I’m Sensitive, Afraid of Rejection and Push Men Away

I'm Sensitive, Afraid of Rejection and Push Men Away

I wanted to see if you had any tips about modifying my own behavior, because I’m driving myself (and a progression of men) at least a little batty.

Reading your blog has been so useful to me over the last 2 months of intense dating, thank you. I try to – and often do ­– successfully apply your advice. It’s been up, and down, and absolutely wonderful and then total hell. I’m 34, attractive to people who like my physical type, and I do okay – many men like me, and I like some of them back. I have the usual frustrations with bad dates, vapor trails, and the men who are just emotionally available enough to keep me around but won’t let anything progress, but I’ve learned to accept this as part of the ride.

But I’m very emotionally sensitive and naturally very defensive, and it’s killing me. When a man pulls back just a little bit – even very early on, and very possibly just in my head – I start to freak out on the inside, to write the death warrant on the non-relationship, and to become tense about the whole affair. I write “you’re obviously not interested – nice to know you” emails way too quickly, leaving men going “Wait. What?” They often stick around to work it out – I swear some of them even *like* it – but I’ve poisoned the natural progression of our discourse, and I think the long-term effects are usually negative.

I know this is bad. I logically know it’s very bad. But when I’m in the middle of an “it’s over and he doesn’t like me! I must defend myself!” attack it feels 100 percent like the only course of action. Then I write the email/leave the voice message and… instantly feel horrible. I sit in dread of the response. I suddenly see the mature, thoughtful way I could asked them what was going on with them that I didn’t take.

Do you have any mechanisms, anything at all, for heading off this behavior at the pass? I feel like a slave to my fears of rejection, and it’s causing a “let me reject you before you reject me!” nuclear reaction that slimes everything in radiation and leaves everyone, self included, emotionally flayed. I hate it.

Thank you, even if you just read this! Your blog really is the best.


Oh, Emily.

I’m about the last person you should be asking for advice on defending yourself.

I’m constantly writing long-winded, emotional, poorly-thought-out responses to the various ways that my words are minced, mangled, and misinterpreted – and every time I do, I feel a piece of my soul break away.

Being understood is tiring work.

If you consistently fly off the handle that every man in the world isn’t following your imaginary script as to how he’s supposed to act, you’re essentially writing your own unhappy ending.

Being right requires constant maintenance.

And letting everyone know that you’re right is like a full time no-paying job.

Which is the key point – there are NO REWARDS for being right.

All you do is end up alienating the people who have the potential to care for you.

Are your negative impulses “correct”? I’m betting they often are.

But if you consistently fly off the handle that every man in the world isn’t following your imaginary script as to how he’s supposed to act, you’re essentially writing your own unhappy ending.

Remember: Men do what they want, not what you want.

Stop expecting them to do what you want, try to understand where they’re coming from, and you’ll soon discover that they start appreciating you a lot more.

I’m not an easygoing person, but I will be the first to tell you that there are few qualities more valuable – in a wife, in a friend, or in a business partner.

If you don’t learn to let things roll off your back, then most men – unless they’re blindly whipped on your intoxicating beauty – are just going to conclude that you’re too much work. Or, as other men have been known to say, you’re “hot and crazy”.

And a man can only deal with so many tantrums, so much criticism, and a finite amount of drama before he concludes that he’ll date someone less attractive, intelligent and impressive and find himself a nice girl who makes his life easier.

In fact, I just did a teleseminar last month, called “Being a Great Girlfriend” in my FOCUS Coaching group. Took a bunch of questions and spent an hour teaching women how to better understand and connect with men in relationships.

When you fire off angry missives to guys who barely have anything invested in you – much less a real boyfriend – you’re certainly not understanding him, appreciating him, or making his life better.

As “research”, I asked my Mom and wife to tell me the three things that made them great partners. After they both said, “Oral sex”, we got down to these three things: not emasculating him, appreciating everything he does for you, and doing your best to make his life happy every day.

When you fire off angry missives to guys who barely have anything invested in you – much less a real boyfriend – you’re certainly not understanding him, appreciating him, or making his life better.

You’re just telling him he’s an insensitive schmuck.

Yeah, we don’t like hearing that. Especially if we have valid reasons for not doing what you want us to do.

So, are there any mechanisms for heading off this behavior at the pass?

