Your Body During a Breakup: The Science of a Broken Heart

Breakups are emotional roller coasters. Actually that’s not true. If a breakup was anything like a roller coaster the end would be visible from the start, you could say ‘no thanks’ to the ride and at the end of it, for a hefty sum the memory could be savoured forever with a flimsy cardboard-framed photo.

Breakups are are more like being under a roller coaster. 

Before we knew the science we knew the feeling, and used words associated with physical pain – hurt, pain, ache – are used describe the pain of a relationship breakup. Now we know why. The emotional pain of a breakup and physical pain have something in common – they both activate the same part of the brain

Brain scans of people recently out of a relationship have revealed that social pain (the emotional pain from a breakup or rejection) and physical pain share the same neural pathways.

In one study, 40 people who had recently been through an unwanted breakup had their brains scanned while they looked at pictures of their exes and thought about the breakup. As they stared at the photos, the part of the brain associated with physical pain lit up.

[irp posts=”1144″ name=”Dear Broken Hearted One … When You’re In The Thick of a Break-Up.”]

As explained by researcher Ethan Kross, ‘We found that powerfully inducing feelings of social rejection activate regions of the brain that are involved in physical pain sensation, which are rarely activated in neuroimaging studies of emotion.’

He continues, ‘These findings are consistent with the idea that the experience of social rejection, or social loss more generally, may represent a distinct emotional experience that is uniquely associated with physical pain.’

In further support of the overlap between physical and social pain, Tylenol (an over the counter medication for physical pain) has been shown to reduce emotional hurt.

Research has found that people who took Tylenol (an over-the-counter medication for physical pain) for three weeks reported less hurt feelings and social pain on a daily basis than those who took a placebo.

The effect was also evident in brain scans. When feelings of rejection were induced, the part of the brain associated with physical pain lit up in participants who didn’t take Tylenol. Those who took Tylenol showed significantly less activity in that part of the brain.

Nobody is suggesting that the broken hearted turn to pain medication to reduce their lean towards Kleenex, Baskin-Robbins and repeated viewings of Love Actually. Long term use will cane the liver. Somebody else is waiting to fall in love with you, but you and your liver have to stay friends forever.

The Physical Side of a Broken Heart

The human brain loves love. Being in love takes the lid off the happy hormones, dopamine and oxytocin, and the brain bathes in the bliss. But when the one you love leaves, the supply of feel good hormones takes a dive and the brain releases stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine.

[irp posts=”1042″ name=”Letting Go: How to Master the Art”]

In small doses, stress hormones are heroic, ensuring we respond quickly and effectively to threat. However in times of long-term distress such as a broken heart, the stress hormones accumulate and cause trouble. Here’s what’s behind the physical symptoms of a breakup:

  • Too much cortisol in the brain sends blood to the major muscle groups. They tense up ready to respond to the threat (fight or flight). However, without real need for a physical response the muscles have no opportunity to expend the energy.

    Muscles swell, giving rise to headaches, a stiff neck and that awful feeling of your chest being squeezed.

  • To ensure the muscles have an adequate blood supply, cortisol diverts blood away from the digestive system.

    This can cause tummy trouble such as cramps, diarrhea or appetite loss. 

  • When stress hormones run rampant, the immune system can struggle, increasing vulnerability to bugs and illnesses.

    Hence the common ‘break-up cold’.

  • There is a steady release of cortisol.

    This might cause sleep problems and interfere with the capacity to make sound judgements 

  • Breakups activate the area of your brain that processes craving and addiction.

    Losing a relationship can throw you into a type of withdrawal, which is why it’s hard to function – you ache for your ex, sometimes literally, and can’t get him/her out of your head. Like any addiction, this will pass.

In a relationship, your mind, your body and the core of you adjust to being intimately connected someone. When that someone leaves, the brain has to readjust. The pain can be relentless but eventually the body chemistry will change back to normal and the hurt will diminish.

Getting through a breakup is as much a physical process as an emotional one. Remember that, and know that it will get easier. Keep going. You’ll get there.

440 Comments

J

Two days ago i was broken up with baby my boyfriend. we had been dating for just under a year and everything seemed to be perfect. yes there were fights but what relationships doesn’t? so i took him out for dinner and when we arrived home he broke up with me. His reason being that he needs to better himself and his sport had become more Important.

I ook it as quite a shock as we had been fine the week prior to the break up. He was very emotional when doing the actual breaking up which made me question weather he really want it to be like this? he has deleted me on social media making me think he either really is over it or just needs to have some space as he isn’t 100% about the break up.

