Were you the one that was left behind?

The end to any relationship can be challenging; the depth and complexity of the challenges depend on the quality of the relationship, as well as the end. Ideally, an ending to a relationship is mutual, where both partners realize it is time to move on. Both parties take the knowledge they obtained about themselves in the terminated relationship and make improvements for the next relationship.

The challenges are compounded when you are the one left, while you do not feel the relationship should end. The confusion of a why the relationship ended is overwhelming for some – leaving them feeling abandoned and hopeless to find love again. This is especially for those who define themselves based on the relationships they have; for this personality type, a bad ending to a relationship shatters their self-worth or self-esteem. It only gets worse if one is the left in multiple romantic relationships.

Dr. Randi Gunther, a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor for over 40 years and the author of Rediscovering love, explains the top ten reasons why it is difficult for the partner that was left behind to move on.

  1. Innate Insecurity – Anxiety rises after a relationship ends because it represents a loss. Change is not easy for everyone, especially if someone you trusted to be present is no longer in the picture.
  2. Topping out – If you perceive your partner as perfect and your relationship is idyllic, when it ends abruptly, it can be devastating. Many find it so impossible to find someone as ideal that moving on becomes seemingly impossible.
  3. Childhood Abandonment Trauma People who grow up with an insecure attachment to caretakers tend to mirror this in future romantic relationships. Trust comes hard for these folks from the beginning, and when they do trust someone and end up getting left, it is a sequel of the painful trauma they experienced as a child.
  4. Fear of Being Alone – People with this fear often get attached quickly and strongly to their partners, putting a lot of strain on the relationship – ultimately the behaviors that come from that fear is what drives the relationship apart and causes their worst fear to come to fruition.
  5. Relying Only on One’s Partner for Self-Worth – This is very dangerous territory for anyone. If you let one person have complete control on how you see yourself and your relationship does not end well, you value and self-esteem will plummet.
  6. Fear of Failure – Here, the one that gets left behind takes all the blame on themselves and believes that if they had only done more and put in more effort, their relationship would have been successful.
  7. Romantic Fantasizers – Living in a fantasy world is not helpful when real problems arise in a relationship. As Dr. Gunther stated, “When the normal disruptions of life intervene, romantic fantasizers see them as only temporary obstacles and don’t take them seriously. When a romantic fantasizer wants to hold onto bliss at any price, the other partner often feels unseen and unknown, and eventually will seek a more realistic encounter.”
  8. Undying Love – When a relationship ends and one person remains committed to loving the one who left, it makes it impossible to find a new relationship because the love they lost was perfect in their eyes; therefore, no one will ever be good enough.
  9. Unmatched Hole Fillers – There are many facets to a relationship. When one sees a part of a relationship so perfect and satisfying—even though all others are lacking—one is willing to sacrifice anything just to have the one part that brought so much fulfillment.
  10. The Truly Agonized Stalkers – Some simply cannot let go. They do not have an idea of where else to be or go and no matter how much pain and rejection they receive from the partner that has already left, they continue to pursue them and love them unconditionally.

To move forward to the work starts with you! Whatever the underlying reason is that you cannot move past a failed relationship, a trusted counselor can meet you where you are and shepherd you towards a healthy future.

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