By: Taylor Dinardo
Question: How do you get over someone you have been in love with for years when they don’t want you? How do you move on?
Answer: Ah, this is a hard hitter. Firstly, I am very sorry to hear that and I hope you are okay. Rejection is a lesson all of us learn at some point, whether through relationships, work, financial or educational opportunities, or some other means. Though painful, it is an important part of life and has the potential to be a great teacher.
The first and hardest lesson of rejection is that it is not a reflection of your value. Understanding this entails being able to separate your assessment of yourself from the perceptions of others. Living life to please and earn the acceptance of others is turbulent and unsustainable in a world where everyone has their own opinions. The more you practice living to honor and love yourself, the less the rejections and opinions of others will affect you because you have a foundation of self-value. But what does honoring yourself look like?
Whenever you do something to nourish your mind, body, or soul, you are practicing self-love. For me, self-love is giving myself permission to put my work aside for a half-hour and go for a walk to feel the sun on my face. It is solving puzzles, sketching figures, meditating, and confiding in loved ones. It is taking on passion projects and following a career path that excites me. In this way, I’m honoring the passions and traits that make me who I am.
A part of self-love is also to allow yourself to feel your emotions, whether through journaling, talking to a trusted friend, or even just letting yourself cry. The key is to avoid wallowing; allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, but don’t add fuel to the fire by continuing to think upsetting thoughts or take part in social media stalking.
When I think about rejection, I am often reminded of a quote from the Buddha: “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” In many ways, rejection is a gift in disguise, setting you free from fruitless pursuits and pushing you toward a more fulfilling future.
(Trigger Warning: Toxic relationships) Question: What do you do when your friend is in a toxic relationship?
Answer: This is an extremely important topic and I thank you for raising this question. I believe the way to navigate this situation would be to have a calm, private conversation with your friend in which you objectively express the concerning patterns you have noticed, making it clear that you care and want the best for them. Using objective language is key here as it creates distance between the observations and the associated emotionality. You can still include your feelings about the events, but first, describe the events themselves with as little bias as possible.
Rather than saying “I hate how your partner constantly talks down to you,” you would say, “I notice that your partner often mocks your career goals. This makes me feel concerned about your wellbeing because…” Making clear distinctions between the behavior you noticed and how you feel about it is helpful in order to maintain a calm conversation. It is also a fact-checking tool; if you and your friend disagree about the events themselves, you will need to clarify that before getting into your concerns about them. Of course, the conversation is ultimately about your friend’s feelings— be sure to routinely ask them how these actions make them feel and give them the space to open up, should they choose to do so.
Do not pressure your friend for more information about their relationship than they are willing to provide. There is a definite extent to which you can offer your involvement. Bringing up the conversation and making it clear to your friend that you are rooting for their happiness is the level of involvement I would suggest. Of course, you can always offer to help them access mental health resources or simply lend an ear to them if they would like to talk in the future. Be sure to set your own limits though; do not offer more than you can comfortably give without harming your own mental health.
If you believe that your friend may potentially be in an abusive relationship, I suggest consulting with a professional before committing to a course of action in order to avoid endangering yourself and possibly your friend. This is an issue I am not qualified to speak on, however, there are campus resources available to all students which can be of great help such as the Psychological Counseling Center and the Title IX department. I wish you and your friend the very best.