He wanted the relationship to continue; She didn’t. She chose someone else. It hurt. He didn’t understand.
Romantic rejection is one thing, but being rejected as a friend too. That is even more painful
“No I can’t see you for coffee.”
“No I am busy.”
“My life is just too hectic.”
Yet, she had time for everyone else. He ran into her at the gym with someone she barely knew. He heard about her going away for the weekend.
She was not busy, he was just not the person she wanted to spend any time with. She no longer valued him, wanted to talk to him or prioritized him. He was no longer special to her. He lost access. Someone else took his place.
He was rejected even as a friend, and he was a good friend. In fact, he considered her one of his best friends. Supported her in all the ways good friends do: supported her choices, had her back, helped financially and thought about how he could help or be of service to her in any way.
When his friends and everyone else said, “She is not the best person,” he stuck up for her. He knew who she was, and she was perfect and wonderful to him. She hurt him, but he kept-on loving her anyway.
His friends, and even myself at times, thought he was crazy, but he loved her. How did she react? She barely took notice at all and sometimes seemed annoyed by it all. She could take or leave him and if not for his efforts, they would not have spoken at all.
What do you do?
I am writing this blog because as a life coach, physician and friend to so many who have been heart broken; I believe it is talked about all wrong and not enough. It is one of those things that sticks with us for years and years after impacting our lives often in negative ways.
The above scenario is exactly what happened to one of my closest friends. I had to coach him through it, but in the end, he ended up coaching me. Teaching me a valuable lesson by the way he handled this. As I look back, he defined for me a new way to think about heartbreak and love. I now give people different advice on how to handle these types of losses.
I want to give you a different perspective on your heartache. The view that: allows him to go-on-loving this person, who rejected him on every level. The perspective that: allowed him to use the lessons as a catalyst for personal growth.
As a result of this past romantic hurt and rejection, he is more well-adjusted, more considerate, more optimistic, more understanding, way more honest and most especially: more equipped to love than he had ever been previously.
As a result of this past relationship, his current relationships, both romantic and otherwise, are stronger, more honest, healthier and more rewarding; And the most remarkable thing: he never let himself stop loving that person….he loves her still.
It’s a pretty amazing feat I know. Most people I have worked with go the other way. They often become “damaged goods” for years to come. I don’t want that for you, and that is why I wrote this blog.
The chosen one
It feels amazing to be the chosen one doesn’t it? You are that person’s other and you share everything. There is something intoxicating about being chosen in that way.
About three and a half years after this “breakup,” I was having a conversation with my friend. I asked him, “How are you doing with everything, man?”
He said, “I have discovered something interesting about her, me and everyone else.” What he came up with changed everything about the way I view this.
Before I tell you what he said, I need to give you a little background, otherwise you won’t understand where he was coming from.
When he got together with this person they were both with other people, but the connection was strong and intense. They had something special (so he thought…more on that in a minute), and they quickly became immersed in this new relationship confessing their love and admiration. It was wonderful for him, and when I talk to him he can easily go back to that place.
But it ended with her distancing herself, being dishonest and ultimately meeting another guy in much the same way as she met him. Then, in what I regard as one of the cruelest stories of life and happenstance, he was forced to hear about and even watch this person he loved go through a series of relationships in quick succession, and over the next few years, utterly and completely have her life fall apart. He ached for her in two ways. He missed her and he wanted to help. He could not understand why she would not choose him again and why she wanted nothing to do with him.
Ironically, he had two close friends who were also very close with the family of this woman he loved. So, in the worst of all possible scenarios, while trying to get over her, he had to hear about all that was happening with the other men in her life.
One of the more devastating things that would happen to him is, through sheer coincidence (although he swears it can’t be just coincidence as often as it happened), he would see her with her new men in places he had been with her. Places he considered “their place.”
This whole story gets even more bizarre, in terms of all he was privy to that he wishes he wasn’t. If my friend were a religious guy, he probably would have called this divine intervention. It felt like someone or something wanted him to have this painful learning experience.
Over a few quick years, he went from believing he had this special bond with this person to watching her continue to reject him, but try to reproduce that bond again and again with other people. Suffice it to say this was the worst of all possible scenarios for his emotional health.
So what did he tell me he discovered from all of this that blew my mind? It went something like this:
“Jade, what I have realized is that we think we are choosing our romantic partners because of who they are. We think we fall in love with them because they are so great. We even search these people out and think, oh man, they are so cute or intelligent or funny. We imprint our idealistic views of what a partner is on to them.
What we don’t realize is that what we are really doing is constructing an ideal version of ourselves, using them or through them. It’s all very unconscious. It’s as if we say to ourselves, “I can be the best version of myself with this person. I sure do like them,” Or “I like who I am with this person. They must be the one for me,” Or “I have no baggage with this person and can start fresh.”
And of course sometimes, in its most unhealthy version, “I can just escape into pleasure with this person and use them like a drug to forget my shitty life.” We are essentially looking at ourselves through the mirror these “others” create for ourselves.