I am trying to understand weather he might have really just wanted to end the relationship or if he made an irrational decision because of the very close sports trials?

please help

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Hey Sigmund

It is very difficult to know what is in somebody’s heart and mind when they make the decisions they make. For your own sake, be guided by what he tells you. Is he suggesting this is permanent or is he just wanting a short break? It may be that he just needs time to himself to focus, but does he need to break up with you to do that? Otherwise, it may be that the relationship for him has run its course. If this was just some time to himself that he needed, I wonder about the need to delete you from his social media. I understand your confusion – breakups can be awful like that – but the best way to get the answers you need is to try to talk to him if you can. The most important thing is to believe what he tells you, even if it is not what you want to hear. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are hanging on to someone who is trying to let go. You deserve a relationship that feels complete and loving and nurturing, not one that you have to chase. Those relationships are out there and they will find you, but not if you find yourself in the situation where you are holding on to hope that isn’t there.

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Tracy

Hello,
Im really having a hard time in my current relationship. We have been arguing for the last several months just about everything but most of it has to do with trust issues. He is in the process of a divorce and still talks to her and goes to her house and even at times spends the night which he says he sleeps on the couch. I had enough and decided to go to the house and ask her whats going on and she told me that they are not doing anything but how he tries to ask her questions about their marriage, but he tells me that their done because she doesnt want him anymore. That made me feel like he is just with me because she said she dossnt want to be with him. I asked him about this and asked him if he loved her or me and he said he loves us both and he doesnt know what he wants right now. He previously told me her wanted to have a baby sith me and we tried and i had many issues and miscarriages and ended up having to get a hysterectomy and once that happened thats when he seems to distance himself and go over there more. Last night we talked and i asked him why he even started talking to me and he said he had a huge crush on me and then fell in love but the arguing has made him question things lately. I made the mistake of sleeping with him last night and then after all i could think about was him saying he loved us both. I got up got dressed and said im going home he then asked why and i went to leave and he said u cant even say bye so i did and left. I woke up this morning and thought about this all morning at work so on my lunch i decided to go to his house and end things he asked why and i said because u told me u still loved her and he never once has said he doesnt want to be with her he says she doesnt want to be with him. I left and went back to work feeling pretty good then he calls me this evening to ask me abbout my car thays in his name and i told him its ok and he said alright then he asked when i was coming from this afternoon when i ended it and then he asked if i was currdntly at home. I answered and he asked why i said that after lastnight and i said because of what he said and how much that hurt and he said i understand but youve hurt me as well i ask how and he said i cant talk right now ill call u back later. I dont know if i should talk to him again or if i should juslt let go. I love him and saw myself with him and having a baby with him but that cant happen now and im just so hurt thathe said that he loved both of us thati just dont know because i feel like if she was to take him back he would go and i would be left in the cold. Please help me!

Reply
Hey Sigmund

Tracy don’t let yourself be one of his two options. At the moment, it is easy for him not to make a decision between the two of you because in a way, he can have both. If you want a relationship, it has to be on terms that are okay for you – starting with not sleeping at her house. If he is in love with both of you, he is committed to neither of you. If you want a relationship with him, let him know that you are there but he needs to choose you – not both of you. You deserve a love that makes you feel loved and secure, and it sounds like this one isn’t doing that at all. That doesn’t mean it can’t, but for it to happen it’s important for you to decide what is acceptable for you. It sounds as though he will continue to do whatever you make it easy for him to do. He will expect more for you when you do. If he isn’t able to give you what you need, that might be painful for a while, but eventually the pain will end. If you stay in the relationship in these circumstances, it will just continue to hurt you. I wish you all the best.

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Kim

I’m in horrendous pain. My boyfriend surprised me with a text of we should move on message and we are 50 years old. I’ve known him as my very good friend for over 10 years. We reconnected across states when he reached out to me last summer. We decided it was finally our time to be together. I moved 1200 miles away to be with him. It’s been almost a year now. About 2 days after he sent me the message I saw a girl post on fb that she was meeting her boyfriend and tagged him.
I haven’t been able to work since Monday afternoon, my body is achy, my hands and feet are always cold, my head feels like it’s in a vice grip, my tears come with the sounds of screams, I’m barely eating, I can’t sleep and I don’t want to. The morning comes and I realize the nightmare was real and the years start all over again, and the night is horrifically lonely. He’s the love of my life, and while I know everyone will say things will get better, in this very moment I’m very afraid. And while I ache in agony without him I don’t want to let go because that will make it even worse, having to realize that I don’t have him. I just want to stay in this realm of denial with my tears. My dog ensures that i must go outside a few times a day otherwise I wouldn’t get out of bed. I am obviously not so young that I haven’t experienced loss but for some reason this is worse than anything I can remember. May peace come to all of you in pain.

