Executive Brief: People who live with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria are also well familiar with the flipside experience of Recognition Responsive Euphoria, under which umbrella we find the more specific case of Acceptance Sensitive Euphoria (aka “instantly falling head over heels in love”).
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) has come to be fairly well known, where people with information-related sensitivities (particularly Empaths) experience intensely negative emotional reactions to events in which they feel rejected.
There is a counterweight dynamic that is (recently and slowly) coming to be identified with the term Recognition Responsive Euphoria (RRE), where supportive attention results in an equally strong positive emotional reaction. Discussions of RRE are currently associated with Variable Attention Stimulus Trait (VAST, formerly known as ADHD); however, we expect this narrow link to broaden over time.
In this context, I propose a specific kind of RRE to be called Acceptance Sensitive Euphoria (ASE). The intent is to focus on the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, where rejection and acceptance are felt with a canonical intensity that is tied to such intimacies as romance and sex.
In a very general sense, this emotional reaction is captured in common portrayals of falling in love (and other swooning twitterpations); over time, this is often portrayed as developing into a more companionate bond (as the euphoria is tempered… perhaps by episodes of RSD).
Here’s the deal: those who are known to be susceptible to RSD are highly likely to also experience a euphoric burst whenever anyone treats them with any sort of positive regard. Pay them a simple compliment, and they want to get married forever (or similar).
(I feel annoyed when I hear someone say that men are unable to commit.)
That has been my standard pattern my whole life, namely: ecstatically glomming onto anyone who treats me as if I have any redeeming value at all (ASE), and then shriveling into a charred puddle of tarry residue whenever they are even remotely critical (RSD).
The RSD is particularly dangerous in a relationship with someone who is abusive (and even sadistic) in their delivery of criticism because they will place the blame firmly outside of themselves, as in, “You just can’t handle criticism.” Simplistic bullshit.
I can handle regular criticism. I do not respond in this way when I know that the relationship is strictly business; for example, I do not experience intense feelings tied to my self-worth when I am simply receiving a job performance review.
For decades, I’ve been aware of my unusually intense emotions around rejection and acceptance, and I’ve made sense of them with various stories; however, it’s only recently that I learned that RSD is a specific thing, after which I naturally suspected that ASE must exist as well.
Maybe having this editorial living out there in netspacetime will help someone else twig to this situation in a more timely fashion.
Then again, maybe I’ll be telling myself yet another story in the years to come, as the research advances.
In my Junior year of high school, a young woman invited me to prom, and I was amazed and besotted. That event was still a few weeks away, so I took her out to the movies. While we waited for the feature to start, we were talking about what we would each like in a house in the imagined future:
Date: “I want big gardens with lots of flowers.”
Me: “Cool. I also like having a vegetable garden.”
Date: “I like flowers better.”
Me: “Yeah, I like flowers, too. I’m just used to both.”
Date: “No problem. You can have vegetables at your house, and I will have flowers at mine.”
Me (sitting silently stunned in rejection, realizing that I was actually short-term to her, but we still had to go to prom): “Um… yeah.”