When You're the Brokenhearted
- Friday, April 11, 2003
Camped out in bed with a pint of Chunky Monkey ice-cream and the TV clicker? Thinking about buying a one-way ticket to an obscure Mediterranean island to live the rest of your life as a recluse? Being left by the one you love has a way of making anyone a little loony. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a rejection, however, the following suggestions will help you keep your sanity.
Dumped by her doctor-boyfriend, Marie was deep in denial. She became obsessed with the idea of winning him back. Convinced that their relationship had ended because she hadn't taken enough interest in his work, Marie spent nights in the local library poring over medical journals and developing a morbid fascination with the inner workings of the human body. She kept photos of her ex all over her apartment. Her friends were embarrassed and tried to help by telling her that taking Anatomy 101 was not going to win him back. Yet for months, Marie went on as though the relationship was only going through temporary trouble. But it wasn't. The relationship was permanently over and Marie couldn't admit it.
Marie is fairly typical. Getting "dumped" is difficult to accept. The notion of getting together again is a familiar one among the jilted. Some part of our soul is convinced that the other person feels the same way we do, only they don't know it yet.
All of us have a hard time coming to terms with rejection. Interestingly, men are more likely than woman to deny the end of a romance-by a ratio of three to two. Part of the reason for this is that men are prone to romantic crushes on women who are far more desirable than themselves, and so find their love more frequently unrequited. Whatever your gender, however, you've got to face reality. You've got to admit the relationship is over and move on.
Let Yourself Cry
Okay, okay. You ski black diamonds, walk barefoot on hot asphalt, and skydive for fun, so what's a little romantic split? Truth is, a breakup is one of the toughest things you'll ever experience. It's heart wrenching, and you deserve to feel lousy. You deserve to feel profoundly sad. Breaking up from even an unhealthy relationship hurts. It's frightening to lose a relationship you depended on. So give yourself over to the agony and have a good cry. You'll feel better. Scientific studies have shown that tears actually excrete certain depression-purging hormones so that you begin to feel better physically and emotionally after a good cry. It literally cleanses the soul. So shed your sadness instead of keeping it in and the healing will begin all the sooner.
Stop Blaming Yourself
"I guess I'm one of those people who's meant to be alone," admits 24-year-old Sarah, a normally upbeat assistant manager of a local clothing store who was recently dumped by her boyfriend. "My track record is awful when it comes to picking men, and I need to concentrate on work if I'm going to be able to take care of myself in the future."
It's one of the saddest things we hear in our relationship counseling, and we've come to believe a lot of this self-blame is the result of self-help formulas that tell us we must be stupid to have chosen a person who later does us wrong. Yes, you do have to take a hard look at your own behavior if you always make bad relationship choices, but why punish yourself because you fell in love? Self-blame will do nothing to help you learn from mistakes and become a better person.
People who have been burned take the blame too often. They feel guilty for failing at "yet another" relationship. Eventually, they end up converting their guilt into an unhealthy compulsion: overeating, abusing drugs or alcohol, sexual trysts with near strangers, and avoidance of intimacy altogether. Don't get caught in the guilt trap. Truth is, you aren't so powerful that you can cause someone else's behavior. You can play a part in it, but you can't cause it. You are not to blame.
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