Humans are by nature social animals and we thrive on the bonds we develop with others throughout our lives. None of these bonds is as special as the one we share with our partner. Developing an intimate relationship with another person can be one of the most rewarding things in life but it can also be one of the scariest. When making ourselves venerable to others, we risk getting rejected and hurt. Fear of rejection is a natural human fear.

We have to recognize when that our fears may be rational but that they also hold us back from living the life we want to live. The reality is that none of us can be fully protected from heartbreak and suffering and the size of the reward in a relationship is directly proportional to the risk.

Overcoming the Fear of Rejection

Start by getting to know your fear. Start by sitting or lying down and imagining yourself doing what makes you afraid. Feel it, feel what it does to your body and don’t try to resist those feelings. Imagine talking to a person you’re interested in starting a relationship with (it could be a real or imagined person). Now imagine that person rejecting you and telling you that you aren’t good enough. Just observe how that makes you feel and let that feeling overcome you.

This is an important exercise because ultimately, our fear of being afraid is often much stronger than the fear of rejection itself. You can and will survive rejection and it will make you stronger. The point of this exercise is to see that those feelings hurt but that life still goes on and you can deal with them.

Remember to keep everything into perspective. When getting rejected, you haven’t actually lost anything because you never had it in the first place. Getting rejected usually isn’t a rejection of a whole person, just that small fraction of a person that the other person sees in that moment. Human beings are far too complex and multifaceted to be rejected based on a short conversation.

Don’t Get Attached Too Soon

One common problem is that we meet someone we’re attracted to and immediately make a heavy emotional investment in that person before even knowing much about him or her. Then later we find out that that personal already has a partner or sees us as just a friend. This kind of heavy commitment before knowing much about someone makes the whole process of finding a suitable partner more painful for no real reason. Keep a healthy level of detachment by hoping for the best and being prepared for the worst and as the old cliché goes, “there are plenty of fish in the sea”.

Keep Things in Perspective

Unlike the idealized relationships we saw as children in Disney cartoons and Hollywood movies, real relationships are hard and take time and effort to be successful. Every relationship has its problems, and it’s all too easy to look at the idyllic photos of other people on social media and assume that these happy couples have perfect lives. People tend to only post the highlights of their lives on social media and just taking a peek behind the veneer can reveal far more relationship problems than you could have ever imagined, including cheating and abuse.

It’s never worth getting into a relationship with someone who isn’t 100% committed to you and finding the right person can take much longer than we might like. Finding that special someone can take a lot of patience and false hopes are inevitable along the way. Remember that it’s more than worth the wait to eventually have a relationship filled with love and mutual respect.

Remember that everyone is afraid of rejection at some level and it’s just part of the human emotional experience. It’s wise to expect to be rejected and know that it’s rarely a reflection on us as individuals but rather on our incompatibility with a specific person. Keeping this in mind can take a lot of the stress and worry out of dating and turn it into less of an audition and more of a fun treasure hunt.

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