Layla and Jason have been swinging with Maria and Dan for around six months. After plenty of wrong choices with other couples, it felt like a match made in heaven. Everything seemed to be going so well. When Maria called to let them know that they can’t make it on Saturday for their weekly date, Layla and Jason were both understanding. When Dan called next week to cancel another date, Layla and Jason suspected something is wrong. They waited for another two weeks before they confronted them. Maria and Dan told them they just didn’t feel like things are working out anymore. Layla and Jason felt heartbroken and a bit confused how to handle it.
Swinging does not come with a warning: Beware Rejection. It comes with a promise of erotic fulfillment and pleasure. Though it often lives up to the sexy expectations, swinging relationships are not immune to experiences of rejection.
The question is – how to survive them and move on with the same enthusiasm about the swinging lifestyle?
Why Does Rejection Hurt So Much?
Functional MRI studies show that the areas of our brain that respond to rejection are the same as the ones that respond to physical pain. It makes sense that we refer to the emotional pain of rejection as “being punched in the stomach”, or getting “slapped in the face”. Rejection hurts. Literally.
The experiences of rejection tend to validate our own swinging insecurities. The inner critics within us take rejections as the proof of our deficiencies. Rejection hurts the most when our insecurities are amplified, when we are already feeling vulnerable.
The higher the investment, the more there is to lose. So, when we really care about getting that “yes”, hearing the negative response can tear us down.
Rejection awakes our most vulnerable parts. Even when it seemed like we didn’t care enough to hurt this much, the experience of even polite swinging rejections brings up all the previous negative experiences. We tend to relive the rejections from our past.
Aftermath of Swinger Rejections
Though in a stable, loving and committed relationship with each other for years, Layla and Jason felt like they’ve just been dumped. It took months to recover from experiencing the rejection.
It is usual that individuals and couples search for a good enough reason to understand why they’ve been rejected. The thing is – people rarely communicate their reasons for rejection. Even when they do, we feel like the simple reason such as “we are not interested anymore” won’t suffice. We feel like the reason needs to be equally complicated as our feelings about it. So, we’ll create a whole theory about the potential reasons for which someone rejected us.
Rejection usually leaves us with an amplified fear of it. We will avoid situations that have the potential to expose us to more pain. What may come as a surprise is that people can get discouraged by one rejection, even though they’ve been “successful” plenty of times before. Our brain sticks to failures as they carry a higher risk for our feelings of self-confidence and self-worth. We focus our attention to preserving these feelings by avoiding any situations that can turn a single case into a beginning of a pattern. We refuse to gamble once more. It seems like there’s too much to lose once again.
How to Move Forward?
Rebounding from rejection is a different process for everybody because we experience it differently. When a couple experiences rejection together we have a whole new mixture of emotions which take time and effort to process.
- Compassionately Approach Your Emotions.
When you experience rejection as a couple, though it’s double the pain, it is also a shared experience. You can use each other for support and encouragement. Discuss the feelings together. What did the experience trigger? Knowing that you love and care about each other can be the starting point of recovery. Though rejection can move the focus to what we don’t have, in healing together we remember what we have and that is a strong loving relationship at home.
- Recognize What Weighs You Down.
When we are experiencing rejection, we are often just repeating the painful experiences in our personal lives. Noticing the ways our past experiences affect our perception of rejection can feel liberating. We will better understand what “demons” of the past are making the experience of rejection unbearable. Know that no matter how confident we feel we are, rejection can revive the experiences from the past when we felt abused, bullied, undesired or abandoned. It’s important to distinguish the experiences of past from the experiences of now.
- Remember that rejection carries the value you attribute to it.
Rejection means nothing until we assign it a meaning. We can choose how we want to look at it. For example, we can look at it as part of the learning process in the lifestyle. It cannot define us until we give it power to do so. If somebody rejects you, the chances it wouldn’t work out anyway. You can think of it: “Better sooner than later” A rejection can bring you closer to the next worthwhile adventure.
- It’s not all about you.
When we experience rejection, we tend to assign the blame to ourselves. We are not sufficient or adequate. There’s a famous quote by Dita Von Teese that goes: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches”. It reminds us of something very important. More than often, it’s really not about us. Other people’s rejection is just that–an expression of their own preferences, that has nothing to do with our own worth.
- Let Go of Shame.
Where there are relationships, there are rejections. Still, when we experience it we tend to feel as if we are the only ones rejection happens to. Rejection tends to carry the shame that we keep to ourselves. It blocks the connection, as we are afraid of opening up about our insecurities. Understanding that rejection is one of the universal experiences allows us to connect and learn from each other. Swinging communities, for example, can be a valuable resource.
- Learn and Grow from the Experience of Rejection.
Rejection can be a good teacher. Try to approach it with an attitude: “How can I or can we learn and grow from this experience?” If we are noticing a pattern of rejections, we may look at the similarities and differences between these experiences and adjust our approach to others. Maybe you are looking for the wrong people–and these experiences can provide the insights into what needs to change. Maybe it is your screening process or other criteria that need refining. Maybe you should communicate your expectations differently–at a different pace, more explicitly or more subtly.
- Immerse Yourself in What Feels Good.
Take a sip of swinging confidence-boosters. Talk to people who appreciate and care about you. It becomes easy to let the insecurities flood our whole being when we are tuning into bad messages only. Focus on all the great things that make you – you. Revive what makes you feel good, confident, sexy. If you are going through this experience as a couple, invest time and effort to explore and validate each other’s strengths. Find the beauty in yourself and each other.
- Redirect Your Attention to Personal Projects
We are not talking about distraction as a form of avoidance, but as a coping mechanism to regroup your strengths and find positive energy during a period of pain. It is okay to want to pull your investments off of the dating table for a while and explore some other areas of life. Learn a new skill (on your own or as a couple), choose an area of improvement to work on, plan an adventure.
And, when you are ready…
Dating in the swinging lifestyle is a battlefield. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.
But the battles are still worth fighting. Do not let experiences of rejection discourage you. It is not about the number of times you’ve tried to find people who are a good fit for you; it is about finding people who will make the quest worthwhile. You will find that meeting the right person or a couple to have fun with, experience pleasure, joy, share fantasies and reach the new levels of connection, give a positive meaning to a series of rejection. Hold on and be gentle with yourself. Focus on what feels good for you and your relationship.