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Is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria Affecting Your Relationship?

"How can I share my thoughts with my partner without him feeling rejected?"


This exploration gains depth as we uncover the layers of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) and its intricate dance with ADHD and Autism.


RSD isn't just about sensitivity to rejection; it's an overwhelming emotional tsunami triggered by even the slightest perception of being rejected or criticized.

For individuals with ADHD or Autism, their neurodiversity can amplify these feelings, making RSD more intense due to the unique ways their brains process emotions and social cues.

This heightened response can make every interaction feel fraught with potential for rejection.


So, how do we build bridges over these turbulent waters?


Neurodiverse Couples Counseling lights the path with strategies tailored to understanding and mitigating the impact of RSD:


1. Normalizing the Fear of Rejection: 🚫

Recognizing that fear of rejection is a universal experience helps in validating these feelings. This step is crucial in creating a supportive environment where vulnerabilities can be shared openly.


2. Relational Reality Testing: 🕵️‍♂️

By examining our reactions and questioning their alignment with reality, we challenge the narrative of rejection.

The partner struggling with RSD first does this alone and then as a couple.

This method fosters empathy and deeper connection by encouraging partners to see through each other's lenses.

3. Embracing Needs Over Criticism: 👎

In relationships touched by RSD, transforming criticism into expressions of needs is a pivotal step towards nurturing understanding and support.

Instead of pointing out shortcomings, focus on sharing what you need to feel cherished and secure, such as affirming words or dedicated time together.


This shift not only fosters a protective environment for both partners but also encourages empathy and growth, ensuring that the journey through RSD is one of mutual respect and deeper connection.

4. Structured Communication to Counter Withdrawal: 🏗️

RSD can often lead to withdrawal as a defense mechanism.

In therapy, we will introduce a structured process to help bring the couple back together and communicate. This will not only minimize misunderstandings, but also gently address the tendency to withdraw.

The structured process usually includes setting aside dedicated times for heartfelt discussions, adopting "I feel" statements for expressing emotions, identifying differences in each person's narratives, and practicing active listening.

These efforts pave a safer path for both partners to stay engaged and connected.

5. Mindfulness and Self-Regulation: ☯️

Engaging in mindfulness practices and learning self-regulation techniques can significantly diminish the intensity of RSD reactions.


For example, a couple could try deep breathing exercises together. But there's an important caveat; we would practice this first in a therapy session because the exercise itself could trigger rejection if a partner feels he or she is not doing it right.


With our guidance, these practices encourage a more measured response to emotional triggers, facilitating a calmer, more reasoned approach to perceived slights or criticisms.


6. Creating a Commitment Ritual: 🕯️

Consider creating a commitment ritual that resonates deeply with both of you, serving as a powerful reminder of your journey together.

This could involve looking at your wedding pictures together or repeating your wedding vows to each other, reaffirming the promises and commitments you made. You could also review a list of what each partner loves about the other.


This ritual becomes a sacred space of reconnection where the partner dealing with RSD can find reassurance in the enduring commitment and love that binds you together.


By delving into these strategies, we're not just addressing RSD; we're crafting a relationship that flourishes on mutual understanding, deep trust, and unconditional support.


With heartfelt support,


Dr. Motro is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist #53452 and the Founder/Clinical Director of the Neurodiverse Couples Counseling Center.


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