02/22/2012 02:31 EST | Updated 04/23/2012 05:12 EDT

How to Survive Being Dumped


One of the worst things that can happen to a person is to be dumped. By "dumped" I mean when you're dating someone or in a relationship with them and then all of a sudden, they decide that they don't want to see you anymore.

It hurts to be rejected, and often, it makes you wonder what you did wrong. You might even begin to think that there's something unattractive or undesirable about you.

Being dumped can bring up a lot of self-doubt. You could start thinking that you're too fat or too scrawny; that you talk too much, or you're too quiet. You might imagine that you're not enough fun, or that you're not serious enough. All of these things are possible, but more than likely, the reasons that you were dumped were about the other person and not you.

There's a big difference between a breakup that's the result of a relationship that's been gradually deteriorating and a breakup that comes out of the blue. When things aren't going well with a couple, it's not such a big surprise when one person finally decides to pack it in. It might be disappointing (or perhaps a huge relief), but it's not a shock.

When someone you've been seeing suddenly ends things, however, you have to know that often the breakup is really about them. It's most likely the result of thoughts that had been rumbling around in their mind for a while. This might be a conscious process, but it's just as likely that it was all happening beneath the surface of their conscious awareness.

Understanding the mechanisms behind the sudden ending of a relationship might help you see that although no one is perfect, you don't necessarily have to blame yourself for a relationship going sour.

Of course, it always pays to look inward and ask yourself if indeed, there might have been something that you were doing that could have precipitated a breakup. If you were overly demanding, too clingy, extremely touchy, or unreasonable, these behaviours could have alienated the other person.

Other behaviours that might lead to a breakup include being too dramatic, seeing yourself as overly entitled, or being too pushy or passive. After a breakup, it's worth examining your actions so that you can learn from your mistakes and do better the next time.

If, however, you've searched your soul and can't find evidence of any off-putting behaviours, and you feel that you were warm, caring, and reasonable, you can probably rest assured that things have ended because of something to do with the other person.

So why would someone suddenly pull the plug on what seemed to be going well? Possibly, they have fears of intimacy, or maybe they don't want to be "tied down." Maybe they have unreasonable expectations of some sort of fantasy love object who'll fulfill all their co-dependency needs. Another reason might be indirectly related to you, though. The other person might see you as too smart, too competent or too capable.

They might be intimidated by your intelligence and abilities, and feel like you'll show them up. They might feel like they can't have the upper hand in a relationship with someone as clever as you. Perhaps they're a bit controlling and they realize that you're too self-confident and independent for them to be able to push you around. Maybe they're insecure and can't tolerate being around anyone as attractive and successful as you.

When the person you've been seeing can't handle who you are, dumping you is really a sign that they know that they won't be able to interact with you in the dysfunctional way they'd like to. If you've looked inside and can't see anything that you might have done to precipitate a breakup, it's highly likely that being dumped was an indication of how great you are, rather than your inadequacy.

If you want to survive being dumped, you need to stop beating yourself up. If there was something that you did that lead to the breakup, this is your opportunity to learn from your mistakes. If there was nothing that you did wrong, however, you should see that the person who dumped you has done you a favour. If they're unable to be with someone as great as you, you would have quickly discovered that they weren't someone you'd want to waste your time with, either.

(C) Marcia Sirota MD