Why does breakups hurt

Why Breakups Hurt Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically

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Breakups can be difficult to deal with, especially because they can stir up feelings of rejection, alter your daily routine, and make you feel generally upset. If you've ever struggled to get over a split, you know that the post-breakup ache is unlike any other. But have you ever wondered exactly why the end of a relationship feels so painful?

INSIDER consulted with experts to figure out the scientific and psychological reasons why breakups hurt so badly.  

Your body can go into 'fight-or-flight' mode after a breakup

When you go through a breakup, especially one that's unexpected, your body may register it as an emergency and go into "fight-or-flight" mode. Being in this state triggers the release of hormones that can prepare your body to stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety, according to Very Well Mind. It can also trigger a rapid heartbeat or trembling. 

"Our muscles tense, we lose our appetite, we may experience [gastrointestinal] disruption, and we're likely to have trouble falling asleep. Being in this physically hyper-vigilant state over a period of time can lead to headaches, stomachaches, and muscle soreness," licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Kristin Bianchi told INSIDER. 

If your body feels like it's being impacted by a breakup, it's especially important to make sure you get enough sleep and eat well. Feeling out of sorts during a post-breakup period is normal but you should contact a health provider if your emotional distress is making it difficult for you to eat, sleep, or complete daily functions.

The emotional pain of breaking up can actually feel like physical pain Research has found that social rejection and physical pain can impact your body in some similar ways. Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDER

It's not your imagination — there's a reason nursing a broken heart can sometimes feel like healing from a physical blow. Some studies have found that our bodies sometimes respond to a breakup in the same way it reacts to physical pain.

"Research has shown that regions of the brain that get activated in response to physical pain also get activated in response to a breakup. Whether we've broken a bone or gotten dumped, many of the same underlying neurological structures are involved. This translates to the conscious experience of being in pain," Dr. Bianchi told INSIDER.

Going through a breakup can change your brain chemistry

Research has shown that when someone goes through a breakup, they experience a drop in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that are associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness.

"In the immediate aftermath of a breakup, we're going to experience these abrupt chemical changes almost as we would a type of withdrawal — complete with 'cravings' to be reunited with our exes," said Dr. Bianchi.

Post-breakup, your brain can enter a state of acute wanting that can make it difficult to focus on anything else. In fact, this relative deficit in the neurotransmitters associated with pleasurable feelings can even give rise to symptoms that resemble clinical depression.

If you're going through a tough breakup, it's extremely important that you monitor your mental health and seek professional help if you feel like you need it or it's become difficult for you to function in day-to-day life.

The pain of rejection could also be rooted in basic survival instincts 

For some species of animals, their odds of survival improve when they work together in groups. And on some levels, humans are the same — we're social creatures and our brains have evolved to help us want to preserve social bonds. And so losing any of these bonds, including romantic ones, can cause us to feel strong negative feelings. 

"One reason being broken up with is so painful lies in evolution. ⁣⁣Being rejected from a tribe or social group used to quite literally mean being cut off from shelter and food, putting our survival in jeopardy," licensed clinical social worker Meg Josephson told INSIDER.

In order to avoid the very-real danger of social abandonment, Josephson explained that our brains have developed to trigger pain the moment we sense we are in danger of being rejected. Even though, in most cases, losing a romantic partner no longer means we might be in danger of starving or freezing to death, our brains still respond to the loss of a "mate" by flooding us with negative emotions and feelings of pain.

People tend to crave rational explanations and logical solutions that breakups don't always offer Constantly wondering why a relationship didn't work can make it harder to move on. Getty Images

When something doesn't go as planned, people usually want to figure out whyespecially because knowing the cause of something can help us gather information to avoid future mistakes. But the rationale behind a breakup is seldom black and white, so it can be hard for our brains to process it.

"People find comfort in logic and being able to pinpoint the cause and effect of what went wrong. Unfortunately, because of the complex emotional aspects of romantic relationships, it's often hard to define exactly when and how something went awry. Without concrete information, which is typically not articulated, people tend to blame themselves and feel that it is a reflection of their overall desirability," said Josephson.

