My first group of college friends rejected me. Specifically, my roommate decided she didn’t want to be friends with the same people, and told me as much when I finally asked why she ignored me in groups and purposely excluded me. She said these were her friends, and that I’d somehow intruded without invitation.
To me, it seemed like we’d all met in the dorm our first week of college. I thought for sure it was only she who felt this way, but none of the other girls really sought my friendship when I dropped out of the group outings.
Writing about this now, it feels so petty. At the time, though, the rejection crushed me. I felt abandoned and alone, yet forced to live in a cardboard box of a room with the person who’d rejected me.
I tell this story as an entry point into one type of fear that can define our relationships: the fear of rejection.
Maybe you’ve experienced rejection of the mean girls variety like me, or maybe in a romantic relationship or your family.
Rejection is so supremely painful because it punctures our greatest emotional need – to be loved and accepted.
When we’ve been rejected, we tend to build protection to keep us from feeling that pain again. The problem is that what protects us from rejection can also stand in the way of intimacy and genuine love.
The aftershock from that college experience still shakes my friendships, sometimes. I have a hard time believing that people genuinely like me and are my friends, that they aren’t including me out of politeness or obligation.
I worry about being too much, coming on too strong, intruding where I’m not wanted. I get a little twitchy and a lot insecure when I hear about a group of friends getting together without me. Because one time, being left out of group invitations meant “we don’t like you,” it’s difficult for me to process those instances differently.
The fear of rejection is one of the ways that our relationships can be defined by fear instead of love. What does it look like to overcome that fear, and walk in love, instead?
It’s not an easy answer, but here’s what we have to do: we have to choose to love fully even though it means opening ourselves to rejection.
Loving people means we might rejected, and we love them anyway.
We can protect ourselves behind our walls and refuse to let people in, and we might not be rejected, but we won’t be loved, either.
How has the fear or rejection affected your relationships?
This post is part of a 31 day series on love over fear in relationships. To read the other posts in this series, head here.