Do you remember dating in your teens and twenties? If you were anything like me, when a guy dumped you, you’d be devastated for weeks or months. You would replay the breakup over and over in your head. “Why did he break up with me? What did I say or do to cause him to reject me?” I would be immersed in some pretty nasty self-loathing, wondering why I wasn’t lovable. Does any of this sound familiar?
One of the greatest advantages of dating after 50 is having a healthy sense of your worth. When you’ve worked on your “stuff” and have increased your confidence and self-esteem, this type of devastation doesn’t happen very often. I have come to believe that every rejection is a gift that can help you on your dating journey. Haven’t you grown the most from the challenges in your life?
So, let’s reframe rejection. My philosophy is that when you change your perspective, you can change your life. If you’ve ever been devastated by rejection, here’s how to turn your pain into a gift of love.
3 Ways to Turn Rejection Into a Gift
1. WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM THE PAIN? If you can find meaning in everything that happens to you, you’ll be able to turn rejection into a learning experience. Once I stopped analyzing “why” and began to focus on “what can I learn from this?” I trusted that everything was unfolding as it should. It takes a degree of faith to feel this way, but it will change your outlook on rejection and breakups. Many years back, I fell hard for a guy I met online. I was upset when he didn’t follow through on a scheduled phone call. Then, he forgot he had scheduled a date with me. When I asked him what happened, he admitted that he couldn’t focus on dating right now. He was building his business. I understood, but I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I thought we were a perfect match. I eventually let go of the hope of our future together and moved on to a man who valued me. A year later, my friend called to tell me I dodged a bullet. Turned out this man was a drug addict. No wonder he couldn’t follow through on anything. What did I learn? If a guy is not accountable, if he doesn’t prioritize dating me, just move on. It doesn’t matter how charming or sexy he is.
Exercise: Make a list of your past breakups. What did you love about these men? What didn’t feel good? Now, look for patterns. There’s usually at least one. Did you ignore the same red flags in each relationship? Those are the red flags to watch out for in future relationships. Keep that list handy for all future dates so you know your must-haves and your deal-breakers before you get involved.
2. YOU ARE THE CREATOR OF YOUR LIFE. I always considered myself to be a positive person. I didn’t realize that I was also consumed with “if only” thinking. “If only” my parents didn’t have such a dysfunctional relationship, I would have had healthier romantic relationships. “If only” my husband had gone to therapy, my marriage may have not ended in divorce. “If only” thinking keeps you stuck. Instead of trying to change the people or circumstances you can’t control, change your response to those things. Stop being friends with people who suck the life out of you. Think twice before saying “yes” to things you really want to say “no” to. Create a life you love to live. Once you take charge of the things you can control, rejection becomes a mere hiccup. Someone doesn’t ask you out on a second date? No problem. He’s the wrong guy. Pick yourself up and move on. NEXT!
Exercise: What do you want to create in your love life? Draw 3 columns on a page and label them “if only…” “what I want more of” and “action steps”. List 5 things in the first column. Then, figure out what you need to do to get from “if only…” to “what I want more of”. For example, “if only there were more good men” becomes “I want to meet more good men” which becomes “I’ll sign up for an online dating site and write to 2 men every night.”
3. TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT YOU. You can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can control how you respond. You can’t control how someone treats you, but you can control the standards you create for how you want to be treated. Getting clear about your standards is one of the keys to increasing your self-respect. This will lead to men respecting you more. You’ll stop seeing yourself as a victim of rejection.
Exercise: Every time you feel out of control about something in your love life, take a breath and reflect. “Is this something I can control? Am I trying to control his behavior?” If it’s out of your control, ask yourself, “What can I do differently to create a different outcome?” For example, if you don’t like it when a man doesn’t call you again after sleeping with you, it won’t help to write him a nasty email, call him and berate him, or stalk his online dating profile. Reflect and do something different next time you meet a man you’re attracted to. Do you want to wait for monogamy before sex? Set your standards high, and don’t deviate from them.
With this new perspective, you’ll hardly ever feel rejected. You’ll make powerful choices about everything and everyone you allow into your life. When you change your life perspective and reframe the negative things that happen to you, you’ll be a happier, more fulfilled person. You’ll come to understand why the hard stuff happened, and you’ll be so much stronger.
Every rejection clears the way for the right men to come into your life.
If you can’t let go of what’s not working in your love life, you won’t be able to attract a man who is right for you. Do you have a story of how you learned from rejection? I’d love for you to share it here.
For a copy of Sandy’s FREE report, “The Top Three Mistakes Midlife Daters Make (and how to turn them around to find love now)” please click here.