Recover From Rejection and Breakups
Since our apprehensive framework is wired to require others, dismissal is difficult. Feeling forlorn and lost association shares the developmental reason for survival and propagation. In a perfect world, forlornness ought to energize you to reach out to others and keep up your connections. Dismissal in an insinuate relationship particularly harms. It’s especially troublesome within the sentimental stage of a relationship when we have unmet trusts for the long term.
Rejection can feed depression, especially if we’re already even mildly depressed or have suffered depression and other losses in the past.
Factors Affecting Resiliency
Other factors that impact how we feel in the aftermath of a breakup are:
- The duration of the relationship
- Our attachment styles
- The degree of intimacy and commitment
- Whether problems were acknowledged and discussed
- Foreseeability of the breakup
- Cultural and family disapproval
- Other current or past losses
If we have an anxious attachment style, we’re prone to obsess, and have negative feelings, and attempt to restore the relationship. If we have a secure, healthy attachment style (unusual for codependents), we’re more resilient and able to self-soothe.
If the relationship lacked true intimacy, pseudo-intimacy may have substituted for a real, binding connection. In some relationships, intimacy is tenuous, because one or both partners is emotionally unavailable. For example, partners of narcissists frequently feel unimportant or unloved, yet strive to win love and approval to validate that they are. Lack of intimacy can be a warning sign that the relationship is troubled.
The Effect of Shame and Low Self-Esteem
Rejection can devastate us if our self-worth is low. Our self-esteem affects how personally we interpret our partner’s behavior and how dependent we are upon the relationship for our sense of self and self-esteem. If we’re self-esteem is shaky, we are more prone to being reactive to signs of disfavor by our partner, and tend to take their words and actions as a comment on ourselves and our value.
Many codependents give up personal interests, aspirations, and friends once they’re romantically involved. They adapt to their partner and their life revolves around the relationship. Losing it can make their world crumble if they’re left without hobbies, goals, and a support system. Often the lack of self-definition and autonomy beforehand prompted them to seek someone to fill their inner emptiness, which not only can lead to relationship problems, but it resurfaces once they’re alone.
Internalized or toxic shame causes us to blame ourselves and/or blame our partner. It can foster feelings of failure and unlovability that are hard to shake. We might feel guilty and responsible not only for our own shortcomings and actions but also for the feelings and actions of our partner; i.e., blaming ourselves for our partner’s affair. Toxic shame usually starts in childhood.
Breakups can also trigger grief that more appropriately pertains to early parental abandonment. Many people enter relationships looking for unconditional love, hoping to solve unmet needs and wounds from childhood. We can get caught in a negative “cycle of abandonment” that breeds shame, fear, and abandoning relationships. If we feel unworthy and expect rejection, we’re even liable to provoke it. Healing our past allows us to live in the present time and respond appropriately to others.
The Stages of Grief
One thing that I see over and over is that people expect themselves to just “move on.” Well-meaning friends and relatives may urge you to, only to make you feel worse. Or they devalue the ex you still love and yearn for, which can make you ashamed of your feelings or that you may still want the relationship. Many victims of abuse still miss their ex. It’s more helpful to honor your feelings and recognize that they’re normal. You may find yourself cycling through these stages of grief:
- Denial: can’t believe it’s over, the reason given, or that your ex doesn’t want or love you. Find out if you’re in denial.
- Anger: anger and resentment toward your ex, and maybe jealous of someone taking your place
- Bargaining: trying to get your ex back, even if just in your head
- Guilt: about your behavior—can be tied to the shame of feeling not enough
- Depression (including sadness)
You might feel angry in the morning and believe you’ve moved on, only to break down in tears by the afternoon. This is normal as you process your emotions. It’s natural to long for your ex more when you’re lonely, so balance alone time with activities with friends.
For optimal results, start making changes in your relationship with yourself and with others; first, with your ex. Experts agree that although it’s difficult and maybe more painful in the short-run, no contact with your former partner will help you recover sooner. Avoid calling, texting, asking others about, or checking up on your ex on social media. Doing so might give momentary relief, but reinforces obsessive-compulsive behavior and ties to the relationship.
Set boundaries with your ex. This is especially important if you will continue to co-parent. Establish rules for co-parenting. If you tend toward accommodation, defensiveness, or aggression, learn to be assertive and how to set boundaries.
- If you think you may be codependent or have trouble letting go, attend online Codependents Anonymous meetings, where you can get information and support for free. There are also online forums and chats, as well as telephone meetings nationwide.
- Although mourning is normal, continued depression is unhealthy for the health of your body and brain. If depression is hindering your work or daily activities, get a medical evaluation for a course of antidepressants lasting at least six months.
- Avoid triggers, like going to places you frequented together or listening to “our song” or love melodies. There’s a tendency to want to do this as a way to feel connected to your beloved, but it unnecessarily brings up painful feelings.
- Write letters you don’t mail to your ex to express your feelings. If you were rejected, write a dialogue with your ex. Write with your left hand to “channel” what your ex would say. This can help you see things for his or her perspective, have empathy, and accept the new reality.
- You will recover, but your actions play a considerable role in how long it takes, as well as whether you grow and better yourself from your experience.