In today's world of a million-and-one online dating platforms, first dates feel like they've become a basic rite of passage. Many of us have sat up for long hours, making the best profile conceivable and then it happens: you start to chat with someone who you find attractive and/or who has similar interests to you.
You decide to meet in person for a first date. To your delight, the date goes well and you are excited about the prospect of going on a second (and perhaps third fourth and fifth one too!). You wait for their text or a call to set up a time for the next encounter and nothing. Dead silence.
Well, the exhausting wait after what you have determined to be a "promising date," may not only be disappointing — but also painful. A study conducted at the University of Michigan Department of Psychology found through neuroimaging that social rejection activate regions of the brain that are involved in physical pain sensation. Physical pain and intense feelings of social rejection "hurt" in the same way.
So whether you feel disappointed, hurt, angry, anxious, remember that you can and will overcome it. Here are four things to remember if you find yourself on the "losing" side of the dating coin ...
1. Remember that rejection is NOT a sign of your worth.
Many of us sulk in the self-pity pool when we don't feel approval from others. We might start feeling ourselves become inundated by "negative self-talk." You know, what did I do that was so unappealing? Am I that lame that no one will go on a second date with me? And so on. But this kind of thinking can really do a number on your daily functioning.
Rather than view rejection as a "sign" of some kind, we ought to remember that we are only responsible for our behavior. You are not broken, undesirable or any other negative attribute you may have labeled yourself. This is part of the game and like with any game, you can win. It's a matter of how you approach it.
2. Know your worth, and believe in it.
In our dark moments, it becomes easy to beat yourself up and to forget how awesome you are. Knowing and believing that you are worthy to find someone makes this temporary defeat, one that you can recover from easier. You may even find you no longer see it as a loss, defeat, or rejection — but just an experience, something to learn from.
3. Don't ruminate on coulds, woulds and shoulds.
If you catch yourself replaying the date in your mind, over and over, to figure out what may have gone "wrong," stop IMMEDIATELY. Don't put yourself through that sort of torture. There are too many factors that could have attributed to the turn of events that you are quickly coming to label a "rejection" (which is totally understandable). But the person may not be over there ex, not be ready for a committed relationship, or simply may be intimidated by your awesomeness.
Working with the theory that "something went wrong" will only strengthen any negative notions you have about yourself. Change the viewpoint. Look at it as an opportunity. Did you go to a new restaurant or bar that you can now recommend to your friends? Did you buy yourself a new outfit or accessory that you may not have? Do you feel more comfortable talking about yourself? When you see it a beneficial event, you will be more likely to try it again.
4. Dust yourself off and jump back in.
As important as it was to go out on a limb into the risky waters of dating, it remains as important to continue to try. Much like the cliché proverb goes, failure is never final. Take this missed opportunity as a learning experience for yourself and others. Your story may serve as great example for some near and dear to you as well.
Continuing the mission for your ideal romantic connection will allow you to connect to yourself as well. You will soon learn what your non-negotiables are (not leaving a tip, tardiness, poor dining etiquette!) as well as what it is that makes you a great catch. Once you believe, the masses will follow.
So even if you have found yourself alone after a story book first date, remember, look forward and smile as there are plenty more to come.
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