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Hey Sigmund

Kim I’m so sorry you are going through this pain. Breakups are awful and the pain of losing someone you love so deeply can feel unbearable, particularly when it happens the way it has happened to you – suddenly and without really understanding why. It’s okay to fall apart right now and withdraw from the world, it really is, but it is important that you have a point in mind where you will make your move back into the world. The best thing for you, when you are ready, will be to be with people and to do things that nurture you back to emotional strength. Love to you.

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T

Thanks for this article and for all the commenters for sharing your stories. It helps some and is really making me think about my current situation. I feel emotionally and physically devastated after my breakup, but I was the one who ultimately chose to break up with my boyfriend, so it’s leaving me heartbroken and confused.

I’ll start from the beginning… I dated an amazing man for almost a year. He is smart, handsome, ambitious, caring, social and funny… pretty much everything you could want. To top it off we were so great together. He made me feel comfortable and loved in every way. The one thing that made me hesitate was how I felt about him. He was all these incredible things but somehow I just didn’t feel that “spark” or “butterflies” or whatever you want to call it. I don’t even know if I believe in those things… but I was expecting to feel head over heels in love and I just didn’t. This caused me to have a lot of confusion and stress about the relationship. I care for him more than anything… but why was I not in love with him? I ended things with him two weeks ago because of this. Though no bone in my body wanted to be without him, I felt like it was unfair to him to stay in the relationship when I was so confused about my feelings.

Now, just a few weeks later, I am completely devastated and missing him more than I thought possible. I’m feeling everything that’s described in this article- all the hurt and aches. I cry all the time and I feel myself yearning for him. If I never was in love with him, why would my body and brain have these same reactions? Was I in love with him the whole time and there was just something else that was telling me it wasn’t right? Has anyone else ever experienced anything like this? Almost all of me wants to go back to him, but there’s still something that’s nagging at me, telling me not to. I’ve truly never been so torn.

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S

I have been with my boyfriend for 3 years, and we have lived together for a year. He asked me to move in with him and I said before I do, I need to know he is certain that this is it, that I am the one for him. We rarely fought and if we did it was over something silly. There was always trust in our relationship. He is 31 and I am 24. I am very mature for my age, and he always said that about me. He broke up with me 5 days ago because he said he had a gut feeling inside that I wasn’t “the one”. I’m so sad, confused and devastatingly hurt by this because there were no signs of it coming. It happened out of the blue. I am so in love with him. We shared our lives together. How does someone go from spending so much time with that other person, to completely losing them from your life? He always spoke about a future with me and he always used the word “we”, never “I”. Every one including his best friends thinks he’s making the biggest mistake of his life, and so do I. I feel as though he sees all his friends getting married and got scared because everyone kept saying “you’re next” or “when are you going to give her a ring already?” I don’t know what to do, because right now everything seems so dark and lonely. I am completely shattered and heartbroken. I would be willing to give him time to think deeply about how he is feeling, but should I? Am I just wasting my time if he agrees to do that? I just need a helping hand to get through this. It hurts more than words could ever begin to describe.

Reply
Hey Sigmund

It sounds like this is such a painful time for you right now. If your boyfriend has asked for some time, there is nothing wrong with letting him have it, if you feel you can do that. Sometimes people need space, and that’s okay. If you agree to take some time from each other, it’s important that there is a clear time on that. You don’t want to be stuck waiting indefinitely. Have the conversation with your boyfriend. Good relationships are worth fighting for, but make sure you aren’t the only one fighting for it.

