"It's just not working." "It's not you, it's me." "We're better off friends."
People constantly face rejection when dating or seeking a potential partner. But how people handle rejection may depend on their personality, recent research shows, and may offer a clue as to how we get over it.
New research from Lauren Howe and Carol Dweck of Stanford University has found that rejection can help you better yourself, which can improve your romantic future. Rejection often shows people something negative about themselves — maybe they were too clingy, bad at communication or weren't inspiring enough — that they will then work to correct or fix, the study said.
But in some cases, that rejection lingers and stays with someone throughout their entire life, the study said. These people were more likely to be wary of future relationships and focus too much on the issues that led to previous rejections, the study said.
These differences were tied to one reason: "It turns out that your beliefs about personality can play a big role in how you'll respond to romantic rejection," Howe wrote for Quartz.
So it comes down to really one question:
Do you believe your personality is fixed?
If someone feels his or her intelligence and personality is "fixed," then he or she is likely to handle the rejection worse because he or she feels those issues will never go away. Meanwhile, those who don't believe their personality is fixed will look to change themselves in a relationship, Howe explained.
But this presents its own dilemma: If daters think that something is permanently wrong with them from their rejection, they will hold off from dating altogether and try to fix their core self before getting back on the dating market, Howe explained.
"For people with a fixed view of personality, we found that even a rejection from a relative stranger could prompt them to wonder what this rejection unveiled about their core self," she wrote. "These people might worry that there was something so obviously undesirable about them that a person would reject them outright—without even getting to know them."
To help those people, Howe and Dweck created a separate study that gave respondents articles that said one's personality can change. This helped them feel encouraged to get back on the dating market, she wrote.
People especially react to rejection when it comes to dating someone since most moments shared between two potential romantic partners end in rejection, he said.
But Neuman has a few suggestions on how people can deal with this, like thinking from the beginning about how likely you are to succeed at any given challenge, whether it's asking someone out or applying for a job. He said people should assess the odds before taking a risk so that they don't end up disappointed for taking a long shot, or so they don't take the rejection too seriously.
"Know ahead of time what the chances are of a particular effort being successful. If the odds are long, that is not a reason for not trying; it is a reason not to be discouraged by failure," he wrote. "For instance, sending in a résumé in response to an advertised job has been studied. Approximately two percent receive a response. That is not an argument for giving up. It means that even if you have been ignored, there need not be anything wrong with your résumé."
He also recommends people "keep more than one iron in the fire at a time." By having multiple options available, you lessen the risk of total heartbreak and devastation.
Lastly, Neuman suggests, like the researchers Howe and Dweck, people remember that rejection is not a reflection of your personality or who you are. It's often for reasons that only the rejector understands. So don't take it too seriously.
"People get turned down for every sort of thing for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with merit," he wrote. "Some members of the opposite sex will really be taken with you just as others will immediately turn away, for reasons that are not even clear to that other person, let alone to you."