The Psychology Behind Breakups
Stanford Psychologists have determined that breakups hurt the worst when the rejection is viewed as commentary about who they are as a person. The people who experience this tend to view personality as fixed, not fluid.
Everyone has “that” breakup, the one that lingers for years and may even taint other relationships until you’re able to finally get over it and/or meet someone who makes you forget all about them. But why is that? Why do some breakups stay with us forever, while we can get dumped by others without shedding a single tear? According to psychologists at Stanford University, the worst breakups are those that we believe reveal something about our true selves.
According to psychologists
“Few things in life are more traumatic than being rejected by someone who knows you well and then, with this insight, decides that she or he no longer cares for you or wants to be with you,” said Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology.
As it turns out, though, this has as much to do with the person being rejected as it does the manner in which the rejection is received. Five studies involving over 891 participants examined their views on relationships and rejection. They rated, for example, the extent to which a breakup means there’s something “wrong” with them, and they were also asked whether they believed people’s personalities can change over time, or if they were fixed and unchangeable.
Perhaps not surprisingly
The people who felt that personality is fixed were more likely to take rejection as commentary about who they are as a person.
“To them, a rejection reveals that it is fixed at a deficient level. On the other hand, people who believe in their ability to grow and develop, while of course hurt by rejections, can more readily bounce back and envision a brighter future,” Dweck said.
For people who view personality as fixed, future relationships are at risk not just because of the pain of the earlier rejection, but because they believe that the same problem will surface in other relationships. The researchers don’t come out and say it, but to me this sounds like a particular group of people: Teenagers. When you get dumped as a teenager, you want to jump off a bridge because oh God, this is all there is and nothing will be the same and if she hates me then everyone else must, too.
Of course, that’s not true. While some people may be incapable of change or just choose not to, most people in fact do grow as they mature. While it may not always be easy, it’s worth sitting down and figuring out whether her reasons for dumping you are actually an indictment of your personality (versus just dissatisfaction with the circumstances of the relationship) before going out and getting that tattoo.