So, you were rejected by the person you love or were crushing on.
Our condolences. Seriously. Rejection hurts like nothing else.
The pain of rejection is real
Whether you were turned down for a date, dumped by someone you thought loved you, or hurt in some way by your long-term partner, the pain of rejection is undeniable. In fact, a 2013 study found that the brain responds similarly to physical pain as it does to social rejection.
In other words, heartbroken people experience a physical hurt, psychologist and relationship expert Nicole McCance told HuffPost Canada in a phone interview.
"You feel it in your heart. It literally aches," McCance said.
"It can be as devastating as physical injury, which is hard because we can't see heartbreak, so we treat it differently."
Rejection can take a number of forms
Rejection can occur both outside and inside of relationships, McCance said. There are the obvious forms, such as getting turned down for a date or when a partner ends a relationship. Even if you're the one breaking up with someone, you can feel rejected if your partner doesn't fight for you, McCance said.
But someone in a relationship can also experience all kinds of rejection from their partner. These less obvious forms of rejection can include being turned down for sex or intimacy, when a partner consistently chooses the gym or friends over spending time with you, when a partner spends too much time on social media when you're sitting right beside them, or even when a partner is critical of you, McCance said.
"That can feel like they're not accepting of you. And really, when you think about it, the opposite of rejection is acceptance."
Rejection that is more subtle can build up and become corrosive, McCance said.
The tendency is to blame yourself
No matter the form rejection might take, hearing that someone doesn't want to be with you can make you feel like you're not good enough, and then you start questioning your own self worth, McCance said.
"When we hear 'no' we ask ourselves what's wrong with us," she said.
Although it's hard, it's important to try not to take rejection personally, especially within a relationship, McCance said. The rejection may have nothing to do with you at all and be more your partner's own issues, insecurities or fears.
There are easy ways to cope with the pain
If you're finding yourself heartbroken, surround yourself with people who love you so they can remind you how great you are. Rejection causes insecurity, and the way to recover from that is to spend time with a social group who accepts you, McCance said.
Keeping physically active can also help boost your mood by releasing endorphins, she said. Mostly, it's important to keep busy — whether it's with work, friends, or other activities — and distract yourself (and resist the urge to creep your ex on social media) until the pain subsides, McCance said.
"In time, you'll think about them less and it will hurt less. You just have to get there," she said.
Tell your partner, but never your ex, how you're feeling
There are situations where you should definitely tell someone how they hurt you. Your ex will never be one of them.
"If they don't want you, and they don't know how great you are, there's no need to convince them. There is somebody waiting out there who will embrace and accept all of you, so just let them go and make room for what's coming," McCance said.
But if you're feeling rejected within your relationship, it's imperative that you speak up, McCance said. Otherwise, those feelings build and build until resentment forms. When you speak to your partner, try to use "I" statements such as "I was very hurt" rather than pointing fingers so your partner doesn't become defensive and the conversation devolves into a fight, she said.
We all reject our partners now and then
Research shows that people are the friendliest to their acquaintances, less friendly with their friends, and the least-friendly with their own romantic partners, McCance said.
"We just take it for granted that they love us and we can just let everything hang out," she said.
There are times that we are just self-absorbed and reject our partners without meaning to, McCance said. And we can't always say "yes." But it's important to remember that it's the people who love us the most that can hurt us the most, McCance said.
"It's where we're the most vulnerable."
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