So, Your New Love Interest Doesn't Want A Relationship. Here's How To Handle It

Rejection is simply the worst. It's one of the most horrible feelings in the world when you finally build up the courage to confess your feelings to the person you like, but their response starts with "I'm sorry, but ..." And even that is only if you're lucky — because rejection can quickly turn even uglier. It's not always easy to have healthy communication in the wake of hurt feelings, after all.


As much as you hope it never happens, you do have to prepare yourself for the possibility that someday, you might find that the person you like does not reciprocate your feelings. While it's natural to be devastated and disappointed, the last thing you want to do is react the wrong way.

But "just getting over it" is something that is much easier said than done. There's a lot of work that goes into getting over someone, especially if you've harbored strong feelings for them for a long time, but it is far healthier for you if you can let go. This multi-step process can help you react, process, accept, and move on if the person you are interested in does not want to have a relationship with you.

Respect their decision

As much as you might like to ask them "Why not?" — just don't. Being demanding and clingy is the last thing you want to do right after you get rejected. Yes, it's quite understandable and normal to feel that way when your mind is already in overdrive from building up the courage to tell them how you feel. That combined with the crushing blow of hearing that they're not interested obviously doesn't put you in the best headspace. But you have to realize that refusing to accept their decision will do nothing to change their mind — and that hearing the "why" ultimately doesn't matter. A no is a no.


You cannot force a relationship, so never try to convince them otherwise if they've already refused. They'll have their own reasons for not being interested, whether it's due to them liking someone else, already being in a relationship, not looking for a relationship at the moment, or something else entirely. But it's their decision, and not only do they not owe you an explanation, but it also wouldn't really help you in any way. So as hard as it feels in the moment, the first step to handling their rejection is to respect their decision without complaint and bow out gracefully.

Put yourself in their shoes

Resentment is an ugly word and an even uglier emotion. But to say that you would never start resenting the person who rejected you would be a lie — because no matter how ugly it can be, resentment is also still another natural human emotion. According to the popular Kübler-Ross model, anger is the second stage of grief, so it is very normal for you to feel angry at someone after being told that they don't want a relationship with you.


But if remembering that they're entitled to their own feelings doesn't ease your anger, try to see it from their perspective. Put yourself in their position, and try to understand that they can't have a relationship with someone they don't have feelings for. In fact, it's more considerate for them not to pretend it could happen. So instead of being spiteful about your rejection, try going the other way. Be thankful for the fact that they were honest with you upfront and that they did not lead you on and unfairly waste your time.

Process your disappointment

It's 100% natural to feel disappointed after learning that the person you thought was perfect for you isn't interested in a romantic relationship with you. While you don't want to take it out on them (or on anyone else, for that matter), you also shouldn't try to bury those feelings and avoid facing them, because they can bubble back up to the surface in a negative way. You don't want to start dealing with your feelings by binge-eating chocolate ice cream or resorting to stalking the social media handles of the person who rejected you, because not only would that not be good for your well-being, it wouldn't even make you feel better in the long term.


The healthy thing to do is to process and sort out your grief — and yes, it is grief: As mental health expert and author Dr. John Delony told the Fremont News Messenger, "Disappointment is like a small death of something you hoped for ... Dealing with disappointment is the process of grieving the picture you had in your head, letting it go and deciding to create a new picture." Talk it out with your best friend or even a family member, and if you're scared of feeling judged or embarrassed, schedule an appointment with your therapist, who can provide you with a safe space to vent with no judgment. Communicating what you feel to a friendly ear can go a long way when dealing with this kind of thing.


Accept that it is what it is

After facing your feelings of disappointment, you will eventually have to accept the fact that you can't always have what you want; such is life. Acceptance is one of the most vital steps in the healing process, and in terms of grief, it's largely regarded as the fifth and final stage. It is undeniably difficult, but after being told how the person you like feels, the best — and ultimately, the only — thing for you to do is to just accept it.


Think of it this way: Relationships are like ships that undertake fantastical voyages. Some make it safely to their destination, but unfortunately, others sink to the depths of the ocean halfway through. Your ship sank even before it left the harbor, and you can either choose to sink along with it, or you can swim back to shore. It is a choice that is yours to make, and yours only — so focus on making that choice rather than getting caught up in increasingly unrealistic fantasies of how you can still salvage the dream of that relationship.

Know your self-worth

Even when you've managed to accept that your romantic interest doesn't want a relationship with you, it can be hard not to take it personally. But remember that their disinterest takes nothing away from you as an amazing, one-of-a-kind person. Know that you are enough and that their rejection doesn't mean you should feel guilty or bad about who you are.


After the initial blow of rejection, you might immediately think that you are the problem. All your insecurities might start bothering you, making you feel like you simply have to change everything about yourself and turn over a new leaf. But while self-improvement is one of the best things you can pursue, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons rather than out of trying to correct something that does not really need correcting or in the fantastical hopes of winning over the one who rejected you further down the line.

Ultimately, you should never base your self-worth on other people, nor should you change anything about yourself just for the sake of pleasing them. Your relationships will be more fulfilling with people who appreciate you for who you are.


Choose yourself

You might feel like the easiest way to move forward is to find someone else to fill that relationship-sized gap immediately, but that may not be the wisest decision. No matter how much work you put into dealing with rejection, you may still have recurring feelings for the person who rejected you, and finding someone else might just be something you are doing out of spite. In case you've never been caught in this vicious cycle before, this helps you in no way whatsoever, and it's also not fair to the other party involved. The only real thing you get out of it is having your healing process get set back in a big way, and you'll likely hurt someone else's feelings, too.


Instead, focus on yourself for a while to give yourself time to heal. Rather than looking for new romantic relationships, try developing new platonic ones. Take up a new hobby, hang out with your friends, spend time with your family, and simply do anything and everything that makes you happy.

Move on when you're truly ready

Finally, you can allow yourself to move on from this bump in your romantic life. Healing from rejection is quite a long process, but if you trust it, you might find that dealing with rejection and moving on doesn't need to be as hard as it seems. Just because one love interest of yours says they don't want a relationship doesn't mean that everyone else feels the same.


As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea, so when you feel like the time is right and you're no longer bogged down by the fallout of being rejected, open yourself to the idea of finding a new relationship with someone else. If and when you do decide to move on and find a new person to pursue a romantic relationship with, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that they are actually an even better fit for you.