FOMO: Fear of Meeting Others
Updated: Jan 14
You’re in a bar, and you see a cute guy making subtle eye contact with you. You’ve just broken up with your boyfriend. You decide, “Hey! Why not? I’ve got nothing to lose, right? Your friends tell you to go for it. They’d love to see you have a great night.
You walk up to him and ask him if he’d like to dance. He responds “Oh sorry, I’m just here with my friends tonight. Maybe another time.” You walk away stunned. He was the one making eye contact with you, right? How could he turn you down? You feel uncomfortable, sad, and rejected. It’s on your mind for the rest of the night. Why does it bother you so much?
If you’ve had an instance like this – or you’ve been picked last for teams in gym – then you know that rejection is painful in more ways than one. In fact, the American Psychological Association has recognized just how deep the roots of rejection go. Repeated instances of rejection can often cause us to withdraw socially and prompt the fear of meeting others. Let’s take a look at rejection in life and in dating and how you can say goodbye to this pain once and for all.
How the brain reacts to rejection
Rejection has serious implications for an individual’s psychological state and for society in general. If you’re rejected time and time again, those events will ultimately impact your emotions, cognition, and even physical health.
Researchers have studied rejection by looking at the inside of an fMRI scanner. In this study, an individual played an online game of catch with two other players. Slowly, the two other players began throwing the ball with only each other, and the studied individual was excluded.
Compared with volunteers who continued to be included in the same scenario, the excluded individual showed increased activity in their dorsal anterior cingulate and the anterior insula. These two regions of the brain show increased activity whenever there is a response to physical pain. Thus, this shows that the brain has difficulty distinguishing between the pain of rejection and physical pain.
Why rejection can hold you back
Everyone fears rejection. After all, if it’s painful, why wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you fear breaking your arm or having surgery? The thought of pain is enough to make most people cringe. And likewise, most people’s stomachs will sink or hearts will twinge just at the past memories of their rejection. However, while it’s natural to fear rejection, it’s not healthy to hold yourself back from meeting others because there’s the potential that you could be rejected in the process.
The fact is that simply getting better at the prospect of being rejected could help you become more successful in life. From your professional to your personal to your romantic life, the pain you feel from rejection may not be comfortable, but it does capture your attention. It helps you refocus and reconsider your social circumstances.
Very few people succeed without ever having failed. If it takes you a few tries approaching someone in a bar before you’re successful, then so be it. It’s all about putting yourself out there and learning how you can learn to adapt to those social situations that make you feel uncomfortable.
Rejection can have a real impact on how you interact with others. Yet, despite the pain you may feel when rejection occurs, it’s not a signal to give up. Take it as a sign to reevaluate how you’re engaging with that situation. polar baer is an opportunity for you to break the ice. It’s an alternative that allows you to ease into those social settings where you may have experienced rejection previously. And the best part? Now you can do so with confidence.