Sign up FAST! Login

Why Some People Take Breakups Harder Than Others

Part of it depends on whether they believe personality is fixed or constantly changing.


Stashed in: Relationships, Relationships, Growth Mindset

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

"My colleague Carol Dweck and I research why some people are haunted by the ghosts of their romantic past, while others seem to move on from failed relationships with minimal difficulty. Over the course of our research, I’ve read hundreds of personal stories about the end of relationships, and these stories offer some clues as to what pushes a person into one group or the other." (Article has several good links to valid reseach.)

It's really sad when people blame themselves:

In one study, Dweck and I asked people to reflect on a time when they were rejected in a romantic context, and then write about the question: What did you take away from this rejection? For some people, their answers made it clear that the rejection had come to define them—they assumed that their former partners had discovered something truly undesirable about them. For example, one person wrote: “Things were going well when all of a sudden he stopped talking to me. I have no idea why, but I think he saw that I was too clingy and this scared him away.” Another said: “I learned that I am too sensitive and that I push people away to avoid them pushing me away first. This characteristic is negative and makes people crazy and drives them away.” 

In these types of stories, rejection uncovered a hidden flaw, one that led people to question or change their own views of themselves—and, often, they portrayed their personalities as toxic, with negative qualities likely to contaminate other relationships. One study participant wrote: “I learned that I have a part of my personality that sabotages my happiness.” Another confessed: “I just feel hurt and rejected. I try to tell myself that it wasn’t my fault and that it was that person’s loss but I can’t help but feel inadequate.”

Many of these stories were similar to the ones I’d heard from friends after their own breakups. The refrains were familiar:  “Why wasn’t I good enough?” or “Is there something wrong with me?” When people see ex-partners in new relationships, they often ask themselves: “What does she or he have that I don’t?”

You May Also Like: