Tips for Teens: How to Deal with Rejection

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated August 17, 2022

Rejection can come in many forms for teens: their parents, school of choice, dream job, romantic partner, first date, new friends, etc. What’s possibly the hardest hitter for many teens is the romantic rejection of someone they care for when they express their feelings for them. Here are some ways to help work through the emotions that come with being rejected by someone you care for while also juggling the confusing time period that is being a teenager. And remember, reaching out for help through means such as online therapy is a sign of strength.

How to Cope with Rejection

It's true: rejection hurts. Not very many people love rejection and it can be daunting to take a chance and put yourself out there, but that's a normal part of being a human being. In order to prepare yourself for any form of an answer, you should establish that you respect both yourself and your crush when talking with them. First, consider why you would be disappointed or upset about the reaction; come to terms with accepting their decision as a backup plan if you're rejected so it doesn't feel like such a big deal. This can help you work through potential worries, insecurities, and other factors that could risk your mental health and make you feel worse.

Reassure yourself of your positive qualities and independence. Having a high self worth and a foundation for self-esteem provides a basis for dealing with rejection. Because you have confidence in yourself, it's easier to bounce back instead of considering it a low to your pride or character. 

Ways To Practice Mindfulness:

  • Self Affirmations: Self-affirmation is the practice of making a list of positive aspects of yourself. You don't have to be the only person who comes up with positive affirmation either; talk among your support group for some additional traits that others appreciate about you.
  • Spend Time with Others: That same support group can help you come to terms a little faster by sticking by your side. Whether they're taking your mind off of the events by way of exciting and time-consuming events or they're talking through your rough emotions, hanging out in the company of close family members, friends, and trusted professionals can help.
  • Forward Thinking: Turn your mind to the future. You may be rejected now, but that’s not the only thing going on in your life. Put your focus on other hobbies, new activities, and maybe finding someone new. If you take it as another stepping stone towards a positive reaction, you can use the rejection as a step in the right direction towards where you’re supposed to be in the long run.
  • Healthy Hobbies: Negative escapism is removing yourself from reality through video games, books, or other dissociative activities in order to avoid the present. Instead, in order to be mindful, think of hobbies that put you in the moment and promote positive thinking. Maybe join a sports team or audition for the school play!

  • Allow Yourself to Feel Bad: It may seem counterintuitive to let yourself sit in the negative emotions. However, allowing yourself to feel bad isn't about wallowing in self-pity, depression, or distress. Mishandling negative emotions can increase the risk of mental health conditions. Instead, acknowledge the negative feelings in order to pinpoint where exactly the problem is.
  • Interpret Your Negative Thoughts: Pinpointing the issue allows you to discover more about yourself and your internal self-image. Interpreting these thoughts gives you the opportunity to put a highlight on parts of yourself that may need adjustments. Are you insecure about them disliking a part of you? Are you stressed about being alone? Where do your priorities lie? Answering some of these questions and discussing the results among your support group can help you not only start working on those anxieties but find someone that can help lift you up in similar moments.

Accepting and Establishing Boundaries

Regardless of whether or not you’re friends or acquaintances with the person you’re talking to, there will be subsequent boundaries that need to be met afterward. It’s easier if you’re asking a stranger for their number - you can accept the rejection and walk away to work on your personal feelings. If you don’t have anything in common, you can consider it a passing interaction.

However, when it comes to someone you may run into frequently or you have mutual friends with, it can feel more difficult to disregard the rejection. Talk with a support group consisting of friends, family, and possibly a mental health care professional. Not only can they provide insight into how you may be able to successfully ask someone out, but they can also help you get reasonably prepared for rejection and the immediate aftermath. Regardless of how much you care for the person, you'll need to respect their desire for space or a distance in communication.

Boundaries may also come in the form of not talking about it. While you shouldn't block all of the results in feelings you get from being rejected, you don't necessarily need to talk that out with the other person. Discussing the issues among a support system can help you feel better about the issues and underlying worries - however, discussing this with the person that rejected you could be the opposite. Even if they're someone you're close with and trust in other aspects of your life, taking time to work on those away from the person that uncovered them could promote independence you may be missing.

Remaining Respectful

In some situations, a rejection can catch you off guard. Sometimes, you may be under the impression that you and the other person are on the same page or you feel comfortable enough to talk with them. Being prepared to give you both some space is important for keeping a friendship or close acquaintance from feeling uncomfortable. While you may be going through disappointment and other negative emotions, the mental wellness of you both is the most important thing.

While they aren't under any obligation to give you an explanation for their answer, it could benefit you both to ask them for their reasoning. It can give you both a chance to communicate a possible change in the future, a request to stay friends after a period of space, or to remove yourself from the situation. Whatever their decision afterward, respecting that answer can not only lead towards a faster recovery for you both but give you a sense of closure that can help you move forward.

Becoming flustered or aggressive with rejection should never be your reaction. If you’re feeling upset about a result - maybe they had an attitude when they responded or you felt like they were saying "it's not me, it's you" - you should remove yourself from the situation. Accept the rejection, walk away, and discuss the confusion or frustration with a trusted system that will help you talk through it in a productive environment.

Reaching Out for Guidance

It’s important to grow the habit of reaching out for help early on. Whether you’re a teenager looking for advice or a concerned parent, a mental health professional can provide an understanding and neutral learning environment. Between the stressors of school, social life, and hormonal changes, things happen and it’s unrealistic to expect you as an adolescent to figure it out on your own. Especially not when you’re trying to come to terms with negative feelings brought on when you feel rejected.

With online mental health resources from networks like BetterHelp (18+) or TeenCounseling (13-19), you can get started on understanding how to handle rejection. Negative emotions are just as valid and bring a natural balance to your life. If you find yourself in need, a therapist can be your outlet for venting to, an expert to learn from, and a mentor to grow with to help you see rejection as an opportunity and move on to the next attempt.

Therapist Review

"Ms. Johnson is super cool! She is very understanding and makes you feel so comfortable so quick. She will hear you out and provide feedback or ways to help you out. Her exercises actually work and are practical enough where you can apply them everyday. I enjoy her sessions and look forward to growing more and more with each one."

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