Is There Any Hope At All?

is the world really horrible and mean?Q Dear Miss Abigail:

What do you do if you asked a girl out, in a romantic fashion and in a foreign land, and she indirectly says no, but you still like this person and you have not been able to get her out of your mind for the past 8 months?


A Dear Sameer:

Without more information (how indirect was she, exactly?) it is hard to tell whether or not there is hope for you. It may be the pessimist in me, but I have a feeling that the situation will not work out in your favor, even if you do approach this girl again with your true feelings. It might be best just to move on. Here is a bit of advice to help you through these rough times.

1963: Surviving Disappointment in Love

Love, even when solidly won, can never be guaranteed. Your beloved may dote on you madly for a while ~ and then for one reason or another find you a bore. Or unkind fate ~ such as a move to a distant part of the country ~ may separate you from the woman you love. Or your inamorata may die, and be irrevocably taken from you.

For a number of reasons, then, you may fail to win a woman’s love in the first place, or you may gain her affection and have it rudely torn away from you in the second place. In such an event, you will naturally tend to sorrow over your loss; and unless you do something to minimize or mitigate this sorrow, it may turn to depression, despair, or even suicidal tendencies.

Can anything effective be done about your falling out of love with a woman or your conquering sorrow over loss of a beloved person? Yes, if you want to work hard at thinking and acting in this respect, something very definitely can be done to lessen amative involvements and alleviate love’s sorrows . . . .

If, therefore, you want to avoid depression and self-pity as a consequence of losing your beloved, you must look at the additional, gratuitous sentences that you are telling yourself afteryour appropriate sorrow-creating sentences. And you must vigorously, consistantly questionand challenge these unnecessary sentences, in theory and action, until they become significantly modified or disappear.

More concretely, you must ask yourself: “Why am I a worthless fool just because I have made human mistakes and have lost out with Mary?” . . . “Why is it impossible for me to ever hope to win and keep a worthwhile girl again?” . . . “Is the world really horrible and mean, just because I have lost Mary?” . . . “Will people like Jack and Eddie, who were partly instrumental in my losing Mary, actually be able to keep frustrating me in this way? And are they really bastards, just because they interfered with my relationship with Mary?”

While challenging your own catastrophizing, depression- and anger-creating philosophies in this way, you must also combat them in action. That is to say, you must force yourself to look for another girl like Mary; go out into the world and show yourself that there are other joys in life aside from sex and love; deliberately see people like Jack and Eddie, and show yourself that they are not blackguards, but do have good points in spite of their helping you lose Mary. If, verbally and actively, you fight your own despair-creating views, you will soon come to see and to feelhow ridiculous they are, and will acquire a saner philosophy of life that will still leave you with normal sorrow and regret over the loss of Mary, but will prevent you from becoming intensely and prolongedly upset about this loss.

You can, then, observe your negative emotions; reassess and reevaluate the philosophic assumptions that lie behind and cause them; and change them so that you still remain an emoting, feeling human being, but one who experiences little or no deep despair or self-hatred, while still experiencing suitable levels of sadness, sorrow, and frustration. All this, naturally, is difficult for you to do, when you have been born and raised as you have been. But, as I keep telling my psychotherapy patients and marriage counseling clients, it is much more difficult for you not to do this.

Source: Ellis, Albert. Sex and the Single Man. New York: Lyle Stuart, 1963.
~ pp. 92, 94-95 ~