March 10, 2022
12 Strategies To Manage Rejection
- Do you struggle with rejection?
- How does your response vary from the boardroom to the bedroom?
- Do layers of your identity affect how you deal with rejection?
We surveyed our community regarding their experiences of rejection, and we shared their insights in this week’s episode. We think it’s a great one! Thank you to those who sent messages. We appreciate you.
If you’re looking for an episode on sexual initiation techniques, click here.
Check out the 12 insights on managing rejection below, as well as the full transcript (scroll down).
12 Insights on Rejection from Our Community
(Some of these have been edited for clarity/brevity.)
- Why can women say no to sex, but when a guy says no, it’s crazy?
- For me, it’s all about connection. When I get rejected over and over again, it brings up feelings of unlovability, unworthiness, being unimportant, etc. I’m working through some of that, but I also think it’s normal; in a monogamous sexual relationship. Taking care of myself doesn’t provide an emotional connection, and it can even hinder connection when it’s all I’m left with.
- Rejection is just God’s Protection (it’s supposed to rhyme).Yes. Can we re-frame rejection to be something that safeguards us against things that aren’t good for us? Didn’t get that job because you didn’t click with the hiring team, maybe, you wouldn’t have liked working with them anyway? You approached someone to make a new connection, and they were aloof, maybe that’s not the energy you need in your life?
- Don’t take it as a negative. Don’t take it personally. People have many different preferences. It’s not about you.
- Accept rejection. Don’t let it turn into dejection. For me, it’s about not personalizing it. My GF isn’t in the mood? Cool. It has nothing to do with me. And honestly, I don’t feel like it’s my job to get her in the mood. Sometimes I will, but if she knows what she has to do to get herself in the mood too. She likes sex as much as I do. I know that for sure. So if she is working too much, or going out too much and feeling tired or not doing the things that facilitate her mood, it’s not about me. But this only applies since we started talking about sex. 10 years ago, I know she said no because the sex wasn’t so good for her. Now that I know what she likes. Now that we’ve both learned to be better lovers, we don’t personalize things as much. So I guess it begins with making sure the sex is good and learning to be an open, caring, attentive lover. And then you don’t personalize it when they say no.
- Everything changed for me when I finally talked to my wife about the all one-sided initiation. I was in your workshop in _______. You said that we need to share initiation because when one person does all the sexual initiation, they’re the only one who has to deal with sexual rejection. The other is often avoidant. So when my wife and I finally had that conversation, and we both agreed that we should both initiate, I learned that sometimes I’m not in the mood when she’s in the mood. And she learned; what it feels like when I say no. The first part — my finally saying no to her because I wasn’t finding myself in the mood made me realize that I’m not rejecting her. I’m just not in the mood for sex. So I get that it’s the same for her. She’s not rejecting me. She just – doesn’t want that type of connection at the time. So switching sides helped. But also, because she was pretty upset the first few times I said no, it changed the way she communicates her NO to me. We’ve talked about; how to reject with more grace and what we can do when the other isn’t in the mood. So it’s not a big deal anymore.
- I don’t care about rejection. I’ve been being rejected for so long, but I don’t let it affect my confidence because I’m single and I’m always meeting people. I don’t like all of them – not because they’re not attractive or not good people, but because they’re just not a fit for me. The same applies to me — I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m okay with that.
- Just be rational, people! What’s the worst that can happen? If someone says no to you for a date or for sex or for anything, is it really the end of the world? Come on!
- In my marriage, it’s really about making it about alternatives. So the rejection is a soft rejection. It’s like no, I don’t want to do that right now, but I’ll do this. Or no, I’m not up for that today, but maybe on the weekend. Or no, I don’t want to go shopping with you, but let’s hang out later and watch a movie. It’s not a NO. It’s a not now, maybe later, or this instead.
- Feel what you’re feeling. If you feel badly, feel badly. Don’t run from your feelings – let yourself feel them if you want. Or don’t. There is no right way to deal with an experience. There is no universal way to manage emotions. You don’t have to feel every emotion either. It’s okay to distract yourself. Use coping mechanisms. Ignore sometimes. And then maybe go back to the feelings later and ask yourself how avoiding them might hold you back. But you don’t have to be perfect. And you don’t have to fix everything right now.
- Identify the stories you’re telling yourself. And rewrite them.I’m not worthy.
I’ll never succeed.
They like everyone else better.
This always happens to me.Rewrite those stories.I’m worthy.
This wasn’t a fit.
Failing is normal.
I’m not alone.
I’m surrounded by and deserving of love and appreciation.
- I always learn from it. What could I do differently? How can I grow? I’m not hard on myself. It’s not like, oh, if only I had done ABC. It’s just like alright. I’ll get up again. I’ll do better. I’ll be better. That’s for work.For relationships, it’s tough. It cuts deeper. I feel I do everything for my family and my husband, and when they don’t show appreciation or when he doesn’t make time for me, I do take it hard. That’s where I’m hoping you can help me.Jess brief thoughts. Think about…
- How do you want to feel?
- What makes you feel that way — self, partner, other sources?