Apart from taking a deep breath, a time out, and a full day before you write something you regret, the only thing I can think of is this:

“Why He Disappeared – The Smart, Strong, Successful Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men and Keeping the Right One Hooked Forever.”

It’s the best summation I can offer about why men marry some women and not others, and I think you’ll really get a lot out of it. Please come back and let me know what you think. And don’t worry: there’s a money-back guarantee!

Thanks, and please come back here to let us know how it goes.


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  1. 91

    Just ask me…im a pro with getting the fellas after me…problem is…I truly am not looking to make any committments either…for the very same affair that ill make a mistake. …but ive mastered the art of “space distancing”….problem is…its not an act…but part of my own attempt at self preservation and discovery…go figure

  2. 92

    I can completely relate to Emily’s situation. I’ve chosen to be single for the past 5 years. I don’t know. I guess the first evaluator is to test if he’s into my image as well as my soul.. and they just aren’t making the cut.
    I’ve been there and done that as far as one LTR and I am sometimes lonely but it is what it is. As much drama as I see couples encounter at the local mall, I’d rather stand back and observe. Not that I dislike the idea of being with someone… it’s just something that women (and men) perceive to be the truest and idealistic pure form of “LOVE” when we have unrealistic expectations of our partners. So ask yourself really… do you think it’s really worth the effort of tripping and falling towards an picture painted love story? I’d rather spend my passionate moments with a bottle of wine and a shower head.
    The End.

  3. 93

    I haven’t read through all the comments for this post, but just reading the post itself I wanted to throw in something..
    A lot of people have these defenses, and a lot of people are stuck in “fight or flight” mode from previous traumatic experiences where they created defense mechanisms. If you take the time to BREATHE through your defense mechanisms and understand them, before you try to pursue any kind of real relationship, you wouldn’t need to ask anyone else what to do. Evan gives great advice for the mind to go over, but fight or flight is often felt in the body. I’m studying to become a yoga teacher and until my training didn’t realize how much memory is stored in every cell of your body, and how many people still live in this fight or flight mode without realizing that’s what that is. 
    This fight or flight response can be changed through breath and awareness. Realize that it’s not the other person’s behavior towards you, but that those behaviors are simply triggers to your own “stuff”. Often we’ll make a dramatic story out of this stuff but if you take time to sit with your stuff, dig deep, breath gently through it, you can greatly release that tension, apprehension and stress surrounding any situation or relationship. Breathe first, then think, then act if you feel cautious about moving forward or feel unsure. Moving from a place of fear never gets anyone anywhere. Best way to settle that is to feel your fear and allow it to dissipate when it’s ready to. It’s there to show you something, not dictate your life!

  4. 94

    Andrew 5 – yes very succinct indeed.  Try this one
    Women do what they want, not what you want:
    If a man doesn’t treat a woman how she wants, why is she waiting around?

  5. 95

    Hello! This was me!  I did this d*mn dance for 7 years!  Okay… mighta been more like 19 which is about how long I’ve been spending time with men in any kind of “romantic” capacity.  You need to sit on your hands girl.  Tape your mouth shut… throw your phone in the toilet.  Do what it takes.  And it’s not because you should be worried about how the guy is going to see you when you drop that bomb.  It’s because of how YOU are going to feel after you send it.  It’s a vicious cycle.  You are mad… you want him to feel the way you feel, so you send something nasty.  Then he retaliates with, “You’re crazy! blah blah blah blah” and he feels vindicated and you feel like a loser.  You are a winner D*mnit!  Act like a winner.  You are an emotionally intelligent woman who has self control!  It is important that you regularly remind yourself of this so you can build and retain the confidence in yourself you are going to need to find someone who is as much of a winner as you are. I have found it helps me to exercise when I feel that urge to tell someone off.  It wears me out, gives me a feeling of accomplishment, and reminds me I’m a hot commodity he would be lucky to have… should I decide HE is worthy.  If you’re not up for exercising, another thing I do is go online and read self-help relationship advice until I want to poke my eyeballs out with a fork.  Then I delete my internet history and re-emerge, feeling informed and empowered and calm… perhaps because I just got to listen to 50 other people vent about similar problems and how they dealt with it.  I’m a fixer.  I like to fix things.  And it drives me nuts when I can tell a guy is being wishy washy or waffling, or possibly just enjoying being a little man-wh*re.  At the end of the day, what I think you are really needing in this situation is a reminder that YOU are the thing worth having and whether or not HE is, is yet to be determined.

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