Rejection always hurts.
From the lack of an invite to a classmate’s party to the failure of a job offer, we feel the pain of being dismissed.
And when that rejection slip comes from our partner?
Let’s just say the pain is searing. Unescapable.
fMRI results have shown that the agony of rejection follows the same neural pathways as physical pain. It is real. And it can be devastating.
We all have an innate drive to want to be accepted. To be recognized and wanted. As social creatures, we have evolved to need the group and to fear being ostracized.
The worst feeling in the world is not to be seen and hated. It is to be invisible and discarded.
When rejection from relative strangers occurs, we often rationalize the reasons:
“I wasn’t invited to the party because she is a stuck-up snob.”
“They didn’t accept my proposal because they’re short-sighted morons.”
“He didn’t call me back because he lost my number.”
“I was passed over for the job because I am over-qualified.”
It’s easy to perform this ego-preserving mental choreography when we do not intimately know the rejector and the rejector does not fully know us. We can depersonalize the experience, shifting the reasons for the refusal to the other person while protecting our own sense of self and worth.
But when the rejection comes from the one that knows you best?
The one that promised he or she would always be there?
The one with whom you felt safe exposing your deepest fears and greatest vulnerabilities?