- I have two rejection lessons:I used to be an actor-singer in my teens and twenties. Auditioning all the time. Being rejected all the time. My friends were everything – they still are. They were my support system, my cheerleaders, my friend-apists. I didn’t have to go into detail. They just had my back every time I had a bad audition or got really close and lost out. If I didn’t have them, I would have been eating nothing but ice cream and tears.The other rejection lesson is in relationships. I had a really; bad one where my partner didn’t just reject me; he was mean about it. I thought it was normal. It was also in my 20s, and I had this amazing; support system of friends, who I’d run to when I lost out on a role, but I hid the BF stories from them because I was ashamed. I suffered in silence. It costs me the jobs I did land. It was so bad, and the only way I got out of it and broke the funk was to finally tell one of my friends. She sorta slapped some sense into me and made me realize that I was hiding everything in shame and making it worse. My situation was a bit extreme but what I learned from it was that you have to speak it in the open. Don’t hide your failures and rejections. They’re so much less powerful and have so much less of a hold on you if you just admit it. Tell people. Talk about it. Laugh about it. After that one bad relationship, I could kinda laugh about anything ridiculous with any of the other guys I dated. So there was no shame in it. Of course, it doesn’t feel good to be rejected or hurt, but if you don’t let it become shameful, it’s so much easier to get over. I have the same approach with my now-husband. We talk, we laugh, we don’t feel bad when we say no or set boundaries. And I still turn to my friends for support or when I need them to hold the mirror up for me.
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12 Strategies To Manage Rejection
You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, Sex and relationship advice you can use Tonight. Welcome to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. I’m your cohost brand, and we’re here with my lovely other half, Doctor Jess. Well, hello. Hello. I’m good. We’re going to be talking about rejection because we started talking about rejection last week by accident, sort of. And I got a lot of feedback, actually, on that episode. And people had a lot of questions and maybe felt we didn’t go as much in depth as we could have. And also people shared their insights. So today we’re going to talk about how to handle rejection and potentially boost confidence. And I have insights from over a dozen people who sent short messages, longer messages, and all really helpful stuff. Actually, I feel like I did go very deep, personally, to be clear, people weren’t complaining. They just kind of wanted more of it. Okay. Well, I mean, rejection is something that everybody deals with. So let’s do it. Yeah. And last week, actually, we talked about the fact that you don’t feel badly when I reject you sexually. It’s when it’s otherwise. Yes. And that’s really interesting because one of the first comments I received and then I received a number along this theme is around why women can say no to sex. But when a guy says no, it’s absurd or crazy. And there are a bunch of other kind of descriptions there. And it really does speak to these gender double standards that are rooted in, I think, social capital along gender lines. Right. Men are supposed to always want sex. They’re supposed to be good at sex. They’re supposed to take it personally if a partner doesn’t want them. And for women, it’s a little bit different. Now, I definitely work with a ton of women who feel pressure to have sex, especially in relationships and in marriages. But we do we have these gender double standards, and it’s nothing new. We’re not the first to say it, but it’s interesting that you don’t feel rejected when or you don’t feel upset by sexual rejection, because I did get many messages, mostly from straight guys who really just said it’s really about connection. So when they get rejected, especially over and over again, it brings up feelings. And I’ll just read one of these out.
So he says it brings up feelings of unlovability, unworthiness being unimportant. And this person says, I’m actually working through some of that with some support. But also he thinks it’s common in monogamous sexual relationships because masturbation, for example, doesn’t provide the emotional connection that they’re looking for. And I got to say, I hear this from so many people, definitely from women, but more so from men, that sex is a means of connection. And so this is such an important piece around sexual rejection to really think about what does sex mean to you and have that conversation with a partner, because I don’t know about you. Do you see sex as an important means of connection, or do you find other ways of other methods of connection really important to you? We do connect. I do feel connected when we have sex, but no, it’s not the primary means of how I feel connected to you. It makes you feel connected and loved and important and worthy. A lot of different things there. But just generally speaking, you express those to me verbally on a daily basis so frequently that I just feel it like you wake up in the morning and you tell me how much this relationship matters. You tell me how much you enjoy being with me. So I feel like I have that emotional connection from the start of the day and throughout the day, and I think I reciprocate it back. I certainly try to. So I feel that all the time. So sex, yeah, we’re connected, and it feels great, and I feel connected after. But that’s not the most important point of connection for me. And Interestingly for me, I definitely use sex as a means of connection. Like, the physical is so important to me. And so when I am rejected, when I experience sexual rejection, I am more inclined to personalize it. Like, I’m more inclined to see it as some sort of take it as a barometer of the relationship. And I have to stop myself and say, okay, so maybe he’s just not interested in sex right now. Maybe it’s not good timing. Maybe there are other reasons. It’s not necessarily about me, and more importantly, it’s not necessarily an indication of how you’re feeling in the relationship. And so I think that’s what is really important for folks who are saying, hey, it’s all about connection. When I get rejected over and over again, it brings up these feelings of lack of worth and being unloved and not feeling important. I think those are obviously very valid responses and also personalized responses, because you define what sex means to you. And if sex is a really important connection