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One of the main reasons people are uncomfortable with dating and reaching out socially is the fear of rejection, but it’s a mistake to look at it this way. As you search for your matched opposite, you are going to spend a fair bit of time dating, and because the search is a numbers game, you will likely experience what you may choose to label as rejection, as well as doing some so-called rejecting yourself. This is most quickly apparent in online dating, where you might scroll through dozens of profiles before seeing any that catch your eye—and of course the reverse applies too. One of the major sites even has a counter showing how many people have viewed your profile since you last logged on. If you looked and saw that 130 people had read your posting but not one has been moved to contact you, you could think of it as a crushing rejection or simply realize that you probably weren’t a good match for any of those people.

Rejection isn’t personal; it’s part of the natural selection process. You wouldn’t walk into a furniture store and buy the first sofa you saw. Instead, you’d start shopping with some general idea what you want, then try out one after another until you found one that felt right. Most of the ones you’d rejected would be perfectly fine sofas that would be great in someone else’s living room—just not yours. You go through the same process of selection when buying a car, a house, and just about anything else of importance to your life, so it’s absurd to think that you’d settle for the first man or woman that came along. Unless you’re one of those extremely lucky souls who meets their matched opposite early, settling for someone you don’t really click with would be downright foolish.

The fact is, most people you meet won’t be your matched opposite—but they may make great friends. Or, as in the story about Laura and Jason, they may introduce you to your matched opposite. Be open to peoples’ charms, but also be aware that very few of them would be a really great match for you. Likewise, you’re not going to be right for a lot of people.

That Special Feeling

I’m sure there have been times in your life when you saw a piece of clothing or furniture in a store window and thought, “Wow! That’s perfect for me.” Can you recall how it felt? Maybe you’ve had a similar feeling when traveling, and when meeting people who later became your best friends. It’s that blissful, relaxed feeling of just knowing you’ll get along effortlessly, and probably be friends forever. Take a moment and remember how that felt.

On the opposite side of the coin, I’m sure you’ve met people you just couldn’t stomach for more than a few minutes, people who gave you a feeling of unease, though you couldn’t say why. Given the choice, whom would you select to spend your time with and whom would you reject? The first feeling is what you’ll get when you click with your matched opposite—you’ll just know he or she is right for you. It can’t be forced or faked, and not just anyone can give it to you. Go back and read these two paragraphs again slowly. Close your eyes and relive each feeling, lingering until you remember what it feels like to just know something’s right. Then you’ll know why rejection is a productive thing.

Welcome Rejection

Rejection is a course correction on your path to success, and instead of inspiring you to self-pity, it should inspire self-examination: “What did I learn?” you should ask yourself. “What will I do differently next time?” If you don’t welcome rejection you’ll continue treading the same unconscious feedback loop: Make a move, get a response, react without thinking. Ask the wrong kind of person on a date, get rejected, feel rotten. People who do the same thing over and over and expect different results are setting themselves up for disappointment. If you keep on approaching or falling for the wrong kind of guy or gal it’s not because you have some huge psychological problem or that there’s something wrong with you; it’s because you aren’t stopping to process the feedback that each failure is providing. Look back on your relationships and find the pattern that you continually play out. Hopefully you’ll see where you go wrong, and you can use that information to recognize and understand the warning signals. That’s what Maryanne did when she finally figured out she’d been falling for jerks for so long that she’d forgotten how to recognize the good guys. Once she broke free of the loop, she found her career diplomat and lived happily ever after.