The England and Manchester United centre-back was not at London's High Court to hear Mr Justice Nicol dismiss his claim against MGN Ltd.
Ferdinand, 32, brought his case for misuse of private information over an April 2010 Sunday Mirror article in which interior designer Carly Storey gave her account of their 13-year relationship in return for £16,000.
The judge said: "Overall, in my judgment, the balancing exercise favours the defendant's right of freedom of expression over the claimant's right of privacy."
Ferdinand had branded the piece - "My affair with England captain Rio" - a "gross invasion of my privacy", and said he had not seen Ms Storey for six years by the time it appeared.
At a hearing in July, his lawyers asked for a maximum of £50,000 damages and a worldwide gagging order.
The article claimed Ferdinand, who has three children with wife Rebecca, ended the relationship within days of being handed the England skipper's armband in February 2010.
MGN said it was in the public interest to run the story about Ferdinand, who replaced John Terry as England captain before Terry was reinstated by manager Fabio Capello this year.
Its counsel, Gavin Millar QC, said Ferdinand was appointed England captain on the basis of being reformed and responsible.
In fact, as the article said, this was not the case.
He argued that the case was not really about Ferdinand's privacy but about the effect on the public image he had so painstakingly constructed, and was without merit.
Afterwards, Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver said in a statement: "The Sunday Mirror is very pleased that the court has rejected Rio Ferdinand's privacy claim.
"The judge found that there was a justified public interest in reporting the off-pitch behaviour of the then England captain and discussion of his suitability for such an important and ambassadorial role representing the country.
"We are pleased the judge ruled that Mr Ferdinand had perpetuated a misleading public image and the Sunday Mirror was entitled to correct this impression.
"There has never been greater scrutiny of the media than now, and we applaud this ruling in recognising the important role a free press has to play in a democratic society."