point, I think it’s important to express that to your partner. Obviously not pressuring them to have sex with you. They have no obligation. But maybe the way they decline sex matters, maybe what you do in lieu of sex matters. And of course, people define sex very differently from one person to another and from one couple to another. But my big thing would be, okay, so what are other ways to connect that feel really good for you? Because if I wanted sex from you and then not from you with you, give me the sex. If I wanted to have sex with you and then you said no. Yeah, I think it would be easy for me to go to a place of like, oh, he doesn’t feel like connecting with me, but I also have to do the self talk to be like, okay, it’s not about that. But maybe I can also say to you, when you’re not in the mood, are there other things you want to do? Can we be close in a different way? Does an intimate conversation help me to connect as well? Well, I think that was really important, what you just said, because going back to this question, I think it’s important to understand what you want. But if you don’t start there, like understanding what you want, when you want it, how you want it, you’re not going to be able to convey that to your partner and have that conversation. It’s like when we have sex, this makes me feel connected. So when I’m rejected, I don’t feel connected, and it just kind of spirals from there. But again, it all boils down, at least for me, to these conversations, these meaningful conversations. And what you said I thought was really interesting because when I’ve rejected you sexually, not only do you feel bad, but I also feel bad because I know that socially I’ve been told that as a man, I’m supposed to want sex 24/7 all the time. And if I’m rejecting you, there’s something wrong with me. So I’ve had to kind of deconstruct and really understand those underlying social pressures and just be like, screw it, I don’t really care. And I can convey to you I don’t want to have sex right now because of this or because of that, because I’m stressed because of work or I’m not in the mood or I’m on whatever and not feeling bad because socially I’m supposed to want it all the time, which is just ridiculous. Well, and when you bring up conversations, I think we also have to have them with some real understanding and Grace because I can convey to you, hey, when we have sex, I feel more connected to you, but I also don’t want to pressure you. I don’t want you to be concerned that we’ll feel disconnected. I think what’s really important is that we look at multiple ways to emotionally connect. And when I hear this more from so many straight guys, I do wonder if we’re not giving men the Grace, the latitude, the space, the tools, the permission to be emotionally or intimately connected with people in other ways. So I don’t think it’s like men have a deficit. I think socioculturally, we’ve created a very limited and narrow view of how men are allowed to express themselves. And so that takes a lot of work for individuals to defy those sociocultural norms and say, you know what, sex isn’t the only way I can connect. And it’s not necessarily the most meaningful. And maybe for some people it is everything is just different to different people. Some people feel really connected when they’re speaking. Some for some people, it’s when they’re touching. For other people, it’s when you’re doing something like new and exciting. But I think that if we can all expand and broaden the ways in which we connect regardless of gender. That could help as well to kind of attenuate the effects of rejection because rejection is going to exist no matter what. And of course, we can get semantic and be like, well, is it rejection or is it just say no to sex, but somebody is going to say no to sex at some point in time? What are you afraid of too, if you come on to me sexually and I reject you, or I just say I’m not in the mood, is my fear that you’re going to go and tell everybody that I’m not having sex? When I’m looking at this kind of set of messages, it has to do with not feeling connected, not feeling loved, not feeling worthy. I’m really personalizing it. And again, I don’t put this on the individuals. I think this is a sociocultural norm around gender. And I think that for men in particular, it can be difficult to overcome because we’ve got such rigid norms around what a man is supposed to be. And these messages. So I kind of grouped them together. These messages about feeling unlovable or feeling like they can’t connect when their partner says no over and over again come from both straight and gay men. Interesting. So the first one was around. So when I said that I had insights from over a dozen people, the first one was around the sexual, the gender double standard that we really need to eradicate. And the second one really is around sex being about connection for them. And so that rejection cuts deeper. It’s not like not getting a job or anything like that.
So then we have a short one. So we’ll move on to number three. This is from someone I know. Actually, rejection is just God’s protection. And apparently it’s supposed to rhyme. Yeah, he wrote that. I love this, actually. I think can we reframe rejection to be something that safeguards us against things that aren’t good for us? Like, I didn’t get that job because I didn’t click with the hiring team. So maybe I wouldn’t have really liked working with them anyway. Or maybe I approached someone to make a new connection and they were aloof. And maybe that’s just not the energy I need in my life. So I’m not trying to oversimplify like everything happens for a reason. But I do think that there is a protective mechanism and things that don’t work out in the way that we assumed or hoped that they would initially. And sometimes the things that do work out you wish didn’t work out. Yeah. I mean, I wish that there were certain people that had rejected me. Yeah. And again, it has more to do with work and not very many, but I’m just like in retrospect, I was like, I wish that I maybe had listened to my gut or at certain things because you end up having a relationship with them, whether personal, professional, whatever and in hindsight, I’m like, I wish I hadn’t. Like, I really do. It’s just it’s not worth my time, my effort, my energy. I like it. So rejection is God’s protection or the universe’s protection or whatever it is you believe in in terms of big power, higher power. All right, we have another short one. A little bit of advice I received on Instagram from somebody. Don’t take it as a negative. Don’t take it personally. People have many different preferences, and it’s not about you. That’s a big one. Yeah, that