The pain associated with a breakup is often exacerbated by trying to backtrack and figure out what went wrong. It's usually impossible to pinpoint exactly why a relationship fell apart and repeatedly combing over the details of the breakup in your mind can stall the healing process.

Breaking up can feel like losing an investment

Relationships can be incredibly fulfilling, but they can demand a lot from you. When you've spent months or years building a life with another person, breaking up with them can make you feel like you've lost all of the emotional energy and material resources you spent on maintaining that partnership.

"Relationships involve big investments of feelings, attention, time and money. Losing a partner can make you feel as though everything you put into the relationship was wasted," board-certified psychologist Dr. Shane G. Owens told INSIDER.

Read More:  Should you keep in touch with your ex's friends and family? Here's what experts have to say.

The end of a serious relationship can sometimes mean taking the time to rebuild emotionally and financially. It can be useful to keep in mind that although you may no longer have a relationship with your former partner, the memories and experiences you have gained from that previous relationship can oftentimes be invaluable.  

In some cases, a breakup can make your daily life more demanding If you and your former partner shared household tasks like cooking and cleaning, you may feel overwhelmed by your to-do list post-breakup. Mike_shots/Shutterstock

Though it may not sound romantic, being in a relationship can often make it easier to handle the mundane details of daily life. When you break up, the loss of your partner might leave you with extra responsibilities that you're not accustomed to managing and they can add additional stress into your life.  

"When a breakup happens, basic things like doing laundry, picking up dry cleaning, or going grocery shopping — things your partner used to do — can be missed. In long-term relationships, people often experience what looks like memory loss because their partner was responsible for remembering things like phone numbers, addresses, and important dates,"  Dr. Owens told INSIDER.

Recovering from a breakup may mean altering your schedule to reclaim certain chores and tasks, which can be tough when you're already dealing with heartache.

Read More:

  • 4 signs your breakup might not be permanent

  • 9 things to say when breaking up with someone

  • How to know when you're ready to date again after a breakup, according to experts

The Painful Truth About Breakups

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Breakups are painful, no matter what brings them about and whether or not you want to break up. Initiating a breakup when the other person does not want to break up can cause sadness, guilt, and worry. Being broken up with can lead to feelings of hurt and rejection. Even if the breakup is mutual, it’s still natural to struggle with difficult feelings, like anger or depression, at least for a while.

As painful as the decision can be, there are healthy ways to deal with a breakup and get over a breakup. With time, support from family and friends, reflection, and self-compassion, healing can happen.

What Can Lead to a Breakup

Breakups happen for many reasons. Some reasons are external—such as one of you moving away, going to separate colleges, or going through another lifestyle change that affects how you prioritize relationships. Other reasons are more about internal changes—maybe you feel like you’ve grown apart, or you’re growing in different directions. In some cases, relationships are  unhealthy for one or both people. A relationship may come to an end naturally or may need to end to preserve one or both people’s mental health and well-being.

Communicating Deal-Breakers

Sometimes breakups happen because you and your partner (or partners) don’t share the same opinions, beliefs, or goals. That’s why it’s important to communicate your deal-breakers—the things that you won’t compromise on—early in the relationship. For example, if you want a monogamous relationship, then having a partner who wants an open or polyamorous relationship may be a deal-breaker for you.

It’s also important to understand that as we grow and evolve as people, things change: priorities, the kind of person we’re attracted to, what we want out of a relationship, and even our understanding of our own sexuality. This means that what we are willing to compromise on may change, too. For example, if a couple agrees that they do not want children and then one partner decides they do, compatibility of their unique life goals and desires may need to be revisited. If something changes for you while you’re in a relationship, it is important to be honest with yourself and, eventually, with your partner.

It’s okay if your deal-breakers are different from what your friends or family thinks is a priority. Ultimately, you get to decide what works for you in a relationship. Whatever you decide, it’s important to be clear about how you feel with a partner or potential partner.

Dealing with Infidelity

Infidelity, or cheating, can be defined differently in different relationships. Boundaries in one monogamous relationship may look different than boundaries in another, and the same is true for polyamorous or open relationships where there are more than two people involved. It’s important to communicate what you’re comfortable with and what your boundaries are. If you feel that important or well understood boundaries have been violated in a relationship, it’s okay to break up, even if your partner or others in your life don’t see infidelity the same way you do.

