Did you do something wrong to make it end?
Did he see something in your personality that made him turn away?
Your answers reveal how well you deal with rejection.
That’s the word from a study published in the January 2016 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Taking the end of a relationship personally by blaming yourself makes it more difficult to move on and find someone new.
On the other hand, people who see breakups as something that happens to everyone can move on more easily. Their faith in themselves and faith in love remains intact.
Any time you open your heart to someone, you risk rejection.
Even if you marry the man of your dreams and celebrate your tenth wedding anniversary, you both retain the option to walk away at some future point.
So reducing the negative emotional impact of rejection is worthwhile for all women, whether they’re in a relationship or not.
Study authors Lauren Howe and Carol Dweck suggest the best way to thrive in the face of rejection is to realize that we are all capable of growing and changing as people.
Even if you did something to cause a relationship to end, you can learn from your behavior. You can use what happened as a springboard to become a better person.
But not everyone believes they can change. Some people believe that who you are now is who you’ll be forever.
This “fixed mindset” hampers your ability to recover from rejection.
If you believe you have some fundamental flaw that sabotages your relationships, you’ll be wary about exposing your true self to someone new. You’ll put up walls and hold parts of yourself back.
For example, let’s say you were in a relationship with a man who continually criticized you for being too sensitive. He claimed you were too much work. He left you because he said being with you was no longer fun.
A woman with a fixed mindset might turn over the details of her relationship to find out what his rejection can tell her about herself.
Maybe she is too sensitive. Maybe she overburdened him with the details of her emotional life.
Knowing this dire secret about herself, she is careful about letting any new man see her sensitive side. She may even present herself as tough and uncaring. She can’t let the same thing happen again. She sees it as a fixed trait, not an area for growth.
The growth mindset protects us from feeling crushed by mistakes or setbacks. When we stay focused on growth, our future relationships just get better and better.
That’s the promise of Howe and Dweck’s research. The study authors conclude:
“By encouraging the belief that personality can change and develop over time, we may be able to help people exorcise the ghosts of their romantic pasts – and move on to satisfying relationships in the future.”
Nothing an ex says about you can wreck your chances at finding future love.
But you have to be willing to see mistakes as way points, not as a permanent diagnosis of character flaws.
And remember, no one wants to date a superhero anyway. You’re allowed to tell a future partner about areas where you’re trying to change or grow.
You may be surprised to find you’re even more attractive to men when you admit you’re not perfect. But you’re getting better every day.