Why Was Our Breakup Harder On Me Than My Ex?

Jan
2016
21

posted by on Christian Encouragement, Divorce Encouragement, Relationship Encouragement

1 comment

It seems to depend a lot upon our self-talk; upon the story we develop about what happened; and upon whether we believe that our lives are set in stone, or whether we are flexible enough to change.

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.”

It’s probably normal for us to ask ourselves, after a relationship or marriage failure: What went wrong? And, having asked that question, we usually go to work to create an answer (often with very incomplete information to work with), so we can have a story for ourselves and others. And in telling and retelling this story, we typically create an analysis of the event, according to how we perceive it to have happened.

So, we tell a story. And in some cases, this story can be positive, helping us to make sense of—and come to positive terms with this painful thing that has happened to us.  Sometimes though, our storytelling process can be very negative, where we compound our pain with self-deprecating verbiage that serves to tear us down rather than to simply tell the truth about the situation. In other words, instead of being our own best friend, we are, in our self-talk, our own worst enemy.

So, we want to look at why some people are haunted by the ghosts of their past breakup(s), often for very long periods of time, while others (sometimes our partners in these relationships) have seemed to move forward with the appearance that nothing significant has happened to them.

One of the common traits in those people who are haunted by reliving the painful narrative of a past break-up seems to be, that they are the type of person who has allowed the rejection in a past relationship to literally and permanently define who they are in life. They have assumed that their former partners have discovered something truly undesirable about them – and that undesirable personality trait will make them undesirable to everyone, forever.

For example, a person might say: “Everything was mostly fine, but then he stopped talking to me. I think I was too clingy and that scared him away.” Another might say: “She said I was too sensitive, that I push people away to avoid being pushed away first, and that behavior drove her away.” …. “I just feel rejected. I try to tell myself that it wasn’t my fault and it was their loss, but I can’t help but feel inadequate.”

So, when we are armed with this type of self-narrative, we tend to convince ourselves that our personalities are simply toxic, and all of our relationships will certainly end the same way, so we shouldn’t even try. (“No one likes me, everyone hates me, I should just go out in the garden and eat worms and die”) And if we see our former partners in a new relationship, we often ask, “Why wasn’t I good enough, what does she or he have that I don’t have?”

So, reflecting upon, and learning from a bad relationship can be healthy for us,  but it’s decidedly unhealthy for us to take this self-analysis into the place where we actually question our own worth, value and right to exist.

It’s probably normal to lose part of ourselves in an intimate relationship with another person. So when we lose that person, we lose some of our grip on ourselves.  After all, one of the greatest pleasures of being in a relationship is that we can broaden our partner’s horizons by loving them and giving into their lives, exposing them to things outside of their usual routines. And they in turn, can broaden our horizons by loving and giving into us. Therefore, the loss of a partner can make it easy for us to fall into a trap of self-deprecation, because we’ve truly lost a part of ourselves.

But allowing ourselves to fall into a pattern of beating ourselves up for an extended period of time will often create a scenario where we are ten or so years down the road, and we’re still convinced that we’re doomed to be rejected and to fail at relationships; that no one will ever love us; and our relationship history has forever defined our future lives.

And that mindset is wrong, devilish, and unnecessary because the truth is that, in this snarky twenty-first century culture, rejection is probably more common than acceptance…The fact is that rejection is everywhere; it always has been; and we simply can’t continue to be so fragile that we can’t survive.

Now, I’m not saying that you will always have lightweight, non committed relationships with the opposite sex; or that you will never again know the joy of true love. That’s cynical and unhealthy. But I am saying that we have to become more self-sufficient, more God-dependent, and more forgiving of ourselves and others.

We have to become more positive and confident in our handling of relationships and the possible rejection they bring with them. And we have to become more realistic and less hungry to lose ourselves in a relationship with another failure-prone human being. We have to become more flexible, more sturdy and more resilient in the face of pain… We have to be able to take the discomfort of sand in our faces, or we have to stay out of the sandbox until we can.

Maybe our exes seem to have gotten over our breakup better than us, not because they were healthier than us, but simply because they are insensitive cruds that we never should have been with in the first place. But regardless of that, we have to know that healthy, flexible people survive better in the real world. And we want to/we have to be more healthy people going forward.

Those are my thoughts, I welcome yours in the comments.

1 comment

  1. Lesley

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