And in doing that it is not them who we actually are falling in love with, but rather our alter ego, idealized self. We are falling in love with who we become in the relationship. And this is why it is so hard when we are rejected. When things end we are left without the ability to love ourselves since these other people were doing that for us. It is as if we are saying to ourselves, I am not good enough. I don’t measure up. Their rejection mirrors our self-rejection.
It’s the reason why someone can go from one relationship to the next and the next doing the same things, using the same words, revisiting the same places as old relationships and falling in false love so quickly again and again.”
This insight immediately rang true for me in my own past romantic hardships and those I have counseled others through.
They fall into “false love” because it’s not the person of their desire they don’t know how to love, it’s themselves.
Does everyone do this? Of course not, but I believe it is going on to some degree for us all. We love a person the most when they allow us to see how wonderful we are through their eyes.
All relationships eventually hit rough patches. You can always find someone prettier. She can always find another tall, dark and handsome. But will she find herself? Is the relationship you are choosing helping you grow and love yourself more?
False love is using others as a means to fill a gap in your own love of self. True love, is loving that person fully and unconditionally for who they are (all the dysfunctional shit included) without the projection of your own needs.
Through my friend’s experience, I have come to see that true love is not so easily abandoned as this false love. He fell in true love with her. I suspect she fell in false love with him.
My friend’s love was real and stuck while his exes may not have been real and did not stick because of two things:
What to do
Now some of you might be thinking, “Jade, what the hell is wrong with this guy?” I may have agreed with you in the past and have told him on numerous occasions he is crazy. But I have come around to see that the way he was in that relationship, and the way he still loves her, is exactly the way it should be and is a far healthier place to be than the reverse.
He is not carrying baggage. He does not lose sleep. He is not pining over her. He just loves, and that means just what it means and he is content to let her try to find that love for herself too and has zero expectations about ever seeing her again. He is not putting up walls to others and he is open to everyone he sees and meets.
I said he loved her, I did not say he does not have boundaries (a topic for another blog).
What about the emotions?
One of the things I think you will find most helpful is how he deals with the emotions of it all?
I once asked him, “Bro seriously, How do you do it? If I were you I don’t think I could hold this kind of esteem and stay in love in this way given all the shit you have witnessed?”
His technique is actually pretty simple. First, his view is that to deny what you really feel or turn it into another emotion just because you are hurt, or can’t have it your way, is childish and psychologically destructive.
“We feel heartache because our hearts ache. They ache due to our lack of self-love and they ache for the loss of the person we love who allows us to more easily love ourselves.”
When that emotion hits, he says it is actually very simple. You just turn inward and say to yourself? “I love who I am and I am going to continue to be my best self.” He says that the emotional pain always points to where you are lacking in accepting or loving yourself when you explore them, as opposed to ignoring them.
He told me about a time he was talking to a friend, who knew all the inside information about his ex. This friend told him what was happening and he literally welled up with hurt, then anger and more hurt after realizing he was lied to. But when he asked himself, “what do I really feel?,” it had nothing to do with what his ex was doing, but everything to do with his own feelings of not being worthy.
He said, “no one can reject you unless you allow it.” I know that sounds like backward new-age speak, but what he meant was: no one can make you feel rejected unless you reject yourself. When he recognized this insight, he actually stopped feeling bad for himself and his heart started aching for his ex instead. He realized she was doing what she was doing because she doesn’t see how incredible she is the way he does. He perhaps loves her more than she loves herself (a dangerous relationship to get into and a topic for another blog). She was rejecting herself, which explained the string of men and her avoidance of him. After all, he thinks she is incredible and wonderful and that is something only a solid emotional state can embrace. It’s a lot to live up to when another person thinks so highly of you.
Now when he feels the emotions of that loss or any loss, he feels it, looks inside to see if it is trying to point anything out to him. Whether it is or not, he just deeply sends his ex all the mental/emotional love he can muster for her. He feels how much he loves her and then he lets it go and moves on. No baggage. No “woe is me.” Just a complete honest internal acknowledgment of how he feels projected to her, and then he goes through his day. As a result, he is happier, more open and more in love with himself and his life.
Here’s what my friend taught me and I would like to give you: three philosophies/strategies/mindsets for cultivating self-love from the pain of lost love:
*The way you love someone who no longer loves you? Send them that love every time you think of them, and then go through your day and let it go. The pain won’t last forever. It never does. And this is a far healthier process.
*A broken heart does not mean you are weak, it means you have bled for something you believed in. It’s not a curse. Own it and wear it like a badge of honor.
*Losing love from another is part of the process to finding love for self. Never let past hurts keep you from going after what you want. Only a person with the emotions of a child puts walls up in this way. All that does is ensure you will never love nor be loved again. Don’t allow it ever!
I hope this is helpful to those who need it right now.
I wish you the best in health and relationships.