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Sofia

I just wanted to say thanks for your response. I realized that I am not capable of giving him “time” because I know even if he were to say that he needed it, it would just be prolonging the hurt (for me). I had to accept the fact that the relationship is over completely. I spent an entire week and a half in the darkest place of my life. I didn’t eat, sleep, talk to anyone, I was completely broken. However, I realized I had two options: continue on this path of destruction, or pick my self up and move on. So, I chose the latter. I cut off all contact with him, got everything out of his house, put one foot in front of the other and walked away. Since then, I have been doing things for ME. Exercising, eating healthy, lots of yoga, reading self-help books, spending time with friends, and just ultimately taking care of myself. I have to say it has actually been life changing and I feel so much stronger because of it. Yes, it’s not easy, but I promise whoever is reading this, it does get better – TRUST ME. Everyone told me that and I couldn’t believe them. But now I see everything more clearly. I realize what I want and don’t want from a relationship. I realize I am happy alone, and that is the key to every relationship, I think. Being able to be happy and content with yourself, before anyone else. I hope this helps someone who is in the position I was in. It takes a lot of courage to move on from someone you loved, someone who broke your heart out of the blue, someone you invested 100% into, but when you learn to love yourself, things become bright again. Sending positive thoughts to those in need. It does get better….

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quincy

Hi I dated my ex girlfriend for close to 5years. I truly loved her and still do, through the process of that 5years we both made mistakes and I forgave her for everything she’s done and thought she did as well. As we went along in our relationship she got a job and met new friends and she started changing towards me and decided to dump me and the reason why she’s dumping me she says I’ve hurt her deeply 2years ago. After a 2 months of our breakup she found a new boyfriend. She has completely change don’t even know how to explain this. M struggling to cope I feel so hopeless this break it’s really damaging me, she’s rude towards me don’t even know what to do. Any advice

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Ina

I read this article and found it completely fascinating. Reading the science behind why I feel the way I feel is absolutely interesting. Also reading the comments others left here, I felt like it might help me, too. I am taking a very hands-on approach towards not falling into a vortex of sadness, crying, and hopelessness, I have started exercising and I go out with people more than I usually would, so it’s been keeping me above water.
So, I was with my boyfriend for a bit longer than half a year and it was the ultimate fairytale. We had fights, but few and we resolved the issues that triggered them. We had dreams, which we were discussing just the day before he left me. He had told me he wanted me there in his future and I have to say I wanted the same because I knew that if I let anyone in, it would be a truly special person with whom I could at least imagine to have future. He said he was happy, that he had never been as happy with any other woman and I trusted him. I tried to be good, and for the most part I have to say I succeeded. I am not a jealous person, and he hates jealousy, so he loved that about me.
Until one day he said he needed to find himself and believed the best way to do that is on his own. I understand why he needs that. He had been in a few relationships with very short breaks between one another and he had had no time to prepare himself for a new commitment. So I don’t blame him for needing time to recharge. What I do, however, find very unjust is that he made me believe he was ready and there were zero signs to point towards the opposite. So I am surprised. I feel stranded and even though he said there is a possibility of us getting back together, I am afraid that when and if he is ready, I won’t be, because I will need time to forgive him for the pain he caused me, if I am to be happy in this relationship. Rationally, I think the relationship deserves a second chance because it was so good and we were so happy together and there was no pressure on either side for anything the other was not ready for. But my trust has suffered a major blow and this is what I am having the most trouble with – will I be able to forgive him and trust him again.
I was hoping for some guidance from a professional because talking to my friends is nice, but it is hard to get an unbiased opinion. To what extent should I let go, how can I work up the courage to trust him again?
Thank you

Reply
Hey Sigmund

Ina this really is a question that only you can answer. It is important to listen to your intuition on this. Do you feel loved and cared for? Do you feel as though he is genuine? And the big one – does he bring you more joy than pain?

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Hannah

My boy friend and I dated for a year and a half and were living together. He works in the food and beverage world so his work hours can be a lot at this time of year and he can be left with little time to do anything other than work. About a week or so before we broke up I noticed him being distant but thought it could be from him being tired and over working so much. I confronted him and he told me he didn’t know how he felt (about us, life, home, anything). He went back and forth for about 2 weeks about how he felt before we officially broke up. He told me he was unhappy in general with life and work and that it seems easier to be alone sometimes because he pushes me away. He also stated that he doesn’t have the energy to fight for our relationship anymore (although there was never any fight, he never expressed his reserves until my initial text- it went from “i love you” to “we should break up”.) He said he still loves me but he’s just hasn’t felt “in our relationship” for a little while. Weeks before this we were discussing buying a house together and our future and he has told his family and friends he wanted to propose before the end of the year. How does that change so fast? He claims I did nothing and that our relationship had no problems that this is his fault since he let the stress of life and work get in the way of things. (even though I have made it clear I would do anything to work this out) I just don’t understand it all and his answer to most questions about this is “I don’t know” He has looked me in the eye and told me there isn’t another girl and I do truly believe him. My heart is not going to heal immediately and I don’t intend to stop my life waiting but should I even have hope that he could realize he made a mistake pushing me away? I am still living there and our interactions are very cordial and normal. I want to have hope that once I move out and our contact stops all together that he could realize but I just don’t know. His constant answers of “i don’t know” have given me no light into the situation other than him telling me there was nothing that I did wrong or could change.

