R E B U I L D I N G O N L I N E C O U R S E
SECTION THREE -
Here is the scoreboard : Dumpers end the relationship - Dumpees have it ended for them.
Naturally the adjustment process differs since dumpers feel more guilt and dumpees feel more rejection.
Dumpers start their adjustment process while still in the relationship but dumpees start adjusting later.
For the 'mutuals' (those who jointly decide to end the relationship) the adjustment process is somewhat easier.
At this point let me explain that I am going to present four key concepts that are very closely intertwined but also I should point out that it may get confusing at times. We are going to be viewing the two main characters in the end of a relationship drama as the dumper or the dumpee and we will be exploring the nature of two very strong feelings which accompany the trauma of relationship endings - GUILT and REJECTION.
There are different groups of people at this stage in the recovery process. Those who walk around in shock, lying on the ground trying to get their emotional wind back or those walking around looking guilty and trying not to look at those on the ground. Then there are the others who are walking around holding hands with their former lover..
On the ground is the dumpee who were walking the pathway of life when their partner announced they were leaving them and the relationship. OK sometimes the dumpee had some warning and sometimes none at all but either way they have a great deal of difficulty accepting the ending of the relationship.
Now those looking guilty are the dumpers. They had been thinking about leaving the relationship for sometime and were always busy trying to get their courage up because they knew it would hurt their partner. So naturally they avoid looking at the dumpees laying on the ground because that makes them feel more guilty. Besides they have moved on further along the process than the dumpee and don't have the same intensity of feelings.
Finally, the one holding hands are the MUTUALS having jointly decided to end the relationship. However in my imaginary picture do you notice how few of them there are! OK I hear your question 'why are they ending a relationship if they are such good friends?' Because they are such good friends they think of each other and don't wish to be unhappy together in the relationship they have and they want the relationship to end to the benefit of both of them.
To summarise what we are going to be discussing and exploring in this session:
Dumpers are the partners who leave the relationship, and they often feel considerable guilt; dumpees are the partners who want to hang on to the relationship, and they often experience feelings of rejection. Of course it is not really as simple as that but later we will explore in more detail and at this stage I am giving you a map of what we are going to explore.
Nearly everyone has been a dumpee in some relationship and we all know how no one enjoys rejection. I have found that I become very introspective, continually examining myself to find what fault within me causes people to reject me, such self examination helps me to see myself more clearly and perhaps, as a result, I will change the way I relate to people. So in one sense feeling rejected is helpful. Everyone brings much of their past into a relationship, a past which often determines the course of events in a relationship. Because the relationship has ended it does not mean that I am inadequate or inferior or that there is something wrong with me. Feeling good about yourself is a difficult goal to meet and so don't feel discouraged if it takes quite a period of time to admit that the responsibility is mutual and not yours or your partners alone.
You are a worthwhile person capable of loving and being loved and you have something special to offer and that is your own unique individual self.
Now let us look at guilt. If you feel no guilt you are being harmful to yourself and others because a sense of guilt is helpful in making decisions about the way one chooses to live. Unfortunately, many people experience so much guilt that they become inhibited and controlled and so the happy balance is just enough guilt to maintain a sense of direction without restricting future options.
The dumper feels powerful feelings of guilt in hurting someone they love or used to love and so the best solution is to listen to your head rather than your heart given that the end of the relationship is positive because the relationship developed into being destructive for both people. Instead of sitting around feeling guilty those involved need to be able to say 'this is probably the best decision for both of us.'
One way to resolve guilt is to punish yourself to relieve the guilt. If you see yourself as trying to punish yourself by setting yourself up to expereince pain in relationships, maybe you should look at the feelings of guilt which may be motivating your behaviour.
Guilt is usually a result of not living up to some standard of behaviour. If the standard is one you have freely chosen for yourself, and is it a possible one, it is probably healthy to feel some guilt about falling short. But if the standard is someone else's, or society's and not one you have adopted for your own your guilt feelings are not productive. So time to give yourself a break as it is tough enough to live up to your own standards and you can't please everyone.
'But,' you tell me, 'staying married is one of my standards. I feel guilty because I didn't make the marriage work, so I failed on of my own standards.' I realise and understand the feeling. What I hope for you is that you can come to accept your own humaness. Nobody is perfect so maybe you should take a look at that guilt and consider a more useful response to the situation. Try this one for size: 'My partner and I aren't able to make our relationship meet our needs and provide us happiness. It appears that, somehow or another, we didn't learn enough about interacting with another person.'
