What Do You Do When a Woman Doesn’t Like You?

date, flowers, phone

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Rejection is rough. When you go after something (or someone) you want and then get rejected, it’s like getting kicked in the stomach. It hurts a lot. Few things are as terrifying as asking a woman out. And then when you ask a woman out and she rejects you, it not only puts your ego on the line but it makes you think you’re not good enough. Well, guess what? I’m here to tell you that you are good enough, and that rejection can actually be a good thing. It can drive you.

Despite that, there is no denying what rejection does to you. When it comes to the sting of rejection, it can be akin to trying to kick a cocaine habit. Lucy Brown, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and clinical professor in neurology at Einstein College of Medicine in New York, studied the brain activity of 15 college-age men who had been recently rejected by their partners. Brown’s study found, in all cases, certain key areas of the brain — like the orbitofrontal/prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate — responded in the same way to a breakup as it would when going through a drug detox/withdrawal period. Brown refers to this as a “natural addiction,” because it’s the same built-in pathways that keep us fighting and clinging to substance additions.

See? Rejection is tough and we can’t blame you for feeling badly, but there is one key way to fight it: confidence. When it comes to meeting someone for the first time, it’s important to realize and understand that attraction is arbitrary, and there’s not much you can do to change whether a woman finds you attractive. Research from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found that women are attracted to guys with the same hair and eye color as their fathers, while another study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that wearing the color red makes men appear more powerful to women, and therefore more desirable. Finally, a 2011 University of British Columbia study found that women aren’t likely to go home with a guy if he smiles too much. This is too much to keep up with, and again completely arbitrary. This doesn’t mean you should wear red, seek out women who have daddy issues, and look miserable, it just means everyone has different tastes and preferences.

When a woman doesn’t like you, take it from Dr. Craig Malkin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and instructor at Harvard Medical School, who says “people are attracted to us, or not, for all sorts for reasons that are beyond our control. We worry about the right word, the right approach, the right clothes, all because we’re convinced that if we craft ourselves in the perfect way, we’ll find a great date.” Attraction doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. “There is no right move,” Malkin says. “Some women might even like the guy who seems a little nervous or quiet. One women’s Adonis is another’s Quasimodo—and vice versa.”

The solution, he says, is to be more self-confident. “It’s not about how you look, it’s whether you exude self-confidence.” The big question is how do you exude self-confidence if you’re not that self-confident. It might just be something you have to work on, but Malkin says it begins with some healthy narcissism, which is a very different thing than being a full-on narcissist. He says it’s  “the capacity to see ourselves through slightly rose-colored glasses.”

Don’t fear rejection or avoid asking someone out if you’re not fully self-confident, “You don’t have to feel confident first to take a risk,” says Malkin.

So what does this all mean? When it comes to a woman rejecting your advances or not liking you, you cannot take it personally. Graciously accept rejection because you’re a gentleman. There is someone out there for everyone: There is a lock for every key, and there’s a cover to every pot. Keep your head up, champ.

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