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5 ways to deal with rejection

Navin and Neha had started talking in the first semester after being placed in the same project group. Conversations were easy and it felt good to have a new friend. Over time, Navin realised that he truly liked Neha and decided to ask her out. Neha had always seen and treated Navin as a dear friend. She told Navin that she didn't feel the same way. Navin was obviously left heartbroken and felt crushed.


It is very natural to be attracted to someone. But the uncomfortable truth remains that not everyone is going to reciprocate the same feelings. Here are some ways to help one cope with rejection.

Coping Mechanisms

5 ways to deal with rejection
Acknowledge the pain

Rejection truly hurts. You may also be experiencing a range of different emotions (sad, shocked, lonely, angry, ashamed, jealous, embarrassed, humiliated, confused, unwanted or not valued in some way). Whatever it is, your feelings are valid and you can freely acknowledge them. It can often be the first step towards healing. Also, remember that these feelings will not last forever even if it feels like it currently.

Although difficult, Navin acknowledged that he was indeed very hurt. He had hoped she felt the same but was going to respect her choice nonetheless.

Focus on yourself

Take this opportunity to actively practice self-care and compassion. Follow a routine, engage in activities you enjoy, focus on things you are grateful for in your life.

Navin decided to focus on feeling better himself. Apart from setting up a routine that worked for him, he also enrolled in the badminton class he had been planning for a while.

Talk to someone

Reach out to others. Talking to a supportive friend who can provide a space for you to vent and show care can help greatly.

He was honest in sharing his feelings with his friends who in turn were extremely supportive.

Accept the No gracefully

Learning that an individual doesn't want the same things as you is difficult. There may especially be times when you feel like you’ve been wronged and feel deeply angry and upset. While these emotions are understandable, acting on them and shaming the individual, threatening violence, or other acts of revenge are not acceptable. These are harmful and could also be illegal.

Additionally, keep in mind that when someone says no, they mean it (it does not mean that you should try harder). Media-popularized ideas like relentlessly pursuing the individual even after they’ve said no, following them, etc. perpetuate the wrong message and are simply not okay (far from romantic). One must strive to manage one's emotions in constructive ways, that is, without violating anyone else's boundaries.

Plan how you'll deal with reminders that can act as triggers (like hearing about them through common friends, seeing them on social media, etc.)

Although hurt, Navin respected Neha's choice. Once they decided to take some time apart, he did not text or call her. Nor did he get mad at her or started any rumours to “get back at her”. He knew it would be difficult for him to hear updates about her so he simply asked his friends not to discuss anything about her around him.

Pay attention to what you're telling yourself

When faced with rejection, a lot of us have the tendency to make sweeping generalizations and become too critical of ourselves that only add to our distress (They said no because I am not good enough/ No one will ever like me).

Be mindful of what you’re telling yourself and attempt to be kinder. Remember, this rejection doesn't define you, nor is it a statement of your self-worth. Even if the person does not like you back, it does not automatically mean that you are unlikeable!

Navin periodically reminded himself that this wasn't a statement about him as a person. He understood that he would heal eventually and could work towards finding his match.

Facing rejection at some point is inevitable. But it also means that we are willing to put ourselves out there. Give yourself credit for it and treat it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Seek help

It is possible that you're finding it tough to cope even after practicing these different things. Please don't hesitate in reaching out for help at such times.
  • Your mentor will be able to understand what you're going through and guide you. Reach out to them!
  • When the emotions get overwhelming or when you are simply confused about what is happening to you, talking to a counsellor at the Student Wellness Centre could give relief and they can provide guidance about what you can do.
  • Also, your parents are just a phone call away. Don’t hold back from contacting them even if you just want to unburden, that is if you’re comfortable discussing your romantic life with them!