One important aspect of consent in a relationship is around sexual safety. If someone in a sexual relationship has sex with someone else without their partner’s knowledge, they are putting their partner at risk for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other complications. This is why it is a good idea to get tested for STIs if you find out your partner had sex with someone else.

What if There is No Specific Reason?

Sometimes, there may not be a specific reason to end the relationship—and that’s okay. We all change over time and sometimes something that felt comfortable at the beginning simply stops feeling that way over time. Simply wanting to leave a relationship is enough of a reason to break up. The most important part of being in a relationship is wanting to be in that relationship. If you no longer feel that way, it’s healthier to break up.

Nevertheless, it’s one thing to come to that conclusion and another to actually break up. Even when you know you want to break up with someone, it is not less sad or hurtful to actually do it. There may be things you still like or love about that person, and you may feel pain at the idea of losing out on those things after you break up with them.

Having the “breakup conversation” is another hard part about breaking up. Unless the other person feels similarly, it is likely that the person you are breaking up with will feel confused if there is no clear cause, so it is helpful to spend a little time thinking about how to describe your feelings in a way that honors you and addresses concern that the other person will likely have that they did something wrong. It’s important to be truthful with yourself while also being considerate of the other person’s feelings when delivering difficult news.

How You May Feel After a Breakup

Whether you initiated the breakup, you’ve been broken up with, or a breakup was mutual, ending a relationship can cause all kinds of emotions, including sadness, confusion, anger, and even sometimes relief. While there is no one right way to feel after a breakup, there are a few things to watch out for:

Low Self-Esteem

If you or others around you have the unhelpful habit of viewing past relationships as “failed” relationships, going through a breakup may make you question your self-worth, especially if you’ve been through multiple breakups. It is most healthy and true to see all of your relationships as part of your life experience and growth. It is very common and healthy to have more than one important relationship in life, and each one of them provides you with insight into yourself and what you want out of relationships.

If you initiated the breakup, you may feel like a bad person or that you’re incapable of having a lasting relationship. But ending a relationship does not mean the relationship failed, or that you’re a failure. If you were broken up with, you may feel unattractive or undesirable. But whether or not you’re in a relationship, or whether or not someone finds you desirable, is an unhealthy measure of your value as a person. What makes you valuable and deserving of love has nothing to do with what someone else thinks of you.


A breakup is a kind of loss, and it is not uncommon to feel “breakup depression,” or at least a deep sadness, in the aftermath. You may be grieving not just the past relationship, but the future you thought you’d have together. It’s normal to grieve the relationship and give yourself time to get past your sadness. But if symptoms of depression get worse or disrupt your everyday life, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional who can help you process your feelings.

How to Get Over a Breakup

There is no one way to deal with a breakup, and there is no set time it takes to get over a breakup. It’s important to let yourself process the breakup on your own terms and not push yourself to get over it or move on faster.

Grieve what was lost

After a breakup you may experience some of the stages of grief. With a breakup, these could look like:

  • Denial: You may not want to believe that the breakup is happening, or you believe the issues you’re having aren’t serious enough to break up over.
  • Bargaining: As a way to control the outcome or avoid accepting the breakup, you may start to try to make promises to change yourself or believe you can “fix” the relationship.
  • Anger: Depending on the situation, you may be angry at yourself, your ex, or express anger more generally at the circumstances that led to your breakup.
  • Depression: Once the reality starts to set in, you may feel a deep, lingering sadness. You may also feel hurt and alone, which may cause you to isolate yourself from your other relationships.

The eventual goal is to move toward acceptance so that you can again focus your attention on your own life and future. That doesn’t mean you need to be happy about the breakup, but it does mean allowing the anger or sadness to pass so you can experience a new beginning and move into the next chapter of your life.

Validate your feelings

Breakups can be messy, and you may be navigating a lot of complicated and intense feelings. Some are negative, like sadness or anger. Some may be positive, such as feelings of freedom, relief, or understanding. If there are lessons to take away about yourself or the relationship more broadly, give yourself time to understand them. Try to avoid returning to feelings of guilt or self-judgment, and instead focus on applying lessons learned from the relationship and creating a life you want and appreciate.

