Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions. Harvey Mackay
One of the main fears that seems to surface with the people I coach after Herpes diagnosis is the dreaded disclosure talk and the corresponding fear of rejection. Suddenly any other reason that might cause a potential partner to reject them goes out the window and the whole focus of their being goes into the mis-guided belief that Herpes makes them dirty, unlovable, tainted, or whatever, and that NO ONE will ever want to love them. I can tell you from coaching many people and seeing them grow and face their fears that it’s just not true. We have several Success Stories on the Herpes Life Forum every week … and interestingly, far, far fewer Rejections! I have yet to ever come across any proof that Herpes will keep you from finding love. Yes, it may add one extra speed bump to the process, but my observations have been that many people feel that when they DO find love with H, it’s deeper, more fulfilling, and better than any love they have ever experienced…but that’s a whole ‘nuther blog!
Understanding the Physiology and Psychology of Rejection
Rejection is a part of life. We get rejected for jobs, friendships, groups, our artistic endeavors, etc. Whatever the source of rejection, the physical and psychological manifestations are the same.
Recent studies have come to show that there is a specific Rejection Response that is actually linked to the nerves for physical pain. Simply put, if you talk about pain from something like a past accident, you can talk about it pragmatically and you are unlikely to feel anything physical when you tell the story. However when you talk about a past rejection that had a powerful impact on you, odds are you will feel it somewhere in your body (often in the throat or abdomen) which is likely where you physically feel the affects of rejection when it actually occurs.
The Rejection Response is a very primal reaction that has had a purpose in the past but that no longer serves us in our modern world. Current medical thinking goes like this: Back when we were hunter-gatherers, being rejected/shunned/banned from the group was akin to a certain death. Primitive societies function best when the majority of the group “fits in” with whatever rules and limitations are set on them. To dress, act, or seem “different” put a strain on the group, and if you didn’t conform, you were banished from the group. Safety relies on numbers and to be alone in a wilderness upped your odds of becoming something else’s lunch. Scientists believe that we developed an “acceptance behavior response” of sorts that would make us go against what was right for us as an individual, or that would make us do things to be accepted in order to not be sent out into the wild. We still see this kind of manipulation of that part of our psyche in groups like cults, gangs, and some religions like the Amish.
The problem is, in our modern society, this response is no longer serving us. In fact, it makes us do things that are counter-productive to our health and well-being. Kids join gangs and then when the reality sets in about what they are, they are afraid to speak up because they don’t want to be hurt or rejected by the other members. Women stay in abusive relationships because they don’t feel they are worthy of any other kind of treatment. People get Plastic Surgery to attain a certain look in order to fit in. And people with Herpes avoid dating because they are afraid that their status will cause a potential partner to choose to not continue the relationship.
It’s All About Perspective and Re-Framing How You See Things
Odds are you WILL be rejected at least once when we disclose your status to a potential partner …. but lets put it into perspective first: odds are also that you will be “rejected” when your potential mate learns you have kids, or that you smoke, or you have a bat-shit crazy ex. They may reject you because they don’t feel the elusive “chemistry”. They may reject you for being too tall, too short, to heavy, too skinny, too loud, too quite, etc etc etc. When we can look at Herpes as just another “Deal Breaker”, a lot of the power is taken away from the virus and we can accept it as just something that the other person doesn’t want to live with.
Another perspective is that once that person has let us know that we are not for them, it opens us up for the “right” person to walk into our lives. I happen to have several businesses including one that is with a MLM company. When I was starting out, I had a friend, who had been a salesman in his past, tell me “Every No is one step closer to a Yes”. I realized that this was also applicable to dating and it made it easier for me to move on from a relationship that was ending (for any reason) a lot faster. Or to look at it another way:
By “rejecting” me they have gifted me with the ability to find someone who will love me with all my idiosyncrasies and faults.
The most important thing to understand is that rejection isn’t about YOU personally. It’s more about what that one other person is willing to have in their life. It has nothing at all to do with any other person or how they will react when you disclose. Each person has their history and baggage and beliefs that may cause them to choose stop pursuing a relationship after disclosure. It may be that they are mis-informed about the facts. It may be that they had that one friend who had a horrid experience with it. It may be that they are already immune compromised and can’t risk it. Or they are OCD/Hypochondriac/Anxiety prone and know that they would constantly worry about catching it from you. Or, (and this one has come up several times on the forum) they realized that they really were just not that into you. …and you can thank your lucky stars that Herpes came through and acted as your Wingman in that instance, because odds are, you would have been hurt a LOT more at some point in the future. 😉