The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
Break-ups happen for a reason.
Sometimes both parties are in agreement about the breakup: it was time to say goodbye. Other times, one of them may feel blindsided because they didn’t see it coming.
Either way, you’re going to feel rejected, and it’s a feeling most of us don’t like.
Now that the relationship is over, BetterHelp’s science behind rejection might make you experience a tremendous amount of emotions. You might even miss the feeling of having someone love you or worry about ever loving again.
If you lived in a Hallmark movie, the plot centering around rejection would allow the two of you to run back into each other’s arms (after saving a cherished local business and re-establishing a long-lost community tradition) with the goal of picking up where you left off. You’d be fanning the flames into something fiery and magnificent. Rejection would become a distant memory, waiting to be boxed and stored away in the attic of the home you’re renovating.
Outside of what sappy movies want us to believe, that’s not how rejection affects relationships.
In real life, you feel the pain of loss, and it’s very real.
This pain may make you turn back to tell your ex you miss him.
Rejection Is More Than Unpleasant: It Hurts
Rejection has a legit purpose.
It forces us to change our behavior. The transformation caused by rejection is part of our make up from thousands of years ago when we lived in smaller communities.
Our survival depended on being included within the community. If we were part of the group, we enjoyed shelter, food and companionship. Lack of support from those in our network doomed us to failure. Being cut off from the group jeopardized our access to the things we needed most. No wonder we changed our behaviors. Inclusion meant survival!
As it turns out, our brains are hard-wired to avoid rejection. MRIs have revealed that rejection causes pain. This pain is emotional, but it shows up in the human brain as strongly as physical pain registers.
In turn, rejection provokes intense emotions, the kind that can make you take action. Denial can cause feelings of anger and aggression, or it can cause anxiety, worry, loneliness, misery, and a host of other feelings.
Self-doubt begins to creep forward, taking up much of your time. Often, anyone feeling rejected tends to self-criticize as a way to explain what happened.
Rebounding From Rejection
Rejection can trigger all sorts of things, including feelings and memories that you thought you set aside a long time ago.
When rejection occurs at work or from another relationship, you may find yourself pushed back to the last time you felt safe and secure – in the arms of your ex. Rejection rebound forces us to return to the flock (the ex) in an attempt to find comfort and safety.
When you’ve experienced rejection, should you tell your ex that you miss him?
Your Reaction: Telling Your Ex That You Miss Him
Putting your feelings out there can be nerve-wracking, especially when you want to admit that rejection has made you miss your ex even more.
You want to tell your ex that you miss him, but what if the feeling isn’t mutual? It’s possible that he doesn’t miss you the way you miss him. There are several possibilities your confession might reveal about your ex:
- He doesn’t feel the same way
- He doesn’t want to preserve what you had
- He’s in a relationship with someone else
Regardless of what he thinks about you or your shared relationship with each other, telling your ex that you miss him also says volumes about your state of emotions.
Then again, what if your ex has been longing to hear those three words: I miss you?
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who’s The Loneliest Of Them All?
If your ex misses you, too, you may be in for a Hallmark ending.
However, if your ex has moved on without you, consider how he’ll receive your appeal. Will he be curious, or will he block you?
The way you present yourself can impact his decision. Imagine what your ex will assume about you if you show up with red, puffy eyes, crying “I miss you.” You’re all but waving a red flag that screams, “I can’t let go!”
If rejection makes you feel like you must tell your ex how you feel about him, keep in mind that you might be saying:
- I’m hungry for attention.
- I need your affirmation.
- I’m nothing without you.
You may find yourself blocked from future contact with him.
How To Cope With Rejection And Come Back Stronger
What should you do if you’re experiencing rejection?
Coaches and counselors may encourage you to look back to a time when you were successful in a relationship and felt confident about yourself? Try to identify the feelings that centered around that moment. Then recreate the feeling in your new situation.
Here are three actions you can take to identify your emotional state, assert your confidence and come back stronger after rejection:
- Write it out in a letter. Penning your thoughts can be an excellent way to pinpoint what you want to say and get it off your chest. Let yourself go when you write – spelling, punctuation and capitalization don’t matter. Spill the words onto the page in stream-of-consciousness style, letting them fill up the space as they empty from your thoughts. Once you are finished, be sure to avoid the temptation to mail it! Shred it, burn it or tuck it away, but don’t send it.
- Try something new. If you’ve thought about taking up a new hobby, now’s the time. Learn to weld, take a stained glass class or discover a new country – or restaurant in your city. You have the gift of one, which means that for now, you can make decisions based on your interests and time. You aren’t beholden to anyone else.
- Give it time. Rejection is a fresh wound, but like most everything else, it too will fade and take a back seat. Give yourself permission to relax and take your time. Do things when you’re ready, not when you’re forced.
When You Have To Say It Anyway
Still thinking about what the two of you had and you won’t be happy until you’ve said those three words?
If you must reach out, avoid weepiness and drama – two thing he’ll find to be turn-offs. Try to be positive and matter-of-fact. Instead of saying “I miss you,” try these more positive variations:
- Things aren’t the same without you.
- I feel such an emptiness.
- Time goes by slowly when you’re not with me.
- I wish your arms were wrapped around me right now.
- You’ve been in my thoughts.
- I miss hearing your laughter.
- You crossed my mind today.
- I realize what a blessing you’ve been in my life.
- When I close my eyes, I feel as though you’re still by my side.
- Every time I think of you, I smile.
- When can we connect again?
- Thinking about you is getting in the way of work.
Helpful Hint: Because they are positive and confident-sounding, these phrases make great text messages!
Set Aside Your Words And Take Action
Of course, actions will sometimes speak louder than words. You can show how much you miss your ex by taking these actions:
- Send emoji messages. They are light-hearted and non-threatening.
- Leave “open when” letters at his place, work or home.
- Make a reel about missing him and tag him.
- Get it delivered. Use a delivery service to send lunch or even a coffee and a muffin.
- Ping him with “missing you” memes.
- Email funny cartoons or jokes that you’ve laughed at in the past.
Confronting The Fear Of Rejection
Once you’ve been rejected once, could it happen again?
The answer is yes. As humans, we all face daily rejection – many times. The stoplight turns red just as we pull up to the intersection. A vending machine takes your money but doesn’t release the candy bar you bought. Someone doesn’t accept your friend request, vote for you, or accept your dinner invitation.
Relationships can reject you, too, but this rejection does not define you. It simply means “find another way.”
Once you know that you can find another way, your confidence levels will rise, and you’ll have more courage to fall back on. That courage will help you face fear and go forward.
It’s been said that courage is being afraid but saddling up anyway. Ways you can prepare for rejection include:
- Confronting what’s causing the rejection anxiety.
- Learning how to talk candidly about your emotions.
- Setting aside rejection because you know it’s not personal.
- Taking time to reaffirm and recognize your value.
Once you’ve learned how to handle rejection, you’ll be ready to make the decision about whether or not to tell your ex that you miss him.
And you’ll have the confidence and courage to accept his response.