Why does rejection hurt so much?

No one likes being rejected but it’s something we all go through at one time or another. Whether we’re rejected by a love interest, or turned down after a job interview, it can really hurt.

Unfortunately, it’s just a part of life, so it’s important to learn some strategies to help you cope and be prepared for it, when rejection inevitably happens to you.

Watch our former Love Island contestants open up about rejections they have experienced, how it affected them and how they bounced back.

How to cope with rejection, with Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James

The first thing to keep in mind is that when someone rejects you, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you! You might not be quite the right fit for a particular relationship, or for a job, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be the right fit for someone or something else.

It can be useful to remember that rejection happens to everyone. Rejection has nothing to do with you not looking good enough, or not being interesting enough.

Rejection, in a close relationship, can lead to awful feelings of heartache, and sometimes those can be really overwhelming. If someone you care about ends a relationship with you , allow yourself time to grieve. It’s okay if you feel really sad. There’s no need to be embarrassed about how awful you feel. Most people will experience heartbreak at some point in their life and feeling hurt is a positive sign – it means you have the ability to attach to someone and make a strong connection.

If you’re struggling with feelings of loss to such an extent that you feel you can’t function, or if you feel humiliated, ashamed or embarrassed, it’s really important you talk to someone and ask for reassurance and support. Find someone you can trust and tell them honestly how you feel. Sometimes, just talking about our feelings helps us process and make sense of them. Over time, and through talking to someone supportive, we can begin to feel in control again. Then we can look back upon our experiences more reflectively, and begin to move on from the heartache we once felt.

Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James

Tips for Coping with Rejection

  • Focus on something beyond yourself. Distraction really helps while you heal, so play with pets, start a new project or help someone with something. Anything to take your mind off your own situation for a while can help.
  • Tell yourself that no matter how awful you feel right now, it will pass. Because it really will, and soon you’ll be able to look back and feel a lot more positive.
  • Get physical. Doing something active can help combat the effects of the stress you’re going through, and keep you occupied.
  • Try a change of scene. Visit a new town or hang out in a new place. If you spend time in places which you connect with an ex, it can make a painful situation worse.
  • Make a new friend. Sometimes when someone rejects us it can be helpful to receive validation from others, so it’s a good idea to make a new friend. Don’t rebound into another intimate relationship too soon, but it’s okay to hang out with new people.
  • If your feelings are overwhelming or you can’t see a way forward, and this feeling persists, do speak to your doctor or see a counsellor. It’s important to ask for help if you feel stuck!
  • Look after the basics. When we are feeling rejected it can have both psychological and physical effects. So make sure you eat well, get plenty of sleep, and take some exercise. Self-care is key here, and getting the basics in place will help you be in the best frame of mind to cope.

Where to find support

If you’re struggling with feelings of rejection and think it may be affecting your mental health, speak to your GP or health professional who can put you in contact with the right people to help. The support can be life changing.

You can also find help on a range of issues at Young Minds or the NHS

It is always good to speak to someone you trust about the issues you might be facing, no matter how big or small. Although it can be hard talking about mental health and relationships, everyone finds them challenging at times. If you are experiencing difficulties, don’t feel ashamed or different, and don’t feel you have to hide away from it.

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