by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed. Copyright 2006-2018
Author, “Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You” (Da Capo 2009)
Author, “Getting Back Out There: Tips for Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup” (Da Capo 2015)
Author, “Getting Past Your Past: The Definitive Workbook for Healing, Health and Happiness” (La Bella Vita Publishing 2013)
(to see the video of this post go HERE)
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This post is the most popular on the blog and has been for over 10 years. Every now and again I move it up so new people can find it although it’s been ripped off by others many times over the years. This was originally written in 2006 as one of the very first posts on the original blog.
It’s hard but it happens.
And it hurts.
You love someone who may have loved you once upon a time.
You love someone who acted like there was a possibility of love in return,
but now there’s not.
You love someone who simply doesn’t feel the same way
and isn’t going to feel the same way.
You loved someone deeply who loved you deeply and then this person just switched off and hurt you in ways that were unimaginable at the height of your mutual love.
This person loved you and you loved them but then someone new came along and they left. Friends tell you that you are better than this new person in every way.
But your ex is still with Mr. or Ms. New Thing.
Whatever the situation, you’re left with excruciating pain.
As you walk through your days, zombie-like, all you can do is review the exchanges over and over in your mind. Where did it go wrong or fail to go right? What should I have done that I didn’t? What did I do that I shouldn’t have? The perseveration drives you crazy. You’re not eating, you’re not sleeping. You’re a weepy mess. You feel rejected and less than. You feel as if there is something really wrong with you. You wonder what you could do to MAKE this person want you.
If your love is with a new person who doesn’t come close to being what you are, you cannot understand it. Your ex is blind to the flaws and foibles of the new love. In fact, your ex is enthralled by someone who doesn’t seem to come close to being what you are. You’re convinced they traded down. Whenever you think about them together, your mind shuts off or you crumble completely. You feel as if you are going crazy.
When there is nothing or no one else, it is even harder to fathom. Your mate just fell out of love one day or failed to fall in love on the day you did. They have stumbled and stuttered through explanations but nothing is going to make you feel better except for, “I love you and want to come back.”
Even more baffling is possibility that the person just wants to be left alone. There isn’t someone else; there’s no real reason. Your lover simply said, “I just want out.” Your mind reels with astonishment, “Wait. You’re choosing NOTHING over me? What?”
Perhaps you promised each other if this ever happened, you will seek counseling but now that idea is refused. Perhaps, once upon a time, your love said it was impossible to “just” fall out of love with someone but now that has happened. What happened to those promises of solidarity? What happened to the disbelief that someone could do what is now being done? What happened to the person who seemed so crazy about you? Where did your secure feelings of mutual love go? Who would willingly choose this nightmare? What planet have you stumbled onto? Where is life as you know it?
Perhaps your ex has spiraled into some other unexpected mindset. They’ve taken up excessive partying or drugs and or gambling. Perhaps they’re depressed or upset or self-absorbed in some way. They have cheated or abused you or acted terribly and now, instead wanting forgiveness, they want out. The bad actor is now stomping on your forgiving heart. How can that be?
Sometimes someone experiences a major life event and has trouble bouncing back from it. It can be an accident, a death in the family or the loss of a job. No matter what, it’s clear that something terrible has happened. You offer to help; you beg to help. You ask, “Don’t you want someone to help carry the burden?” It’s clear that they do not.
Shock and Horror
In almost all these rejection scenarios, the first reaction is disbelief. I refuse to believe this! This can’t be! You come up with a million reasons for this behavior, none of which have to do with how they feel about you. It’s a it’s a flirtation rom work that will end soon. It’s a misstep on the way to a happy life with me. It will all be over soon. I just need to wait it out. I’ve heard stories of this sort of thing and everything works out in the end. There are movies where it works out, and books where it works out. Certainly it can work out in real life. Can’t it?
All you can think about is how you are meant to be and how you have both been happy either as lovers or friends. It could have been yesterday or last week, last year or ten years ago. Still, your mind takes you back there every minute of every day when you both were happy.
The first throes of rejection are really difficult to get through. You’re angry, you’re hurt, your personality is draining away along with your sense of humor. You are boring all your friends and family with sad stories of unrequited love. You trudge instead of walk; you sob instead of cry, you bellow instead of talk. You have deep, dark circles under your eyes. Time is slipping away. Your life is rushing by. You are sure you’ll never be happy again or find someone else to love.
