Whether someone breaks up with you or chooses not to date you in the first place, rejection is painful for a number of reasons. First of all, rejection of any sort can be hard not to take personally. Even if you're generally a confident person, it can send you into a tailspin of speculation over what they found undesirable or what you did wrong. And if you were in a relationship, there's that added layer of grief over losing someone who was a huge part of your life.
In the wake of rejection, it's important to do whatever it takes (within reason) to feel better — and to recite all the positive mantras you can. One thing that provides an escape and words of encouragement for me is music. Rejection is a popular subject of songs, probably because musicians — like the rest of us — struggle to deal with it and use their music as an outlet. I'd venture to say there would be far fewer songs in existence if it weren't for heartbreak.
Here are a few songs that have given me a new perspective on rejection and consequently helped me move on after relationships ended or never began.
If your impulse is to take rejection as a sign that nobody will ever love you ever, this song will console you — because Ben Gibbard wants you to know it's not you, it's him. You can have "eyes like the summer, all beauty and truth" and still get rejected! It's just that "your heart belongs to someone you've yet to meet." And one day, "you'll be loved like you never have known and the memories of [him] will seem more like bad dreams." Which is true. Generally, after one relationship ends, you'll eventually find something even better, and your last relationship's ending won't feel like a tragedy anymore.
After someone breaks your heart, it's tempting to plot and scheme to get them back. But Shakira makes an excellent point about this impulse:
For you, I'd give up all I ownAnd move to a communist countryIf you came with me, of courseAnd I'd file my nails so they don't hurt youAnd lose those pounds, and learn about footballIf it made you stay, but you won't, but you won't.
"Don't Bother" also models a dignified, self-pity-free attitude to have in the wake of a breakup with lyrics like "Don't bother, I won't die from deception."
This song is an ode to the relationship that ends not with a bang but a whimper. While acknowledging that there's nothing either party could do to make the relationship work or ease the pain of the parting, Damon Michael Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy) assures his lost love that one thing won't change: "I will always love you."
Here's another "it's not you, it's me" song to remind us that breakups are necessary even when they break our hearts. Sometimes, it's "time to be a big girl" and do the hard but essential thing, because "the path that [you're] walking, [you] must go alone."
"Better in Time" reminds us that even though we may feel like complete shit and "it's gonna hurt when it heals too," our heartache won't last forever — and even when we're drowning in tears, we can still "smile because [we] deserve to."
The late Amy Winehouse spreads a message of independence and strength in this soulful tune:
He walks awayThe sun goes downHe takes the day, but I'm grownAnd in your wayIn this blue shadeMy tears dry on their own
It's comforting to have someone there to dry your tears but equally comforting to know they'll dry all by themselves.
When someone's dumping or rejecting you, you have two options. You can ask them what the problem was and leave yourself vulnerable to hearing a litany of things wrong with you, or you can trust that it simply wasn't a match and you're already aware of anything you might have done wrong. "Don't Speak" reminds us that usually, you "don't need [someone's] reasons," and it's best not to hear them "because it hurts."
This one's for when your ex comes crawling back, and you're like...
Sometimes you need a reminder that the relationship ended for a reason to maintain your pride and refuse to let someone break your heart a second time.
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