When you think of the word "rejection" what comes to mind? Maybe being turned down for a date? How about not getting the job you want? What probably doesn't come to mind is being rejected by your partner.
In an ideal world, relationships would be your haven, your safe place. As you go through life and search for that "perfect" mate, it's likely that one of the qualities that you look for in a partner is that they accept you and love you unconditionally. The reality can be quite different though because many of us experience rather frequently in our intimate relationships.
Well known male empowerment coach Michelle Terrell says that the one need that men express to her most often is that of acceptance and I think this holds true for women as well. It is a basic human need to want to be accepted and loved by another. Our intimate relationships are a place where acceptance can bring bliss and comfort but a lack of acceptance can bring pain greater than any we've known.
Rejection can take many forms in relationships, from small slights, such as a snippy answer or sarcastic comment, to the glaringly obvious, such as turning down sex or giving the silent treatment. Rejection is part of life and no one is perfect so while we can strive to always act in an accepting manner, chances are at some point we all will feel rejected and make someone else feel that way as well. Taken individually even the occasional huge rejection can be handled. It's when these rejections happen on a regular basis that they begin to erode the relationship because the trust, safety and emotional connection are being chiseled away with each act of rejection.
The key to changing the pattern of rejection begins with a good, hard, honest look at your own rejecting behaviors. When are you rejecting and how do you do it? What acts of acceptance can your replace the rejection with? For example if you tend to be cranky and rejecting when you come home from work, try giving yourself some time to decompress before joining the family. This may mean taking the long way home, taking the dog for a walk as soon as you get home, or talking to your partner about needing 10 to 15 minutes to distress and transition into a more pleasant night together. If you are guilty of turning your partner down for sex, take a look at why. Are there hurt feelings or an emotional disconnect that interrupt the intimacy? Are your sexual needs not being met so there is no desire to have sex? Communicate with your partner and clear up any unresolved issues.
Communication is going to be one the most important things you can do to prevent rejection and increase acceptance. Communicate your needs clearly with the use of "I" statements. Remember that while you may be focused on your own feelings of rejection, you have done your share of rejecting your partner as well. When you find that you have been rejecting, own up to it. This simple act of acknowledging your wrong doing to your partner (the sooner the better), apologizing and making a sincere effort to behave differently can be enough to make up for inevitable mistakes you will make.
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