The Dignity of Being Dumped.

Via Kristin Luce
on Jun 21, 2012
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What to Do When You Feel Demoted to the Scum on The Bottom of His Shoe.

So here’s the humiliating truth: I was just dumped.

I can’t even hate him because he did it so kindly and with such maturity—which is the reason, of course, why our parting is not mutual. I still love the dude.

Take my advice: Don’t ever get into a relationship with a mature man. Seriously. It will strip you of every pettiness, take away every excuse to vent your feelings, rob you of that fleeting thrill of being right and snuff out the glow of getting to be ever-so-slightly superior.

Loving a mature man forces you to become mature as well, if only because the alternative is to be exposed as a total ass.

Unfortunately, this all happens at the precise moment that you feel least able to act maturely—in fact, it necessarily happens when you are at your most vulnerable. It’s like standing there with your pants around your ankles, offering your soft, little throbbing heart in outstretched, cupped hands saying, “Here, this is for you…” as you watch him walk away.

Why, you may ask, does it absolutely and predictably have to suck at that particular moment? Because that’s what being dumped is: it is you wanting him (or, at the very least, wanting him to want you) and him saying the equivalent of “It’s been nice knowin’ ya.”

There are three possible responses to this situation, all of which are equally unappealing.

One, you can lie: “Yeah, I know, at least we tried it. You’re wonderful but I have to agree that it wouldn’t have worked out. See you around.”

Two, you can blame: “Wow, so you’re just like the rest of them after all, scared of commitment. Really, I thought you were better than this.”

Three, you can grovel. (I trust that this one needs no explanation).

Each being equally transparent and pathetic, the real dilemma is this: Do I act in one of these juvenile and humiliating ways, or do I take the hit? Do I actually just feel the burn of being open, offered and rejected in front of the very person who just caused it? Whoa.

The dictionary definition of “pathetic” is, “arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness.” And yet “pity” simply means, “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others.”

So really, being dumped just means that you are a vulnerable being for whom others feel compassion because of your suffering and misfortune. When put that way, it doesn’t sound so bad.

But it is bad. It’s very bad. I know what bad feels like, and being pitied and pathetic tops the charts.

So why should it be so hard that my former sweetheart feels compassion for my sorrow and vulnerability (and as I look into those beautiful eyes, it seems he certainly does)?

I can tell you why it’s so hard—because I don’t.

I don’t feel compassion for this sweet, open-hearted, emotionally naked woman who was just dumped. I feel flawed, exposed, unlovable and yes, dumped. I feel like my lover and I both just disrobed for the first time, entranced by the thrill of our immanent love-making, and he took one look and said, “Ewwwww!”

But he’s not saying that about me. I am. What friend would say, “Whoa, you were dumped? You must be a piece of dirt under someone’s finger nails.” No one—except one’s own mind—would have the gall to say something like that.

Being dumped puts us face to face with every fear we have that we are not good enough, strong enough, beautiful enough, successful enough—usually going back to when we were about two years old and someone scowled at us, or worse. It flushes every insecurity, real or imagined, to the surface.

Being dumped doesn’t feel dignified at all. But it is.

Being dumped just means that we stayed in and stayed strong. We trotted our hearts out there and let them stand, without requiring validation. As we squirmed—not knowing if we would be met or not—we didn’t retreat.

Maybe I am not the woman for him, but I did not lie about who I am or the affection that I feel. Somewhere there must be a great theme song playing in the background as I stood there, proclaiming my true love, even as he gently and sweetly declined it. John Cusack in Say Anything, with his boom box over his head serenading his unrequited lover, comes to mind.

Okay, that may be a bit dramatic, but you get the idea. How could it be shameful to love? Why would we make it mean something objectionable about ourselves simply because the object of our affection does not match our adoration?

The alternatives to standing firm in the face of unrequited love—lying, blaming or groveling—may indeed be disgraceful. But a full heart loving what it loves, even in the absence of being met—well, that may be the very definition of dignity.



