Starting a relationship is a scary thing. I think many people would agree with that statement. But the one thing that is even scarier than starting a relationship is starting to start a relationship. By this, I mean taking that first step in approaching a new person. Whether the first step involves walking up to someone you don’t know and introducing yourself, sending a first IM on a dating site or in a chat room, or asking someone out for coffee or a date, initiating contact can be terrifying or intimidating. Why is initiating an interaction so frightening to so many people? The most frequent answer I’ve heard over the years is “fear of rejection.” This is a powerful reason. No one wants to be or feel rejected. No one wants to open themselves up to another person and then find out that the person to whom they have made themselves vulnerable responds with, “No,” “No, thank you,” or with any other response that is not “Yes, I’d love to.”
As intimidating a prospect as it is to open up to someone and make the first move to establish some level of connection with them, it is also the act that holds the greatest potential for eventual reward. Relationships, friendships or partnerships cannot develop if there is no first step. A building can never be constructed if there is not a foundation laid first. However, despite the logic of all that, many people still have the fear of being rejected if they make the first move. Here are some points to consider when initiating contact with someone new:
- “No” from them may not mean what you fear it means. If you ask someone out and they turn you down, it may or may not indicate that they’re not interested in you, but either way, it will not be the end of the world, even though it can be extremely uncomfortable to be turned down. Hearing “No” stings, but it’s a sting, not a crushing blow. You can bounce back from it. If you’re asking out someone you just met or someone you know only casually, there is not enough of a relationship there to truly hurt you if they do turn you down. You can be disappointed, but there’s really no reason to be devastated.
- “No” may actually mean “Not right now.” People can easily be too busy, distracted, stressed or immersed in other things to accept your invitation or contact or they may simply be in a period of not wanting to go out or do things. The point is, “No” may not mean rejection, but the invitation from you may have come at an inconvenient time for the person asked.
- “No” may mean that the person is currently involved or is still emotionally attached to someone else. In these cases, especially, the person turning you down is doing you a favor because they have the integrity not to accept your invitation while they are involved with someone else. It would be wrong for them to go out with you if they’re attached to another person in some significant way. It would ultimately be unfair and potentially painful for you if your invitation was accepted and the other person still has an emotional attachment somewhere else. That other attachment prevents you from forming one of your very own with them.
As we have seen, “No” is not necessarily a rejection, but more of a “non-acceptance” and it can occur for a variety of reasons, none of which suggest that you are not good enough, attractive enough, sexy enough, etc. It is the common fear that being turned down after taking the first step somehow “proves” that a person is somehow not worthy or attractive. It does not prove any of these things. It simply means that the other person said, “No,” if that is, indeed, the response received. A “Yes” is also a possibility. The thing is, you’ll never know until you try. As frightening as it is to make the first move, it is an absolutely necessary move if establishing a connection with someone is something you want to do. It’s definitely a risk, but it can lead to a substantial reward. So, take a chance. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.