I SPENT MOST of my youth chasing relationships that were destined to crash into a screaming shit-heap, only for me to brush myself off, sniff-out another disaster, and head careening straight for it.
Like anyone else in those situations, I blamed it on luck. I was never one of those who outwardly said “I’m unlucky in love”, but inwardly, I was one of those who said “I’m unlucky in love”, whilst nursing a pot-noodle and watching sobbing re-runs of Titanic.
Whether it was a short, medium or long-term relationships, there seemed to be something about me that was preventing me from having the kind of relationship I actually wanted. Y’know, the fulfilling, exciting, supermodel one. Everything I ended up with was some measure of half-enthusiastic, halfheartedness, leaving me in a constant state of chasing someone who wasn’t really that into me.
It was a drag.
Our relationships in life say a lot about who we are as people. In his masterpiece, Anna Karenina, Tolstoy wrote “all happy families resemble one another. Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I believe this is the same for a successful relationship, only in reverse. There is an essential element to relationships, that, depending on how we approach it, is either our best friend or our worst enemy. And it is our approach to this element that determines not only the initial success of the relationship but also the continued success of the relationship.
That element is rejection. And how we approach it determines everything.
THE MODEL OF ATTRACTION
When we attempt to meet new people in order to pursue a short or long term relationship, we will typically find ones we are physically attracted to and seek to win their attraction, approval, and interest.
This model of relationship building is the auto-pilot default of human mating, and it’s off shoots lie in the realms of flattery, coercion, fakery, supplication, approval seeking, disingenuousness, and pandering.
This model is engaged with, not just with the outcome of a relationship in mind, but more so because of the awareness of the obstacle that is present in the pursuit of that relationship: that is, the potential rejection.
Everything done in the attempt to win the approval of the one we’re attracted to is a direct effort to counteract and avoid this rejection. But this rarely results in the outcome we want.
I’ve written in other articles explaining how this behavior is unattractive in itself. So by approaching a woman we’re attracted to in this manner actively makes them less attracted to us. We’re making deliberate strides to shoot ourselves in the foot. But more importantly, the results we receive from this kind of pursuit are either empty-handedness or worse, we’re left with someone who we have convinced to be somewhat interested in who we have wanted them to perceive us as. Instead of leaving us with someone who likes us, avoiding rejection either leaves us rejected for being unattractive, or with someone who likes someone we aren’t.
THE COUNTERINTUITIVE APPROACH
The opposite to this approach is simple.
We aim to get rejected.
A running theme in my articles is this: “find the cause of the shitty results in your life and do the opposite.” Tired of working hours on something and getting nowhere? Spend a day doing nothing at all and watch the creative spark detonate. Bored of your life and its unfulfilling routine? Replace your external environment piece by piece, and watch that life change before your eyes.
In dating my advice is no different. When avoidance of rejection leaves you alone or in unsatisfying, broken relationships; the answer is to start inviting rejection into your life.
When I met my ex-girlfriend for the first time, I was overwhelmed with an awareness of my own behavior and the risks that my behavior posed to the potential relationship (read: sex) that loomed over the horizon. However, far from being introspective, I was instead hyper-aware of her and simply reacted accordingly. Unbeknownst to her, she was the hand on my marionette. The elements of my personality that were incompatible with her I simply kept hidden. Unsurprisingly, the result was two people, who although they liked each other, always struggled to make their relationship work.*
It turned out that in looking to not get rejected, I had rejected the possibility of a great relationship from my life. Leaving only a broken one.
We avoid rejection because we don’t like what it says about us. It says we aren’t good enough, it says we aren’t worthy; and we avoid it because worst of all, it feels like it’s validating what we already know; that we’re unlovable and destined to be alone. When our self-esteem is vulnerable, we avoid blows from rejection as if they were physical wounds. But as a result of this avoidance of rejection, we simultaneously avoid the very thing that will develop and strengthen our self-esteem; being accepted for who we really are.
When we avoid rejection by altering how we behave, what we tolerate and what we want to do, we actively reject ourselves from ever being accepted for any of those things. In other words, we stop ourselves from ever being liked for just being ourselves.
If someone rejects you for who you are, this is someone who you would never have a fulfilling relationship with. If someone accepts you for who you are, this is someone you would have a fulfilling relationship with by doing virtually nothing. This is, incidentally, why the majority of my pickup advice is: develop yourself, make a move.
