Reasons Why Breakup Hurt So Much
1. It’s Like a Death
When a close friend or family member dies, no one expects you to bounce back in a couple of weeks. But one of the things that makes breakups difficult is that you tend to get a relatively short amount of time to grieve, after which people act like it’s kind of pathetic if you can’t just let go and move on with your life.
2. Love Is An Addiction
Some of the most compelling evidence for the fact that love is a drug is that when Fisher and her colleagues conducted a groundbreaking study on people who were going through a recent breakup, they found that their brain scans looked remarkably similar to that of a cocaine addict. And like an addict going through withdrawal, you might feel like you’d be willing to do anything to get just one more “hit” of the person, even if you know that it’ll make it harder to get clean in the long-run.
3. Your Brain Is Starved
When you’re with your lover, your brain’s reward system is constantly being satisfied. But when you’re no longer seeing the person, your neurons are still expecting that reward. Even though you know you’re not going to get it anymore, it takes a little while for your brain to catch up.
4. The Pain Is Physical
A growing body of research seems to suggest that we make too much of a cultural distinction between physical pain and emotional pain. For example, a recent study found that the emotional relief that you experience when holding hands with a loved one can actually alleviate physical pain.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. In a 2011 study, participants were shown photos of their exes and found the images stimulated the same exact parts of the brain that are associated with physical pain. According to the paper, the results indicate that “rejection and physical pain are similar not only in that they are both distressing—they share a common somatosensory representation as well.” That’s why some studies have even shown that popping Tylenol can be somewhat effective in dealing with a breakup.
5. It’s Evolutionary
When you’re going through a breakup, it’s not uncommon to suddenly feel impeccably alone in the world, even if you’ve got the support of family and friends. You might experience anxiety, and an irrational feeling that you’re in some sort of mortal danger. Some scientists believe this is because, back in the day, being rejected or separated from your tribe really did constitute a crisis in your ability to survive, and we have yet to shed that primordial sensation.
6. Your Dreams Are Dashed
One of the worst things about the end of a serious relationship is the fact that you have to come to terms with the fact that all of the plans you had for your future are not going to happen.
“When you’re building a romantic bond, you talk about each other’s dreams, ambitions, and common goals. You have mutual respect, and you focus your attention on each other. Those human attachment bonds, once formed, are extremely strong, so it can take a long time to detach from that person, and in some cases, there will always be remnants of that bond.