It's called relationship-contingent-self-esteem, and it ain't pretty. A classic RCSE-inflicted person feels like their worth has all but diminished if things don't work out in their romantic relationships.
University of Houston researchers analyzed the 14-day diary entries of 198 heterosexual participants and tracked the mood highs and lows. Those who suffered from RCSE felt unusually low about themselves as a whole if things were going poorly in their relationship.
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Now, a little bit of this is normal. Nobody likes the feeling of a dying romance, but the difference between someone with healthy boundaries and someone without them is whether they can separate themselves from the negative occurrences in their love lives. A big red flag is a dwindled self image even if the person in question is clearly in the right.
"It's as if it doesn't matter why the negative occurrence happens or who was at fault," University of Houston researcher, Chip Knee, said. "The partners with stronger RCSE still feel badly about themselves."
I'm sure after reading the above, everyone can name a handful of shrews who fit this description. An argument leaves them bed-ridden and a break-up can send them to a suicide hotline. In fact, we've probably all set up amateur psychologist offices nursing an RSCE friend through a break-up or suffered crazy pants behavior from a scorned ex.
As Knee says, "When something happens in a relationship, these individuals don't separate themselves from it. They immediately feel personally connected to any negative circumstance in a relationship and become anxious, more depressed and hostile."
There isn't much in the study that addresses what to do if you find yourself sharing spit and bed space with one of these RCSE specimen, other than recognizing it early on and writing it off as the two if you being "incompatible."
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Sounds like a plan.