The sudden and unexpected end of cuddles, hugs, kisses, flowers, chocolates, handwritten love letters, late-night calls, and inside jokes—this is all part of what a breakup entails. These are, indeed, are some of the warmest expressions of love. If someone suddenly snatches them away from us, it’s excruciatingly painful.
While the loss of goodnight kisses and adorable good-morning messages may be one reason why breaking up hurts so much, there is so much more to it than most people think. The severe pain and agony of a breakup can make anyone feel despair and dejection. And there is no sugar-coating the fact that breakups can be extremely challenging to deal with, able to impact both physical and mental well-being. Let’s take a look at how breakups affect us psychologically.
The psychological effects of breakups
Breakups have a tendency to make us shut ourselves away in our bedrooms with nothing but tons of tissues to wipe our tears and runny noses; they also result in a loss of appetite and painful, stress-induced acne. Apart from these physical effects, however, what happens to our minds when we go through a major breakup? Why does the mind insist on playing the same old treasured memories with our exes on a loop? Why do the old cherishable moments keep coming back to us?
Here, we will discuss what the brain goes through in a breakup.
Interestingly, many neuroscience technology studies have shown that, when someone is withdrawn from their romantic love, their brain reacts in the same manner it does when addicts stop taking drugs like cocaine and opioids; the same parts of the brain are activated in both situations.
Being broken up with is much harder than breaking up with someone. When somebody breaks up with you, your mind is instantly convinced that your partner is probably out there living the best life now that you are out of the picture and they are “free” from you. This worsens the pain of rejection.
When your partner breaks up with you, you’re more upset than they are because, quite often, the breakup came out of the blue for you, while, on the other hand, they have not been emotionally invested in the relationship for a long time. The partner decided to leave you quite a while ago, and has already processed and visualized the relationship ending, unlike you. This is why things become emotionally taxing for you, causing you grief, loss, and sadness.
Breakups and self-love
If nothing else, our self-worth receives that hardest hit after a breakup. As soon as our partner breaks up with us, we start questioning ourselves, trying to determine exactly what we did to cause the rejection. And, without giving a second thought, we blame ourselves – everything from our physical appearance to our personality; suddenly, we start finding many flaws, convinced they are the reasons for our sad breakup.
When a relationship dissolves, it can alter the way we view our own identity. It has such a detrimental impact on us that we can even forget that we have a life, a career, and other people who still love us; we just feel worthless. But why does this happen?
So, here’s the thing: when we fall in love, we willingly choose to succumb to vulnerability. We blindly trust a person to the point that we think that they will be with us forever, present for our victories and, most importantly, our failures. Isn’t that so true? We become so attached to them that we share every silly incident, as well as all of our time, insecurities, fears, our saddest and happiest moments, and our new experiences with them. Inevitably, there comes the point that they become a part of our life, even our identity.
When the person who knows your real self, personality, weaknesses, and strengths breaks your heart by one day deciding to dissolve the relationship, then it seems logical to think that you are worthless and unloveable. It can make you believe that, when the person who used to love you the most doesn’t anymore and treats you like a piece of garbage, then they might be right!
Learning self-love after a breakup
Feeling worthless after a breakup is not uncommon, but it is harmful to your physical and mental health to not embark on the journey to learning to live life again. That’s why we present to you the 7 self-love practices that you should observe to love yourself again and recover from your present state of melancholy.
Before you take your first step towards healing, however, there is a disclaimer: the journey will require both time and effort, but the results are worth it!
1. Practice new activities
Think about what your answer would be if someone asked you, “What have you been up to lately?” You might be planning on saying something like “Been swiping my pain away on dating apps” or “Been filling up buckets with my tears.” While this course of action after a breakup is justifiable, eventually, you will have to do something – not because you are answerable to someone else, but because you have a life to live!
Practicing a new activity after a hard breakup will divert your mind and help you stop thinking about the past. Unlike watching yet another sad movie, learning a new activity would be a productive and uplifting process, as you would be upskilling yourself.
