Dealing with Dating Disappointment
Author Sara Eckel is back with an inspiring blog which touches on the toughest part of dating – the rejection. I think her points about how to handle it are excellent.
You thought it was a great date. You bonded about growing up as the middle child, laughed about that goofy sitcom from the 90s, and exchanged fascinating insights about what you learned while traveling abroad.
“We should do this again!”
And then … nothing. Your date has been crazy with work. Or going though a tough time. Or has simply written those soul-crushing words “I don’t think this is a match.”
Dating is one of the most emotionally challenging things a person can do. One minute, you’re having a blast. You even let yourself think that the long, hard search might just be over. And then all that hope and happiness comes crashing down with a single, painful text.
When that happens, you have to find a way to grieve without obsessing or punishing yourself. Practicing self-compassion can help give you the patience to honor those difficult feelings, as well as the strength to move on.
1) Don’t Ask Why
When confronting rejection, the great temptation is to ask why the other person didn’t want a second (or third or fourth) date. Was it your Beavis and Butthead imitation? The fact that you don’t like jazz? Would you be going on another date if you were ten pounds lighter?
This is the trap we fall into when someone we like decides to pass. Trying to figure out why feels productive. You convince yourself that if you could just tweak this one flaw in your dating personality, you’d do better next time. Actually, asking why is just another way to beat yourself up—a way to catalog all your potential flaws and eccentricities and build a case for why you’re just hopeless.
It’s understandable that we do this. When unexpected rejection happens, it’s so confusing that searching for the reason feels like the only satisfying course. I’m not attractive enough. I’m not smart enough. I don’t like dogs….
The truth is, most of us never find out why this or that person didn’t fall for us. The more important truth is, it doesn’t matter. You’re not perfect—never have been, never will be. But that’s okay. The point of dating isn’t to mold yourself into a lovable person—it’s to find the one who loves you exactly as you are.
2) Be Nice To Yourself
The other reason we so often feel compelled to do a personality assessment after a dating disappointment is that we think that being hard on ourselves will compel us to do better next time. Actually, the opposite is true: Research shows that people who are critical of themselves are less motivated to try again than those who are more forgiving.
So maybe you did do something dumb. Maybe you snapped at the waiter or overshared about your long-running feud with your older sister. Maybe, you realize in hindsight, that your date really wanted you to ask more questions about the epic poem they were writing.
Sure you could sit and stew and tell yourself that you’re an awful person. But all that’s going to do is make you hate yourself and make you dread the idea of another date.
A better strategy is to see those moments that make you cringe, and then forgive yourself. Dating is difficult—you’re trying to show your best self without looking like a braggart; you’re trying to open yourself to another human being’s soul while also hoping your bangs aren’t doing that weird flip. So if you made a few mistakes, that doesn’t make you a terrible person—that makes you about average.
Instead of trying to fix yourself, just take care of yourself. Do whatever makes you feel good. Climb into bed and have a movie marathon. Book a trip to a spa. Call a good friend—the one who sees your very best self—and make dinner plans. Not only will this make you feel better, it will also make you much more likely to date again.
About the Author:
Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter at @saraeckel or on Facebook.
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