Let’s face it: rejection hurts. It’s one of the most painful things that can happen to anyone.
You put yourself out on the line — in a vulnerable position — and you’re swatted away.
But it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a temporary state of pain that you can get through if you have the courage.
What’s important is to ensure you’re going about healing the right way.
I’m going to explain exactly how to get over rejection from someone you love. But first, we need to understand why the rejection hurts so much in the first place.
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Why does romantic rejection hurt so much?
When you’re rejected by someone you love, it can feel like the end of the world. Your insides feel gnawed to pieces. Your heart can physically ache so much you might think you’re having a heart attack.
But why does this happen? Why can’t we simply bounce back from the pain as we would after skinning our knee on the sidewalk?
1) A broken heart physically hurts
When you experience heartbreak, your body truly feels emotional, mental, and physical pain.
In fact, when researchers examined the brains of those who had recently experienced heartache, they discovered that the same areas of their brains that experience physical pain were activated when they were shown pictures of their loved ones who rejected them.
That’s right — the rejection was being processed as physical pain.
The good news is that this physical pain can actually be lessened with Tylenol! Research has shown that (in moderate doses over 3 weeks), Tylenol can lower the pain of heartache.
2) Your stress hormones are surging
Romantic rejection leads to a massive surge of adrenaline and cortisol in your bloodstream. Cortisol is a stress hormone that inhibits certain unnecessary functions during the “fight-or-flight” state, while boosting your glucose stores — giving you energy in a dangerous situation.
Unfortunately, when you are under chronic stress (from too much cortisol for too long), you can have muscle pain, headaches, trouble sleeping, and appetite troubles.
When taken to the extreme, you can give yourself a stroke or a heart attack.
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Romantic rejection can linger with us for far longer than a physical altercation (for reasons I’ll touch on in a minute), meaning that we are subjected to these stress hormones for a longer time — increasing their negative side effects.
3) The “love drug” has been cut off.
Ke$ha was on to something when she sang “your love is my drug.”
When you’re in love, you experience surges in dopamine and serotonin, which are powerful mood boosters.
When the relationship is yanked out from underneath your feet, the positive hormones are similarly turned off.
This drop-in dopamine and serotonin can lead to mood swings, irritability, and depression.
In fact, in a study of 114 people who had been rejected by a romantic partner in the last 8 weeks, 40% experienced measurable levels of depression. 12% had moderate to severe depression.
4) We’re wired to have pain from rejection
Here’s a crazy truth-bomb: we’re evolutionarily hardwired to have pain from rejection.
Hear me out: scientists theorize that, as social animals, true communal rejection would be a death sentence for early humans. You’d be kicked out of the group to fend for yourself.
As humans are cooperative, pack hunters + gatherers, this would likely prove fatal.
As a result, we are hardwired to avoid rejection when possible.
And one of the ways to avoid a true “social rejection” is to overreact to any loss of human bonds.
In other words, our brains see romantic rejection as a flashing warning light that we are in mortal danger of being ostracized from the safety of our group.
This is also why we ruminate on rejection for so long. We carry the weight of emotional pain for far longer than our physical pain.
Because it is rooted in our brains trying to protect us from being ostracized from our community.
It might hurt, but it’s actually our brains protecting us.
Small wins, right?
5) You’re grasping for a logical explanation
Humans like logical explanations for events.
When someone you love rejects you, you automatically search for rational explanations to explain why the rejection occurred.
Unfortunately, most breakups and rejections aren’t so easy to understand. They often rest on a complicated set of emotions, events, and desires that ultimately weigh out to mean the relationship isn’t feasible.
That leaves the rejectee in a state of confusion, grasping for a clean, simple explanation as to “why it didn’t work.” The reality is that this “clean, simple explanation” will never come, and the rejectee will remain in a state of psychological limbo.
As long as you keep searching for the “what ifs” and the “whys,” you won’t be able to move on with your life. It’s tough to hear, but simply accepting that the relationship ended is one of the first steps to recovery.
6) Your insecurities are unleashed
This goes hand-in-hand with “grasping for a logical explanation.” When you’re rejected, you often start to think that something must be wrong with me.
Then, you start scanning yourself, trying to figure out what is wrong with you.
“It’s because I’m less attractive than her friend.”
“It’s because I don’t have a good job.”
“It’s because I’m too clingy.”
This is unhealthy. What we’re doing is assigning more meaning to the rejection than the rejection itself.
We’ve just doubled our emotional pain.
How can you get over rejection?
To quote The Bee Gees, “How can you mend a broken heart?”
Great question. And there’s no silver bullet. But there are many positive steps that you can take to get over rejection from someone you love.
1) Don’t emotionally beat yourself up
It’s positive to do an autopsy of “what went wrong,” inasmuch that it’ll improve your future relationships.
If your ex-boyfriend broke up with you after he realized you wanted kids and he did not, then you know that you should look for suitors who want children.
If you were emotionally unavailable and your ex-girlfriend needed more emotional support, you can look into figuring out how to open up yourself more in the future.
But, there’s a limit to how much autopsying is productive. Replaying events over and over in your mind only exists to work yourself into a negative frenzy.
At that point, you’re emotionally beating yourself up.
It’s a fine line between the two, but you have to work hard to acknowledge what went wrong, and then accept that you cannot change the past. Don’t punish yourself ad nauseum for the rejection.
Instead, take the lessons, and look to the future.
2) Reach out to your network
When you face rejection from someone you love, you lose a vital human relationship. To help balance yourself in this tumultuous time, you should reach out to your friends and family to gain their emotional support.
This could mean talking out your pain to a friend over a beer (I’ve been there), or it could be doing a fun activity with your family (laser tag anyone?).
