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    79. The psychology of breakups

    enMarch 30, 2023

    About this Episode

    Breakups and heartache are a universal experience in our 20’s. But what exactly happens to our minds, our bodies and our emotions at the end of a relationship? This week we will break down the psychology and the science behind breakups, heartbreak and moving on. We will explore the theory of withdrawal, stages of grief, conditioning and the psychology behind why ‘no contact’ really does work to hopefully provide some solace to all the heartbroken out there on what exactly a breakup does to our psychology.

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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Breakups can be painful, but they also offer the opportunity for personal growth. Understanding the science and psychology behind breakups can help us move on and become the best versions of ourselves.
    • A breakup can have a strong emotional and physical impact as the brain goes into withdrawal mode, making it hard to focus on other things. Understanding heartbreak's psychology can help us heal and move forward.
    • Breakups trigger a neurochemical rush that can lead to addiction, causing emotional pain that mimics physical pain. This can activate our fight-or-flight response, making it difficult to cope with the loss of investment in our relationships.
    • Breakups can be difficult, but it's important to allow yourself time to adjust and learn from the experience. Don't avoid romantic connections out of fear - take risks and grow from the journey.
    • It's important to let yourself feel all emotions after a breakup, including anger and sadness. Trying to suppress them can hinder the healing process. Accepting the reality of the situation is key to moving forward.
    • Disconnecting from your ex is crucial to properly process your emotions, fully let go of the relationship, and avoid prolonging the process of emotional and physical detachment. Seeing or talking to them only reinforces the obsession and makes it harder to move on.
    • To ease the neurochemical symptoms of a breakup, avoid all contact with your ex and find new sources of dopamine and happiness. Indulge in self-pity in moderation and try new activities to replace what you've lost.
    • Creating a safe space for yourself after a breakup is crucial to help process your emotions, write out your thoughts, remove anything that reminds you of your ex, and accept the end of the relationship to move forward.
    • Remember that there is a better love out there for you and take the time to be alone after a breakup. Heartbreak can teach valuable lessons about yourself, and the growth you gain is worth it. Cherish your single years and don't settle too soon.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    The Science and Psychology Behind Breakups: Understanding and Moving On

    In this podcast episode, the host tackles the nitty-gritty science and research behind breakups, why they leave such lasting emotional scars, and how we can move on and realize the best versions of ourselves in the midst of heartache. Breakups can be hard, confusing, and terrible, but they are also a time for self-growth and personal development. The episode breaks down the complexity of the experience of a breakup and reveals what's really going on in our brains and bodies in the weeks and months following one. The stages of grief are also applied to the end of a relationship and why shorter relationships can be so significant.

    The Psychology of Heartbreak: Understanding the Effect of a Breakup on Your Mind and Body.

    Heartbreak is a universal experience, and the end of a relationship can lead to a strong emotional and physical impact. Falling in love releases powerful neurotransmitters and chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which affect the brain in the same way as powerful drugs. When a relationship ends, our brain goes into withdrawal, and we are left scrambling for more, making it difficult to focus on anything other than the person we're missing. This love withdrawal hypothesis explains why we crave the person like they're a drug and why we may experience symptoms resembling clinical depression or withdrawal. It is essential to understand the psychology of heartbreak to heal, flourish, and let go.

    Understanding the Similarities between Breakups and Addiction

    Breakups can be compared to addiction, as people can become addicted to the neurochemical rush of being in love. Even though we may know logically that a breakup is the right decision, our brain still responds to it neurologically. This emotional pain can trigger a physical pain response in our bodies, mimicking real physical pain. This can activate our fight-or-flight response, triggering the release of hormones to prepare us to deal with a perceived threat. We may feel a loss of investment in our relationships, which can also contribute to the pain and difficulty in coping with a breakup.

    The Importance of Taking Risks and Growing from a Breakup

    Breakups can feel like a loss of emotional energy, material resources, and time invested in a relationship which can lead to becoming jaded and afraid of being hurt again. The repetition of bad experiences can teach us to avoid romantic connections as we associate them with pain and suffering. However, it's important to take risks, learn lessons, and grow from the experience. The journey through a breakup can be mapped onto the stages of grief, including denial, anger, and hermiting. It's essential to identify these stages and allow ourselves time to fully adjust to the new reality and emotional pain.

    The Importance of Allowing Yourself to Feel Emotions After a Breakup

    After a breakup, it's common to feel anger, especially when emotions are pent up. It's important to allow yourself to feel this emotion instead of suppressing it, as it can help the healing process. Bargaining is another emotion that may arise, where we contemplate if getting back together is a good idea. However, if there was a reason for the breakup in the first place, it's best to accept that the relationship is over. The depression stage is when the hard work of healing begins, and it's important to accept the reality of the situation and allow yourself to feel the sadness. The length and intensity of this stage vary for each person.

    The Importance of Disconnecting from Your Ex for Emotional Healing

    The process of moving on from a relationship can be difficult, especially when one person seems to move on quickly while the other is still grieving. However, those who appear to move on quickly are often just using someone else as a distraction and haven't properly processed their emotions. Acceptance of the situation is the final stage of grief, but it doesn't mean that all feelings of pain and sadness are gone. It's important to disconnect entirely from your ex in order to fully let go of the relationship and avoid prolonging the process of emotional and physical detachment. Otherwise, seeing or talking to them only reinforces the obsession and makes it harder to move on.

    The Power of "No Contact" in Moving on from a Past Relationship

    If you're trying to move on from a past relationship, "no contact" is your friend. Every time you see or interact with your ex, it reinforces the connection between them and the warm, fuzzy feelings your brain once associated with them. Breakups aren't just emotional, they are neurological. Your brain is the basis of your attachment and obsession with this person. To minimize these physiological symptoms, find a source of dopamine and happiness that has nothing to do with them. Join a social sports team, art class, or try rock climbing to replace the deficit they left behind. Allow yourself to feel sadness and self-pity in moderation, as suppressing your emotions can prolong the healing process.

    Giving Yourself Closure After a Breakup

    After a breakup, it's important to create a safe space where you can process your emotions and give yourself closure. This can be as simple as rearranging your room or buying a cozy blanket or candle. Don't wait for the other person to give you closure; give it to yourself by writing a letter and expressing all your emotions, putting it away and moving on. Remove anything that reminds you of them and visualize letting go of the memories. Accepting the end of the relationship is difficult, but writing out the reasons why you needed to break up can help you move forward. It's okay to feel the pain and go through it rather than distracting or fleeing from emotions.

    The Importance of Waiting for Better Love and Learning from Heartbreak

    It's important to remember that there is a better love out there for you, and it's worth waiting for. It's also important to take the time to be alone after a breakup, rather than jumping into a new relationship too soon. Heartbreak can be a valuable learning experience, as it can help you discover more about yourself and your personality. While it may be difficult to believe at the time, it's important to remember that things will get better, and the growth and maturity you gain from the experience is worth it. Cherish your single years and don't settle too soon.

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