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by Abigail Van Buren

Recent Divorcee Is Unhinged by Men's Romantic Rejection

DEAR ABBY: I am a 30-year-old, attractive, recently divorced attorney and single mother. My problem is I become extremely threatened when I'm romantically rejected, and I need to know how to gain a healthier approach to rejection.

I have dated occasionally, but nothing has developed into anything serious because I have yet to find someone with whom I feel completely compatible. However, when I start dating someone and he doesn't feel the same, it negatively affects my self-esteem. I feel and act depressed, and then I begin feeling insecure, anxious and irrational.

I recently drove someone away because when he didn't call me one night, I went wild with anger and anxiety. I realize this heightened response is not normal. It is also quite painful. Frankly, the intensity of my feelings frightened me, and I'm at a loss about how to handle it.

How can I get over feeling so insecure in relationships so rejection won't damage and disrupt my sense of self? -- DISCOMBOBULATED IN BROOKLYN

DEAR DISCOMBOBULATED: May I remind you that the process of dating is like sifting for gold for everyone involved. It can take a lot of effort and sifting before you finally strike the mother lode. When it comes to dating, I know of few things that are more of a turn-off than a woman -- or a man -- who has the word "needy" stamped on her (or his) forehead.

If you felt good about yourself, you would not be so dependent upon these men for validation. Your intense, angry and anxious reactions when a man doesn't call may be related to your divorce -- or they may stem from earlier insecurities you brought into your marriage. Unless you develop confidence about your self-worth, your relationships with men won't change.

Please give this some thought -- and if you agree that I'm on the right track, consider consulting a psychologist who can help you develop some tools for emotional independence. Once you have achieved it, your odds of meeting "Mr. Right" will be much better.