Here are a few ideas for making efficient use of your newfound time and freedom: learn a new language – though you couldn’t decode the language of love, you can surely pick up a new language – learn to play an instrument, take an improv comedy class, or start writing your memoir.
2. Practice self-care
Learning to care for yourself is the most critical part of the healing process. Your partner might have stopped caring for you, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to your needs and desires.
So, to start, give yourself credit for little things. These seemingly trivial but important routine habits, such as brushing your teeth, bathing, and walking your dog, can seem like Herculean tasks after a breakup. Try your best to do these things, and, whenever you do them, pat yourself on the back!
Other ways to practice self-care include going to therapy, hanging out with friends, dining with family, and working out regularly – all these will help you regain your sense of self.
3. Forgive yourself and your ex
Maybe it was your ex’s fault. Perhaps it was your fault. It could even have been no one’s fault at all. Regardless of what happened and who caused it, accept what happened, forgive yourself and your ex, and move on. This step is essential in helping you move on and love yourself once again.
Accept that mistakes were made, and that, to grow, you will have to learn from those mistakes. This remains the only sane option because, let’s face it, what else can you do? Beat yourself up or wait endlessly for your partner to return (and you know that’s not happening because this is life and not some romantic movie).
So, instead of infinitely torturing yourself, forgive and forget!
4. Set healthy boundaries
As you move on in your journey to find and love yourself once again, you will have to set healthy boundaries, deciding who is afforded room in your intimate space and for whom your doors are shut and locked.
Setting healthy boundaries is crucial in helping you stay away from so-called “friends” who remind you of your painful past. Such people only serve as mementos that forcefully trap you in your bad memories.
Do not confuse setting boundaries with shutting yourself away from your friends and family. Remember, we said “healthy” boundaries. Don’t repress your desire to reach out to people who care about you, but do create a space in your life for yourself where you can be yourself and live your life comfortably and confidently.
5. Try to look at the silver lining
Every coin has two sides, and you need to flip it to change anything. Likewise, your life has two sides, but you are looking only at one of them at a time – often the upsetting side. You have to learn to look at the brighter/happier side, too. We know that is easier said than done, but doing it is not entirely impossible, either.
Maybe your breakup was a blessing in disguise, dissolving at just the right time. You could view it as the universe saving you from a bleak future! We aren’t saying that your partner was necessarily a complete jerk, but we do want you to look at the good results of this bad event.
Just refrain from ruining your entire life because of one person, and, instead, appreciate the people who are around you and value you. Make time for your family and friends, focus on your goals, and try your best to fulfill them.
6. Give yourself time to grieve
It is okay to cry your heart out and feel the pain. It is okay not to work out for a few days. It is okay to vent. Remember, breakups are very hard to deal with and can leave you feeling exhausted and paralyzed. So, take your own sweet time lamenting the loss.
After the dissolution of a long-term relationship, you will feel as if the butterflies have died, and like you’ve been thrown out of a life-boat to drown. You might even be in denial, with your wishful thinking causing you to dream about your ex-partner’s return. Commonly, you replay your old conversations in your mind over and over again, which will make you feel miserable.
You have to understand, however, that grief and pain are part and parcel of breakups. They go hand-in-hand, and there is nothing wrong with emoting – these feelings are perfectly natural.
7. Don’t give up on love
After such breakups, people can often become cynical about the very idea of love. You might start thinking that love is just an illusion. You might even go out on a limb and start visualizing your future as an eighty-year-old hag with 20 cats – but we would like to stop you there. Why let one failed relationship tamper your idea of love or who you want to be?
Don’t let your breakup stop you from falling in love again, and don’t fall out of love with the idea of love itself. Do not despise your fantasies of finding a Prince Charming. Your past relationships might not have worked very well, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll never fall in love again. Do not give one guy the power to change your entire perspective of yourself and the world.
And there you have it! You understand that breakups are hard, but you also know that you are stronger, able to rise gloriously from the ashes like a majestic phoenix!