is really a big one. That it’s not always about you. And we need to be nicer to ourselves. Just like I think you give other people Grace. Give yourself the same Grace. And all this in cognitive behavioral therapy, we’ll often think about your best friend. Like, what would your best friend say to reassure you? And can you speak to yourself that way? Or if it’s easier, if the same thing happened to your best friend, what would you tell them? And can you just heed your own perspective? Yeah. It’s hard not to look at it in a negative light in the moment, but I think, again, with a little bit of time, a little bit of reflection, and a bit of just rational thought, a lot of those things that were said here are true. Sometimes it’s not about you. I always go back for me, I think so much just about work. And I’m like, sometimes it has nothing to do with me. Sometimes it has to do with a bunch of other variables that have nothing to do with what I’ve done or how I’ve interacted. And I do think that at the core of all of this, if we work on our own sense of self and we work on our own confidence and we work on our own fulfillment and our sense of meaning, we have so many other things going on in our lives, so many other sources of joy and support and welcoming and celebration that the rejection is sort of a blip. And so then some people face more hardships in life. Right. The reality of microaggressions every day or little things that chip away at you. And so rejection can feel even more intense. So it’s not like if everybody employs the same strategies, we’ll have the same outcomes. But I think that if we go through all of these different perspectives that people have shared, hopefully there’s one or two or a few that resonate with you. Okay. Somebody else wrote in and said, Accept rejection. Don’t let it turn into dejection. And they say, for me, it’s not about personalizing it my girlfriend isn’t in the mood. Cool. It has nothing to do with me. So similar to what the last person said. And they go on. And honestly, I don’t feel like it’s my job to get her in the mood. Sometimes I will. But if she knows what she has to do to get herself in the mood, too. That’s on her. She likes sex as much as I do. I know that for sure. So if she is working too much or going out too much and feeling tired or not doing the things that facilitate her mood, it’s not about me. But this is such an interesting story. Okay. But this only applies since we started talking about sex ten years ago. I know she said no to sex because sex wasn’t good for her. Now that I know what she likes, now that we’ve both learned to be better lovers, we don’t personalize things as much. So I guess it begins with making sure the sex is good first and learning to be an open, caring, attentive lover. And then you don’t personalize it when they say no.
Wow, there’s lots in here. I love this so much because for several reasons. First of all, sometimes people come to me complaining that their partners don’t want sex and sort of criticizing their partners or asking me to fix their partners. And in some cases, yes, we can work on the relationship, we can work on communication, we can work on connection, we can work on lifestyle. But sometimes it’s actually about the sex. So sexual rejection and even other types of rejection in the relationship sometimes have to do with the quality of what they’re saying no to. And that’s a really scary thing. And I don’t want to make people feel bad. Like, if your partner is not enjoying sex, it’s actually not all on you. Nobody is a great lover on their own. Like, we become great lovers through learning, through openness, through shedding shame, through talking to partners, because every partner is different through keeping the communication ongoing, because what they like in 2022 might be very different than what they like in 2023, or what they like on a Monday might be different than what they want on a Sunday. So this person is really talking about taking care of the quality of your sex life first. And then sexual rejection is just something that happens, and you don’t take it personally. And this is specific to sexual rejection, of course. But I also like, for me, they said here that they started talking about sex. It was something where we were having sex. I’m assuming they didn’t really discuss it very much. And then all of a sudden they started having these conversations that uncovered a bunch of things. Like, I like this. I don’t like that. All of a sudden the sex gets better, and then it just snowballs from there. I would be like, that was great. I’d like to do that again more often because it was very good. Thank you. And then, of course, positive reinforcement. You’re having more sex, things are feeling good, you’re having more conversations, you’re perhaps exploring new things together or on your own that feel good again. It just boils down to having some of these conversations to understand the other partner. And it’s not just sex. I mean, we’re talking rejection and no sexual rejection, but applies to so many different aspects of your relationship. Absolutely. Yeah. I love this rejection. Not dejection and focusing on quality, whatever it is you feel they’re saying no to, can we look at the quality and without blame, without guilt, without shame? I don’t want to harp on the whole talking point, but we’ve been together for coming up, living together for coming up on 21 years. And this weekend when we went for a hike on the drive there, we did one of our exercises. We did that interview. One of my exercises. Yeah. Sorry, I’m looking at you. So that’s what I’m saying. But we did one of everything. Mine is 50%. Did you write half that book? I absolutely did not. I sold half that house. Yes. But just going back to that, we had that conversation during the drive. And again, it’s like I learned something about you 21 years later, and I feel like I don’t feel like we’ve had all the conversations. And I’ll tell you, when you first asked if I wanted to do it, I was like, I’m kind of enjoying just listening to music, but I thought, let’s do it. And then when we started doing it, I started thinking about my own situation. Like some of the questions made me reflect on my own set of circumstances growing up and whatnot. So it was just so interesting and helpful. And so what Brandon is referring to is, I believe it’s called the intimacy interview episode, so we can put a link to that if you want to go back to it. So we did it years ago on the podcast together, a year I don’t remember. And so that’s the interesting thing is that you don’t even remember my answers. And my answers change over time and likewise for you. So I do think these exercises are helpful.
