Stages of Rejection


Psychiatrists have suggested that there are two general phases of rejection: Protest and Resignation.

During the Protest Phase, men and women dedicate themselves to winning their partner back.  Restless energy, insomnia, loss of appetite (or binge eating), and obsessive thoughts about the beloved plague them.  Many sob; others drink too much, drive too fast, hole up and watch TV, or talk to friends and family incessantly about the evaporating partnership.  Intense longing, hope, regret, nostalgic reminiscing: they swing from one powerful emotion to the next.  Many suffer outbursts of fury too, known as “abandonment rage.” And zealously they search for clues of what went wrong and how to reconcile with their wayward mate.

The sexes often have different strategies for reunion, however.    Women try to seduce.  And they seek to “talk things out” with the beloved, searching to understand the situation.  Men, on the other hand, are more likely to challenge a rival, shower their lost love with presents and affection, or just attempt to look more important--buying a new car, wearing more expensive clothes, or regaling the errant lover with tales of their grand adventures.  And both sexes try to make their wandering partner jealous by showing up with others.

Alas, when they finally realize that their lover is gone forever, rejected people slump into hopelessness and despair--the Resignation Phase.  As the 8th Century poet, Li Po, said of this, “I am exhausted by longing.”   Many become so lethargic that they look as if they are carrying an 800 pound gorilla on their back.  And they suffer from what academics call anhedonia, unable to find pleasure in anything at all. Some even die of a stroke or heart attack caused by stress.