You go back and forth between trying to accept it and denying that it’s true. You float in the in-between world of denial. Something will change. This is a phase. This is temporary. I’ll just sit here and wait for my love to smarten up and see the light. That is what I will do.
Another part of you feels the need to do something. You’re not sure what, but you know you can’t just sit there. Your mind refuses to shut off, and the many options play out in your head.
I will change things. I will call or text. We will get into a big emotional conversation and I will be very persuasive as to how this is all wrong. We belong together! No, no. . . . I will go out and take a bunch of selfies of me doing fun things and post on social media. “Look! It’s me having a great time without you! Don’t you miss the FUN me?” That will win them back! Wait! I’ll hint that there is someone else. I’ll make up a Facebook person and have that person make flirty comments on my page! No, hold on. I may be losing my mind because….texting is better. I’ll “accidentally” text my ex and make it seem like I was texting a new love interest. . . . then I’ll apologize . . . yeah, that’s it. Wait . . . no. . . yes . . . ! You strive to think of something—crazy, sane and in-between—that will cause a massive reboot of your ex’s mind and put the relationship back together.
Hang On There, Pookie
Before you do anything at all, please take a step back. Breathe and take a seat. You don’t want to have to babysit someone’s brain. If they can’t figure it out on their own, coming up with the most clever phrases and persuasive arguments isn’t going to help. You might pin them down for a while, but who wants to chance that they are going to drift back to a breakup mindset? When you’re wrapped up in espionage mode or creative ways to convince your ex of something they don’t really want to be convinced of, you forget that “winning” the battle for the ex’s common sense is a temporary state. You shouldn’t have to babysit the neurons inside someone’s head lest they get caught up in wacky world of breaking up with you. No. Let them go and let all the grandstanding scenarios disappear from your life. You don’t need someone who isn’t smart enough to see how valuable you are. Let it go.
Yes, that’s right. It’s time to let it go completely and do something new. It’s time to think about it differently. It’s time to renew, reverse and reject the rejecter.
It’s hard to let it go. Hard but do-able. It’s hard to do nothing, but that is the best thing to be doing. Save your dignity and your sanity and do nothing. First, it’s important to believe the breakup has happened. It’s happened. You’ve been rejected. Accept it for what it is. Let it slowly sink in and try to do the hardest thing there is to do: Nothing. Doing nothing in a situation like this takes energy. It takes a lot of energy. You will think you spend all your time NOT doing something, because that is exactly what you’re doing.
Many times we try to change the situation to stave off the feelings of sadness, anger, betrayal and rejection. When we let go the idea of changing things, the feelings start to surface.
In addition to the normal feelings of grief, rejection brings with it negative self-talk and lowered self-esteem and self-respect. You might feel like a loser and start to drift back to the idea of doing something. This time, instead of trying to do something to them, you’ll do something to you. Your mind races with ideas:
Back to Bargaining
I’ll be quieter, thinner, happier. I won’t complain so much. I won’t rock the boat. I’ll like the insufferable family and friends that I couldn’t stand. I’ll go back to school. I’ll stop going to school. I’ll wear different clothes. I’ll buy a new car. I’ll get those allergy shots so I can be around that cat. I’ll work in a different industry. I’ll muzzle my kids. I’ll clean more. I’ll clean less. I’ll cook gourmet meals. I’ll listen when spoken to. I’ll go to bed earlier. I’ll go to bed later. I’ll go to church. I’ll stop going to church. I’ll pray. I’ll bargain with God. Dear Higher Power: If you put my relationship back together, I’ll help the poor. I’ll devote myself to the eradication of world hunger. I’ll give my next paycheck to the church. I’ll join the Peace Corps. I’ll do anything, ANYTHING, if only You make this person come back. I’ll be everything You want me to be or everything this person wants me to be. I’ll do it all. I’ll do nothing. I’ll be more. I’ll be less. I’ll be everything and anything other than what I’m being right now. I’ll turn myself inside out to be the person he or she will love. I can do it. I will do it. I’ll work with sick children, I’ll go to church, I’ll help the homeless…I’ll….
Stop right there. Purge yourself of all thoughts like this. Stop making promises to a Supreme Being to become a saint if only you win your love back. It’s time to go back to acceptance and doing nothing. Right now, it’s time to reject the rejecter.
