We can all agree that breakups suck. But do you know the neurological reasons behind why they hurt so badly?
According to this cool article by Psychology Today, getting broken up with can do some pretty wacky stuff to your brain. Luckily, understanding these effects and knowing that they will soon pass can help you find comfort despite the pain.
Breakups shatter your sense of self.
That's why it helps to know who you are – what you like about yourself, your goals, your dreams – before even going into a breakup, if possible. Getting to know yourself better will prevent a bad relationship from destroying your self-worth. It helps puts things in perspective; there's more to life than one relationship.
Your love is my drug.
Studies show that a breakup can turn us into addicts in withdrawal. The first several weeks following a difficult rejection, merely thinking about the person you lost actives areas of the brain also associated with cocaine and nicotine addiction. Other regions, associated with deep attachment and even physical pain are also activated.
Understand that pain is only a feeling. It hurts now, but with time, these symptoms of withdrawal and deprivation will naturally decrease. Until then, try to put a stop to all behaviors that bring them to mind, because they'll only make the pain worse. I'm talking about Facebook stalking, ruminating on the relationship, talking to them... cut it out! You're doing both of you a favor.
Tell me about your childhood.
Attachment styles formed early in life – what your relationship with your parents taught you about how love works, basically – also affect how you handle breakups. If you're a more secure person (thanks to a steady, trustworthy source of love in your early life), you'll acknowledge that the loss hurts, but you'll be realistic and sensible about it. Secure people grieve for a reasonable amount of time, and then move on.
Meanwhile, insecure people, who often experienced inconsistent parental attention as a child, react poorly to rejection. They have difficulty letting go of the relationship, and get angry and aggressive rather than dealing with their sadness. Their instinctive defense is to refuse to accept that the relationship is over. These people are more likely to become stalkers, or to stay in a bad relationship way longer than they should.
Even if you had a rocky relationship with your parents as a kid, don't worry! You can learn to form healthy, secure attachments, even later in life. This helpful article explains how. The first step is acknowledging the power that these early experiences have over you. The second step: moving on.
Believe in yourself.
People with low self-esteem take breakups harder, and blame themselves for the split. They experience very high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This often leads to unhealthy coping strategies. People with high self-esteem, on the other hand, are more likely to still view themselves positively post-breakup.
Love yourself – you're worth it. Don't let your breakup destroy you; pick up the pieces, and keep moving forward. Don't isolate yourself from loved ones, or spend countless hours dwelling on the pain. Believe in yourself, take care of your broken heart, and soon it will mend.
It's important to think realistically.
Don’t tell yourself you’ve lost the one person you were destined to be with forever. Some people romanticize love, but the truth is – there's nothing magical about one person. The laws of compatibility dictate that there are hundreds, even thousands of people out there who are "right" for you. When you're still reeling from a breakup, it can be hard to believe, but chances are you will find someone else.
Stay the course.
Studies showed that the withdrawal-like symptoms caused by a breakup lessened with time – but contact with an ex can start the process all over again. First, accept that the relationship really is over. Then get rid of the things that remind you of that person. It's cliché, but it really does help. Refrain from reaching out to them, even to say hi or see how they're doing. Keeping your emotional distance is vital to the healing process.
If you want to read the article in its entirety, you can check it out here. Understanding the psychology behind breakups and how to think yourself into a happier frame of mind can be really helpful when you're trying to get over someone, so I hope these tips will help you.