No one likes that sinking feeling directly linked to rejection. Truthfully, it sucks. Humor me for a bit, picture it: you shoot your shot at a romantic interest you’ve been nursing a soft spot for and you’re met with a vehement “NO” in the line at the supermarket. You’re immediately wrapped in a cocoon of either embarrassment, shock, anger, or even all three. Again, truthfully, it sucks. However, why is it that the fairer sex tends to cope with that pesky thing called rejection considerably better than men? According to marriage and family therapist, John Amodeo Ph.D., in Psychology Today, he wrote that the human brain, when faced with rejection, falls apart because “it is one of our deepest human fears”.
Now, the thing about us humans is this, we’ve been conditioned to feel the need to belong somewhere. For us, inclusivity is indeed the name of the game. Whether it’s to be part of a group, a friend circle, part of a family, or to fit into the ever-changing society, we have a biological need, a pull if you must, to belong. When really, it is the fear of rejection casting the cloud of paranoia which John Amodeo explains as this, “Rejection confirms our worst fear: that we’re possibly unlovable or have little value. When these fear-based thoughts keep spinning in our mind, we become agitated.” In fact, it’s been reported by Psychology Today that when we’re faced with rejection, “we are more likely to lower our standards in pursuit of a sense of belonging and acceptance. We are also likely to be more submissive to others than we typically are, in order to achieve social acceptance.” Interestingly enough, sociologist Shiv Visvanathan is of the belief that men and women experience rejection in different ways, “To a certain extent men don’t expect women to beat them in any sphere. And as women enter new domains where men have been dominant, they are feeling threatened. This new world has left men anxious and they have no visible signs of coping. Hence, they are lashing out.”
Though, it is fair to say that society shoulders a portion of responsibility for the way men react to rejection. As a collective, we’ve for decades echoed the chant, “boys/men don’t cry” and vividly painted the image of men being the provider. The fact of the matter, however, is men and women naturally deal with rejection differently. For instance, Psychology Today insists that men “take rejection as a challenge to their masculinity or an insult to their perceived place in the social hierarchy.” Whereas women are likely to “feel emotionally hurt by a rejection and to assume that there is something lacking in them that warranted the rejection or blame the person who did the rejecting.” To put it plainly, “women are encouraged to “get over it,” but men often feel the need to “get even.” Instances pulled from the pages of India Times where men felt the need to get even include “Army Major, Nikhil Handa, murdered the wife of a fellow officer after she refused his proposal to divorce her husband and marry him. Next, in April of 2018, 25-year-old Alek Minassian drove his van into a Toronto crowd, killing 10 people. His disturbing Facebook post showed his murderous rage was a result of being sexually rejected by women. Lastly still, in 2014, Elliot Rodger, 22, killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in California before killing himself. He emailed an autobiographical document that gave a peek into his deep-rooted loathing of women, fuelled by an intense frustration over his virginity.”
Talking realistically, when it comes to women and rejection, it’s said that women have been conditioned to bear the feelings that come with hearing “no” or “I’m not interested”. That they, the often-seen-as-the-weaker-sex, possess the know-how to deal with said rejection internally. Sociologist Tumpa Mukherjee is of the interesting opinion that because of fate, women get rejected. Then, in the mix, is the point of view of a sex therapist, Kimberly Resnick Anderson, who claims that when a woman gets ghosted there’s a high chance that she’d more than likely take it more personally than if a man was dealt the same hand. This can result in her easily assuming and believing she did something wrong hence the intense cold shoulder. When it comes to men, on the other hand, if hit with rejection most men won’t chalk it up to fate being the reason they were being rejected. Instead, they’d faster do something along the lines of getting back at the girl, you know, evening the score. This in particular is a nod to men having to be hunters, winning the hunt, and successfully catching the game that was being chased. Speaking of “successfully catching the game that was being chased”, novels, TV shows and movies do play a part in the way men react to rejection. These mediums have a way of making hearing “no” drip with the possibility of becoming a “yes” or a “maybe”. Therefore fueling the man’s fear of failing which, when hit with a rejection, feels synonymous.
“Men have been taught since the earliest of times to protect their masculinity,” says psychotherapist Jaime Gleicher, LMSW. “When they’re rejected, they associate it with their masculinity. When that’s threatened by an outside source, they tend to fight for it—also as a way to re-prove their manliness.” So, it’s no surprise that men have a harder time than women when it comes to rejection. Apart from mankind’s need for connection being hard-wired from birth, men are intensely protective of their pride. Therefore, once that is threatened just know that it gets very emotion-heavy going forward.