Forget about changing for someone else. Forget about bargaining for what you should have without bribing a Higher Power. Forget about changing your whole life just so someone who doesn’t appreciate you and your worth will love you. Forget it!
The first thing you need to do is to take it in stride. Taking it in stride means telling yourself that you are okay no matter what. Yes, there might be things that need improvement but it is a lovable, worthwhile person who is willing to look at those things and change them. And if this person does not value all that you are and all that you can be there is only one sentiment that makes sense: reject the rejecter.
It is time to reject the rejecter and the notion that you are expendable. Their rejection has led you to believe you’re not worthwhile. That is not true and whatever your ex believes or fails to see is not your problem.
You want someone who believes you are the be-all, end-all, not someone who finds you optional. You don’t want someone who doesn’t appreciate how great you are. You want someone with vision who will appreciate all that you are and all that you can be. You want someone who will love you and think you are the best thing ever. You don’t want to waste time with anyone who doesn’t see how great you are or has to be convinced of it.
Perhaps your ex does know how awesome you are but is not in a place to be in the relationship. It’s not about you, but about the inability to handle stressors. That isn’t a reason to give them a break. This is someone who hurt you for whatever reason and can’t deal with life and their life partner at the same time.
A wonderful, fully functioning partner can love you no matter what happens. That is the person you want to be with. Let your ex be. It’s not the right time for the two of you, and there is nothing you can do about it. It’s hard and it hurts, but gently let it go.
Until that love comes from a romantic partner who values you and sees how wonderful you are, get that love from family, friends and yourself. You MUST be good to yourself as you move on from someone who does not value you enough to want an exclusive, romantic relationship with you. Get on with your life and become the person you always wanted to be.
Every relationship is a learning experience. We learn what parts of us could use improvement. But not because this person found them unattractive or irritating but because you find them unattractive or irritating.
It’s time to work on you and to look at how you arrived at this point. It’s time to take away the “wonderful” memories of your ex from long ago and replace them with what is happening now, which is rejection. It’s time to put the focus on you and learn from past mistakes, including this one. It’s hard to think of this relationship as a mistake, but you will.
Think about the answers to these questions. What did you do in this relationship or around this person (if you weren’t in a relationship) that could improve? What patterns do you have in relationships? Has this happened before? When has it happened? How has it happened?
When you are leaving a relationship where someone doesn’t love you anymore or failing to move further in a relationship because someone won’t or can’t love you or not getting into a relationship because someone isn’t attracted to you, there is a HIT to the self-esteem. It’s a rejection that stings. It’s time to let go of damaging self-assessment and get on with positive self-assessment. This exercise is not to beat you up but to help you see where your relationships are going wrong and to do something about the one thing you can do something about: you.
We all want someone to share life’s sorrows and joys day in and day out. If this person can’t do it, we need someone who will. Perhaps your ex has a fear of commitment or this simply isn’t the right one. Perhaps there is something more troubling such as narcissism or a personality disorder. It helps to see what may be keeping them stuck and to accept that it’s not changing any time soon. Too often people hold out hope that the person will change, see the error of their ways, go to counseling and come back to the relationship. That’s a fantasy that usually doesn’t happen. It’s time to let that one go. A person who walks out or puts you on hold or wants you in “just friends” status is not that person.
Anyone who has rejected you in any way, for any reason, is not for you.
Stop re-injuring yourself with questions about what is wrong with you that they don’t want you. It’s time to work on you, but not for them, for you and the possibility of real love down the line. Stop focusing on what was and think about what is and what will be. Reject this rejecter and every rejecter that came before. Do your affirmations. Know that you are worth it.
Even if you love this person, this person does not love you . . . and the person for you will love you. Deeply and completely.
It is possible.
In the meantime you must take time out to explore your issues, be good to you, know your value, understand your value and get your value from inside you and not outside.
Be good to you.
Move on from rejection. Feel your feelings. Reject the rejecter.
Celebrate the you that is you.
And know that the right person for you is out there.
Reject the Rejecter and embrace all that is you. . . the good is waiting for you. Believe it.
To see the video of this post go HERE
Copyright 2007-2018Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
All Rights Reserved No Duplication is Allowed Without Explicit Permission of the Author
This is the most popular post on this blog and is re-run often for new readers to find hope and strength. YOU CAN DO THIS!
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