Rita Watson MPH

With Love and Gratitude


When Love Is Rejected: 8 Ways to Cope in a Texting World

Texting allows you to hide behind a screen that obscures love or betrayal.

Posted Jul 12, 2015

Wikicommons, Pinterest
Source: Wikicommons, Pinterest

It takes seconds to fall in love and days to recover when a relationship ends. Rejection hurts. Researchers tell us that brain imaging studies indicate that there is a similarity between rejection and cocaine withdrawal. And ironically, falling in love can also produce a cocaine-like high. Where two people meet and connect, pheromones may kick into

overdrive. They chat, laugh, and touch. Minutes after saying “Good-by” she might receive an emoticon kiss text. If she now sets her text tone with a special ring, the sound alone will trigger expectations and excitement.  Messages may become more loving or provocative. Then one day the messages become less frequent. Suddenly there is silence.

Whether walking on the air of infatuation or the instant romantic attraction of love at first sight, love can bring on an emotional high.  Similar to cocaine-like feelings, this can take just a fifth of a second.  Brain wave studies have identified “the cortical networks associated with passionate love.” (Ortigue, 2010)

But researchers have also pointed out an association among "motivation, reward and addiction" as reported in the Journal of Neurophysiology. (Fisher, 2009)

"Sideways" the movie script

Love is unpredictable at times.  We so often hear stories from women who say, “I thought we were all right.   Everything was going just fine. Now he's gone.  What happened?” Whenever I hear this, I am reminded of the movie “Sideways.” In the film, two middle-age friends take an excursion through wine country. But one of them – a groom-to-be – takes a side trip into the life of a young woman he meets on their sojourn. He wins her heart and yes, sex plays a role.  And he wins her daughter's love. Then he is gone.

What happens in the movie:  She goes into a motorcycle helmet swinging rage when she learns of his status and breaks his nose. Nonetheless, with some help from his friend, he goes on with his wedding, his life. 

What might have happened in real life?   She might have experienced the addiction-withdrawal crash. And he might well have found himself missing out on life with the woman who truly cared for him, someone with whom he had history.  He loses and she loses. Perhaps they never had the relationship talk to clarify how to love. (Love Lies link in references)

Losing Touch

Strangely enough when he loves you and leaves you, you both may be hurting in ways that are not expressed. Oftentimes it comes from the tension of unspoken expectations.  Or it may be that he is resistant to the relationship talk to clear the air. In today’s texting society, loving and leaving have become depersonalized. We are losing touch. The emoticon with tears does not really convey the heart’s sadness. In fact, the heartbreak pain associated with loss can be so severe that it sends people to the emergency room with symptoms mimicking a heart attack. Stress cardiomyopathy is the broken-heart syndrome which primarily affects middle-age women - but it can happen to anyone. (Bybee, 2007)

Additionally, couples who rely on texting to convey their love also open themselves up for the break up text.

Eight ways to cope with the sudden ending of a relationship

Keep in mind the research on love and rejection. And consider what you should do if love comes crashing down:

1. Cry.  We learned from Dr. William H. Frey II, PhD, director of the Alzheimer's Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, that crying is therapeutic.  He has studied crying for more than 15 years. His work has been further validated by more recent studies. (Bylsma, 2011)

2. Resist the urge to send endless texts. They will go unanswered and you may feel angry with yourself for not recognizing that he had a passive-aggressive side.

3. Erase all text messages to and from him. Going back over them and seeing his cute notes and little yellow heads throwing kisses will make you feel worse.

4. Scream in private at him for 10 minutes – in the safety of your own room. 

5. Hold off on calling friends to complain about him.   If they agree with you, you will feel angry that they did not warn you.   Or should the two of you reconcile, you will have created distance between yourself and your friends.

6. Be grateful. Find a beautiful journal or some writing paper and write out all of the moments the two of you enjoyed together.

7. Wish him blessings. Let him go. And look for your rebound love. (Link in references)

8. Revel in the friendships that you have and spend time with those friends laughing and looking forward to new adventures, new love.

Should you try to avoid him? It's not always possible. However, once you emotionally detach, he might simply become a blank or someone for whom you might feel some empathy.

Your rebound love

Once it was thought that rebound love was a mistake. Now new research shows that it can actually help heal a broken heart. If you decide on a rebound love, spend less time texting and more time touching and talking.   Even though texts can become more alluring than phone calls, the emoticon is no substitute for experiencing emotion. When we text instead of talk we miss out on the meaning of a sigh, silence, or a loving laugh.

Copyright 2015 Rita Watson


Stephanie Ortigue, Francesco Bianchi-Demicheli MD, Nisa Patel MS, Chris Frum MS and James W. Lewis PhD,   Neuroimaging of Love: fMRI Meta‐Analysis Evidence toward New Perspectives in Sexual Medicine, 2010

H. E. Fisher, L. L. Brown, A. Aron, G. Strong, D. Mashek. Reward, Addiction and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated with Rejection in Love. Journal of Neurophysiology, 2010; DOI: 10.1152/jn.00784. 2009

Kevin A. Bybee, MD; Abhiram Prasad, MD, FRCP, FESC, Stress-Related Cardiomyopathy Syndromes,Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, Circulation. 2008; 118: 397-409

Lauren M. Bylsma, Marcel A. Croonb, Ad.J.J.M. Vingerhoetsc, Jonathan Rottenberga, When and for whom does crying improve mood? A daily diary study of 1004 crying episodes Journal of Research in Personality , Volume 45, Issue 4, August 2011, Pages 385–392

Watson: Love Lies: 7 Tips for Relationship Clarity

Watson, Rebound Love: 10 Tips for Healing After a Breakup