How To Cope With Different Types Of Rejection

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Everyone faces rejection at some point and handles it in their own way. There are multiple types of rejection, and some can sting more than others, depending on the person and the circumstances surrounding the situation. For instance, some people move on quickly from romantic rejection but may have difficulty coping with professional rejection, or vice versa. In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know about the different types of rejection and what steps you can take to cope.

Coping with rejection can be challenging

Types of rejection

Any type of rejection can be painful, but some people are more affected by one type over another. Here are a few types of rejection and what you can do to navigate them.

Professional or academic rejection

Rejection may be somewhat common when you’re just starting to pursue advanced education or trying to advance your career. However, it can strike anyone at any stage of their professional lives and take many forms, including:

  • Rejection from a school or program. When you don’t get into your college of choice or an exclusive academic program, it can feel like your life plans have been completely derailed. 
  • Rejection after a job interview. Not getting a job you really wanted can be painful, especially if you had all the right qualifications and thought the interview went perfectly.
  • Rejection for a promotion. Sometimes, not getting a promotion can make you question your entire career, especially if you have been with your company for a long time. You may question your skills and abilities and whether the company is the right place for you. You may even feel as if you’ve wasted your time there.

Coping with professional or academic rejection

When faced with professional or academic rejection, it can be important to handle it in a productive way so that you can stay focused on your goals and plans. Instead of blaming yourself for your perceived shortcomings or trying to figure out what you may have done wrong, consider reframing your perspective of the incident. 

Perhaps someone else was more qualified for the position or maybe your company has you in mind for a different promotion opportunity. Maybe your dream college telling you “no” could give you a chance to explore your other options and lead you to a school you’ll end up loving even more. 

Rejection can be difficult to cope with but remember that you still have a lot to offer and that your previous accomplishments don’t disappear just because someone couldn’t see your worth. Take this time to search for new opportunities for growth and be honest with yourself about whether there are any areas in which you can improve. Rather than denying your emotions, let yourself feel them fully, then let them go and press forward. 

Try not to take rejection too personally. Remember, one situation is not indicative of your worth. Sometimes, rejection has less to do with you and more to do with other factors. Don’t compare yourself to the person who did get what you wanted. Everyone’s journey is different, and it can be important not to give up looking for personal success.

Relationship rejection

There are many types of relationship rejection. Many people might first think of rejection in a romantic relationship, but you can also face rejection from your friends or family members. Here are a few more specific examples.

  • Rejection from someone you don’t know. This type of rejection occurs when you match with someone on a dating app and indicate your interest, only to have the other person not return the sentiment. Or you might go on a first date with someone who never contacts you again afterward.
  • Rejection early in a relationship. Rejection early in a relationship refers to someone ending your relationship after only a few dates. While the relationship may not last long, it can still be challenging to experience, especially if you really hit it off with this individual.
  • Rejection from a spouse or long-term partner. This type of romantic rejection can be the most difficult to cope with. If you and another person have committed to one another, and they decide to end the relationship, it can be heartbreaking. Sometimes, both parties mutually agree that the relationship is over, but this is not always true. When you think everything is going well and your partner ends the relationship, it can leave you blindsided.
Getty/Vadym Pastukh

Coping with romantic rejection

Some research shows that the basic beliefs people have about themselves can influence the extent to which romantic rejection affects them. In one study, researchers found that whether people viewed personality as fixed or changeable played a significant role in their ability to recover from a romantic breakup. Those who had a growth mindset and believed they could change things about themselves bounced back more quickly from romantic rejection than those who saw it as a rejection of who they were as a person. 

This study also found that people who felt that romantic rejection revealed a fundamental defect in their personalities worried more about future romantic relationships. Rather than seeing the rejection as a revelation of something they could improve on, they saw it as something that changed how they viewed themselves and their romantic prospects.

Coping with romantic rejection can be challenging, especially if you thought you’d be with this person for a long time. It can be essential to take some time to affirm your self-worth by focusing on what you have to offer a romantic partner instead of ruminating over all the areas where you think you fall short. Try to be honest with yourself about the situation and look for areas where you can grow instead of letting the rejection affect how you approach your next relationship. By acknowledging areas for growth, you can set yourself up for success in any future relationships. 

