The Real Reason Rejection Hurts So Much

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Don't apologize for feeling terrible.

If you have ever felt devastated by rejection, you are not alone. Recent research shows why: our brains don’t know the difference between the emotional pain of being rejected and actual physical pain.

Erin dated John for six months. While he was still checking her out, she was falling deeply in love. Finally, he couldn't deny the reality: they weren't on the same page, and it wasn't going to change. So he broke up with her, giving her the typical dating-stuck-in-the-friend-zone excuse: that he just didn’t see it going anywhere. This, in spite of the fact that they'd been sleeping together since their 4th date. She felt devastated and deeply rejected.

When Erin tried to tell her friends and family how badly she felt, they downplayed her pain, and pointed to the fact that she'd only known John for six months and that he wasn’t such a big deal anyway. But her pain was real, and it turns out, being rejected really is one of the worst kinds of pain, even if the person rejecting you isn't hugely significant in your life.

Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that when you feel emotionally rejected, the parts of your brain that are associated with physical pain activate just as powerfully as the parts that are associated with emotional pain. What the research shows is that when you’re hurting after a partner dumps you, you are saying "ouch! That REALLY hurts!" because, well, it does. Emotionally and, in a funny kind of way, physically.

Recovering from rejection takes time. Similar to physical injury, emotional injury, specifically that of rejection by a partner, requires time for healing. So if you can relate to this, and you're still suffering, thank your family and friends for caring about you but don’t let them downplay the injury. Realize that the pain you feel is real, and set an intention to heal as soon as possible. Get help if you find you're not recovering.

About the author: Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books, and frequent expert media guest. Read Nina's transformational books; for women: Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid, and for men: Date Like a CEO: Leadership in Life and Love for Men. To successfully date online, get Nina’s $0.99 cent eBook Internet Dating for the Savvy Single. Get loads of free advice at www.singlescoach.com.

This article was originally published at singlescoach.com. Reprinted with permission.

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Nina Atwood

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Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC
The Singlescoach®
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Location: Dallas, TX
Credentials: LPC
Specialties: Communication Problems, Couples/Marital Issues, Dating/Being Single Support
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