As a 29 year old woman who’s spent the majority of the past 12 years dating, I know a thing or two about rejection.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of one of those texts before. Wether it’s as harsh as getting dumped publicly (read that one here), as gentle as the ‘sorry – it’s just bad timing’ message or even the overused ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ excuse – getting dumped is a form of rejection. And rejection always sucks.
Whatever the phrasing, however considered or brushed off or drafted the message is, it all hurts… especially the ones that seemingly come out of the blue. At their core, these are messages of rejection – rejection of you as a person, as a potential mate, as a partner… at least, that’s how it feels.
For the purpose of this article, let me clarify what I mean when I talk about being ‘dumped’. I mean any variation of the above mentioned messages. I mean feeling vulnerable and opening up to a person, only to have them turn their back on you. By dumped I mean when you’ve been on a couple of dates or been seeing each other for a few weeks, and then the person decides that you’re not their cup of tea, after all. I’m not really talking about divorce, or when you’ve been seeing each other for years – I can’t really comment on that – I’ve never made it that far.
This is what getting dumped feels like for a 29 year old woman searching for love, trying to let down her wall that’s been built over many years of disappointment, and not having much luck.
Disclaimer: I may have been listening to Dido’s White Flag when I started writing this post. Don’t judge me.
The Roller Coaster of Raging Emotions
When I get dumped (the last time was last Wednesday) I experience a myriad of emotions that I believe might rival those of a schizophrenic. In the space of a few hours I can deeply feel such a broad range of emotions
I give myself whip lash. One minute I’m crying hysterically over the fact that I’m seemingly not good enough, again… the next minute I’m pacing around my apartment laughing like a wild woman because I’m so much better off and that mofo doesn’t know what a big mistake he made… HUGE. The next minute I remember that he said he’s going through some personal shit, and the timing is so off, and I am struck with genuine concern for him – and want to reach out and ask if he’s ok, if there’s anything I can do to help. Whatever the order of emotions, and whether this part of the dumping last for a few hours or a few days, I can almost guarantee I’ll feel all of the above, at some point.
The return of Negative Nelly
I consider myself a pretty happy and confident person (except when I’m hungry at a restaurant and I can’t find anything on the menu that I want to order). Even though I’m living my best life, I still go through a severe phase of negative self talk after a dumping. And it sucks, and I know I shouldn’t be doing it, and I know *most* of what I’m saying is horrendous and atrocious and simply not even remotely true… but I’ve just had my confidence shattered – I’ve just been dumped.
Phrases such as ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you’re too chubby’, ‘you’re not self confident enough’, ‘you’re too self confident’… they all weasel themselves into my brain and I feel it in my heart.
I even catch myself feeling sorry for myself.
I mutter phrases such as ‘you’re pathetic,’ ‘you’ll grow old alone,’ ‘you’re the only single one at this event’. It’s disgusting, and if I have a daughter one day I would be absolutely mortified if I knew these thoughts were racing through her head.
But the reality is – even the most confident person is rattled when they are told they are not loved. Especially if you are being your authentic self, with nothing to hide and nothing to prove.
I don’t have the answers and I won’t tell you not to think this way – because sometimes, you just can’t help it. I will tell you, however, that although I allow myself to indulge in this phase, I rarely let it carry on for more than a day or two. After a night or two of crying myself to sleep and wanting to rip my own brain out of my skull (thank the lord for my DoTerra oils!), I try and refocus on all the positive bits about me, and what I have achieved. It’s fucking hard, I know. The part where I try rip myself out of my Negative Nelly persona this time was the construction of a gratitude wall. I kinda like it – and I think we’ll keep it up as a reminder of all the things we’re blessed to have (of course my sister got involved – she’s an angel).
Experience makes you wiser
A weird thing has happened as I’ve gotten older. Getting dumped has become simultaneously easier and more difficult. Being dumped many times over the years is not all bad news… experience makes you wiser… Let me break it down for you in a pros and cons type list.
The cons of being an experienced Dumpee
- time is ticking (your biological clock is ticking so loud you have to wear ear muffs to bed)
- more pressure – from family (why are you still single, you’re too picky! – read that rant here), from friends (this one is often innocent – but somehow you’re still the only single one at the BBQ and the only one without that plus one on the engagement invite), yourself (but seriously – what the fuck is wrong with me?)
- each time you get dumped you want to add another brick to your wall, and each new time you catch feels you feel extra vulnerable, because you’ve been here before – and you remember how much it hurts to lose it
- it gets that little bit harder to remember that there’s nothing wrong with you – even though one read through this blog and a sift through the social community assures you that *there isn’t anything wrong with you*… you’re fabulous girlfriend (note to self – read this post next time you get dumped)
- it reduces your tolerance for bullshit. I can assure you that most of the people calling me ‘fussy’ ended up with their husband or wife after far less than 12 years dating. I have been around, been treated like trash and treated like a queen – it’s because of all these experiences I know what I want and what I deserve, and why I’ll wait for it… but it does make you a little less tolerant, and that’s not always a good thing
- you begin to compare. For example if a guy who *genuinely* likes you doesn’t reply for a few hours, your mind automatically goes to that dude you met at the bar who you dated for a few weeks and the night he dumped you after he didn’t reply to your text for a few years… and you bring on anxiety and unfair comparisons – this is a massive con of having too much experience.
The pros of being an experienced Dumpee
- you’ve been here before. You’re a seasoned pro! You know time heals all wounds. You know this is a phase and you know you’ll be ok. Maybe not tomorrow – but you will be.
- You get to a point that if you’re going to be dumped, you’d rather know sooner rather than later. This helps to remember when I’ve been dumped – I recognise the hurt and recognise how much worse it could have been 6 or 12 months down the track and I think Thank God this dip shit dumped me now and not 9 months down the track when I was even more invested and we had worked out each other’s favourite sex positions…! – See, silver lining to every situation…
I truly am sorry the pros list is so much shorter than the cons list but I’m not a fucking miracle worker – I’m just giving it to you straight… and they say it’s always better to finish with a pro…
Be kind to yourself
Usually when I get rejected I literally don’t know what to do with myself. Instead of calling myself more names, I have learnt that this is now part of my process.
Do I want the comfort of my mum or the mayhem of my family to drown out this feeling? Do I want to get shit face wasted (hint: mostly, yes)? Do I want to reply with an abusive text, or screen shot his message and send it to everyone in my address book? Do I want to reach out to the last person I matched with on Bumble and ask him around for sex? Do I need a girls takeaway and wine night or do I just want to be alone? I want all of these things, and I want them all in the space of about 47 minutes. Don’t beat yourself up. Chuck on Clean Bandit’s Tears (What a fucking break up anthem!!!!), eat that ice cream, drink that red wine, surround yourself with good people and make time for things that make your soul smile…You’ve just been dumped – and it’s ok to be a little crazy.
You are so normal.
And you – you are fabulous, girlfriend.