Dealing with Being Dumped
Created | Updated Apr 14, 2008
Imagine the scenario: you're sitting in the 'chair of doom' live on a daytime TV chatshow. The hostess asks you sensitively: 'So, have you any idea why you're here?'. You shrug and look nervous. As your other half enters the set, the bile rises to the back of your throat, while a leaden weight falls to the bottom of your stomach. With dread, your mouth goes dry, your ears start to buzz, as you hear the words 'You know I love you. I'll always love you. But I'm not in love with you.' Oh the irony. You think: If you love me, or have even the tiniest speck of human respect for me, why, why, why did you have to dump me in front of an audience of millions, then?
Being dumped is never nice or, indeed, dignified. Even if you wanted to break up with someone anyway, you'll feel irritated that you didn't get round to doing it first. Being the caring, sharing, mutually-supportive Community that you are, we asked for your advice on dealing with being dumped...
Below is just some of the excellent advice you offered your fellow Researchers, yet we heartily recommend you scour the Conversations below this entry as well, in order to get more insightful and intensely personal advice.
Perhaps this isn't a manly man solution towards recovery, but it does work. Assuming you're a guy who's been dumped by the fairer sex, seek out any female friends you might have and talk with them about it. Don't hit on them or look for a rebound (though that may happen if they've been waiting for you to turn single). Women folk usually enjoy talking about relationships and sharing some of your thoughts about the break-up with a neutral party can make understanding and getting past the whole thing much faster.
Talking to people can only be a positive thing as it helps you come to terms with the way you feel, it makes you realise that you're not alone, and it puts you in touch with your emotions.
You can find yourself feeling that perhaps you've failed in some way, if a once-strong relationship breaks down. Having people there to help you through it, can be of some comfort, knowing that there are people who care for you, and want to help you move on.
Sometimes, real life just can't provide the comfort that an online community can...
The best thing I can do right now is to talk about it, talk about how I feel, what am I afraid of, how I see/don't see my future etc. And the best people to talk with happen to be here, on h2g2. My crisis has lasted for couple weeks only but during this time I have found some new friends here, I have received lots of good advice and - what's most important - I have felt (actually feeling right now) a great support from everybody here. That means a lot for me.
Aunt Mary's Purge and Pamper Method
There's nothing like good advice from our elders and betters and the following fool-proof method from one Researcher's Aunty Mary is sound advice indeed.
Once when I was dumped rather hideously by a man who lived across the street from me (so I could see his new girlfriend's car sitting outside his apartment every night), I was given some excellent advice by a very wise aunt. It worked for me, maybe it will work for someone else as well. I think of it as Aunt Mary's Purge and Pamper Method.
Get a hair cut - a really good one at the nicest salon you can afford.
Go through your house and clean the hell out of it. Throw out anything you haven't used in donkey's years, anything too evocative of the dead relationship, and anything of his/hers. If you can't bear to throw something out - put it in deep, deep storage.
If you have any broken appliance or anything that needs repair, get it fixed or throw it out.
Buy yourself some flowers. Nice ones. Keep them someplace you can see them. This applies to the boys too!
You are allowed to cry. You are actually required to cry. Find a big, fluffy blanket to wrap yourself in while you do.
Write a letter telling the person who dumped you exactly what you think of him/her, including all of the memories you have and all the hopes you once had. Then burn it ritualistically.
Again, this worked for me - along with some really great friends who were around to take me out and remind me that I was, in fact, whole.
Staying in Touch
If you feel comfortable with it, talk to the ex - but not right away. We've all seen the couples who 'broke up' and are still seeing, talking to, and sleeping with each other. It doesn't do anyone any good - you need a sense of a clean break at first, to regain your independence, and put them out of mind.
It's important to grieve and then make a clean break of it. If they didn't want you, let go! It's the only way to maintain your dignity (do not fall prey to being petty and vindictive - exercise maturity and restraint), and at the same time prove to yourself that you have the strength to exist independently. Not easy, but very important.
The 'let's stay friends' line really is a load of old baloney for many who fall into the most recently dumped category. It hurts a lot more if you've been dumped to stay in touch and try to have a normal conversation when that intimacy is gone. Not to mention the torture you go through hearing about all the dating or whatever they're doing while you're trying to recover. The best thing to do is to cut off contact for a few months while you find your feet again.
Hear, Hear! The best reply to that old chestnut is 'Let's not'. The line 'let's stay friends' often translates into 'I really don't want to feel guilty about this, so help me out here'.
But on the other hand, the people you go out with are usually the people who you share most with, and become your best friends. Throwing that away every time a relationship breaks up means you lose a lot of friends. Often you might find yourself staying friends with the person in the end anyway (give it a while).
Staying in touch depends on whether you were treated respectfully during the dumping process or not. If they cheated on you or lined someone else up under your nose, then no, you certainly shouldn't be friends, because people worth being friends with wouldn't do that. If they honestly and respectfully told you that they didn't have feelings for you, and give you time to adjust, then friendship is possible. But still often difficult, especially when the dumper finds new love before the dumpee.