No matter if you’re digging through your pain or simply cutting loose with your friends, you’re strengthening those critical social bonds, which will help your brain turn off its “rejection alarm,” and help you build up your friendships in the process.
3) Accept your feelings
Have you seen The Babadook? No spoilers, but the whole movie is an allegory for dealing with your emotional baggage.
When you try to bury your pain, bad things happen.
I’m not saying that you’ll have a literal monster stalk you if you don’t accept your feelings, but it will make moving on that much harder.
It’s ok to be sad. Accept the sadness.
It’s ok to be confused, it’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to be jealous.
All of these negative emotions are valid. Accept that they have entered your brain.
From there, it’s up to you to choose how to act on these emotions. And there are certain actions that are much more healthy than others.
4) Get some exercise
This is an action you can take that will make a positive impact. Physical exercise lowers stress, boosts your mood, and helps you get in shape.
Rejection brings about insecurity. Exercise strengthens us and brings about quantifiable physical changes that can bring about feelings of confidence.
As long as you’re not overexerting yourself and you’re eating healthily, exercise can be a very productive choice for getting over rejection from someone you love.
5) Examine the positives
Every cloud has a silver lining. When you face rejection, you can choose to focus on the cloud (deep abiding sadness) or you can focus on the silver lining.
Think about the lessons that you learned from the relationship. Did your ex show you how to be a better listener? Did you learn a skill throughout your relationship? Amazing! You get to keep that forever.
Additionally, think of the positives now facing you. The fact is that that person wasn’t right for you. Now, you have the opportunity to find the right person for you.
That’s amazing — you get to go find the love of your life.
Too soon to be thinking about dating again? It’s also the perfect time to discover yourself.
6) Get to know yourself
If you’ve been rejected, chances are that you’ve spent a great amount of emotional effort on the person who rejected you.
Now’s the chance to redirect that energy toward yourself.
Take yourself out on a date! Dive into your hobbies. If you’re an avid gamer, get yourself that hot new game you’ve had your eye on. If you’re a quilter, then whip out those scraps and channel that grief into a blanket.
7) Learn a new skill
What better time for self-improvement than the present? Think of rejection as redirection, giving you ample time to work on a skill you’ve wanted to improve.
Download Duolingo and make headway on finally learning German. Teach yourself how to woodwork!
Heck, take a class that helps boost your career.
Odds are that rejection has given your self-confidence a blow. That’s ok. Redirect that insecurity into boosting your skills. It will make you a more well-rounded individual and increase your confidence at the same time.
8) Talk to somebody
If your pain has become unbearable, it is a good idea to speak with a professional. As I said earlier, romantic rejection can lead to clinical depression. Clinical depression is effectively treated through therapy, so there’s no shame in speaking with a therapist about your heartbreak.
9) Give yourself time
There’s no magic way to speed up the pain of rejection. You’re going to need time. Grant yourself the gift of understanding that you’ll need time to process your pain. Don’t get angry at yourself for “not getting over it” in a predetermined amount of time.
Instead, acknowledge the pain that you feel, while understanding that this state will be temporary.
You will emerge victorious!
What not to do when you’re rejected
It can be tempting to give in to your baser instincts when you face rejection, but these short-term feel-goods can inhibit your path to healing and self-growth.
Here’s what to avoid when getting over rejection from someone you love.
It’s one thing to grab a few drinks with some buddies to unwind and build some social ties. It’s quite another to down a six-pack in your bedroom by yourself, wallowing in misery.
As mentioned earlier, rejection turns off the supply of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, making you crave feel-good experiences. This can quickly lead to a dangerous state of abusing substances in order to elevate your mood.
Rushing into a new relationship
After rejection, your brain will be looking to replace that supply of serotonin and dopamine. An easy solution is to jump into a new relationship.
This is what professionals call a “rebound.”
65% of rebound relationships fail within 6 months. The reason is that the “rebounder” has not taken the time to address the psychological wounds caused by the rejection.
Instead, they’re treating the rebound relationship as an emotional band-aid.
Rebound relationships can be ok if both partners are looking for something casual, or if both partners understand that the relationship is a rebound (it’s good to be on the same page).
Usually, this is not the case — which often leads to feelings of shame for both the rebounder and the reboundee.
Give yourself the time to grieve and heal from your relationship before jumping into the next one.
Ignore your pain
Don’t pretend that you’re not hurting. You have to accept and embrace that you suffered rejection and understand that it takes time to heal from that.
It’s ok — allow yourself to grieve. You can’t skip over the healing process; you can only delay it.
If you truly want to get over rejection, you have to embrace the pain and truth of your situation.
Pretend that you didn’t have a part to play
Look: don’t beat yourself up over the romantic rejection. That’s unhelpful.
But you’re doing yourself a disservice if you simply pretend that you had no role to play. Relationships are a two-way street. You have to acknowledge your shortcomings, so that you can learn from them.
Again, don’t dwell on your failures, but use them as tools for self-growth. Your future relationships will thank you.
Learn love and intimacy
If you want to learn how to get over rejection from someone you love, you owe it to yourself to learn how to bring personal power to the foundation of your relationships.
Contemporary shaman Ruda Iande has released a free masterclass on love and intimacy where he shows you how to break free of codependent relationships, plant yourself as the center of your life, and project an aura of personal power.
It’s an excellent class that helps you move forward from heartbreak with a positive, self-improvement mindset.
Conclusion: You can get over rejection from someone you love
Rejection hurts. It’s that simple. There’s no single, magic method to get over this pain.
But, you can get through it. Use the rejection as an opportunity to invest in personal growth and to rebuild your social ties.
You’ll emerge stronger, more confident, and better equipped for your next romantic relationship.
It may feel like the end of the world, but I promise it’s not.
Embrace your pain. Embrace yourself.