You know when you and your ex broke up that it was for the best. The relationship wasn’t healthy, and the two of you couldn’t see eye to eye. “You’ll get over it,” everybody said. “Just move on.”
The trouble is, you’re having a hard time moving on. No matter how much you think of the bad memories, of how you’re better off now, there’s a small part of you that wonders if you maybe you two could be a couple again.
Why does this happen? Why do you keep thinking about your ex? What exactly is going on that makes you miss your ex so much? Wouldn’t it be great if somebody came up with an explanation so you could understand why you keep doing this to yourself?
Science comes to the rescue on this issue by explaining what the chemical reactions in your brain experience through each stage of the relationship.
The Science Behind It All
It’s important to understand what happens to your brain at the beginning of a romantic relationship. When you first start a relationship, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in your brain turns off. These areas are usually in charge of helping you make judgment calls before making decisions.
With these areas turned off, it prevents you from being judgmental and thinking negative thoughts about your new partner.
So pretty much, your brain is the reason you got into a bad relationship to begin with. But why? Why would your brain deceive you in this manner?
Well, your brain controls these responses in order to boost emotional attachment in your relationship. In the early history of human development, this helped encourage mating.
Remember all the butterflies you had in your stomach every time the two of you brushed hands? How you would worry 3 days in advance about what to wear on your Friday night date? All of those wonderful feelings you experience when first falling in love happen because your brain is controlling your emotions.
Essentially, your brain is doing everything in its power to make you addicted to your partner. So after you decide on a breakup, you’re left feeling addicted to your ex.
Are you missing your ex? It’s because you’re going through withdrawals.
According to anthropologist Helen Fisher, “Love is not an emotion – it’s a motivation system, it’s a drive, it’s part of the reward system of the brain.” You can take this as good new or bad news. All of your past relationships have been guided by the rewards system of your brain. Kind of takes the romance out of it, right?
After a breakup, the ventral segmental area of your brain is activated, producing increased dopamine. Do you find yourself constantly thinking about your ex? Dopamine is the culprit; it’s responsible for obsessive and repetitive thought processes.
The idea behind this research is not to make you feel like love doesn’t exist, or that there’s no point trying again in the future. Instead, it’s that understanding where these feelings come from can help you get over your breakup, and forget that failed relationship.
Recognizing that your thoughts and feelings are normal can also help. Remember that these chemicals will decrease after some time. Missing your ex is temporary.
What can you do in the meantime, though? Understanding this process doesn’t exactly diminish your pain.
Try spending time with friends and family. Surround yourself with community, people you love. Being with others helps your brain produce more opioids, hormones that make you feel good. Avoid being alone to get through this post-breakup moment.
Try not to feel too upset right now. Everything you’re feeling is natural, normal, and temporary. You’ll get through this and you’ll come out stronger.