Yeah. All right. So speaking of talking number six, this person says everything changed for me when I finally talked to my wife about the all one sided initiation. Oh, this is one of my clients from one of my workshops. So he says, I was in your workshop and I’ll just redact the city. You said that we need to share initiation because when one person does all the sexual initiation, they’re the only one who has to deal with the potential of sexual rejection. The other is often avoidant so they don’t have to deal with it. So when my wife and I finally had the conversation and we both agreed that we should both initiate, I learned that sometimes I’m not in the mood when she’s in the mood. And she learned what it feels like when I say no, not that I’m trying to punish her. And he goes on to say the first part, my finally saying no to her because I wasn’t finding myself in the mood at the same time made me realize I’m not rejecting her. I’m just not in the mood for sex. So I get that it’s the same for her. She’s not rejecting me. She just doesn’t want that type of connection at that specific time. So switching roles really helped me, but also because she was pretty upset the first few times I said no. It changed the way she communicates her no to me and how I communicate my no to her. And we’ve talked about how to reject with care and what we can do when the other isn’t in the mood. So it’s just not a big deal anymore. So this is cool. I’m glad people are thinking about some of the things that I talk about in the workshops, and it’s definitely not that. I think that sexual initiation needs to be 50 50, and there may be exceptional relationships where one person really does like to do all the initiating and one person likes to receive. The vast majority of couples I hear from want to share in it, especially the partner who’s doing more of the initiating feels that they’d like their partner to step up. That’s what I hear kind of over and over again. And we do have some episodes in the past about how to initiate sex. I’ve talked about how I don’t really like to initiate sex. I want you, especially right now. I’m, like, crazy attracted to you. It’s because I’m flexing. I didn’t mean right this minute, but no. Lately I feel very physically drawn to you. Sexually drawn to you personally, just very emotionally drawn to you. And when I’m emotionally drawn to you, I do. I want to be close in every possible way and, like, as close as I can get. But I do struggle to initiate, and I think I’ve gotten better. But it’s not something that comes naturally to me. It doesn’t matter how much advice I give on it. It doesn’t matter how many tips I read or write. It’s a struggle for me, and I just know I need to push through because, well, in our case and I can’t speak for everyone, but this is a common pattern I see among couples. Everybody wants to feel wanted. And for many people, when their partner initiates or anybody initiates, they feel wanted. And it’s a universal human desire where most of us want to feel wanted. I like that this person, in their role reversal, it helped him better communicate with his partner. Just the idea. Once everything was swapped around, the way that he interacted, the rejection really just changed because I feel like once you step into someone else’s shoes and maybe see things from their perspective, understand, it always gives me a better perspective on how to respond. And I just love that you’re reading out this question, and I love that both people have taken so much out of having these conversations and understanding the other person’s perspective. I love how excited you are about this. You know what? I’m listening to these questions and these comments on people’s relationships. And I think it’s amazing to see and hear that people are taking the time to improve them, because I feel like people don’t understand the power of a really healthy relationship. You talk about it all the time. Relationships or relationships. Yeah, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it just a singular. But having these really healthy relationships benefits so many other aspects of your life.
You’ve got the data? We have all the data. I mean, I don’t have it, but there’s so much data on how having happy relationships, especially your intimate relationship, affects your mental health, your physical health, recovery from heart disease, survival after cancer, survival after surgeries, it affects your income, it affects the energy and the attitude you bring into the workplace. And that’s why I get to do the amazing work that I do. I’m actually in Romania this week with a group of entrepreneurs and CEOs because they see that when they invest in supporting the relationships of their teams, they see more productivity, they see more profit, they see more collaboration, they see improved culture in the workplace. Like, I imagine that in ten or 20 years we’ll see so many more supports for relationships. And I know that there’s some blurred lines because people like a lot of corpse are very nervous to even talk about relationships, because with relationships comes to talk of sex. And of course, we don’t want to bring sex into the workplace and they want to make sure that it doesn’t become grounds for sexual harassment or sexual bullying or anything like that. But even if we left the sex aside for a while, we know that when we support people’s intimate and personal relationships, their lives are happier, they live longer, life satisfaction is higher. There’s just so much data. And I mean, I can just speak personally, I wouldn’t do this work if I didn’t feel so fulfilled. And it doesn’t mean that I’m always like 100% happy in this relationship or that every relationship of mine is perfect. I struggle in a lot of my relationships, but I also really value them, really appreciate them, really take a lot out of them and try and give a lot to them. And I definitely wouldn’t be talking about sex and intimate relationships if I wasn’t feeling so good with you. I literally feel like I can do anything. I feel so loved by you. I feel so appreciated by you. I don’t know. I just feel like you have my back and love me so purely. And yes, I appreciate it so much. Yeah, I feel the same way. And I also look at again, my working career, and I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have this healthy foundation fact, I sold 1000 of the homes. Yeah, exactly. But in all seriousness, I don’t feel like I would be where I am today if I didn’t have a healthy relationship where I can convey to you, is it okay I have this that popped up or that and it’s not that what we’re doing tonight isn’t important, but I have this that needs to happen. And you’re like, you know what? I understand. You make me feel important in other ways. Other times I realize that you’re not rejecting me right now. Oh, yeah. I mean, I can speak to the fact that when we first got together or in the first ten years of our relationship and you were trying to make it in real estate and build your business and build your book of business, and you were working for someone in the beginning who is not a kind person, who demanded too much of you, who pressured you even to some degree kind of threatened you. And is it okay to just share that? Yeah, I don’t have any problem with that. I’m not