It makes sense that after painful experiences of rejection, people would arm themselves with vigilance and caution about trusting new people. The problem is that a high degree of vigilance may not be needed in new relationships with more reliable partners.
Juliana Breines, Ph.D. shares this helpful piece about the nature of rejection sensitivity and how it can ultimately create problems where there previously were none. Our need to belong is primal and it is very normal to react strongly when we think we are threatened on that level. But for those that have a history of experiencing painful rejection by parents or other significant people, there can be such a high level of sensitivity to rejection that people unintentionally make rejection more likely. This can happen when we perceive everyday circumstances as personal and intentional and react with that assumption rather than see other possible explanations. Dr. Breines shares a few interesting and relevant research studies and also offers some suggestions on how to shift this pattern by working on self-regulation skills. The goal for many of us is to have healthy relationships with others and a key aspect to that is taking responsibility for your own sensitivities that get activated by others. By taking ownership of where you get triggered and learning to be more self-reflective in those circumstances, you give all of your relationships more potential for healthy interactions.