The key things to staying friends are:
Don't be malicious.
Don't say the unforgivable, unsayable thing.
Recognise that the other person is in pain, and that you have probably caused a lot of that pain.
Have no expectation of getting back together again.
Don't be jealous of new partners, it isn't worth it.
And some people just are not worth staying friends with. But if you are a good picker, then it can be worth it.
A Heartwarming Story about Staying in Touch
Staying friends is hard. You'll never manage it in the same way again. But it is possible. It takes time, space, and friends who don't take sides. I am godmother to the daughter of one of the guys who dumped me.
I still trust my ex enough to ask him to sign an enduring power of attorney alongside my sister. This means that they would have joint control of my affairs if anything happens to me that I can't control them myself. In fact I trust him more than her in this case.
We aren't close friends. But after five years of hard work, it feels like I have gained a brother. And I am likely to see the third ex next weekend. So it can be done. And the biggest advantage is that you retain joint custody of your other friends.
It is tough though. And it requires massive amounts of self control, and a lot of time.
... and One that Will Send Shivers down your Spine
I think people who stay in touch with ex-lovers have ulterior motives, as has already been said.
One ex (last year) dumped me, then three months later asked me out for a meal. I was eating and chatting about nothing when he suddenly announced that he wanted us to get back together. Dumfounded, I agreed.
It turned out he'd been turned down for finance and he wanted a computer. I signed the finance papers. Then he started meeting women off the Internet and I found out he was spending weekends with a woman in Leicester, so I dumped him.
If you get dumped, it's probably a good thing to get some distance. Perhaps in time you can go back and be friends, but not right then, and not right there, because it isn't fair to either of you. It's also completely unfair to ask someone - anyone - to take that kind of rejection and just get over it, anyone who expects it should not be considered much of a friend.
Public Displays of Affection
One of the more difficult things for a recent dumpee or, (depending on the person) anyone single, is seeing couples together. Should couples learn to keep PDAs (Public Displays of Affection) hidden, for private moments, to save the rest of us? Or should they be allowed to express their love?
On my way home from work I walk through a park that during the summer months is full of couples cuddling (on one memorable day doing far more than cuddling, they could have been arrested!). Now I'm recently out of a relationship, and I find this a real gauntlet (I've learnt to stare at the floor).
Play the Blues
I looked down the bar, at the bartender
He said, 'Now what do you want Johnny?'
One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.
- John Lee Hooker
Gettin' dumped sure ain't easy. Self-pity for a while is OK, it's even an important psychological mechanism. Crying is OK, and for some the blues evokes the right mood if you know how to play an instrument.
Ahh... the comforts of an instrument, the whining sound of a guitar, the jagged sound of a saxophone, the fading tones of a trumpet. They'll get you out of it in no time.
On Blokes and Ballet
The following advice comes from Cynthia Heimel's brilliant book Sex Tips for Girls, it's probably only valid for girls... but there must be an equivalent for men.
When you've been dumped and your heart is breaking, imagine your ex bloke in a tutu. And ballet shoes.
Below are two Researcher examples of how they went to extremes to get over the pain of being dumped. Read on so you can learn from others' experiences...
Don't Go Nuts
Indeed, don't do it. I got dumped badly the first time about six years ago and hit the bottle big time, kept doing the 'Stalker' routine and 'just happening' to turn up everywhere she was. There followed a few revenge relationships with some poor unfortunate girls, and the whole sorry affair included my waking up in hospital many times (most impressively for having somehow fallen off a cliff, still don't know how I did that). Anyhow, I finally sorted myself out when I met someone else that I actually liked two years and an amazing amount of money, alcohol and drugs later.
So I said to myself, this time, no acting like a moron if it goes pear-shaped again. And guess what, three years later I get dumped again, but this time I avoided doing the whole alcoholic/junky thing and instead went completely nuts without either. The stalker routine returned again (really, don't ever do this, nobody finds it attractive, it is strictly for the clinically insane) and so on and so forth, until the nice doctors told me I really was insane this time. Oh dear. Still, a year and a half and many happy pills later I am once again perfectly human, and not in the least psychotic, manically depressed or paranoid. And I've got the bit of paper to prove it. Once again I must stress don't do this - ever!
Get Out There and Knock 'em Dead, Kid!
I got dumped by somebody I loved very much about six years ago (a childhood sweetheart who I bumped into again after several years). First off, I hit the whisky - cost me a degree and several thousand pounds.
Then, I realised that this wasn't the way forward, so (and I'm sure many of you will disagree), I went out and had lots of meaningless sex. Felt much better about myself - realised I'm not such an ugly chap, and moved on.
It can take a long time to get over the break-up of any serious relationship, but how long should you wait before starting another and/or how long will the pain and heartache last?
As a general rule of thumb, give yourself two months to recover for every year of the relationship. If your relationship lasted three years, then that's six months needed to recover sufficiently to begin serious dating again.
I only wish my partner had taken this advice before we started dating. We had a rocky first year. Fortunately, we are still together after three years and are still very much in love.