How to Handle Rejection in Dating

It’s not always about you.

One of my friends once got stuck on a plane with a guy who wouldn’t stop talking. He tugged at her earbuds. He made jokes that she didn’t find funny. Finally, he asked for her number. He dialed it right there on the tarmac, “to make sure it’s not fake.”

Let’s start with the obvious:

If a girl gives someone a fake number, it means she’s not interested. There’s nothing sneaky about that.

Women get harassed, assaulted, and even murdered all the time for rejecting men’s catcalls and advances. So of course she’s going to be subtle. She’s trying to protect their ego, and her own safety.

The biggest mistake in dating

Both guys and girls make the same huge misstep in dating — and that’s not understanding when they’re being rejected.

And then getting upset about it.

If you pay attention, you know in about ten seconds if someone’s into you or not. Rejection happens at light speed.

Ghosting happens in two scenarios: Someone doesn’t know what they want. Or someone traps someone into a date.

It’s not exactly the most mature way to tell someone they’re not interested, but you can’t take it too personally.

They’re either a coward, or they got strong-armed into a date and didn’t know how else to back out.

Someone who ghosts you has their own issues to deal with. They might need to grow up a little. Or maybe they have some legit fears based on prior interactions. Either way, it probably has nothing to do with you. If someone doesn’t return your calls or texts within 3 days, just assume they don’t like your taste in patio furniture, and move on.

Don’t make such a big deal out of it

Let’s say a girl ghosts and then suddenly starts texting you again. Big deal. Wait to see if she even tries to offer an explanation.

Go ahead and text her back — out of curiosity if nothing else.

If she still doesn’t tell you why she went dark, feel free to ask. Don’t be snarky or sarcastic. Just say something like, “Hadn’t heard from you in a few days. Everything going okay?” It’s always possible she got trapped in another dimension, or a time crystal.

Maybe she’s Dr. Who.

See what she says. If you’re not satisfied, then go ahead and be honest — without getting angry. Try this:

Look, I really like you. I thought things were going well, and then you disappeared for a full week. I’m looking for something at least semi-serious, so I need to know what you want.

Encourage her to tell the truth

You’d be surprised how many guys and girls keep dating someone just because they’re afraid to be honest.

They’re afraid to reject someone.

It’s not mature, so you have to step up. You either have to make the decision to break it off yourself, or reassure them.

Tell them it’s okay if they’re not interested. This puts the ball in their court. They’re either going to come clean, show you they are interested, or they’re going to keep playing chicken games.

This gives you all the intel you need.

Think about why you got rejected

A little post-game analysis never hurt anyone. You don’t want to beat yourself up, but it’s always worth your time to reflect.

Do ask yourself: Was I genuine? Did I show my real self? Or did I spend too much time pea-cocking?

Don’t ask yourself: Do I need more hair gel?

Do ask yourself: Did we go somewhere or do something we both enjoy?

Don’t ask yourself: Do I need bigger muscles?

Do ask yourself: Are we really compatible?

Don’t ask yourself: Should I buy a sports car?

Sometimes you’re just not compatible

In my 20s, I went on tons of dates with very attractive guys. Half of them wanted to go to law school, get married, and have their first kid by the age of 25. That’s not what I wanted at all.

And then there were the guys who confessed their love on the third date, and then two days later told you they were planning a three-month trip to Europe, starting next week.


One of them sent me a postcard.

Not everyone wants the same thing from a relationship. You can’t judge anyone for that. It’s a part of rejection. They might be attractive, smart, and funny — but if they want a totally different life, then the mature thing to do is throw down the axe.

One question you can always ask

Other times, I’ve been the one sending mixed signals without realizing it. At one point in my life I thought dating was literally just hanging out with someone until passion unexpectedly overtook you. Until then, you were supposed to pretend to be friends.

This confused a lot of guys.

So they asked, “So are we dating?” Or they asked, “Can you tell me what you want from our relationship?”

Great question— one you should never be afraid to ask.

Subtle signs she’s not into you

There’s a lot of stuff girls do that come off as manipulative or deceptive, when they’re really just trying to be discrete.

Stuff like this:

  • Giving transparent excuses to get out of dates
  • Ending a date early with a lame excuse
  • Insisting on paying her half of dinner/drinks
  • Responding to texts just a little too late
  • Not talking a whole lot
  • Not making eye contact
  • Acting aloof and distant

There’s no reason to get angry when someone does this. Sure, they wasted some of your time. But that’s what dating is — gambling with your time. Sometimes you lose.

Don’t get hung up on yourself

If someone goes on a date with you, odds are they’ve already decided you’re attractive. It’s something else they didn’t like.

You shouldn’t change yourself just because one or two people didn’t seem to like some aspect of your looks or personality.

Maybe you do need to change

Dating has a way of holding up a mirror. You see yourself through lots of different lenses.

Maybe you don’t need a radical change.

You just need a tweak.

You can’t spend months on the dating circuit without a break. That would exhaust anyone. If you’ve been striking out over and over, then maybe it’s time to step back and just work on yourself.

The best fix for rejection is a break

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about love and dating or your career. At some point, you have to retreat and spend some time taking care of yourself. One of the best things I ever did was spend a full year off the dating circuit. (Actually, it was about 10 months.)

A break like that could give you time to do something that lands you in a better place for relationships.

It’s not always about finding the right person. Sometimes it’s about making yourself the right person.

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