saying names or anything, but we’d have sorry to just kind of lose my words there, but we’ll keep this in here because it is what it is. It’s what I’m thinking. If we had plans on a Friday night, I knew that you might not make it. Like I knew that I might have to just kind of explain to my friends that you wouldn’t make it because that was your you went on holidays without me. Yeah. And it’s just I remember, of course, feeling frustrated with it, feeling disappointed wanting you to be around more, but also understanding that this was a part of the job. And with that negative part of the job came a bunch of other positives. Like we could take a Monday afternoon off. But the biggest thing for me was that we needed to remain flexible because that job didn’t give you warning. Right. And you actually have a legal obligation when you have a property on the market, when you have a contract with a client, we have a contract with the developer. You need to attend to it. I don’t know what the language is, but in a timely fashion. And so it’s not like you were just canceling and choosing. It really was a part of your job. And it was just kind of something that I accepted. And again, to use the language of some of the folks who wrote in, I didn’t personalize it as much as it was annoying, and I felt disappointed at times. I never felt like it was a rejection of me. And I think that goes back to not my attitude and not my approach, but the way you communicated your love and commitment and care and appreciation for me in all the other ways. So I do think that in the context of a singular relationship or any specific relationship, sometimes if we’re feeling like the rejection is really about us, it could be from our own patterns and maybe our own attachment styles or our expectations and experiences. But it could also be that maybe we can nurture another area of the relationship to make sure that we’re feeling loved and appreciated. And I just want to say, because I spoke so much about some of the benefits of a happy relationship. These are all types of relationships. So it could be a connection with a friend who really loves and cares for you. It could be a connection with a parent, with a sibling, with a cousin. And I think that I’ve been guilty of kind of hyper focusing on intimate relationships because that’s the work that I do. And also that’s my personal experience. Like you’re the person I’m closest with. But all types of relationship matter. All types of relationships can bring these benefits that apply across the board. Alright, let’s continue.
We’ve got six more or seven more to get through. Can you read out the next one? I think somebody sent this over Instagram. I don’t care about rejection. Sorry, I’ve been being rejected for so long, but I don’t let it affect my confidence because I’m single and I’m always meeting people. I don’t like all of them. Not because they’re not attractive or not good people, but because they’re not a fit for me. Same applies to me. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m okay with that. All right? So that same message of it’s not about me. Okay, great. And then we’ve got one that’s pretty to the point with lots of exclamation marks. Just be rational people. What’s the worst that can happen if someone says no to you for a date or for sex or for anything? Is it really the end of the world? Come on. Okay, this person is feeling it. Okay? I don’t think we can. Like, maybe people can take that with their own nuance, but I like the question of what’s the worst that could happen is. This one of the things that matters most to me. And in the moment, of course, if you really like someone or if you’re feeling lonely or if you’re just feeling left out, of course it stings, right? It’s hard to think. Like you keep saying, think rationally. Okay? Sometimes you can’t think rationally. Sometimes you’re just going to feel stuff. I feel like it’s just that initial moment of rejection, that visceral response where my knee jerk reaction is, oh, you know, why? Why is this happening? And then what this person said is, okay, take a beat. Just let me think about it for a minute. What’s the worst? Okay, so this person rejected me. Like you’ve said, I’m still here, still healthy, still have a lot of other good in my life. Think about that for a quick second. This stinks. I get it. But I’m all right. And that visceral reaction, as I’ve spoken about before, it’s an evolutionary holdover, right? The minute we feel like, oh, I’m not going to be taken care of. I’m left out of the pack. I’m going to die. I’m not going to get my forged berries. I want whatever they bring back from the forest, like on their shoulders. True. Not the berries. All right, so this person wrote in my marriage, it’s really about making it about alternatives. So the rejection is a soft rejection. It’s like, no, I don’t want to do that right now, but I’ll do this or no, I’m not up for that today. But maybe on the weekend or no, I don’t want to go shopping with you, but let’s hang out later and watch a movie. And it’s not a no. It’s a not now, maybe later or this instead. I’ve been guilty of being a no person. I think in the past I was a no first and then a maybe yes. Second or third. Yeah. Like everything in life, I’d always know you’d say no and then I’d have to massage you. But a few years ago, I started saying, you know what? Yes first or at least maybe first. No big Mike, no. Love that guy. He’s amazing. But I do think I started changing that approach. And you know what? It opens some doors. It’s not that I’m saying yes to everything. It’s just that I’m more inclined to say yes or maybe to let you know that I am interested because I think I said no as a default. And then eventually I can only imagine that you would get frustrated and eventually not want to bring things up to me. Like the fun stuff. You mean the fun stuff, the travel, the dinners, the whatever. And my default was just no. Why? I don’t know. Again, I got to think about it. But it’s just no was the safe bet. Maybe no was the easy way for me. And if you say no at the beginning and then you change your mind to yes, you joke about over promise. Oh, no, under promise, over deliver. But I think that you don’t want to disappoint. So you’d rather say no just in case you can’t. That’s what I think. And now a part of me is life is short. Let’s do some of these things again, not everything, but let me at least be open to saying yes and maybe. All right, so I like these. And I like that this person is talking about alternatives. All right, we’ve got a few more. This one is from a therapist, actually. I know who this person is. So they say, Feel what you’re feeling. If you feel badly, feel badly. Don’t run from your feelings of rejection. Let yourself feel them if you want or don’t. There’s no right way to deal with an experience. There’s no universal way to manage emotions. You don’t have to feel every emotion either. And it’s okay to distract yourself. It’s okay to use coping mechanisms. It’s okay to ignore sometimes and then maybe go back to the feelings later and ask yourself how avoiding them might hold you back. But you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to fix everything right now. There’s a lot in there. I like it. Okay? I like that a lot. I think that’s really helpful.