If we actively avoid rejection out of a desire to be loved, it can be reasoned that we believe we are unworthy of love as we are, and therefore we aren’t just avoiding rejection from them; but we are actually doing far worse:
We are rejecting ourselves.
When we accept a relationship with someone who has a middling response to us, we are accepting that as the life we want and we are accepting that as the relationship we deserve. The truth of rejection is that we are rejecting ourselves before anyone else ever has the chance to.
This mismanagement of priorities comes from an inability to understand what makes us happy. When we believe a relationship will make us happy, we will actively pursue any relationship. When we feel we need validation in order to be happy, we will seek people’s approval at any cost.
The longer we remain trapped in a web of toxic motivation and needy behavior, the longer we will avoid rejection and shut ourselves off from rewarding relationships. The onus then is on ourselves to take responsibility for our approach to relationships and rejection.
The simplest way to start getting the quality of relationships you truly want in your life, whether that be short term flings or long, fulfilling intimacy, is to start letting go of the desire to not be rejected.
Accept that it’s there, acknowledge it, then do the opposite. The more you develop an awareness of the ways in which you are avoiding rejection, and adjust your behavior accordingly, the more you open yourself up to meeting great people. Letting go of your avoidance of rejection isn’t about not feeling a desire to avoid it, it’s about recognizing that desire when it occurs, and in the many ways it occurs, and acting in spite of it.
This might be anything from not approaching her, to not speaking your mind, to not being as physical as you feel like you want to. Anything.
In a question, this process would ask: “Am I rejecting myself right now?”
Let’s say you want to get laid in a nightclub. The most likely person to sleep with you is a sexually active, attracted girl, who is comfortable with her sexuality. By actively being upfront and direct about your intentions and sexuality, you screen out girls who aren’t into you or comfortable with their sexuality, and you actually invite a girl into your life who views sexuality the same way you do. By getting rejected more, you have more sex. Go figure.
At the opposite end of the scale, in long term relationships, you are far more likely to meet someone who genuinely likes you for who you are if you are accepting rejection from people who don’t like you for you are. Instead of trying to ‘get back in touch’ with the ex who doesn’t want you, or trying to win over the girl who isn’t that interested, you accept the rejection and move on to people who are actually interested, genuinely invested, and much more capable of falling in love with you.
When you let go of your need to avoid rejection, you free yourself to start seizing opportunities; the more you get rejected for who you actually are, the faster you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who are interested and invested in who you are.
A LIFESTYLE OF REJECTION
The more we invest in who we feel need to be in order to be loveable, the more we invest in rejecting ourselves. Rejection doesn’t just lie within our behaviors around others, but in the very way we live our lives.
If we feel that we need to earn money in order to be worthy of love; we will devote all our efforts to pursuing that in the hope that we’ll get our needs met, all whilst simultaneously ignoring any germ of true personality that lies within us. If we feel we need to be funny and charming in order to be liked, we will smooth over moments of natural tension in interactions and destroy any spark that could have taken life.
When we fail to develop our lives and develop the richness of diversity and opportunity that exists within its potential; we reject ourselves from meeting a broad variety of people that would match us.
If we pay attention to finding the gold within us – maybe our desire to get into politics, or our desire to blog and travel, or our love of Japanese Anime, rugby, wrestling, classic literature, black and white cinema, hardcore clubbing or break dancing – we naturally give ourselves a compass which we can follow to find those who suit us best.
GENUINE DECISIONS FOR GENUINE RESULTS
Taking responsibility for our relationships means taking responsibility for the emotional reality in which our decisions with the opposite sex are made. In order to have the kind of relationships, sex life, and connection that we desire, we have to confront our own motivations and our approach to our identity.
Because if we’re acting from a place that rejects us before anyone has had the chance to, then those relationships will never come into being. Not only is this unsatisfying but it leaves us in a state of self-reinforcing emotional limbo. Every time we invest in someone who isn’t really into us, we invest in that part of ourselves that tells us we aren’t enough.
The problem with a results orientated mindset is that it prevents us from seeing what actually gives us the results we want. In relationships, this is enormous. Good relationships don’t start with a relationship, they start with someone who has a good relationship with themselves.
Before you look outwards, you have to look inwards, or you’ll never allow anyone to genuinely love you for who you are.
*Basically had a young, dumb relationship like anyone else.
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