Several readers have asked me recently how best to deal with fear of rejection. As we know, this is an issue when it comes to meeting women, but it also permeates all areas of life, as rejection is a necessary evil you will encounter in every sphere assuming you want to do more than sit in your bedroom playing Call of Duty and relaxing to PornHub.
Accepting that rejection is entirely normal and happens to everyone is the first step. Hard though it may be to believe, every guy, no matter how good looking, built, rich and famous he may be has experienced rejection at some point in his life. A friend of mine is a tall, handsome, Ivy League-educated guy who works on Wall Street. On the checklist marked “Things Women Want” he scores highly – and yet he still gets turned down by women, more often than not.
You only have to look at the recent story about Arsenal player Alexis Sanchez and Camila Andrade, former Miss Chile, to see that even high-profile athletes face rejection too. In the dating market, there are simply too many variables and too many hidden agendas for anyone to ever achieve a 100% success rate.
Unfortunately, an intellectual understanding of this doesn’t help much when you’re at a bar, you’ve had a drink, and you’ve summoned up the courage to approach that pretty girl beside the DJ box, only for her to screw up her face, give you the hand, and then laugh about you with her friends as you sidle off defeated. Sadly, contemporary manners being what they are, this kind of harsh brush-off happens all too frequently.
So how do you deal with such an encounter – or worse, how do you prevent the fear of such an encounter stifling you and making you too nervous to approach in the first place? Having spent some time analyzing the roots of my own fear of rejection, I believe that the answer is that you should aim to cultivate an attitude of positive self-interest.
What Is Fear of Rejection?
Fear of rejection comprises a number of discrete fears, the foremost of which is probably that you’re not good-looking or sexy enough for her (and so by extension won’t be for anyone else). But there is also the fear that in the very act of approaching you have upset her (and any bystanders) socially – that your behavior has been gauche.
There is the fear that what you said wasn’t clever enough to impress her and her friends. There is the fear that the clothes you are wearing aren’t fashionable enough for her taste, or that your haircut doesn’t perhaps meet with her approval. On a base level, you are afraid that because you don’t measure up to whatever arbitrary standards this stranger holds, that this is confirmation that you are not fit to reproduce and that your genes will be “mercilessly weeded out of existence.” Further, you are also wary of physical reprisals for your audacity from other members of her tribe.
Have you noticed how every fear I’ve listed above relates to her opinion of you? When you walk away with that terrible sinking feeling after a rejection, it is to a large degree because you are disappointed that you have been assessed by a woman and found wanting – you have not measured up to her standards. In effect, you are upset because you have disappointed her.
It is precisely this mindset that you need to reverse. Most men expend too much energy thinking about how they can please women (and employers, business contacts and so on). Instead, they should concentrate first on pleasing themselves.
How Can Positive Self-Interest Help?
How might this work in practice? In the end, most situations are binary – you either get what you want or you don’t. If you go to a nightclub with the desire of meeting a woman for a one-night stand, then that desire will either be met or it won’t. There isn’t really a middle ground (OK, you might get a phone number, but that’s really just a consolation prize). What you should do is focus all of your mental energies solely on the outcome you desire, and judge everything only by whether or not that outcome is achieved or not, not on what people think of you.
Say you approach a group of three girls, start speaking to the most attractive of them and she rebuffs you, and her friends laugh. The only important piece of data to take away is that you didn’t get laid. Nothing else matters. Her rudeness and her friends’ laughter are irrelevant – white noise. You have to be tough with yourself emotionally at first, but when you place your own positive self-interest firmly above what other people think of you you’ll be surprised how quickly the sting of rejection disappears. Your only concern, in other words, should be what you did or didn’t get out of the interaction. Whether or not you lived up to whatever stupid arbitrary standards she had in mind is irrelevant.
The reality is that we live in a hugely populated world, and there is no such thing as consensus. Even if 99% of all women think you’re ugly, that still means that there are millions of woman in the world who would give you a shot – you just need to find them. Even if 99% of people think your business proposition sucks, you still have more potential customers worldwide than you could ever hope to service. For this reason you should never worry too much about the opinion of one individual – instead, you should focus on what it is you want and commit to a strategy for attaining it.
By and large, violent reprisals for minor social faux pas are rare, so you can sometimes afford to make mistakes and be a little goofy when you speak to people. What you must do is develop positive self-interest, decide on what you want and commit to making that your central focus. This is actually a very alpha behavior – do you really think the jerk in the bar cares if people see him get blown out by a girl? Do you really think Richard Branson cares that people think he’s an idiot because Virgin Clothing failed?
Of course not – they’re both too focused on their own paths. Remember, whenever you attempt anything, you will get feedback from the world – a lot of it will be negative, and some will be positive. It’s irrelevant. What you must do is develop mental toughness, nurture your self-interest, note simply whether you’ve won or lost, and block everything else out. In time, your fear of rejection will diminish until it’s a barely discernible hum in the background.
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