Coming to terms with changes and “the new normal”

When you lose a partner, you may also feel like you are losing a friend. If you spent a lot of time together or lived together, it will likely take time to create new daily habits, social connections, and routines. Depending on the circumstances, you also may need space from mutual friends, activities you shared, or places that remind you of your ex. A breakup can also mean needing to find a new place to live or splitting financial responsibilities.

While it is natural to mourn what we lose in a breakup, ending a relationship often opens up new  opportunities such as finding new hobbies, activities, and friendships, or reinvesting in ones that we didn’t prioritize during our relationship. A breakup, while painful, can open you up to new parts of your life that you might have never explored otherwise. Being open to new experiences and people is an important and healthy step to moving on.

Determining what you relationship with your ex should look like

Being friends with an ex is a common goal in popular movies and shows, and is even a goal we may set for ourselves before we ever experience a breakup. While it’s possible to stay friends, it takes a lot of honest communication and maturity.

In some cases, staying friends is a form of denial: it allows us to feel like we are in control of the situation and to avoid the reality of losing our partner or our lives altogether. But forcing yourself to maintain a friendship with an ex while either one of you still has complicated feelings about the breakup can prolong the pain of the breakup.

If you really do want to be friends with an ex, it’s important that both of you accept that the romantic relationship is over. And, it often requires time and space apart to transition from being romantic partners to being friends. Trying to force something different or sooner than what you are ready for can make establishing a comfortable friendship much harder in the long run.

Moving On From a Breakup

Once you have accepted a breakup, you can begin to move beyond the relationship and  into the next phase of your life.

Reflect on the Relationship

All of our relationships teach us about ourselves, even the relationships that have ended. An important part of moving on from a breakup and growing into the next part of your life is reflecting on the relationship.

Either by yourself, with a trusted friend, or with help from a mental health professional, ask these questions and be honest about your answers:

  • How did this relationship make me feel about myself?
  • What can I learn from how this relationship started, and how it ended?
  • Is there anything from this relationship that I want to have again in my next relationship? Is there anything from this relationship that I don’t want in my next relationship?
  • Was this a healthy relationship, or have I romanticized it now that we’re not together?

Relationships are a two-way street. Answering these questions honestly will help you figure out what you want out of a relationship, how to find someone who best fits your needs, and how to be a supportive partner to someone else.

Maintain your new normal

Getting through a breakup and adjusting to your new normal can be difficult. It may take time to feel normal living life without this relationship, or taking time away from mutual hobbies and friends. Encourage yourself to keep investing in other parts of your life, even when it feels hard. Stick with your new habits, hobbies, and friendships.

Open yourself up to new relationships

Learning from your past relationships will prepare you for a new relationship that will better fulfill your needs and help you grow even more. Your growth will also make you a better partner in the long run. When you are ready, be open to new experiences with a new partner.

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What love does to the brain, why breakups cause real pain and how to get over a breakup with the help of science - Knife

This is due to the fact that we are created to have relationships with other people and strive for intimacy. In the transformation of the primate brain into the human brain, social connections, which include love, have played and continue to play a huge role. We understand how the love chemistry of the brain works, what happens to the body at the time of a break, and how to cope with painful sensations and experiences.

How love affects the brain

To understand what happens to the brain during separation, you need to brush up on the physiological processes that accompany falling in love and developing attachment in mammals and humans. Science cannot answer the question why people and animals choose one partner for themselves and not another, but we know quite well what happens in the body.

I. Attraction

Butterflies in the stomach and physiological attraction are caused by sex hormones, mainly testosterone (in both sexes). It doesn't make people fall in love - it just provides libido.

II. Falling in love

Motivation to move and seek a partner comes from the neurotransmitter dopamine. It activates the "reward system" in the brains of lovers in direct proportion to the level of their subjective love, promising pleasure and forcing the object of passion to achieve.

Additional energy of passion is provided by cortisol, which not only activates forces, but also puts the body in a state of stress. The adrenal glands actively produce adrenaline. Hence the sweating, frantic heart rate and the desire to jump and jump, which we feel during the first contacts with the person we like.

