Illustration of a couple hero silhouette

With Rejection Comes Great Responsibility

Many of my favorite fictional heroes don’t have to deal with rejection in their romantic lives. Ever. Take Katniss Everdeen; she’s got not one, but two guys fighting for her affections. Captain America has a lady interested in both eras. Commander Shepherd gets her pick of available characters to romance.

Why do they get it so easy?

Writers want their characters to be desirable and awesome, so really, it doesn’t make sense for someone to say no to a man who can stop a helicopter with one arm. And if anyone does reject a superhero, it’s often for reasons other than unrequited love, like Pepper Potts, who leaves Iron Man because of the strain his PTSD and decisions have put on their relationship.

The thing is, if I follow that thought—that awesome people don’t get rejected by other awesome people—that means I am worth less than others if I do get rejected. Maybe there’s something wrong with me. Maybe I’m broken.

And that’s exactly how I feel after a guy says no.

I want to be a superhero. And I want the guy I like to make me feel that way too. When he doesn’t, it’s a huge blow to my ego.

Rejection has the power to negatively influence a life. It can inspire a lot of different responses that vary from person to person. These reactions include:

  • Trying to be someone you’re not in order to be accepted
  • Deciding to reject others first before they reject you
  • Self-pity
  • Focusing on your physical “deficiencies”
  • Blaming God for letting you get hurt
  • Feeling worthless
  • Anger and pride
  • Fear of trying a new relationship
  • Self-hate

Personally, I lean towards feeling worthless and hopeless after being rejected. Especially when I don’t understand why. A while ago I went on a date and thought it went well. I had a lot of fun; I got along with his friends; I liked him. But after the date, he never asked me out again. In fact, he never mentioned it again. We still hung out but he just treated me like a friend. I was so confused I wondered if it was supposed to have been a date at all.

Later I found out for certain that it was, but he had decided he wasn’t interested in me that way. We got along great. We had so many of the same interests. We loved spending time together. So… what more does it take? I don’t get it!

As much as Marvel doesn’t show it, romantic attraction isn’t always there, even when we really are worth it. I’m hesitant to use the word “spark” because I do believe love can grow where it wasn’t there before, but you get the idea.

The above paragraph is easy to write and even understand when I’m the one rejecting a nice guy who I just don’t have feelings for. It’s more difficult to comprehend when I’m the one being rejected, when I feel worthless, alone, and the furthest from a desirable superhero.

There’s an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Buffy gets dumped after a date. I really appreciate the episode; here’s a girl who’s beautiful, desirable, powerful, and awesome, and someone doesn’t want her (the guy is a jerk, mind you, but that’s beside the point). She goes a little crazy with feelings of loneliness and wondering how she can change so he’ll take her back. But eventually she realizes she can’t base her self-worth on someone else’s opinion of her.

The important part of rejection isn’t the rejection itself, it’s how we respond to it. God says we are worth His love—“See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God’s children—and so, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us: it has not known God” (1 John 3:1). If we believe that, we can accept we have value in His eyes even in our imperfection.

Our role is not to let excuses defeat us when we feel undesirable; we can remember we are valuable and worth loving even without that mystical “spark.”