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 Dealing with Rejection: The Nine Phases

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Dealing with Rejection: The Nine Phases

If you are the one who is being dumped, be prepared for the "stages" of rejection. While the pain may be awful, each stage is part of the healing process. The stages generally follow the sequence described in the following bulleted list, but the steps can alternate with each other. Dealing with rejection is a lot like dealing with other kinds of loss, and the stages are similar:

THE DENIAL PHASE: "This can't be happening." During this stage you may find yourself waiting for the phone to ring, not believing that the relationship is actually over.

SOLUTION: Acknowledge reality and acknowledge your feelings about it. Accept but do not dwell on shame and embarrassment, and all the "shoulda/woulda/coulda's" (I should have known better," "I could have been sexier").

THE BARGAINING PHASE: Driving yourself crazy, thinking that "If I get my hair cut," or "If I just let him have sex more often," or "If I don't call her for a week," he will change his mind.

SOLUTION: There's only one solution: Accept that it's over.

THE LONELINESS PHASE: Feeling as if no one understands or cares.

SOLUTION: Surround yourself with people who do care, and who openly say so. Remind yourself often that you are loved.

THE HEARTBREAK PHASE: Feeling like your heart is really breaking. You may even feel pain in your chest, or want to throw up when you think of that person or if you see your ex with someone else.

SOLUTION: You can go on. Rub your hand over your heart to soothe it. If you are feeling really bad, snap your fingers to interrupt the thought, and fixate on something that makes you happy. Do not drive yourself crazy with thoughts that your ex is blissfully happy while you're miserable. Only your experience counts, and only your efforts make you happy.

THE BLAME PHASE: Pointing the finger at yourself or your ex for what each of you did wrong.

SOLUTION: Decide that neither of you is at fault but that both of you are responsible for the breakup.

THE DEPRESSION PHASE: Feeling sad, worthless, and foolish. You may have trouble eating and sleeping, and you may imagine that you'll never find anyone to love again.

SOLUTION: Allow yourself to feel your pain, but do not wallow in self-pity. Keep busy with exercise or projects.

THE ANGER PHASE: Feeling furious for being rejected.

SOLUTION: Allow yourself to experience the anger, but don't exaggerate it, or tack it onto all your past hurts. Don't let yourself become bitter.

THE ACCEPTANCE PHASE: Finally believing it's over. You no longer expect your ex to call, and you begin to feel at peace.

THE HEALING PHASE: Getting your life back. You are now ready to go out with friends and to meet new people, and you are no longer dwelling on your ex.


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