Lovers have elevated levels of norepinephrine. This hormone is involved in fixing new stimuli in the memory, including the process of "imprinting" into the memory of animals - imprinting. Apparently, this is why the image of the beloved gets stuck in the memory. We can think about the object of passion to the point of obsession, often also due to a decrease in the level of serotonin. In acutely in love, serotonin levels are lowered - as in those suffering from a real obsessive-compulsive disorder with obsessive thoughts.

III. Attachment

Loving attachment is characteristic not only of a person, but also of other living beings, when they protect a common territory, make nests together, look after each other, share care for offspring and experience longing when separated.

When feelings are mutual and lovers form a couple, their cortisol level decreases and the amount of serotonin rises again, and constant physical contact "pumps" attachment hormones into the couple.

In humans, a love alliance is associated with a sense of security, calmness and emotional unity. Such sensations are mainly associated with oxytocin. It is produced during social and physical contact, hugging, sex, especially during orgasm - and its level is higher in those couples who spent more time next to each other. It also shapes parental behavior, pushing the pair to stay with each other long enough to feed the offspring and continue their species.

IV. Why so many things

Apparently, nature created such a complex chemical process in order to motivate two completely different individuals to form a couple for conception, bearing and raising children. All this time, people in a couple are in a state of drug intoxication, a love illusion, for which they are ready for a lot.

What happens in the body when parting

When this physiological cycle is suddenly interrupted, the body comes into a serious imbalance. Dopamine continues to remain at a high level for some time even in the absence of a love object, which means that the motivation to connect with another person does not weaken, giving rise to anxiety and dissatisfaction. When the inertia of this process stops and the production of dopamine slows down, on the contrary, depression, apathy, and lack of motivation will cover. Many will be drawn to the dopamine "needle" of alcohol, psychoactive substances or promiscuous sex (all this does not help, but only increases the imbalance).

I. Anxiety

Loving people show less activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for experiencing intense emotions, especially negative ones like fear, anxiety, and anger. They have less active posterior cingulate gyrus, which is often associated with experiencing pain.

Experiments have shown that even when women simply hold the hand of their beloved spouses, their brains have a weaker stress response system in response to electric shocks - and the more satisfied they are with their marriage, the calmer they remain.

When we lose such an important support for the balance of our body as a partner, even if we ourselves initiated the breakup and even more so if we were suddenly abandoned, we unillusionably experience a whole complex of fears, anxieties and dissatisfaction.

II. Real pain

Not only that, rejection evokes the same response in the brain as physical pain. Looking at a portrait of former lovers activates the secondary somatosensory cortex and insula, which are responsible for the formation of complex physical sensations - they are also active in those who hit themselves on the finger with a hammer.

This means that the pain of separation is real.

A broken heart causes the same stress and activates the same areas as a broken leg: at the moment of any social rejection, opioids are released into the brain - natural painkillers, the presence of which usually indicates a real injury.

III. Heart problems

By the way, the heart can also really suffer from parting. Broken heart syndrome, as takotsubo syndrome is often called, is a malfunction of the heart muscle under the influence of severe emotional stress. Such problems can show up after the death of a spouse, manifest as chest pains and can lead to death. The hearts of postmenopausal women are most at risk, but it happens to both sexes at any age. Stress can also trigger risky behavior by increasing the chance of dying from an accident, under the influence of high doses of alcohol or drugs, or in a fight.

IV. Obsessive Thoughts

The worst thing is that our brain has evolved to focus on threats. And if something causes stress and pain, then it is regarded as a threat. That is, the desire to follow the life of a former lover, despite all the pain that it causes, is a consequence of some “stupidity” of our brain, its biological automatism. And don't forget about low levels of serotonin, which causes obsessive thoughts. Therefore, it makes sense to make it difficult for him to reflect painfully: maybe removing exes from friends looks childish, but still works. But do not deny your feelings and avoid thinking about the break in a constructive way.

What does this mean?

Feeling terrible after a breakup is normal and natural. In terms of chemical effect, love is like drug intoxication, and separation is like the withdrawal syndrome of an addict in the absence of a dose of a substance that usually provides a high level of dopamine. Approximately the same longing, they say, is experienced by cocaine after parting with it.

Our brains are quite capable of handling both addiction and breakup. He just needs time. Do not rush yourself: you can digest your emotions for as long as you need.

