Navigating Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria in Romantic Partnerships

While rejection can be difficult in any relationship, it can be extreme and overwhelming to someone with rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD). 

RSD is an emotional response that can transform even the slightest bit of criticism into something intense. In fact, rejection and criticism don’t even really need to take place for someone with RSD to struggle. They might be hypersensitive to certain remarks. Or, they might have an overwhelming fear of abandonment in romantic relationships. 

As you might expect, that kind of mindset can negatively impact relationships and leave both partners feeling emotionally exhausted and uneasy. It can even impact your connection with your partner and cause a strain on your relationship in general. 

But having RSD doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. When you know how to navigate rejection sensitive dysphoria in effective, meaningful ways, you can enjoy a strong and healthy relationship as you move forward together. 

Patience Is Key

There’s no question that living with RSD is a challenge for both people in a relationship. The first step in navigating it is to be patient with yourself. It’s not uncommon for people with rejection sensitive dysphoria to also have neurodivergent traits. So, before you listen to negative self-talk or let your self-esteem get shot down by your inner critic, recognize that RSD isn’t a choice. Rather, it’s a response within the brain. 

To be patient with yourself, you have to understand the ins and outs of RSD. Some of the common symptoms include: 

  • People-pleasing
  • Negative self-talk
  • Self-doubt
  • Feeling embarrassed easily
  • Self-conscious

In a romantic relationship, you might constantly wonder if your partner will leave you. You might feel like you’re not good enough, and you need their reassurance more often than not. 

When you choose to be patient with yourself and this condition, you’ll start to be more compassionate. You’ll be more willing to navigate it with your partner and let them know what you need. 

Practice Open Communication

Communication is important in every relationship. But, it’s even more essential when you have RSD and you’re trying to express your needs and emotions to your partner. 

Honesty is also important. It’s not always easy to express yourself openly when you’re dealing with self-doubt and uncertainty. But, the clearer you can be with your feelings, the easier it will be for your partner to understand what you’re going through. 

The worst thing you can do is try to brush your problems under the rug or hide them from your partner. You don’t need to try to fix or solve the problem on your own. You don’t need your partner to fix it for you. You simply need to be willing to be open and to make sure your emotions are addressed. If your partner doesn’t really know how you’re feeling, and why, they can’t support you the way they probably want to. 

Develop Healthy Coping Strategies

Obviously, you don’t want to live with the fear and uncertainty of rejection all the time. Developing coping mechanisms for your RSD can be a helpful way to keep your relationship strong. 

Identify the things that trigger you in your relationship. Things like poor timing, specific words or actions, or even certain routines might set off your RSD symptoms. It’s important to talk to your partner about those things so they can be avoided. 

Another way to cope is by establishing boundaries. Boundaries in a relationship can help to establish a sense of security. You’re less likely to lean into fear and worry about rejection when there are boundaries in place. 

Finally, lean on your partner for support. Remember that you’re on the same team, and allow yourself to be vulnerable with them. If you’re still struggling, consider reaching out for help. Therapy can be a great way to further understand your RSD and how to navigate it within your relationship.