Fear of Rejection: Why I’ve Struggled in Relationships
My closest friends are all women I grew up with and attended the same schools. We have so much history together and could all write books about all the things we did together growing up. I can remember a time when three of us all liked the same boy and agreed that we would share him. Oh, to be a kid!
We all went away to college after high school, but we were all in the same state. We would even visit each other at our schools for various events. Being young, unmarried, and untethered to dependents was so simple.
Fast forward to marriage proposals, weddings, pregnancies, and births; life began to become more and more demanding of time. The time we once spent together or time we once spent planning on when we would get together was now nonexistent due to our growing responsibilities. My friends and I have continued to stay in contact with each other despite all of this and despite all the distance between us. We still work at it. These women are beautiful, hardworking women, and are the very definitions of “Lady Bosses” and “strength”.
They have also gone on to make friends in their various locations and have built a tribe of women around them that they can lean on. But me…I have struggled. For years, I have struggled to find and connect with my tribe. I can pinpoint various reasons for this struggle (time, family responsibilities, not working a traditional job, several moves, and NOW being stuck at home because of a pandemic), and I could get into them ALL here, but I won’t. I will share one reason because it is something that I have worked to fully unpack with the help of my therapist.
A huge reason for my struggle in relationships was my fear of rejection. In my life, I have made great efforts to connect with people and make them feel comfortable. I never wanted anyone to feel left out or “othered”. Because I was very conscious of other people and their feelings, I camouflaged myself to make myself fit. I thought that if people really got to know the real me that they would leave me or decide that I wasn’t their “cup of tea”. I hated not being liked and I just knew that if I could make people feel comfortable around me, that they would get to know me and fall in love. The thing about not being yourself in relationships, though, is that you start to feel like a shell of a person, and you feel empty because you are constantly pouring from a deficient place to begin with. These relationships are built on shaky foundations and usually fizzle out over time.
Strong relationships –lasting relationships –are the result of a beautiful balance of give and take from authentic, self-aware individuals…heavy on the authenticity. I was sorely lacking in that department. In my childhood and adolescent years, I did not mind being myself, taking risks, and letting it all hang out there. As I got older, I became very aware that people were fickle and were highly likely to hurt your feelings. I also learned that women can be extremely hard on other women. Somewhere along the line of my life’s journey, I decided that I did not want my feelings to get hurt and I would just be who people wanted me to be so that I could avoid that. Let me be the first to say that this is a terrible way to approach relationships –zero stars, would not recommend. I think there are lots of people who think this way; they just would not admit it. I also think there are tons of Christian women who do this, but that is a whole other post for another day.
Part of the work that I have done with my therapist, was getting to the root of why I have struggled to build relationships with other women beyond my undergrad years. This was important to me since my family and I have lived away from other family and friends for eleven years. I wanted very much for my family to have a support system wherever we were. Therapy has allowed me the freedom to live fully in the truth of who I am and be okay with my flaws. I have decided that rejection is a good thing. When people reject me for being me, their absence makes room for the people who will embrace me for who I am and love me into who I am becoming. It is also not fair to other people when you are not being yourself. You are essentially manipulating them into a relationship with you by doing so. They have no idea who you really are. It is very much okay for individuals to choose or not to choose you to be in their lives. I realized that I would absolutely want that freedom as well; especially since I have children.
So, to my wonderful friends who have been there from the beginning and know just how crazy I am, but love me ANYWAY, I am so honored to have you in my life. Thank you for loving me through every stage of my evolution. I hope that I have done the same for you.
Think about your experiences. Have you ever held parts of yourself back to make others comfortable? What has your experience been with rejection? Leave a comment and let me know.