What is 'being in love' or why breakups hurt
You have probably heard that the ‘in love’ feeling we experience is noting but a chemical reaction that is happening in our brain. Actually, it is not just a chemical reaction, it is an addictive chemical reaction. Let’s take a look at how it plays out in a real life situation EVERYBODY can relate to.
Think of a total stranger, aka Mr./Ms. Wonderful, you happen to see occasionally. You don’t know their name and you know nothing about them. At this point, since there is nothing going on between you two, you are doing OK and feeling just fine.
Now, imagine for a moment, that one day that Mr./Ms. Wonderful gave you a smile. Yes, it was unexpected and it was a surprise, but how did it make you feel? Did it make you feel good and perhaps slightly 'high' too? I bet!
You do not know them and they do no know you but because of what happened you may catch yourself thinking of them. That beautiful smile and those silent eyes... Did they try to tell you something? What was it? All you know now is that you want to know more and you want to feel more. They made you feel good and they made you feel happy.
You see, that beautiful feeling was nothing more but a chemical reaction that had begun in your brain. Currently, you are on a very small dose meaning that in order to feel ‘high and happy’ all you need is just their smile.
Fast forward 2 months. How long, do you think, they will have to continue JUST smiling to keep that high going for you? After a certain period of time, if all they do is just smiling, you will get desensitized and perhaps frustrated too.
The reason their smiling is not that exciting anymore is because your brain has built a tolerance. Now, in order to feel the high again you need a higher dose, therefore your desire to have something more than just smiling. This is exactly how addictions work - the small dose of a drug that used to be satisfying stops being enough and it prompts us to seek for a higher dose.
Now, let us imagine our Mr./Ms Wonderful has worked up the courage to approach you and ask for your number. This has probably made you so high (and happy) as if you have died and went to heaven. The explanation here is simple - your brain has just received a higher, stronger dose of love chemicals.
You feel good, you feel high, and you feel 'in love'. You brain is in overdrive and it is on cocktail of 'love chemicals'. Even scientists agree that the feeling of ‘in love’ is identical to the one cocaine addicts experience when under the influence of the drug.
And now think about that first touch, first hug, and first kiss. The initial responses and emotional reactions you had during these times – DO YOU REALLY THINK THEY WILL BE THE SAME AFTER 6 MONTHS?? Of course not! As your relationship progresses your brain gradually builds a tolerance to everything that used to excite or made you feel high.
After 6 months, if not earlier, their kiss will not feel like the first kiss, their touch will not give you goose bumps, and their hugs won't make you weak in your knees. You won't feel that high anymore and neither will your addicted brain.
And so – you are asking for more – you want them to be yours, and you want them to be yours forever.
This is what drug addicts do – the minute they build tolerance and stop feeling high, they increase the dose and get back on that high again.
Fast forward 6-12+ months. You are in a relationship already, and believe it or not, a full - fledged addict without being aware of it. Everything feels good… until one day it does not anymore. One day you may discover that they found someone else, or fell out of love and want out. They pack their stuff and leave, leaving you with nothing but memories and… an addiction to the love chemicals. They were your source and the steady supply of ‘feeling good’ chemicals and now, since they are gone, you are about to experience the worst feeling ever – withdrawal.
Scientists also agree that the pain (aka withdrawal) induced by a broken relationship is the same pain cocaine addicts experience when withdrawing from the drug. Breakups hurt because you are withdrawing from very addictive and powerful chemicals that your brain got addicted to. The brain demands those chemicals to feel normal again, making you look for the source of the drug - your man (or your woman).
You long to see them, to talk, or just to have a hug... even if it’s only for 5 minutes. You need all of this, or at least some of it, to feel just a little bit better, to feel relieved, and to feel like you are not about to die. This is what drug addicts experience when going through withdrawal - they are longing for just a little, tiny dose to feel better, to go through the day, and the hell with what is going to happen tomorrow, they need it NOW.
After weeks and months of not talking to them your withdrawal symptoms will start easing up. The pain won't be as acute and you will feel better. It is called ‘recovery’ or in simpler terms - ‘getting them out of your system’. Once they are out of your system you are free to breath, laugh, and enjoy your life all over again. No different from self-disciplined and determined drug addicts who took steps to be free from a drug.
As you have probably guessed by now, the fastest and the most effective way to get over someone is to cease all contact . The pain i.e. withdrawal process will not last forever, and if you give yourself time, stay disciplined and determined, recovery will follow soon after that. Your brain could live without those chemicals before (you could live without that person before) and it can live happily without them after (and you can live without that person after they are gone).
On the other hand, if you keep dragging the breakup, moving on will take longer and will be more painful. By talking to them, seeing them, and engaging in any sort of activities, you will be sabotaging your recovery process; your brain will continue receiving intermittent doses of addictive ‘feel good’ chemicals, keeping that addiction alive. A drug addict cannot recover from addiction if the drug continues coming. To recover fully the drug needs to be eliminated from one's system entirely.
Now you know why breakups hurt. And the more addicted you are the more painful it feels. There is nothing you can do about it, really, you cannot fight biology. But you CAN help yourself by staying away from the source of the ‘love chemicals’ (the person who broke up with you) and by pampering yourself with multiple goodies and things that your heart, your soul, and your mind truly enjoy. YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Articles - Be done with your dead-end relationship! and The call from your ex
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