Everyone who’s ever been in a relationship that ended in which you were the dumpee, and not the dumper knows the feeling of your stomach dropping immediately after the words “we need to talk” are spoken. A breakup isn’t really that bad, it can also instill a feeling of freedom, but obviously that depends on which side of the dumping you’re on. What does hurt a lot, though, is the feeling of rejection – when even the person you’ve been close to the most, to the point of intimacy, can’t stand to stay with you anymore. It’s emotionally damaging.
How damaging can it really be, though? According to some psychologists, among the different kinds of psychological pain that we can receive, rejection is by far the most common and the most painful. The emotional damage from being rejected socially – whether it be when your friends go out without inviting you, or a bad breakup, or even not getting a raise despite your hardest efforts – is the worst type of pain you can experience.
It stings – physically! In a study conducted on people who were recently rejected by their romantic partners, it was found that the exact same areas activated in their brain as a result of rejection was the same area activated as a result of experiencing physical pain. Meaning, being hurt really does hurt!
In line with this study, the researchers wanted to further test their findings by seeing whether these symptoms will respond similarly to how symptoms of physical pain would. The participants were then also given a pain reliever, to which they reported feeling less emotional pain.
It seems that rejection is pretty damaging to the body, then. It shouldn’t be left alone as most people think, but really, treated in similar ways and with similar urgency in which you treat physical pain. Although rejection truly is a fact of life, we should take steps to treat the symptoms as to prevent long-term damage, and simply, “get on with your life” – as what any friend would suggest.