good friend. This could look like taking a day off to enjoy your favorite hobby, or simply giving yourself permission to feel your feelings without judgment.

Keeping perspective is crucial. Rejection is often less about your worth as a person and more about incompatibility in specific areas such as interests, life stages, or emotional availability. Consider the situation of Alex, a young gay man who expressed interest in a longtime friend. When he faced rejection, he initially felt it was a reflection of his worth. However, upon reflection, he realized it was more about his friend's sexual orientation and current relationship status, not a judgment of his qualities or desirability.

Setting boundaries post-rejection is also essential. If maintaining a friendship or staying in close contact with the person who rejected you is painful, it's perfectly acceptable to distance yourself temporarily or permanently. This might mean avoiding certain social situations or mutual settings for a while. For instance, Taylor, a nonbinary individual, decided to stop attending the same volunteer group as their crush after being rejected, allowing them time to heal without constant reminders of the rejection.

During this period, reflecting on the rejection can provide valuable insights. Maybe you'll discover more about what you truly need in a relationship or how to better communicate your feelings. This isn’t about dwelling on the rejection but learning from it to enhance your future relationships.

Staying connected with friends and the broader LGBTQ community can provide comfort and understanding. They can offer empathy and share their own stories of navigating rejection, which can be both comforting and illuminating. For example, Jamie found solace in a local LGBTQ book club, where sharing experiences about dating helped normalize rejection and provided a support network.

If rejection triggers deeper feelings of inadequacy or leads to a prolonged period of sadness, it might be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist familiar with LGBTQ issues can offer more than just support; they can provide strategies that are tailored to your personal experiences within the community.

Lastly, try to maintain a positive outlook on dating. Rejection, although painful, is not an endpoint but part of the broader journey in finding a compatible partner. It's important to remember that with each person you meet, you learn more about yourself and what you are looking for in a relationship.

Handling rejection with grace is ultimately about self-care, perspective, and continuing to engage with life in a meaningful way. Each rejection is not just an endpoint, but a step along the path to finding someone truly compatible with you.

Queerly Beloved is an expertly curated column dedicated to the world of LGBTQ sex, intimacy and relationships that provides education, insights and actionable tips for the reader to enhance their pleasure journey. This column from Kelly Ghweinem, LCSW, will answer questions and provide advice to readers to deepen intimate connections, elevate pleasurable experiences, and empower people. Ghweinem is an established queer-affirming therapist and business owner who champions the LGBTQ+ community through activism and advocacy utilizing a queer, feminist, anti-racist lens. A University at Buffalo graduate, Kelly came to Fort Lauderdale from Manhattan in 2022.

For more information on their practice, visit www.velvetcollective.org.

The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice.


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