Why rejection sensitivity dysphoria makes relationships so hard

Earlier this week (only a few days late), I posted “How to explain rejection sensitivity dysphoria“. I mentioned in brief how it affects me in my relationships so I wanted to dive a bit deeper into it and clarify where RSD shows up and what to do about it.

Why is RSD such a big deal in my relationships?

Now, I feel it is important to mention that this doesn’t just mean relationships with a significant other. This includes relationships with friends, family and coworkers as well. 

RSD makes me doubt that others are interested in me (when in reality I know that they are).

Anndddd… because of the pain of the rejection or perceived rejection, I shut myself off or equally as bad.. I’ll push them away. This is not healthy for any relationship!!

The process I experience:

ENTER PERCEIVED OR ACTUAL REJECTION (In my mind, it’s always actual rejection).

  • Enter ANGER
  • Enter TEARS.

(this process usually takes about 30 seconds)

I am hurt and disappointed and completely flooded with emotions so I can’t say anything. All I say is “okay”. When I hang up I can’t help but think “why does this always happen to me”? Then those words came out stronger


I catch myself asking: 

  • “Why do I ruin and overthink things for myself?!”
  • “Why is this happening to me again?!”

–> I usually hear these questions with tears streaming down my face and they stop me in my tracks. Why is this happening to me again means that there’s something that I have been consistently doing so I asked myself some more questions (basically coached myself):

  • If this is happening to me again, what am I doing? 

What I’m doing:

  • People pleaser – 
    • I don’t know about you, but I often hear “she’s so nice” when someone describes me. Well, I would say that I am too nice. Yes, there is such a thing! I tend to put others needs before mine because I am scared of their reaction to me saying “no”. I am really working on this!! Being too nice makes me feel like a doormat because I will drop everything for someone and have a million “incompletes” on my table. Also, when I do drop everything for someone else I feel a twinge of annoyance with the person that I am helping because I really should have said “no”. (this isn’t their fault!!).
      • I’m currently in a relationship where I am often asked what I want to do. This is soooo new for me. My automatic response is “whatever, I don’t mind!”. I’m really trying to challenge myself and actually take a second to pause and figure out what I want. Honestly, sometimes it’s that I want to do all of the options and I can’t decide ahha.. but at least I have the opportunity to make the decision! 

  • Analyzing everything (I wish that I am exaggerating); looking for signs that I will be rejected.
    • What others say
    • What others do
    • Facial expressions
    • What others don’t do or don’t say
      ….see what I mean by everything?!

  • Push others away and get them to reject me earlier rather than later. 
    • There are days where I do not feel “on point”. I am sooo stuck in my head and I cannot stand being around myself. Rather than subject others to my mood, I tend to stay in my room and Netflix binge and feel even worse about myself.
      • Rather than tell myself “I’m not feeling “perfect” today and that’s okay”. I shut myself off from the world when I want nothing more than to be with someone else. In my case, this isn’t healthy and I’m going to try to let others see “all of me”; the good, the bad and the ugly!

  • Make excuses for the person’s behaviour to make myself feel better (and end up putting myself down in the process).
    • Example: If someone doesn’t make time for you, you may end up telling yourself something like “they are really busy with work, they have a new significant other, etc.” I end up putting myself down because I tell myself that their work/significant other is more important than me. If you have a need to see them more and feel “rejected” then it’s worth having a conversation to express how you are feeling.

  • Have high expectations and become upset when my expectations are not met.
    • I am a dreamer and I would never change that about myself. Here’s where being a dreamer can be a problem… I like to visualize what a planned event will be like. This sets really high standards for the planned event and when things don’t go as I imagined (they never do), I get really discouraged and my RSD sets in.
      • I now ask myself “what/when is enough?” to make sure that I get what I want and need while being realistic in my dreams + expectations of myself & others! 

What can you do?

  1. Figure out where and how RSD affects you and your relationships (it helps me to keep a journal!)

  2. Tell your partner/friend/family member! Yep, that’s what i said! TELL THEM! Get it off your chest! Being vulnerable is extremely hard but it was well worth the payoff.

What happened when I started to share how RSD was effecting me:

  1. I felt like a weight was lifted off my chest – I threw the shame that I felt about being “overly sensitive” into the air and

  2. We set “ground rules” to limit the RSD popping up (we looked at where the miscommunication happened and implemented a rule)

Why RSD is so confusing

The feelings (crying, anger) that accompany RSD are super intense and come on so suddenly but they don’t last long. The last time I experienced it, I was waiting for someone so I went to my car and cried it all out while coaching myself through it. I realized that I put expectations on the certain someone that we didn’t even discuss and then felt rejected when they didn’t follow through with my expectations. How ridiculous, Alyssa! By the time I ended up meeting them (45 minutes later), I had completely calmed down and I felt perfectly normal as soon as I saw them and honestly, wasn’t ruminating anymore!

Get a trained ADHD coach!

I am completely, 100% biased because I am a coach but, in my experience, the best way to tackle RSD is to work with a coach. A coach is an objective person in your life that is on your team! They want what is best for you and will help you to figure out how RSD is effecting you and what, as a team, can be done to keep RSD at bay! 

Here are some other articles if you want to keep reading! 


2 thoughts on “Why rejection sensitivity dysphoria makes relationships so hard

  1. My relationship with my husband is where I see RSD the most because it’s the most vulnerable relationship I have. Just talking about it, like you said, is so important, even if it feels silly! Sometimes I’ll get so worked up over something and he’ll talk about that same situation with a completely different perspective and I realize I wasnt being rejected and I should have just asked him what he was thinking in the moment!

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