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Waking Up From a False Reality Can Be Harsh

My 19-year-old son was looking like the world had just ended, so I asked him what was up.

The girl we thought was his girlfriend told him she’d been ‘accidentally’ leading him on for two months. She was never interested in him romantically but merely feeling insecure as she was nervous about making friends.

“Accidentally?” I asked. He just stared at the floor.

Apparently, when my son showed interest, this particular girl encouraged his romantic advances because she needed someone to hang out with. Now that she has other options, the ‘romance’ has outlived its purpose.

The girl in question is doing what many girls do. Compared to what many boys and man-boys do to girls and women, it’s lightweight stuff. This doesn’t justify the manipulation but merely acknowledges such deceptions as commonplace.

Relationships aren’t the point of this post

Reality is.

You can read a breakdown about why people engage in the romantic manipulation mentioned in this post, but from here on we’ll focus on beliefs and reality.

When you wake up from a spun reality, it’s mentally and emotionally jarring. This is because we rely on our beliefs about reality so heavily. Believing what is true and reality are hard to separate.

Because beliefs are subject to change without warning, so then is our entire sense of reality. Depending on which reality changes, this can either be a good or bad thing.

Finding out that your company won’t be doing layoffs after all might be a huge relief.

Discovering the religion you’ve always followed is based on lies…that’s an existential crisis.

Finding out your spouse has been cheating on you for years pulls the rug of your life out from under you.

The principle is true on a smaller scale, too. My son lived for two months thinking he was laying the foundation of a romantic relationship. Suddenly, his world is not what it seemed. It’s confusing, angering, heart-breaking and mind-boggling at the same time. All this can lead to feelings of overwhelm.

What to do when reality undergoes upsetting updates?

My quick thoughts are:

Be patient with yourself. Give it time to settle in before feeling like you must make decisions. Your emotions are catching up with reality. This can take time.

Expect to be angry. After all, you may feel like you’ve been intentionally deceived and used, and you may actually have been. Anger is a natural consequence. You may want to process your anger and fully come to terms with it before making any public responses. Most of all, try to express your anger in a mature way.

Rethink reality. There may be little difference between reality and what you believe to be real. Experiencing a reality change can be a life lesson that prepares you to handle future lessons of this kind. In other words, if you know reality is based on beliefs, you may not become so attached to your beliefs.

Of course, this raises other questions, but not for this post:)



Waking Up From a False Reality Can Be Harsh

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2019). Waking Up From a False Reality Can Be Harsh. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Apr 2019
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