I think another piece of ground rejection that I’ll just add has to do with the stories we tell ourselves. And we kind of started with this. Like if you say no to sex, you don’t love me, or if they don’t want to go out with me, I’m not good enough. And these stories we tell ourselves are often around messages of I’m not worthy, I’ll never succeed. Everyone else is better where they like everyone else better. This always happens to me. And so it can be helpful just to kind of write the messages, the stories that you associate with rejection down, whether it’s with work or friends or family or intimate partners, and write them down so you can rewrite them. So I’m not worthy. We have to remind ourselves we’re worthy. Something wasn’t a fit of failing or missing out is normal. Feeling left out at times is normal. Reminding yourself that you’re not alone and looking for the people around you and reminding yourself that you are surrounded by and deserving of love and appreciation. I love the focus. I like normalizing some of these things. And I also think that writing down really does help you understand that some of your thoughts are very irrational. I also read saw something the other day that just made reference to this fear of trying something new and failing. Maybe not so much rejection as it is failure. And it’s like everybody who’s become very successful at something started by failing. Like, not everyone started a sport, became a professional athlete or whatever it is. They didn’t hit their first hoop, they didn’t score their first shot. It takes practice and we fail all the time. Some of that practice or failure is rejection too, right? Like, you might not make the team, but it’s like if you quit, you’re going to close that door on yourself, right? So I love the idea of writing things down and understanding your thoughts. That actually leads to practicing. Rejection is something that this next person describes. And they say, this is a really good one. I have two rejection lessons. I used to be an actor singer in my teens and twenties. Auditioning all the time, rejected all the time. My friends were everything. They still are. They were my support system, my cheerleaders, my friend of us. Like their pets. I didn’t have to go into detail. They just had my back. Every time I had a bad audition or got really close and lost out. If I didn’t have them, I would have been eating nothing. But I scream in tears. Okay, so your cheerleading squad, like your support system is important. And then they go on to say the other rejection lesson I have is from my relationships. I had a really bad one where my partner didn’t just reject me. He was sort of mean about it. I thought it was normal. I was also in my mid 20s. I had this amazing support system of friends who I’d run to when I lost out on an acting role. But I hid the boyfriend’s stories from them because I was ashamed. I really suffered for a while in silence. It cost me jobs that I did land. It was so bad, and the only way I got out of it and broke the funk was that I finally told one of my friends. She sort of slapped some sense into me and made me realize that I was hiding everything in shame and in doing so, making it worse. My situation was a bit extreme, but what I learned from it was that you have to speak it out in the open. Don’t hide your failures and rejections. They’re so much less powerful and have so much less of a hold on you if you just admit to them, tell people, talk about it, laugh about it, and that one bad relationship. After that, I could kind of laughed about anything ridiculous with any of the other guys I dated, so there was no shame in it. Of course, it doesn’t feel good to be rejected or hurt, but if you don’t let it become shameful, it’s so much easier to get over. I have the same approach with my now husband. We talk, we laugh. We don’t feel badly when we say no or set boundaries. And I still turn to my friends for support or when I need them to hold up the mirror to me. A lot of great commentary in here. I love the ability for them to just there’s something cathartic about just releasing, like letting go of that. Just being like, this is it. This is what’s going on. This is my relationship or this is my experience. Well, we know that shame breeds and multiplies exponentially in secrecy, right? When we hold on to something, it feels so much worse because not only are you holding on to this thing that is not positive for you, but you’re also sitting in constant fear that you’re going to be found out. And I think we all have something in our life like that that we kind of hold on to. And when somebody finds out, or when you do speak it, or when you find somebody in whom you can confide, whether it’s a friend, a partner, a loved one, a therapist, it is just so incredibly cathartic. So thank you so much for that message and for sharing your story.
