Rejection Can Be Hard to Deal With

Rejectors and Rejectees Have Different Dynamics

Dear Neil: On meeting my ex-partner eight months after our short but intense relationship ended, I found that although I had worked through the cycle of shock and bitterness, she was still mired in anger and insult.

I was given no explanation at the time of our break up as to why she was leaving. I had to come to terms with it, and finally lifted its burden from my shoulders. The fact that I still occasionally feel pangs of anger is presumably due to the trauma I experienced.

What continues to puzzle me is how such a sensitive, intelligent person can one day hold someone in the highest regard, and then, for some small or irrational reason which may never be conveyed, consider them lower than low.

Perplexed in New Zealand

Dear Perplexed: It is possible that your ex-girlfriend didn’t know why she wanted to break up with you, because our real motives and emotions are often hidden to us.

It may be that she never emotionally attached or bonded to you, and was therefore never as connected or committed as you had thought.  It could be that she had a major hesitation about creating a future with you that she never let you in on, such as seeing the two of you as having different goals, interests, beliefs or lifestyles.
In addition, annoying habits, your level of education or earning potential, or different ideas about a family could also have been a factor for her as well. It is also possible that she had found someone else.

But it could be that the relationship was going too well—as strange as that may sound—and she got frightened that she was becoming too close, dependent or vulnerable to you, thus feeling the need to push away and protect herself.

In most relationships that break up, there is a rejector and a rejectee. The rejector has typically thought about what he/she finds unacceptable about the other person, and has made a decision to emotionally withdraw from and end the relationship. The rejector has thus worked through at least some of the emotions associated with breaking up, and usually sees a break up as a wise or healthy move.

The rejectee, on the other hand, typically has not worked through or resolved the emotions and issues associated with breaking up. The rejectee instantly feels a lack of control and power, and has no choice but to confront what happened, and why it happened.

The rejectee sometimes plunges into the depths of despair, grieving, hurt, anger and self-questioning. He/she—desperately trying to survive the ordeal—slowly begins to make sense of what happened, and begins the healing process.

The rejector, in the meantime, feeling more in charge of his/her life, typically has not done much soul searching about what happened in the relationship, except to blame the other person and to feel self-righteous about his or her decision to end the relationship. The rejector usually has not grieved much about the lost relationship, and has not gone very far in the healing process.

This explains why you may be mostly over the trauma of the break up and why your ex-girlfriend isn’t. Continue with your healing journey, and better luck next time.

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