When someone you care about ends a relationship, it can evoke feelings that range from disbelief to despair and everything in between. “How could this happen?” you think. “There must be something wrong with me.”
The same is true when someone with whom you’d like to explore a relationship doesn’t return the interest. “I thought I had a lot to offer—but maybe not.” When this happens—and we say “when” because it happens to nearly everyone—it’s easy to interpret the event as a painful rejection of the most personal kind. This interpretation isn’t merely hurtful; it can limit your future happiness, creating wounds and barriers that—if unchecked—can keep you from finding true love in the future.
For these reasons and more, when you’re interested in someone and that relationship ends (or doesn’t begin) it’s important to embrace a healthy perspective on what has just occurred. Here are some considerations to help you do just that:
1. Just the facts, ma’am. When a relationship comes to an unfortunate end, stick to the facts. Avoid piling on self-deprecating opinions like “This means I’m not worth loving,” or “Now I’ll never find someone to love,” or “I must not be very attractive.” These messages are not only untrue, but they can also generate even more pain than the loss of the person you cared about. In fact, if you find yourself more upset about what this breakup “says about you” than about the loss of the person you cared about, you are clearly heaping on self-condemnation and it’s time to alter your self-talk, even if that means seeking therapy to help you embrace a positive perception.
2. Realize that sometimes love simply runs out. When a breakup happens, that doesn’t mean you are flawed, nor does it mean you’ve failed. It may not even be about you at all. Sometimes, in the early stages, love just fades. It’s not necessarily about either partner. This is why it’s rarely wise to make a lifetime commitment within weeks of falling in love—the feeling may dissipate. It takes time to see if the love you share is the permanent kind. And if it’s not, it isn’t a statement about you at all. It simply means the relationship ran its course, and it’s better to discover that while dating than after a trip down the aisle.
3. Typically, breakups are more about a clash in vision than they are about any one person. Choosing to end a relationship usually occurs when one partner realizes something is out of sync with his or her vision for the future. We all have expectations about what we want from a long-term relationship, and sometimes reality doesn’t match up with those expectations. When that happens, it doesn’t mean that YOU are deficient or inadequate in some way; it simply means that WE together don’t have the necessary ingredients for an enduring partnership.
When someone you care about ends a relationship or declines to start one at all, the loss of that real (or potential) partnership is painful enough. So don’t add to the hurt by buying into the myth that it’s all about you.