One person in the seminar responded at this point to what I said and shared how they remembered whilst at school taking a test that they hadn't fully prepared for. They did badly on the test at the time but didn't fail the whole course. As an adult we can feel guuilty because a relationship didn't work. Maybe we can learn from the experience so we can do better next time. We may even help our ex partner to learn something positive about themselves for the future.
I want at this stage to compare appropriate guilt to the large reservoir of guilt that seems to be free floating within our feelings and personalities. Appropriate guilt is when we do something wrong or do something to hurt somebody, and we feel badly about it. When a relationship ends, it is very appropriate for us to feel bad about hurting somebody or for that matter hurting ourselves. So here appropriate guilt is a process we move through.
However, many of us have long standing guilt, usually from childhood, that is a large reservoir of guilty feelings waiting to be released. Some event will come along and tap inot this reservoir of guilt. Then we will suddenly feel so guilty that we feel anxious, afraid and fearful. The guilt grows to become overwhelming because it does not appear attached to anything or related to anything. It just feel hugh in both our mind and our heart. If we have this sort of free floating guilt within us we may need help in counselling to cut down and remove the guilt so we can get it under control or make sure that we do not project such feelings again our future life.
Acceptance is an important aspect of dealing with rejection and guilt. In my seminars over the years the emotional atmosphere is that of accepting one's own feelings and a feeling of emotional support and so being with people going through similar processes makes us feel accepted. So if you can find warm, supportive, accepting friends you will be able to heal feelings of rejection.
Rejection and guilt are also closely tied to feelings of self worth and self love which we will be discussing and exploring later in our work togetther. Our aim is to improve your feelings of self worth and self love so in the future you will be less devastated by rejection.
At this stage you may not know if you are a dumper or a dumpee . First of all you might not have thought about it. Second, the roles may switch back and forth. For example. George and Margaret were childhood sweethearts who married soon after leaving school. During the courtship and marriage, George was continually going out with other women, leaving home for short periods of time and acting like a dumper wanting out of the relationship. Finally Margaret told us how she reached her 'martyr's tolerance limit' and filed for a divorce. Immediately George's behaviour and language became those of a dumpee. Margaret and George had switched roles.
Language is a clue to whether you are a dumper or dumpee for when I am talking to the seminar group I frequently identify someone as a dumper or dumpee justby the question she or he asks. How well dumper vocabulary goes like this: 'I need some time and spac to ge my head straight. I need to be out of this relationship in order to get the time and space I care for you, but don't love you enough to live with you.. I feel bad about hurting you , but there is noting I can do about that because staying with you would also hurt you. Can we be friends?'
Dumpee vocabularly goes like this: 'Please don't leave me! Why don't you love me? Tell me what is wrong with me and I will change. There must be something wrong with me, and I don't know what it is. Please tell me what I did wrong. I thought we had a good relationship and I don't see why you want to leave. Please give me some more time before you leave. I want to be friends but I love you. Please dont leave me.'
The dumper may reply: 'I have been tring for a long time to tell you that I was unhappy in the relationship and that we needed to change. You just wouldn't listen. I have tried everything. I don't have any more time. You keep hanging onto me and I just want to befriends.'
Dumpees at this point are likely to be hurt and to cry. They become introspective and try to understand what went wrong: 'Why am I unloveable?' and 'Why did our relationship have to end?' Often there is denial of feelings while the dumpee gains time to recover from the shock. The emotional pain is great for the dumpee at this point.
The vocabularly seems universal; almost all dumpers and dumpees use the same words. The problem of timing is evident. The dumper claims to have been trying for 'months and years' to do something about the problem, during much of that time thinking about leaving. The dumpee has not heard this dissatisfaction, perhaps because he or she had started using denial long before the dumper actually left. But when the dumper makes the announcement, the dumpee really starts denying and refusing to believe there is anything wrong, 'We had such a good relationship!'
Notice the difference in priorities. The dumper wants to work on personal growth and the dumpee want to work on the relationship The dumpee is angry but the dumpee does not express these words because the divorce is still in the honeymoon period.
During this period the dumper is feeling much guilt, acting super nice, will to give the dumpee anything. The dumpee is feeling rejected, willing to give the dumper anything. The dumpee is feeling rejected, anxious for the dumper to come back, and afraid to express anger for fear it will drive the dumper even further away.
Eventually anger replaces the feeling of guilt in the dumper and the feelings of rejection in the dumpee. Then the divorce honeymoon period is over. This phase often begins around three months after separation, but the timing may vary. 'Good court settlemets' are often negotiated while dumpers feel so guilty they will give up everything, and while dumpees will settle for anything in the ope of gettng the dumper back.