There’s also a confidence that comes with letting things go. I think once this person own it, I would imagine that their subsequent relationships or whatever it is that they were experiencing became a little bit easier and they became I’m guessing maybe I’ve found myself to be a more confident version of myself when I own the things that other people made me feel shame about in my past. Like, I remember a few specific things, and it’s just like, so much. I mean, years ago, people. So when we first got together, I did those shots. Those photos. Oh, yeah. So Woody’s is an awesome gay bar in Toronto on Church Street in our neighborhood, really close to where we live. And Brandon did modeling for them. Yeah, I did years ago. Partially nude modeling. Like, no peen. No, there was no shots of the junk. Your hand covered your junk? Yeah, I was covered at one point. A flag covered your junk. That’s one of my favorite ones. But here’s the thing is that when I got into real estate, because these photos had been used in a number of different magazines, like, circulated in the Village, and they used my photos on some of the I was amongst one of the many models or people who are photographed for the signage in front of their billboards. Yes, thank you. The billboards for their people are Googling. Brandon, I don’t think your name was on them. But when I got into real estate, I remember it being almost something that people were brought up. Almost like it should have been shameful. Well, let’s be honest. Your boss shamed you for it. Oh, yeah. And was like, don’t let anybody find out. And I remember what you said to him. I’m going to say this right now. You said if this was a Calvin Klein ad, you’d be all supportive of it. But this is your homophobia because this is for a gay bar. You’ve got a problem with it? Yeah. I forgot that I had actually said that. I do remember that now. But you’re exactly right. It’s like if that had just been Calvin Klein or whatever it was at the time, people would have been like, wow, that’s awesome or whatever. Those are my two standards. There’s Woody’s modeling and there’s Calvin Klein, and I don’t know anything. These are great photos. You look hot. But you know what? When people approached me at first and almost kind of side eye, like, oh, my God. And I was just like, what? And what? Like, I don’t have a problem with this. Those were my dozens of dollars I earned. For those, I made $50. That’s my only regret is I wish I had gotten some sort of royalties or something for the use. But if I had just kept that internally and let it fester, and I think not been open and confident about it, because in retrospect, yeah. I’m sure one day I’ll look back and be like, I’m very proud. Meaning I’m proud of how I looked in those photos and reflect on how I’m just going to say my favorite one is you in the boxer shorts and you’re grabbing your junk, and it says cocky. Yeah, that’s my favorite one. I’m going to go see if I can find it. I’m going to use it as the podcast image image. But it was just the idea that somebody was trying to shame me about that. And me being open and just owning it made me not like I was like, if you care about this, then I probably shouldn’t have you in my life anyways. Well, actually, you need to get over it. Were you afraid of them finding out? I think initially there was some concern, but the concern is only because somebody else made me feel bad about it. Right. And most people you don’t get to see almost naked. So there’s a self consciousness there. Yeah. And now I just feel like, Live your life, man. All right. I’m going to go dig up those photos. Live your life. Feel good about it because you get one shot. That’s it. Absolutely. All right. Last comment from somebody who wrote in, and they say, I always learn from rejection. What can I do differently? How can I grow? I’m not hard on myself. It’s not like, oh, only if I’ve done ABC. It’s just like, all right, I’ll get up, I’ll do better, I’ll be better. And that’s how I am for work. Okay. But then they go on to say, for my relationships, it’s harder, it cuts deeper. I feel I do everything for my family and my husband. And when they don’t show appreciation or when he doesn’t make time for me, when he doesn’t have the energy, I take it hard. That’s where I’m hoping you can help me.
Okay, well, first, I hope all the insights that we’ve kind of gone through today are a little bit helpful. I would add, if you think about you said that they don’t show appreciation or they don’t make time. If I were you, something I would try is thinking about how do I want to feel? What is the emotion that I’m hoping to evoke or what is the emotion I’m hoping to experience on my own or with my partner? First and foremost, kind of just identify the feeling or feelings you’re looking for. And then I’d ask myself, well, what makes me feel that way? Like, how do I make myself feel that way? How can I ask my partner to help me feel that way? And what are other sources that help me to feel that way? And then if you can go and have that conversation and talk about, listen, I feel really loved or I feel safest or I want to feel these things, this is what I’m doing about it. And I would love if you could do this right. I would love if, for example, you said, doesn’t make time or doesn’t have energy. I would love if you would block some time on Sunday. And then you might even get to a point where you say, I would love if you initiated the blocking of time for quality of time in this relationship. And if it’s about time, do go back to the episode on quality time because I thought that was a pretty good conversation. It was a very recent one where Brandon and I use this tool to discuss what quality time means to us and how we spend our time. So I hope that’s helpful. How do you want to feel? What makes you feel that way in terms of self, partner and other sources and hopefully that’s a place where you can start to really explore what it is you’re experiencing when you feel rejected and what it is you’re looking for as an alternative. Thought it was great. I have nothing else to add to that. Lots of great insights. Thank you so much to everyone who sent emails and messaged on Instagram. I really appreciate it.
I have to say a big thank you to Adam and Eve.com for their continued support to make this podcast possible. Please do check them out. Adam and Eve.com code doctor Jess to save 50% on almost any item and you’ll get free shipping and a bunch of other little free goodies along with it. Adam Eve.com code. You know what I’m willing to say? What tickle your pickle. Adam and Eve.com why tickle your pickle? Because that’s my promo. Real. Okay, so you can tickle your pickle. Yes, you can leave her your Beaver. It’s showing me up. I don’t know. I can’t think of anything that rhymes with carpet slurp. It. I don’t know. I don’t know. We’re getting there. All right, [email protected]. Code. Dr. Jess, thank you for hanging with us. I know this is a sensitive topic. Hopefully it’s helpful and hopefully there’s something for you to take away and put into practice. Either in the way you think or behave or relate or start a new conversation tonight because you’ve got this. Yeah, for sure. Wherever you’re at, folks. Have a great one. You’re listening to the sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life. Improve your life. You.