In a survey I conducted for my telegram channel, 58% of people reported that they had lost a loved one from a year to five years ago, while 66% of respondents noted that they still feel pain.

Think of it as a disease from which you need to recover (by the way, severe stress really leads to a drop in immunity and increases the risk of contracting all sorts of viruses in addition to reactive depression).

Understanding that some of these heartbreaking sensations are not in the soul, but in the body, gives some relief and a sense of control. We can more or less control our body and make it experience a little less stress and get a little more pleasure.

Don't shake the already imbalanced reward system with alcohol and drugs (at least it's better to know the limit of drunken mourning, if you couldn't resist). Help your dopamine. Of useful entertainment, he most of all loves movement, knowledge and the fulfillment of small short-term goals. The rewards system will reward you with a lift for making and following through on plans, whether it's cleaning the house, watching long-delayed movies, trying to hit your first run in three years, or at least clearing your inbox of spam to nothing.

That is why many people after a breakup make amazing personal successes in sports and education, because they free up a large resource of attention and motivation.

Communication with a close circle helps to get a little joy and calm: family, friends, like-minded people - the brain “loves” social acceptance. And, of course, we should not forget about safe relaxation methods for health: walks in the fresh air, massage, meditation and various relaxation techniques.

Psychological frustration

The physiological cocktail of neurotransmitters and hormones that bubbles up in us during and after a breakup provokes more than just physical sensations. These substances regulate emotions and make us feel and experience.

So if you want to ask if this mixture of pain, bitterness, hope, resentment, despair, etc., can be avoided, the correct answer is no.

You can try to deny your emotions, run away from their awareness or try to give them a different color - it’s me who doesn’t suffer from the loss of a loved one, it’s me who gets angry; I suffer not because I loved him, but because he turned out to be an asshole. But, like awareness of other traumatic events, this too must go through the universal stages of mourning—shock, denial, anger, bargaining, resignation—and come to accept the situation and restore wholeness.

Loss of one's own identity

In many ways, psychological frustration after separation is due to the fact that during the relationship we build a partner into our identity. Many look at themselves through the eyes of their beloved and borrow his vision for self-identification and for building a picture of the future. Pulling out one of the main elements from this picture makes us experience a feeling of destruction of the image of "I" and loss of control over our lives and confusion.

Often we grieve not so much for a particular person, but for the picture of our "I", which he allowed us to build. Awareness of this fact helps to shift the focus to work on your condition.

The question "who am I?" is a normal existential question for singles and families, polyamers, youths and old people. Its complexity makes us look for the answer - in active work, creativity or philosophy. It just sounds louder in moments of crisis.

Use this moment to reflect on what you want from life and what you want to become. And then you fall in love again, and there will be no time for existentialism.

Loss of adequate self-esteem

Very often a gap leads not only to difficulties in self-identification, but also to a decrease in self-esteem. This is especially true for those who have been left behind. In such a situation, it may seem that something is wrong with you, since your partner has left you. But this erroneous line of thought only leads to worsening self-esteem issues and going in circles.

A loved one and his attention to us gives us value in our own eyes. When he leaves, it seems to us that what he loved us for has depreciated - we are not as good as it seemed before. Separating the pain of loss of intimacy and love from the pain of wounded pride can be very beneficial for recovery.

Be realistic: almost all people have been or will be abandoned at least once in their lives. This does not mean that something is wrong with everyone: we are all very different, see the world differently and can be at different stages of our lives when we meet someone.

The most common consequences of problems with self-esteem are the depreciation of the former partner and relationships with him, or, conversely, the idealization of the past.

Depreciation. Some people consider devaluation - underestimation of the importance of a partner with the help of derogatory statements, the cultivation of contempt and telling friends about their indifference or hatred towards this person, as a good cure for low self-esteem. But this is not the best path for ourselves. By devaluing a former lover, we also lose the value of the time spent together, the experience that changed us and made us more mature, and we also deny those parts of the personality that have matured in these relationships - and which we need for a fulfilling life.

