Emily gave me a call the other day and told me that Jonathan won’t take her calls anymore. She told me that he broke up with her last month and has been slowly disconnecting from her by not following up with her calls or texts. He kindly and gently let her know that she just wasn’t right for him and he’s been a nice gentleman about it ever since.
However Emily didn’t really absorb this information very well and she continued to chase after him. We can chalk this up to Attachment Theory and maybe you may be right, but I’m not quite getting that in this situation. Jonathan is not an avoidant personality. He seems like a very stable, kind man. He was very upfront and direct that he just wasn’t interested after they had been dating for 2 months. If you’re not quite feeling it for a person you should be able to disconnect, let go and move on, sometimes relationships don’t work out and sometimes you just don’t develop those “kind of feelings” for somebody your dating. My client in this case would be Emily (the names have been changed here for privacy reasons), but even through the reading and hearing from only her perspective I could tell he was a really great guy and doing all the right things in trying to empathetically let her go, but she really needed to get the point. So what is going on here?
A while ago I heard this phrase, “rejection breeds obsession”. I’ve seen it in my own life as well as in my clients. A lot of times you can say it’s Attachment Theory, although I’d say he was a stable personality type in this case. “Rejection breeds obsession” overlaps Attachment Theory in many ways. When someone gets rejected it’s like they have to prove to themselves and others that whatever they were rejected for wasn’t true, they have to patch it up or they have to fix it whether that subconsciously or consciously. Then they become obsessed and start chasing. It is like in their minds if they can turn things around the rejection will magically heal itself, although that isn’t always the case.
What I would recommend in these instances if this is happening to your friend is first let your friend know what is happening. Enlightenment is a good starting point. If they realize what they are doing and the reality of the situation that starts to open the heart to healing and moving on. It is like a light turns on and they can see clearly again. Your friend both on the surface and underneath the surface needs to let it go, get grief healing (get to acceptance and out of the denial, bargaining, sadness, anger and depression stages), or to acknowledge that it really is over. Then you can help point them to a new path with someone else.
This overlaps a bit with my other article on “Why we want someone we can’t have”. Some of the stories may be different but the principles are still there. Once someone is enlightened to what is going on they can start moving in a new, brighter direction with someone better.
Don’t believe in scarcity, there is more than one romantic option out there!
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Firestone, Lisa, PhD. “Why Are We Hooked on Rejection?” https://www.psychalive.org/why-are-we-hooked-on-rejection-2/