Within this basic structure there are two other elements to consider. The good dumper is a person who has tried to work on the relationship in order to make it alst. A good dumper was willing to make changes, invest emotionally in trying to change, and for marriage counselling. But finally realised that the relationship was destructive to both people, and that it is better to end an unhealthy relationship than to continue to destroy each other. This person has the courage and strength to end the relationship, and it often takes a great deal of courage and strength.
Bad dumpers are similar to run away kids. They believe the grass is greener on the other side and all that is needed for happiness is to get out of the relationship. There is often another relationship waiting in the wings. The bad dumper avoids dealing with feelings and avoids looking inside at attitudes that might need to be changed. Bad dumpers often leave quickly without even a goodbye conversation or explanation of their intent to end the partnership.
Good dumpees are open, honest, willing to work on the relationship and willing to go for counselling. They seldom have had an affair, and have likely worked on communicating. They are no innocent victims in the sense that they too have done things to hurt the relationship. They are basically at the wrong time and place when the internal explosion and the need to be out of the relationship takes place in the dumper.
bad dumpees are people who want out of the relationship but do not have the courage and strength to be the dumper. They make it miserable for the other person who then is forced into being the dumper.
There are few who fit perfectly into these four categories. Most people are a combination of both good and bad dumpers or dumpees.
Another important series of elements in the dumper dumpee relationship is the pain cycle. The dumper is not hurting as much when the relationship ends, but the dumpee's pain is great and motivates rapid growth and adjustment. When the dumpee is reaching a good emotional adjustment, the dumper frequently comes back and begins talking about reconcilliation. This really blows the dumpee away. Gordon exclaimed, 'I devoted all of my emotional energy to learning to accept the ending of the relationship and I'd given up learning to accept the ending of the relationship and I'd given up completely the hope that John would come back. And then he called me!'
There are many different ways to interpet this phenomenon: Perhaps the dumper, in contrast to the sense of euphoria when they first left, has found it so scary out there in the single world that the security of the old relationship looks good. Another interpretation is illustrated by dumpee anger, 'He made me the dumpee. Now he wants to make me the dumper, to share the guilt!' Perhaps the best explanation comes from observing that the dumper comes back around the time the dumpee is 'making it' sucessfully. Maybe when John no longer felt the quilt and responsibility of having Gorden cling with dependency he felt free to come back into the more equal realationship.
The typical dumpee reaction is not to take the dumper back. Dumpees find that they can make it on their own, that being single has advantages, and that it feels good to expereince the personal growth they have been experiencing. If you get a dumpee to talk long enough, you will learn what was wrong with the relationship. It is only during the first period of denial that the dumpee maintains there was nothing wrong wtih the relationship. 'Now I can see what was happening all of those years! Besides, I don;t see that much change and personal growth in JOhn, so why should I want the old relationship back?' At this point the dumper usually gets dumped!
I hope that this discussion of dumpers and dumpees will enable you to see that feelings of guilt and rejection are part of the process. Intellectual understanding is often the first step of awareness that leads to emotional understanding. Feelings of guilt and rejection are normal and typlical during the ending of a relationship - in fact you may have been experiencing these feelings before. But the ending of a relationship tends to magnify and emphasize feelings so you can be more aware of them and thus learn to deal with the more effectively.
Take some time now to consider the different perspectives partners get of what happened during the dissolution.
Take a look at the checklist so we can prepare for our discussion.
1. I am no longer overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and/or rejection.
2. I can accept that I was either a dumper or a dumpee or that we made a mutual decision.
3. I can now accept that being a dumper may not necessarily mean I should now remain feeling guilty.
4. I can now accept that being a dumpee may not necessarily mean I should feel rejected and unlovable.
5. I am aware of the difference in feelings and behaviour between dumpers and dumpees.
6. I realise that both dumpers and dumpees feel emotional pain even though it may differ in both timing and intensity.
7. I understand that in some areas I was a dumper and in other areas I was a dumpee, since this is typical of most relationships.
8. I understand the concept of dumper/dumpee is most meaningful at the point of separation and as I grow and move forwards it becomes less and less important to me in life.
9. I have looked at my life patterns to see if rejection or guilt feelings have controlled much of my behaviour.
10. I am working to overcome the influence of rejection and guilt in my life.
(c) Steven Warren 1996 - 2014. All rights reserved. firstname.lastname@example.org Official Website.