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Breakups And The Brain: Why It’s So Hard To Leave A Relationship
Breakups are never easy. There is a bond between you and your partner, and that tie can be a real struggle to break. This is why an incredible 89% of people end up having sex with their ex after a breakup. In fact, around 50% of couples break up and then get back together again.
In some cases, breaking up and getting back together can help couples to affirm their relationship. However, in some cases, breakup sex or getting back with an ex is a way to manage the impact that the breakup has on the brain.
So, what’s going on with your brain during a breakup, and can you rewire your brain for a healthier breakup?
The Love Potion In The Brain
Romantic relationships not only win over our hearts but our brains too. Relationships release powerful chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain that create a feeling of pleasure and happiness.
Being in love releases a chemical known as oxytocin. The pleasure you receive from a relationship causes a hit of dopamine, known as the reward chemical. Another neurotransmitter in this heady love potion is serotonin. Serotonin is known as the happiness chemical. When you combine all three of these neurotransmitters, the brain becomes addicted to all of these chemicals that come together during a relationship.
When The Love Potion Runs Dry
However, when you go through a breakup, your brain then loses its regular dose of the love potion of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. This is difficult as they are all addictive, and our brain wants a constant supply to feel good.
Consequently, during a breakup, your brain goes through a withdrawal of these mood-boosting chemicals. This is just like an addiction to drugs or sugar. Not receiving these neurotransmitters can cause anxiety and depression, leading us to feel isolated while also desperate to get the next fix of the love potion, obtaining these neurotransmitters in any way the brain can.
Responding To The Pleasure Centre
When the brain becomes desperate to regain its supply of pleasure-boosting chemicals, this can manifest in a variety of breakup behaviours such as;
- Breakup sex – as mentioned above, around 89% of people have sex with their ex. This helps to top up the supply of neurotransmitters, even for a short while.
- Getting back together – this helps to keep the supply constant, preventing a difficult withdrawal period.
- One-night stands – these can help to bring a fresh, but a very short-term supply of dopamine to meet the needs of the pleasure centre.
- Drinking and comfort eating – food, alcohol and drugs can cause a dopamine hit, accessing the pleasure centre of the brain, but again, only providing very short-term results.
- Reminiscing about the relationship – contacting your ex, following all their social media updates and going through past relationship memories can all give a small lift to an oxytocin-starved brain.
Managing Your Breakup Brain
At the beginning of the breakup, it is crucial to understand how your brain wants to react. Texting your ex, feeling like you want to get back together, going on a dating app are all ways that your brain is trying to get its pleasure fix.
However, it is important to remember that these measures will only provide a short-term fix. Your brain doesn’t differentiate between what feels good now and what is good for you in the long-run. Remember, it is just looking for a way to access the feel-good chemicals.
Go Cold Turkey
As much as your brain will try to stop you, it really is best to avoid all of the romantic neurotransmitters for at least a month. This means no contacting your ex, no checking up on their social media and no breakup sex! If you know in your heart that the relationship is not working, then severing the ties entirely is the quickest, healthiest way to manage your breakup brain.
During this time, it is important to remember that while your ex wasn’t right for you, you can still find love. While you don’t want to rush to find someone new, it helps to remind yourself that there are other fish in the sea.
Find Healthy And Platonic Neurotransmitters
While oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin all combine to make a love potion for the brain, there are ways to release these brain chemicals without being in a relationship.
For example, exercising releases both dopamine and endorphins to give you a feel-good hit.
Foods that are rich in vitamin D, C and magnesium, such as mushrooms and avocados, all release oxytocin. Spending time with platonic friends can also release oxytocin, as can massages and meditation.
Spending time in nature and focusing on gratitude can help to release serotonin.
So, if your brain is struggling with breakup withdrawal, getting involved in these activities can help to boost these neurotransmitters.
Finally, it is always important to remember that the withdrawal and sadness you feel right now are just short-term. In the long-term, you are doing what’s best for your happiness and wellbeing.
Support For Your Breakup
If you’re struggling with a breakup, then my blended therapy approach can help. Using a tailored blend of hypnotherapy, NLP and coaching, I will help you to reprogram your brain to help make managing your breakup brain easier and helping you to focus on improving your long-term happiness.
To find out more, book your free consultation today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.