Editor: Cassandra Smith

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About Kristin Luce

Kristin Luce is slowly going sane by using her actual life and relationships to wake up. Her quest for truth has led her through a B.A. in Philosophy, an M.A. in Buddhist Psychology, intensive retreat practice, certification as a Meditation Instructor, two life-changing relationships and two life-changing kids. She now provides in-depth coaching for individuals and couples who want profound and dramatic transformation. An avid writer, she has been featured in such publications as Mothering Magazine and The Buddhadharma, and is a regular contributor to elephant journal. Friend her on Facebook, Twitter, her website or contact her at


35 Responses to “The Dignity of Being Dumped.”

  1. […] Kristin Luce offers up a great piece on one of life’s universal miseries… So here’s the humiliating truth: I was just dumped. […]

  2. carolyn says:

    love this kristin. thanks thanks, lovely woman.

  3. Brian says:

    Tenderly and well written.

  4. Barbara says:

    You made a true mockery out of being mocked and I loved it…. Fiction or non. loved it all the way.

  5. Sophie says:

    Yes,well written-so easy to relate to…

  6. anonymous says:

    There have been so many time over the last few years that I have read your words and they were like a gentle massage of courage that I am not alone in my feelings. Thank you.

  7. James says:

    Moving from humiliation to humility – the essential maitri practice. Thank you!

  8. Becca says:

    Timely and beautiful, as always. Thanks, Kristin.

  9. Peter says:

    This is an amazing article. I am so moved by this. I'm going to share it with my friend. Her divorce was just recently finalized, but I think she's still carrying resentment and hurt. This makes a pretty fine argument for openness and dignity in the face of it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Good article on really showing up in difficult situations.

  11. Anna says:

    This is great. I felt that too. I was crying and feeling whole and happy at the same time. Maybe the same goes for us as in the quote from "Say Anything:" "You are not a girl. The world is full of girls. Be a woman." Haha!

  12. Laurel says:

    I love it! Thanks for writing so honestly and gracefully. It sucks to be dumped…left wide open and achy…

  13. KristinSLuce says:

    Beautifully said. Thanks, James 🙂

  14. KristinSLuce says:

    Love that quote! It's the magic of real maturity, the kind that doesn't skip over our actual experience, but honors the whole and tender heart. Thanks, Anna 🙂

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am enjoying tracking your writing, your vulnerability as gift, your learning.

  16. KristinSLuce says:

    Thank you, Carolyn — from one lovely to another 🙂

  17. Louisa says:

    I admire your honesty and Vulnerability.

  18. Carol says:

    such a good article………thank you. Self-compassion, oh yeah.

  19. Emily says:

    I love it, love your courage and humor 🙂

  20. Debi says:

    Just read that to a couple 16 year olds, male and female. Both liked it! Thx!

  21. Ingrid says:

    You can reply, "I may not be your first choice, but I'm a great choice!"

    Then walk away with a wink and a smile.

    Something for him to think about when he's old, alone, down and out and/or lonely. 😉

  22. KristinSLuce says:

    I know! One part of me feels worthless, and the other part is like, huh? How could you walk away from such awesomeness 🙂

  23. Cesare says:

    But it's not always the case that the dumper does the dumping with dignity. Saying "It's not you it's me" is usually patronizing and dishonest. Of course, it's that situation when one needs their own dignity even more.

  24. April says:

    Anger is a natural response to being dumped because of some “mature” reason this man came up with to dump you. If you wanted to call him a jerk, etc. for this, then calling him a jerk out of a place within yourself is the natural and sane thing to do.

    Because you have chosen not to take this route, then perhaps you went straight from anger to grief. What you say is dignity is the response of grief. Grief is healthy and a natural response but where does the anger go? What does anger turn into? Does anger turn into depression or not feeling good enough or feeling more insecure, etc? Or maybe it turns into voicing your strong opinions about men and relationships and how women should be treated better in our society.

