Reflections on Rejection

One of the strangest life lessons I’ve learned about romance and dating is that while connection is always personal, and about both people involved, rejection is often not personal, and has very little to do with the person being rejected.

Picture a picnic. Connection is about what both of you bring to the table, and having it clicking to a degree. Rejection is about what each of you wants the other person to bring; each of you could have brought abundantly lovely picnic baskets with enough similar and different things. You could be more satisfied with their picnic basket than they are with yours. Maybe they really wanted you to bring wine. Maybe they really wanted you to bring biscuits. Maybe they enjoyed your picnic basket, but not…enough to continue having picnics with you. Maybe they can’t even really explain what it is they wanted you to bring – they just know it wasn’t there. This is not a negative remark on your picnic basket. Do you like your picnic basket? Ultimately, that’s what you take back at the end of the day: your own picnic basket. You can of course modify and add and remove things from your basket. So can they. And just as they are selective about which picnic baskets they want a picnic with, you should also be selective about what you want from other picnic baskets for what works for your life.

Rejection is about how the person doing the rejecting envisions their life and who fits into it and who doesn’t. Nothing about this is necessarily an insult to the person being rejected.

You feel other people’s picnic basket is better than yours, especially when you like picnics with them.
This means probably a combination of 2 things: a) you want something in your picnic basket you see in theirs – so just incorporate it. Go home and find what you want and add it to your basket. This could be something you admire like “Self discipline” or “meditation/spiritual grounding” or “creativity”. Whatever it is, go add it. b) You, for some reason, just don’t value or accept your own picnic basket. Try to do (a) as much as you can and then if it still isn’t working, it’s time to just have lots of picnics on your own, with your basket, and see if you can learn to appreciate it

You never feel like having a picnic with people in the long term (ie: you never are connecting for a long enough time)
This probably means you have highly specific criteria about what you want in other people’s picnic basket – not just wine, but a specific type, year, place. This also could mean that you are highly satisfied with your own basket, and just have trouble with sharing – which is ok too! Try to loosen up your criteria a bit, especially if you like having a picnic with someone a few times.

People keep saying “no, thanks” to your picnic basket.
ie: you experience chronic rejection. This is a hard and difficult position to be in. It will make you question the contents of your picnic basket and that’s ok – so long as you do it compassionately and kindly (easier said than done). Maybe things need to be moved around. But also just as likely: many people whose company you enjoyed and valued saying “no thanks” to you has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them and their vision of who they want to share their life with on an intimate level. The question you might want to ask is what is it about these baskets that you enjoy – note I said, basket (ie, their life, values, things they’re bringing to the table) and not PERSON. Because here’s the thing, if there is nothing there that you can pick out specifically in their basket, you are drawn to emotionally avoidant people on a consistent basis. Even if you can pick out specifically great qualities, know that you can find those qualities in other people too.

You are not prepared to hear “no, thanks” to your picnic basket.
No picnics for you. Whatever the reason, if you are in this position, either because you feel entitled to picnics with everyone you choose, or because people have said “no, thanks” to your picnic basket so often that you are just processing what that means for you and your life, going on picnics will be painful hands down (and can be manipulative, if you start demanding the other person accept your basket) . To experience authentic connection, you have to risk experiencing rejection – and to risk rejection means to have a healthy understanding of your own unique picnic basket, being comfortable with what you bring to the table, knowing that if it’s not wanted is not a reflection of your basket…but of the other person’s unique requirements for what they want at a picnic (ie: a shared life/partnership).

You are very concerned about how much they enjoy your picnic basket and have little regard as to if you are enjoying theirs.
Again, this is not about *the person*. This is about compatibility. This is about their life. No matter how good the chemistry is, if they have plans for their life that you do not fit into, it’s not going to work. Your chemistry and love or potential love will not make up for lack of similar values, life goals, life paths, family structures, etc. You must see if their picnic basket actually matches with yours, and if you have little regard for this, you will find yourself in a partnership that may feel amazing at times and absolutely satisfying, but in a life that is not.  You cannot simply tolerate their basket: you have to be able to enjoy it.

*Caveat: it requires an unbelievable amount of unconditional love to make two incompatible baskets work that most people will not be able to do – even if you think you can, the other person may not. Even if you think you can make it work, you might be wrong.

Last Thoughts
And finally, even if picnics end… or you only go on a few picnics, if they were good, they were good. You didn’t miss anything. If someone says “no thanks” to more picnics, try not to question the worth of previous picnics with the person: they could have been great. Them not wanting your basket doesn’t mean your basket is not wanted or can never be wanted.

The most important thing? You have to want your basket. Period. Your picnic basket is not just what you offer to partners, it’s your life and all its contents. And if you don’t want your basket right now, that’s something to think about, work on, figure out. 

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