When you choose to enter the dating arena, you are taking risks – the risk of being rejected; the risk of thinking you have found someone wonderful, only to be disillusioned; the risk of breaking up; and the risk of a broken heart. These risks are unavoidable. We hope they don’t happen to you, but they might.
Rejection is painful, whether you are sixteen or sixty. It can happen in the initial stages, where people are often judged on superficial characteristics like physical attractiveness or wealth. It may hurt even more if you have taken the time to get to know someone, only to be told that they are not interested in you.
If you read this column regularly, you are less likely to be surprised and disillusioned by a potential partner, because you will know what to look out for. However, some people are really, really good at disguising their true nature, and even the smartest and most savvy folks can be duped.
Breaking up can happen because you simply aren’t compatible with each other, or because the timing is wrong for one of you. For example, you may have been single for a long time and are now ready for a committed relationship, only to find yourself attracted to a newly divorced person who only wants to play the field at this point. Bummer.
Rejection is so painful because we usually take it as a sign that there is something wrong with us. That hurts. If you can look beyond the hurt to see if there is anything you can learn that will help you to have a healthier relationship in the future, great. If not, this is the time for support and comfort from your friends and family, and for kindness from yourself. Platitudes such as “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be” or “There are plenty of other fish in the sea” may not help much, but that doesn’t mean they are not true. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, and the obnoxious tactics your partner used during the breakup were an indication that you would have been miserable in a long-term relationship with this person. There are, in fact, enough other fish in the sea that you can most likely find a compatible mate in time, so don’t give up hope.
You are in great jeopardy after a breakup of dwelling on your resentment and bitterness. Some of this is normal and human, and hopefully you have a good friend or two who is willing to let you talk it all out. However, if it gets to the point that your friends are avoiding you because they are tired of hearing you say rotten things about your ex, it’s time to move on emotionally. One more platitude that is true: Living well really IS the best revenge.
Northwest authors Jennifer Y. Levy-Peck, PhD, a psychologist, and her husband Charles Peck are write a weekly column on midlife relationships. They are working on a new book, "Magic at Midlife: Your Relationship Roadmap for Romance After 40."
Previous Magic at Midlife Columns:
Reimagining Your Life Together
Memory Loss and the Midlife Couple
When One of You Retires
Money - One Pot or Separate Accounts?
Falling in Love Later in Life
To Marry or Not?
Conversations About Death for Midlife Couples
The Couple That Laughs Together, Stays Together
Vacation Time! Leave Your Baggage at Home
Your Place or Mine? Moving In Together
How to Help Your Partner Calm Down
Creating Shared Goals
Having the “Senior Safer Sex” Conversation