In some cases, romantic breakups can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. Therefore, it can be important to practice self-care and pay attention to your mental health. Ensure you’re eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise. Take time to do things that you enjoy and try your best to relax and unwind.

Social rejection

Romantic relationships may be what we think of first when we talk about rejection, but it also occurs in other relationships. For many, experiencing rejection from friends and family can be even harder to cope with. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Rejection from family. Familial rejection can happen for many reasons, and every situation can come with specific nuances. For example, family members may reject someone because they don’t approve of their lifestyle, or someone may choose to separate from their family after years of being mistreated by them. Familial rejection can lead to significant mental health issues, so learning how to cope can be essential.
  • Rejection from friends. Rejection from a friend can happen in many ways. They might come right out and tell you that they no longer want to associate with you, or they may ghost you with little to no explanation. Like romantic rejection, both parties may know on some level that the friendship is over, but you may also have no idea there is a problem and find yourself blindsided. 
  • Rejection from a social circle. This kind of rejection resembles rejection from a friend but on a larger scale. Sometimes, a group may decide to exclude one member of their party for various reasons. Your group may stop inviting you to parties or nights out or exclude you from group chats or email chains. Being rejected by an entire group may be more hurtful than being cast out by just one individual.

Coping with social rejection

Coping with rejection from friends may look like how you would cope with romantic rejection. It can be important to remind yourself of your positive qualities and look honestly at the situation to determine if there are any areas where you can grow as a person. Remind yourself of the qualities you’d like to have in a friendship and consider whether those who rejected you possess those traits. In some cases, you may find that their rejection leads you toward healthier, more supportive individuals who can show up for you and care for you in the ways you need.

Familial rejection can be more complicated to cope with. Research shows that rejection from one or all family members can significantly impact future mental and physical well-being, particularly for people who are transgender and nonbinary as well as gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults. Confiding in loved ones who accept you as you are can be healing. Speaking with a therapist about your experience can also be pivotal in overcoming this type of rejection. 

Online therapy can help

Rejection can be difficult to handle, but everyone’s experience is different. Some people may have no problem bouncing back after the end of a relationship but struggle to move forward after not receiving the promotion they were hoping for. Others may maintain successful romantic relationships but face rejection from their family. The tips above might be enough to get you through various moments of rejection, but sometimes, you may need more support, particularly if you’re dealing with family issues. In these cases, therapy may be helpful. 

Coping with rejection can be challenging

If you’re already facing rejection, you may be nervous about attending therapy sessions in person and meeting with a stranger face-to-face. One way to alleviate these fears is by participating in online therapy through a platform such as  BetterHelp. With online therapy, there’s no need to commute to an office or make appointments months ahead of time. Instead, you can book sessions a few days out and meet with your provider through video chats, phone calls, or in-app messaging, depending on what you feel comfortable with.  

The efficacy of online therapy 

Rejection is a natural part of life, but some individuals may be more wary of it than others and have a harder time bouncing back. For instance, those living with social anxiety disorder may withdraw from situations and people in general in an attempt to avoid rejection altogether. Online therapy can be instrumental in addressing these fears and helping people live life to its fullest. In one study, researchers found that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for social anxiety disorder resulted in large and enduring effects— outcomes that were maintained even five years later. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of online therapy in managing issues of rejection, self-esteem, and more. CBT is an approach that focuses on changing a person’s unhelpful thoughts to address unwanted behaviors. 


There are many types of rejection, and everyone handles them differently. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for coping with rejection, some methods tend to be healthier than others. Whether you need help navigating a breakup, figuring out your next career move, or coping with a complicated family dynamic, online therapy can give you the support you need. Working with a therapist who is there to help and not to judge can allow you to process your emotions from the safety and comfort of your own home, ultimately leading to improved resilience and mental health.

Is rejection negatively impacting you?
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