Idealization. The other extreme is the idealization of the past, when you fixate only on the best moments, collect them and shed tears, sorting through them like a Buddhist monk does his rosary. Of course, it is difficult for us to survive the loss of someone who was near at a difficult moment and whom we could rely on - not only in business, but also emotionally, in our insecurity, insecurity, and so on. But remember the difference between mature and immature love, formulated by Erich Fromm in his book "The Art of Loving": "Immature love says:" I love you because I need you ". Mature love says, "I need you because I love you" - strive for a mature understanding of love.

Both strategies - devaluation and idealization of the former partner - lead to emotional imbalance.

Self-therapy diary

Keeping a diary is useful during any emotional upheaval, it allows you to express all the feelings and thoughts that torment you and becomes a calm for the mind, obsessively returning to the object of former love.

Use a notepad, pen, and mind to take back control of your self-esteem. Record on paper both what you are grateful to your partner for, and the criticism and regrets that have accumulated during the relationship. Formulate why your relationship didn’t work: you wanted different things from life, you didn’t agree on values, the relationship was painful, someone suppressed someone. Make a list of what you had to sacrifice and compromise on that you didn't want. Write down your everyday thoughts and experiences, trying to comprehend the past stage and crystallize it into experience.

It is this experience that will become a new part of your personality, your wisdom and maturity after your breakup experience is over. Meaningful experience is your wealth. Even painful experiences can benefit the individual if they are realized and worked through.

Restoring independence and relying on yourself will serve your personality well: you are complete, and you do not need another person to have value, know what to do and who to be.

After such work on becoming aware of your emotional experience, you will feel relief and the beginning of a new life. Research shows that people who understand the reasons for breaking up a relationship recover faster and are more satisfied with their next relationship than those who don't reflect on it.

Social background of parting

You may experience discomfort and even shame when explaining to your friends that you and your partner have parted. You have to face not only internal uncertainty, but also external: the future that you planned will never happen again - just like the image of your future self has disappeared forever.

I. Uncertainty and fear of loneliness

All these worries are only indirectly related to love and its loss. We feel similar stress when we graduate from school or college, lose our job, or move to another country. Uncertainty is the main stress factor here. Our brain is generally not very adapted to uncertainty and suddenness, but any novelty soon becomes commonplace for it.

But uncertainty guarantees you freedom of action. The period after parting with a long-term partner is one of the most fruitful for soul-searching and setting new goals, because at such a moment a huge number of obligations are removed from you, and you now have more maneuver to drastically change your life.

We may be worried about being alone. It may seem that we will never be able to love again and will not be happy. Pictures of happiness, success, and the prevailing life can crush the assertion of the superiority of paired creatures over single ones. Watching popular movies about love only exacerbates the feeling that something has gone wrong in your life.

II. "Fake Love"

The main mistake we make when we think about past happiness has to do with the pop culture version of love that is shown in popular movies, songs and fairy tales. Love should be stable, the same, begin with passion, quickly result in a wedding (well, or the formation of a modern monogamous couple) and then last forever.

It seems to us that if our love ended, then it was a fatal mistake and, in general, not true love. This statement is false.

Love is valuable as an experience: the experience of knowing the other, oneself, the experience of super-motivation and care-inspired actions, the experience of experiencing acceptance of the other — and acceptance by the other. This is a unique experience that will stay with you even many years after your pain is gone and how you forget many of the details that you remember now. The end does not detract from the value of love in the same way that the death of a person does not detract from the significance of those actions and feelings that he performed and experienced while alive.

The brain is plastic. He responds to intense experiences and adapts to them. The storm of experiences passes gradually, because if you take and abruptly interrupt the entire complex chemical process that occurs in the brain of two people in a pair, you can cause serious damage to the entire system. It must come into balance on its own and is quite capable of doing so.

Sometimes science and commonplace converge: it really does get better with time, although it's unbelievable now.

One fine day (be it a month or a few years later) you suddenly feel free from bitterness, resentment and regret. The main thing, as science shows, is to fully comprehend your experience in order to move on.

How to reduce the pain of separation, or Where to apply psyllium after parting

Parting can be different. Some celebrate it more brightly than a birthday, with champagne, confetti, and subsequent "Eat, Pray, Love" adventures. But for some, this episode becomes a real test of strength, and the pain of parting is comparable only to the pain of loss. It can be accompanied by both depressive states and quite palpable psychosomatic pain. We tell you how long heart wounds can ache and how to help them heal.

