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The Science of Mending a Broken Heart

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The Science of Mending a Broken Heart

Breakups are one of life’s most difficult obstacles. You feel like you’re left to pick up the pieces of a failed life together, wondering if you’ll ever get over the pain, the disappointment, the broken heart.

It’s hard because you’ve idealized him/her unconsciously.

You’ve just lost somebody who once played a major part in your life and now you have to get through the stages of grief to get over it. Getting over a breakup is never easy, and here’s why:

During your relationship, your brain switches off the ability to judge and feel negatively about your partner. At the same time, it turns on the areas that cause you to bond with and feel attached to your partner. It’s hard to get over your ex because your brain causes you to idealize them.[1]

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Dopamine, oxytocin, testosterone – these are all the chemicals your brain produces when you’re first falling in love. They’re responsible for those butterfly feelings, the need to cuddle, the rapid heart rate, and the excitement that come with a new relationship. Addicting feelings, to say the least. What happens when you break up? The ventral segment of your brain activates, which is the same thing that happens when someone is addicted to drugs. You are literally going through withdrawal over your ex.

Breakups often happen suddenly, leaving you with little to no closure. It’s that feeling of unfinished business that makes it hard for you to get over your ex. You keep thinking about them because you were left with a void to fill, a hole to cover.[2] You feel like there’s something left to understand about the situation and you just can’t shake the feeling.

Unconsciousness is hard to control but it doesn’t mean you should just let it be.

So now you’ve justified why it’s okay for you to keep thinking about your ex. You’re just going through the stages of grief, right? Your brain is tricking you into miss them, right? So, this is normal, right?

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Well, yes, sort of. You need to forget about your ex, though, so you can move on with your life. Somewhere out there is the right person for you and you don’t want thoughts of your ex messing up your future relationship.

Instead of letting time heal, take control of how you feel.

First of all, allow yourself to process the stages of grief. Your feelings are valid and deserve to be acknowledged.

Ask yourself how not to let that happen again.

Getting over a breakup is similar to recovering from a physical injury. To recuperate after hurting yourself, you have to identify the root cause. Why? If you know the root cause, you can stop it from happening again.[3] You can give your future relationships a chance at success.

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Learn how to be alone gradually, but not right after breaking up.

The best thing to do right now is be around your friends and family. Surround yourself with community and the people you love. Doing this will help your brain produce more opioids, which are the feel good hormones. Definitely try not to be alone right now.

Get him/her out of sight.

If you’re having a hard time getting over your ex, you’re still in one of the stages of grief. The most common stage is denial, thinking that it really isn’t over or refusing to believe it. When you’re feeling this way, you’re way more likely to pick up the phone and call your ex. You’ll never be able to process your grief if you keep calling them every time you feel lonely. Do yourself a favor and delete their contact info from your phone and social media.

Keep yourself entertained.

In order to process the anger and disappointment that you’re feeling, you need to accept that one of the final stages of grief is to redirect your hope.[4] For your entire relationship, you had all of your hopes tied up in your future together. Now, you have to find that hope again and redirect it. Try keeping yourself busy with new sources of entertainment. Maybe there’s an old hobby you let fall by the wayside when the two of you were dating or maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try. Now’s the time. Being busy keeps your mind off of the past and helps you redirect your thoughts to the future.

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Moving on after a relationship ends isn’t easy. Just try to be patient with yourself, the pain won’t last forever. You’ll get through this and learn more about yourself in the process.

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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