    If the anger is not felt and expressed in some way, it will turn into condemnation of men, self, and relationships. Anger does leak out and becomes the shadow if not consciously confronted.

    Secondly, I do not believe that this man was mature at all. He wanted to have sex with other women and that is why he dumped you. Plain and simple. Men do not think like women and when women believe that men behave and think as women do (that everyone is really good and nice and that they want to emotionally connect), then we are in trouble. Women already are believing that men think like women, such as that men will take care of things and that they will do the right thing. That is B.S. because look at the way our country and government are run- by men who are sociopaths (they do not have a caring function for the benefit of others).

    With all that said, I am truly sorry that this man “dumped” you. But to you and the thousands of other women who have been dumped by men (me included), we do have a right to feel anger and express it, not bypassing it.

    And my last point is that I am a bit concerned that when clients see you in your therapeutic profession, that you will not automatically bypass their anger and go to a place that justifies them not feeling anger, only grief and self-pity.

  25. mindfuladoptees says:

    I agree with your comments. I think when men state, it's not you, it's me, it really
    means they want to have sex with other women.

  26. Sue says:

    Wow. Your best article yet, and that’s saying something. Dignity comes from strength, and strength comes from within. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Another home run Kristin!

  27. tridentgirl says:

    I really loved this article, thank you!

  28. Muks says:

    Often there is more involved in dumping someone, there are lies and other disrespectful behaviors. Sometimes we learn about the tuth of many things he said, when he actually dumps us. Of course we are allowed to be angry.

    It is not just the eeeeww, I hate the person below your clothes! Remember one of those Friends episodes where someone dates a terribly annoying person. Instead of dumping that person asap, lies are told, holidays are made up, friends are invited to participate in those lies, of course everyone including the viewer knows what is going on, except that oh so annoying person.

    I have been this annoying person before. Instead of dumping me, I had to call him and squeeze that dump out of him. I had no dignity for me, no respect left for him, whatsoever. I allowed myself an outburst and made him listen. If I were again in that situation, I would scream at him for hours again. It was the first step of the grieving process, well, the second actually, but by the dump moment I had already been over the denial phase.

  29. KristinSLuce says:

    Yes, that's
    "when one needs their dignity even more." In this case it was not a terse "it's not you, it's me," blow-off. And it is true that the letting go, or moving on, is not always done with full integrity. Thanks for you post!

  30. KristinSLuce says:

    That is certainly the fear, and sometimes, may be even often, the case. But, as it turns out, men are just humans too. How many reasons might I have to break up with someone? Seems that men should have the same rights and range here too. And, even if they are looking to sleep with someone else, isn't that kind of their prerogative? (like, if I wanted to sleep with someone else, wouldn't it be *kind* to break up with my partner first!).

  31. Jeff says:

    Loved the article, as usual, and you, as always.

  32. KristinSLuce says:

    My article was not particularly about anger, but about tracking my actual process around feeing rejected. I did not feel anger, and I hear that you think I bypassed it. I realize that it may be outside some people's experience to have a person, in this case a man, meet you with dignity and respect even as he says "no" (what I referred to as "mature") rather than devising a concocted response to seem to be beyond reproach.

    In this case, my lover was not dumping me to be with someone else. It has been over 3 months actually. Your point about not skipping over anger (and grief) are well-taken though. If that is what is real, then that is where to meet ourselves. You may want to read some of my other articles here in Elephant Journal that have plenty of anger in them (infused with humor as well).

    Thanks for your post, April.

  33. KristinSLuce says:

    I love that you say "I had to squeeze that dump out of him." Yes, there are many variations and flavors of how we reject or are rejected. What I see clearly in your comments are how we "dump ourselves" by not leaving a situation that we know to be bad for us, and eventually and predictably are dumped by them instead. Thank you for your post!

  34. elizabeth says:

    only if we'll search well we would see an appointment in every disappointment.. more grace to your elbow kristin