What really hurts?

For quite a long time, the metaphor of a "broken heart" remained an artistic device. Rational and skeptical people believed that it was really the collapsed expectations of "true love" that hurt. The one that is steadily moving along the classic monogamous pattern: a candy-bouquet period, a wedding, a joint vacation on the islands, children, a happy ending. And the pain that appeared against the background of disappointment is an illusion that time can cure.

However, in 2010, scientists at the University of Michigan found that the pain felt by the rejected person is real. The study found that photographs of exes included the same area of ​​the cerebral cortex that is responsible for pain, for example, from a burn of the forearm.

Simultaneously with nerve pain sensations, the brain goes through a withdrawal syndrome: it is deprived of the oxytocin-dopamine cocktail, which affects the area responsible for pleasure and reward. Since intimacy, including sexual intimacy, is a powerful component of the motivation and reward system, the body begins to rebel and demand to return intimacy within reach. This state may be familiar to people who actively seek intimacy with their partner already on the brink of separation or in a situation of conflict: this is the brain quickly assessing the chances of continuing to swim alone.

“In the event of a breakup, the emotion of grief and loss is activated. This is very logical: attachment is an important part of our life - and when we lose a person to whom we felt affection, we begin to grieve in order to get used to the new reality. In a situation of separation, where a person has not died, we want to keep in touch with him, to feel our involvement in his life. But if the attachment is no longer fed by love and intimacy, it can start to feed on anger and hatred, and the person will end up in a situation where, even 20 years later, he will angrily check the social networks of his former partner in order to feel his involvement.0245, — comments Alena Vanchenko, psychotherapist, neuropsychologist, lecturer of the Synchronization platform.

What determines the duration of pain?

Grieving for a partner goes through five classic stages: shock, anger, denial, bargaining, and resignation. This process allows a person to slow down and survive the stress. However, how long it takes to go through all these five stages depends only on you. Literally everything influences the duration of this process: how long the partners have been together, what experience of previous relationships they have, the character stock, what and who surrounds them.

“The duration of pain can also be affected by the role a person played in a partner's life. It could not only be a romantic interest, former partners could well be colleagues or business partners to each other. In addition, the very amount of your "investment" in this project also affects. It could be time, emotions, some kind of effort, including money. Here the dependence is directly proportional: the more you invest, the more valuable the project becomes for you” , — comments Alena Vanchenko.

To get rid of pain, it really needs to be lived. Go through the emotion like through a tunnel, eventually come out into the light and continue on your way further, into the next relationship, appreciating the past as a source of experience. Attempts to drown out the emotion of grief with alcohol, short-term or chaotic relationships and other destructive practices do not contribute to the rapid elimination of pain. They can either provide a short-term respite and distraction, or slow the person down the path through the grief tunnel.

Is it possible to treat and prevent heart wounds?

Tips for dealing with a breakup are many, and you can use the ones that seem right to you and won't hurt you more.

Keep in mind valuable lessons for which you can really be grateful for past relationships

Maybe during your time with your ex, you have mastered a new skill or become better at something: art-house cinema, Asian cuisine, or your own desires. Remember that if you agreed to this relationship some time ago, it means that they had value, and parting does not detract from it.

Realize that it's okay to break up

It's just that at some point you or your partner realized that you couldn't give the love that each of you deserves. Remember that if the partner decided to leave, then it was precisely his will and you could not influence it. Both of you have done everything you can to grow together.

Rebuild your comfort zone

This is one of the most difficult tasks, because during a relationship our comfort zone is built around a partner. When a partner leaves, we feel lost, even if the merging stage in the relationship has already passed and we have managed to restore our own individuality. Build a comfort zone around yourself and your desires, do things you haven't done in the past while sparing your ex's feelings: shower with the door open, listen to chanson or neo-jazz, watch wacky comedies, and wear the same favorite T-shirt for a week!

“As I like to say, pain is inevitable and suffering is a choice. You can just mourn, get sick, go through all the stages of parting and finish this story for yourself. To understand that if they left you, then the person simply realized that he cannot love you the way you (or he) wants it.

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