How do I handle rejection?

University of Leeds
2 min readFeb 9, 2024

‘I recently went home with someone after a night out and we were getting on really well until they turned down sex. I thought we were on the same page, but it turns out we weren’t and now I feel like they led me on. It was really embarrassing, and I didn’t know how to handle the rejection. Am I in the wrong for being annoyed?’

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Sometimes an encounter can go differently to how we expected it to and that’s okay. You’re allowed to feel a little embarrassed or awkward, you’re only human! But remember that everyone always has the right to say ‘no’ and they don’t need to explain why.

A sexual partner is always allowed to revoke any consent they previously gave and has the right to change their mind about anything. Whilst it’s okay to be disappointed, you must remember that you are never owed sex or any sort of intimate activity.

Two people stood opposite each other holding drinks.

If you feel annoyed that you’ve been led on, then perhaps consider if your expectations of sex are a sign of predatory behaviour. Removing this assumption may help you to not set unrealistic expectations and will help to avoid any sexual pressure.

Handling rejection isn’t always easy but it’s important to ensure that your partner knows you respect their boundaries. Take a moment to listen to them and consider how they feel. Perhaps suggest a different activity or ask what they would like to do instead. If they feel uncomfortable, ask them what you can do to support them in feeling more secure. Read more about how to recognise, remove and respect consent.

You are not alone. If you’ve experienced any kind of violence, abuse, bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination, we’re here to help. Explore support options in our community, including specialist support offered by the Harassment and Misconduct team here at Leeds.

Written by Lucy Bishop-Carne, Student Communications