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MJ

I lost the best girl in the world bcos I was so stubborn. I told her I was over her and that i’d moved on, when in fact i was pushing her away in the hope that it would lead to us seeing sense. She found someone else days later and I was the last to find out, some two months or so later. I am in incredible pain. I would walk around the Earth several times if it meant i could get her back, but she has told me she’s happy and wants to move on and that i should do the same. I am distraught and feel like i will never get over her. I would do anything, absolutely anything in the world to have her back. Very, very sad 🙁

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Khawaja

Hi
My relationship of seven years ended abruptly. Belonging to a south asian family we had to get approval of our parents which we did and after six years of dating we got engaged last year in january. We delayed our wedding plans as she got selected for high profile govt job and had to go to another city for training. After seven months into training she ended our relationship.
She ended it by completely stopping all communications with me and blocking me, my family and all of our mutual friends from all platforms. It was her father who called and said it is over.
She said i abused her which is not true, yes we did had arguments like all normal couples but there was no abusing.
I dont understand at all what happened, and what kills me is how long was she faking it. Also what i dont get is she always told everyone that how blessed she is to have my support, as i helped her through everything and always got more excited for her every success. She was even texting I love you and all a day before she stopped talking.
I have these mixed feelings of sad and angry.
Also go through feelings of inferiority complex and all. Please help and advise.

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Deb

Hey, I have just read a couple of your articles. My current breakup is with my father and his wife. It is not our first estrangement. They like to play the victim and project all their crap onto me and my sons. We became estranged (again) two years ago and I was ok with that but a family member let me know about a health scare my father had I got back in touch. Well it was a one way street with me ringing and him not. He did nothing for my 5oth. I rang them a month ago and had to hand up (again) because of the hurtful things that he says. How do I make peace with this?

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Hey Sigmund

Deb this sounds like a difficult and hurtful situation for you. Here are a couple of articles that might help you. The first is how to heal from a toxic parent. (I’m not saying your dad is toxic, but the strategies here will be helpful either way.) https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-parent/. The second is how to let go of someone you love without guilt https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/. The key is to decide what you will tolerate and what you won’t, and then to realise that your father is making the choice to have you disconnect by doing things that feel bad for you. Let him know the door will always be open, if that’s what you want, but also let him know what your expectations are. I hope the articles are able to help you find clarity and peace with this.

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Pragya

Hi.
I am in a bit of a “i don’t know whats happening” kind of a space right now. I have been single for a long time and then suddenly came across this person via social network this january, in India. we were heading to our workplaces in the UK and USA respectively and hence couldn’t meet. We started dating knowing that we ultimately want to date for marriage and not just relationship. everything was going fine and we skyped every sunday and communicated everyday over the phone, and were decisding on when to meet each other in person, along with speaking about marriage and my eventual moving to the USA and other very serious stuff along with getting to know each other for the past 3 months. I asked him, as to how he feels for me, where are we in terms of feeling for each other, and he said that “he cares for me a lot and wants to solve each of my problems as he doesn’t want me to be facing them. and that he has affection for me as I am instrumental in making him do things that are good for him, and have brought positive influences in his life”.
Then suddenly last month, he became very busy with work and I gave him the space to finish that and didn’t mind not speaking to him for a while (just via messages). but then he stopped answering my messages even and didn’t see them for a month. I was really worried for him but didn’t communicate continuously, just so that he doesn’t thing I am pressurising him, but once in a week messaged. His no replies made it obvious that he has probably broken up silently to avoid drama. last week he suddenly replied (to one of my old messages) that he is fine and buried in extreme workload and that he ll mail and reply. he ultimately did not. I am very confused to what is happening? are we no longer dating? have we broken up? where is this heading?

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Hey Sigmund

Pragya it sounds as though this is a question you will need to ask him directly. The question is a very reasonable one and you have the right to know. Is it workload? Or does he want freedom from the relationships? If it is workload, it will be important to talk about what you both expect in terms of communication. Having long periods of not responding to texts would be difficult for anyone and can weaken the relationship if it leaves one of you (or both of you) wondering where things stand. Ask him the questions you need answers to. You have a right to know the answers.

