Ways to Head Off Rejection before it Really Hurts

I think one of the most profound symptoms of BPD is an extreme sensitivity to rejection. This can come in many forms: rejection from a job interview, a close friend treating you indifferently, or rejection from a possible romantic relationship. Of these three, usually the one that hurts most is being rejected from the possibility of a loving, romantic relationship. This creates awful feelings for the BPD, including a sense of abandonment, loss of self esteem, and feelings that they are simply not good enough to love; that they are somehow fundamentally flawed and incapable of having a relationship.

For most people, the thought of rejection is usually not a big deal. If a girl cancels her date or indicates she is not interested in going out with a guy, the guy usually thinks, “Well, her loss… on to the next fish in the sea.” Likewise for a girl: if a guy doesn’t show interest, she’ll simply move on and take it in stride. In both cases, there are always hurt feelings, but the difference between a normal reaction to rejection and BPD reaction to rejection is enormous.

My sensitivity to rejection is very strong. I feel rejected when a girl blows me off or ignores my romantic overtures. I feel rejected when I see a girl across the street who is very beautiful, but doesn’t have the time of day for me. I feel rejected when I’ve been out on a successful first date, but later find out the girl has returned to her ex-boyfriend. All of these situations really hurt…while the normal guy casts them off and gets on with his life.

For me, the feeling of rejection goes right to my gut and to my heart. I hate the feeling of being unworthy or unlovable, no matter who my object of interest is. Plain and simple, not every guy can get a date with the hot girl at school, or the office bombshell. The mere fact that I’m not on her list, however, makes me feel second class, dull and boring, or unworthy of the things I desire.

Over the years I’ve learned to analyze my thoughts more closely, and to think a little more objectively about romantic rejection. I think part of the problem starts before I actually ask the girl out: the minute I see a girl I might like, my mind starts churning out thoughts of a perfect first date, then fourth date, and then an engagement. If I’m lucky enough to get a date, my mind continues to jump ahead to thoughts like “Could I marry this Girl?”; or “Would my family like to meet her?”. Obviously most people don’t think this far ahead on a first date, but for me, it is very common.

As a result, if/when the girl cuts me off, I feel horrible because I envisioned so many possibilities for the relationship, when in reality it was just one or two dates. For most people, one or two dates is just an introduction, a chance to enjoy a meal out with someone new. First and second dates lead to more dates and then a deepening feeling of love that comes with time. For me the Borderline, however, the instant I sense any degree of attraction, it’s like I fall head over heels right there on the spot. Those who don’t have BPD can still fall head over heals, but their emotional “ante” into the budding relationship is not as high as someone with BPD.

Therefore, I think it’s important “not to get ahead of yourself”; and even more important to not get ahead of the relationship.

In years past, when I fell in love, most of the time I had never even been out with the girl: I simply built up a fantasy world in my mind that seemed to work, even though I had never interacted in a romantic situation. In some ways, this acted as a safe harbor for my overblown emotions because I did not face the possibility of rejection. It all sort of makes sense, in BPD way: why ruin a happy and loving fantasy world by actually testing the reality of dating someone, which opens one up to hurt, disappointment, or rejection?

I turned 30 and realized that it has taken me since my teen years to figure out how to ignore my romantic daydreaming that does not bear itself out in reality. One can plan out retirement, how to save for a new car, future travel plans, even how one wants to spend the holidays; but relationships, on the other hand, can’t always be planned. There are a lot of facets to relationships outside of our control, most notably the other person’s level of attraction, availability to start a new romance, and their own goals and dreams.

Accordingly, I think the best way to manage my BPD tendencies is to cast off any “advancing romantic thought” by keeping myself grounded in the present and in the context of the situation I’m in.

For example, if I’m out on a first date and having a good time, my BPD tendency is to start thinking miles ahead about things that have not even happened yet. Instead, what I now try to do is manage my thoughts by putting them through a “reality” filter and a “what’s happening in the present” filter.

So, when I’m saying good night and lean in for a kiss, instead of hearing wedding bells and “I Do”, I simply remind myself:

“I had a good first date. I got to know someone new, and there is a degree of attraction. Remember, however, that this was only a 3 hour date and lacking of any real commitment. Two people simply got together to test the waters. It’s possible she might want to see me again, but it’s also possible her feelings might change; something might happen in her life, or an ex-lover might enter the picture again. Either way, I have to realize that the status of the relationship ends the moment we part ways: right now, we’ve introduced ourselves, shared stories, and shared a kiss…but that’s NOT a life commitment, invitation for marriage, or even the beginnings of a head over heals romance. It’s just a date, and that’s all.”

Though I still find it hard to ignore my BPD tendencies when starting a new relationship, I’ve found that this thought process helps head-off any false sense of rejection before it even starts. Reminding oneself that a passing glance, a first date, or even a first kiss are just that and nothing more is hard to do, but ultimately, it helps lessen the rejection and sense of loss that comes when things don’t move forward.

Rejection hurts, but it doesn’t have to hurt as much: keep your thoughts in check and live in the present when it comes to relationships.

