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When someone breaks your heart...
Matthew Schneeberger
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June 15, 2007

Yesterday, we provided stories of heartbreak from Mumbai's young men and women. While each case was unique, they all focused on rejecting an unwanted advance, and the complications it caused.

We heard from a variety of youngsters, from those who had rejected strangers at pubs to those who had to let down close pals.

Janki Sen told us about losing her best friend because she wasn't careful while dismissing his proposal. Rohit Vahje went even further, pretending to like a classmate in hopes of landing her older sister, only to ruin his reputation in college.

But what about those on the other end of the proverbial stick?

How do they deal with rejection?

What long-term impact, if any, does it have on the ego, mind-set and self-esteem?

Amit Gupta*, a 26-year-old club owner in Mumbai, leads a glamorous lifestyle. He has a nice car, a nice flat and runs a successful business. Still, he hasn't dated successfully since his US university days.

"When I came back from the University of Florida [Images], I tried to reconnect with my college sweetheart. On our second date, we got into a stupid fight and started arguing about something trivial. It ended with her shrieking in front of the entire restaurant, 'Go back to America! Bombay and I have moved on without you. Get lost, loser!' It was so embarrassing."

Amit tried to brush off the incident, pretending it didn't affect him. Still, he says, the damage was done.

"I've been uncomfortable in romantic situations with girls for the last three years. I try to act super-macho, but it never leads anywhere. I know it's foolish to hold onto one girl's opinion, but it was just devastating to my confidence. I'll probably end up alone or opt for an arranged marriage."

Then there's R K Karani*, a 24-year-old going into a career in management.

"I never talk about this to anyone. Last year, I was out in a club, trying to flirt with this girl who was just mind-blowing! I'd known her for a month or two, but this one night in particular I thought we really had something. As the club closed, she suddenly disappeared. When I asked one of her friends what happened, she said, 'Oh, she left with some guy.' I was crushed, and even started crying. To make matters worse, he was a total jerk and spread the story around. Now, I don't dare show my face in front of the usual party-goers. I wish she would have just told me that she wasn't interested."

Finally, there's the story of Archana Singh*, 25, from Mumbai. She'd had a huge crush on her classmate, Hamid, for six long years. They went their separate ways, but she never forgot him. Then, one night out at dinner, she saw him with a group of friends. She says:

"I moved my group of friends over to Hamid's table as soon as he recognised me. I was so nervous, but just wanted to play cool. After two glasses of wine with dinner, I suddenly felt courageous. I asked him to dance and even tried sitting on his lap. All of a sudden, he leapt to his feet and said cruelly, 'I would never dance with a Sardarni, let alone date one. I think you better try charming someone else.' With that, he motioned to his friends and they left. My girlfriends tried to console me, but I was so hurt. I'll never date outside my religion after that incident."

When dating, emotions easily get enflamed. It's truly a dangerous game, but it needn't be so painful.

If you're rejecting a harmless advance, remember to consider the other person's feelings. It's so easy to hurt someone, especially if they truly like you; you may not even realise what you've done.

If you've been cruelly rejected, you have to move on and turn a negative into a positive. If there was nothing crude or tasteless about your approach, there's no reason to be ashamed. The person who turned you down without tact will end up looking foolish to bystanders, no matter how much it stings you.

It may sound clich�, but there are tons of other people out there; just keep an open-mind and you'll find your dream partner.

Part I: Just say no -- nicely!

Have you had such an incident in your life?

Did you have to face rejection? How did you deal with it? How has it affected you? What advice would you give others in a similar situation?

Alternately, did you reject someone? Do you think you handled the situation well? Or do you think you could have been more tactful? Do you regret what happened? Is there a way to say no gently? Is there advice you would like to share with people facing a similar scenario?

Write in and share your experiences with other Get Ahead readers.

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