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Stages of Rejection in Unrequited Love

Stages of Rejection in Unrequited Love.

Scholars have noticed that excluded or rejected lovers are more likely to cheat. They are less likely to help others in many ways – donating money, cooperating or even just bending over to help pick up something from the floor. As discussed in my blog Studying Rejection in Unrequited Love, this could also be a sign of depression in the unrequited lover. Does rejection really make people selfish? In some ways, but not others. Rejection leads to significant increase in self-defeating behaviours. Rejected lovers are more likely to take foolish risks instead of playing it safe. This implies that a person probably starts loving himself less after being rejected in love. Unrequited lovers procrastinated more. They make more unhealthy choices, such as becoming smokers or alcoholics. This combination presents a puzzle. Why would rejected lovers become both selfish and self-defeating? Self-interest is clearly not a full explanation. However, this gives us a cue to look at self-regulation as a crucial inner process that will help lovers overcome selfish, antisocial impulses. It also helps prevent self-defeating behaviour resulting from impulsively taking short-term gains that lead to bigger losses later.

Psychiatrists have suggested that there are two general phases of rejection: Protest and Resignation. During the Protest Phase, unrequited lovers dedicate themselves to winning their partner back.  Restless energy, insomnia, loss of appetite or binge eating, and obsessive thoughts about the beloved plague them.  Many sob; others drink too much, drive too fast, hole up and watch TV, or talk to friends and family incessantly about the evaporating partnership. I took a long time to realise the central importance of belongingness and rejection. Before psychology, my intellectual background was a mix of existentialist philosophy, humanistic, social upbringing. Hence, I had a severely individualist view of life and human behaviour. People like me mostly emphasise individualistic approaches. For example, exploring a single person’s cognitive processes in reaction to social events. For me, this approach changed when I read an article ‘The need to belong’, which made me believe that people are perpetually guided by the need to connect with other individuals. As discussed in my blog Psychology of Rejection in Unrequited Love, majority of their impulses, thoughts, emotions and behaviours are directly or indirectly rooted in that drive. Human need to belong is much deeply rooted than any other social animal. This is partially because we are shaped by nature to create and sustain culture. Here, I don’t mean the culture of a country or community. Culture as a highly complex and flexible system of the society, based on role differentiation. We have been made by nature specifically to sustain culture.

unrequited love 1 Aug 16

Intense longing, hope, regret, nostalgic reminiscing: they swing from one powerful emotion to the next.  Many suffer abandonment rage which is outbursts of fury.  And zealously they search for clues of what went wrong and how to reconcile with their wayward mate.

The sexes often have different strategies for reunion, however. Women try to seduce and they seek to talk things out with the beloved, searching to understand the situation.  Men, on the other hand, are more likely to challenge a rival, shower their lost love with presents and affection, or just attempt to look more important-buying a new car, wearing more expensive clothes, or regaling the errant lover with tales of their grand adventures. A few of them, however, find it impossible to cope with the loneliness, grief and desolation which are invariable components of unrequited love. As I have written in my blog Addicted to Grief, although emotional pain is different from physical pain, a break-up or rejection literally crushes your heart in a way that you feel it breaking inside your chest like it was physically happening. Then again you are angry at yourself for being in that situation and resort to destructive means, like smoking, drinking and in extreme cases, even attempt to commit suicide. Some unrequited lovers see just one, tragically final way of escaping the ordeal – suicide. Depression is a mood disturbance characterized by feelings of sadness, despair, and discouragement resulting from some personal loss or tragedy. It can become an abnormal emotional state and lead to exaggerated feelings of sadness, despair, and discouragement out of proportion with reality. There are four major depressive symptoms; emotional, cognitive, motivational and somatic. A depressed individual is affected by these symptoms, dependently or independently of each other. In fact, when one set begins to affect the individual another starts reinforcing the depressive effect. Eventually, the emotional and cognitive clusters affect the motivational symptoms causing paralysis of sanity and/or psychomotor retardation.

Both sexes try to make their wandering partner jealous by showing up with others. I am going to write about this in detail in my next blog. Please share your experiences and I will add them to my future blogs.

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