16 Replies to “Ways to Head Off Rejection before it Really Hurts”

  1. I just read this blog and am starting to wonder if I also have BPD. I can totally relate to this because I kept analyzing after I was asked out on a date. I also planned to meet his parents and wedding bells. After the whole thing came out in a sham, I got really depressed. I even got sick — had dengue fever due to the stress from work combined with all the analyzing in my head.

  2. I have been trying to find out for a while whether I have BPD because I have a lot of symptoms but not all. I am diagnosed with Depression as it is. I analyze everything to the last detail, I get offended/insulted/feel rejected so easily. I take it out inward though and dont really throw too many tantrums. I have been hospitalized twice for suicide attempts, I cut myself, have horrible self esteem, feel everything is my fault, or at least directly related to me in a negative way… and other countless things

    But to find a fellow suffering blogger who is male is one of the most amazing things. I was reading your blog and I love your writing style, I can relate to a lot of it, because of your style.

    You = AMAZING 🙂

  3. Hi Blabbity,

    Thanks so much for reading the blog and contributing. I hope to continue posting and giving others some insight on BPD. It is a very emotional and painful condition, but things can improve, even if they do so very slowly at first.

  4. Thank you for this post – I googled looking for ways to calm my rejection sensitivity and found your site. This helped put things in perspective a lot, so I really appreciate it! I feel the panic start to subside when I look at the situation objectively like you suggested.

    I am mostly “recovered”, I had a breakdown 4 years ago and made it my mission to get well and have done really good work. But I’m still a little vulnerable to the rejection sensitivity, especially when it concerns past boyfriends, which is what I’m dealing with right now (plus it’s the holidays, which can be lonely without a partner).

    Thanks again, and best of luck to you!

  5. i too can relate to this. its a horrible feeling, worse than any stomach upset. i recently met a girl and we had a fantastic first date. she said she couldnt wait to see me again, however a couple of days later it all fell appart. it effects my work, life at home and should not be overlooked by anyone. im glad to finally find im not the only one with these troubles.

  6. Hi Ghost,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve come to the conclusion that unless you’re blessed with extraordinary looks or charisma, meeting members of the opposite sex is challenging no matter what one’s situation is. It’s hard to convey your ideals, values, fears, joy, and attraction in one date…I think society needs to take a look at dating, and figure out some new conventions that allow one to give an accurate portrayal of who they are, without seeming needy or desperate.

  7. (Quote) Of these three, usually the one that hurts most is being rejected from the possibility of a loving, romantic relationship. This creates awful feelings for the BPD, including a sense of abandonment, loss of self esteem, and feelings that they are simply not good enough to love; that they are somehow fundamentally flawed and incapable of having a relationship. (End Quote)

    You have no idea the hurt I feel today as I sit and write this that my partner with BPD walked out on me.

    Not good enough to love?, I loved them more than anything in the world, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with them, to me they were perfect, I accepted them having BPD and gave my utmost devotion to helping them get through it to a better place with themselves.

    Unfortunately their perceived fear of abandonment lead them to leave and it broke my heart to the very core of me and still is, I don’t know why they thought that I wanted to leave them, it was never on my mind, all I can say is please have faith and trust in somebody that you meet and don’t give into the fear, not all people will be right for you and you have to make proper judgment but somebody just may come along and be a person that is good for you and right for you and because of the fear you loose them.

    It’s been 2 months and have not heard from them and Im sure I am painted black but it does not mean that I still do not care and love them and I still think they are a beautiful person and perfect, I wish for nothing more than to have them back with me.

    Everybody has their flaws so please don’t think that you are not good enough to be loved, if I thought that I would not be sitting here telling this today….all the best…..Colin

  8. Colin your amazing!! Thank you. That touched me through the depths of my core (your comment)…i am worthy of such love!! I always think that my husband should leave – but he won’t. He says its not an option, through thick and thin. Better or worse.

  9. Wow, I seriously just thought I was insane until I discovered BPD. It’s good to know I’m not alone and there actually is a medical term for it. I’m the type of person that ONLY looks for a life mate and like you perfectly described I’m way too into the relationship way too early on. I try to control it, self-regulate… but that never works out well. Always very early on I reject them or they reject me and the latter is pretty catastrophic. It’s probably best if I stay away from relationships because they’ve caused nothing but pain.

  10. I was always diagnosed “bipolar” but after watching the Jode Arias trial, it hit me I am strongly BPD and took a test where I had all 9 symptoms, all to extreme degrees. I’m 70 now and have had this all my life. But now I’m obsessed by those early romantic relations (H.S., etc.) where I was dumped and I have to say I have still not recovered. I knew then it was the same as not giving the other person the right to have their own feelings, but that doesn’t help any. I still hurt and this seems to be a lifelong symptom, if you don’t fix it when you’re younger.

  11. Love this! I so can relate. I get into these fantasy relationships in my head and they really mess me up—even the times they come to fruition. I just find rejection so, so painful. I’ve become ultra-cautious because of it 🙁

  12. This article really help me. I finally see that I’m not the only one that overthinks relationships before they can even happen. Thank you so much for posting this.

  13. People always say, “there are plenty of fish in the sea”. This is true. There are always more people to meet who might make better partners.

    But if there are many more people to meet, why does a single rejection from just one person hurt so much?

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