I don’t usually pick topics that are current events, or choose darker-themed issues, but the mass shooting over the weekend in Santa Barbara left me sad and thinking about how men deal with the rejection of women. I watched Elliot Rodger’s 7-minute video and skimmed the first couple of pages of his autobiography/manifesto, until I couldn’t read it anymore.
What stuck on me was that this young man felt the need to exact revenge on a world in which women continually rejected him in love and for sex. As a psychopath, Elliot Rodger felt the need to take out his extreme rejection on the world with violence and murder, and try to immortalize himself in the process, rather than deal with his own extreme rejection issues, loneliness and worthlessness.
I thought about how we, as “normal” men, still are often affected psychologically, and emotionally, by our previous rejections by women. We may not take out our fantasies of revenge on women, but maybe we harbor anger and distance that keeps us from maximizing our relationships and from enjoying more fulfilling lives.
The scarring and damage that rejection by women often takes root in the unconscious. Sometimes, it is quite conscious. We know that we’ve been rejected, and sometimes expect more rejection to continue the pattern for us. I think those scars run deep, affecting our confidence on very primitive levels. Our evolutionary success has meant sexual success, for millions of years, so on the deepest level, we fail in our evolutionary fitness to pass on our genes to the next generation.
Emotionally speaking, we deal with feeling of failure, and not being good enough in whatever capacity: physically, sexually, financially, or professionally. Maybe as teenagers, we weren’t popular enough, or good at sports or confident. Rejection by girls, and later by women, can destroy us on so many levels. And if rejection wasn’t enough, add in the fact that the women who reject us are seeking out other, more desirable mates than us.
When we’re still developing, we’re still seeking out our identities, and they’re very impressionable and just forming. Girls’ rejection of us molds those forming identities, for better or for worse, and the identities we come out of adolescence with often dictate the kinds of lives we lead as young men, and as adult men.
Rejection (or success) can program us for how successful and confident we’ll feel with women we date, mate with and end up in relationship with. Female rejection may govern the type of women we end up with in relationships. We may choose people that aren’t right for us, or ones that reinforce our abandonment fears and low self-esteem. Maybe you unconsciously choose an aloof or avoidant partner that triggers your rejection or abandonment fears, because you’re still trying to work through unfinished business related to rejection. You partner may be triggering that old response in you.
As adults, breakups and divorce continue to add more pain to the rejection pile. If a relationship has ended unfavorably for you, it may reinforce some of that “old” thinking about being rejected by women and reinforce behaviors that might limit you in getting what you want with women or relationships. It may prevent the deeper intimacy and connection you seek with your partner if you are in a relationship or marriage, because those rejection messages continue to play in the background.
If you think you’re still holding onto negative emotions or thoughts about your past rejections by women, you can work on them, and they can change. If you don’t work on them, they usually keep hanging around, even when you get into a relationship, or several relationships down the line. Just because you may be feeling rejected by women, doesn’t mean you have to continue to in the future.