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Hey Sigmund

Pragya it sounds as though this is a question you will need to ask him directly. The question is a very reasonable one and you have the right to know. Is it workload? Or does he want freedom from the relationships? If it is workload, it will be important to talk about what you both expect in terms of communication. Having long periods of not responding to texts would be difficult for anyone and can weaken the relationship if it leaves one of you (or both of you) wondering where things stand. Ask him the questions. You have a right to know the answers.

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P

This was a great article. It’s been helpful reading everyone’s stories as well. I guess it feels better to know I’m not alone. I recently was thrown away by someone who I loved deeply. I cared for him so intensely. Everyday I thought of new ways to make him smile. I have been going through a lot personally and he was the glue that held me together. Even though he never claimed me the time we did spend together meant the world to me. He doesn’t know this but sometimes I went without so he could have. It hurts to be thrown away so easily. Everyone throws me away I feel like garbage. Due to religious reasons I couldn’t kill myself but the moment the small doubt of there being no God in the first place gets bigger then I am afraid of what I’m capable of. I push through each day. I feel my heart breaking from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep. Every morning I am double over in the shower Bc I am too sad to stand. My students ask what’s wrong. I have to go to the bathroom between lessons to cry. I cry in my car on my lunch break. I can’t eat. It’s been almost three months surely I should be better by now? I don’t know what else to do.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so not alone! Breakups are awful and they do take time to heal from. It’s not unusual that you’re still feeling this pain at three months. This grief is all part of the healing – a horrible, painful part, I know, but it is your body and your mind’s way to withdraw and regroup and recover. Be patient and be gentle with yourself. Try to get some exercise every day, even if it is just a 30 minute walk. It will release the feel good chemicals in your brain and will help to protect you from depression and anxiety. Connect with friends and people who care about you. Sleep and eat well – I know you probably won’t feel like it, but it’s important to keeping your brain and body strong and on the way to healing. You will be okay. You will get through this and find a new normal that will feel right for you. Keep moving forward – there’s no hurry. Love and strength to you.

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Sarah s

Hi.
My boyfriend of almost 3 years broke up with me in January. I’m devastated. I was going through a horrible period. We text everyday until I started yelling at him and being needy. Finally in April I started no contact although I had broken it a few times because he would text me. Now it’s been 3 weeks and he didn’t reach out not I reached out to him. We broke up because we were both moving back to our home countries (we graduated and left the US). He said he doesn’t want to be with me anymore. I offered to go with him but he said we wouldn’t have a place to live and he has to go to the military for a year as well. It doesn’t feel real because we had the best time and we did things together. Although we never talked about marriage because he knew that military was coming and that his parents wouldn’t approve dating a foreigner. For a while I was ok with it but ultimately I couldn’t. I was hoping to wait, give him space to finish the military and figure things out. That is the only thing I can do. I’m not in pain like before but I think about home everyday and it feels strange to be so far away from him. Do you think it’s possible to let him figure things out and try to make it work later or if it doesn’t what if I never feel whole again. Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

Sarah I understand why you are scared that you will never feel whole again, but your heart body and mind won’t let that happen. You are hurting right now, I can hear that. The thing is, he has told you how he feels and that he doesn’t want to be with you anymore. This is heartbreaking, I know, but for your own sake it is important that you believe him. this is not the end of love for you – it is certainly NOT the end. In the meantime, let yourself let go of him. There is nothing more painful than hanging on to someone or something that is trying to let go of you. You will feel whole and you will love again, but first you have to heal and make way for that. You will get through this.

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Chris

So how do I begin? Throughout high school I dated a close friend of mine. We were off and on throughout but still I airways turned back to her. I had a lot of friends back then too and enjoyed life. Whenever I was around her (britt) I felt enamored, infatuated, her touch would make me feel like nobody else could.

I went off to national guard my junior year which shortly before I was dating someone else but while there I only thought of britt and knew that once I got back that was it, I’m staying with britt because I felt that I had finally affirmed that these feelings were genuine.

Apparently, though, something had happened between britt and her family. Years later I found out that sexual misconduct had occurred forcing britt to move a few counties away of course probably with more to the story who knows. Anyways we went to prom and such and I had considered proposing but she called things off on distance leaving me devastated, heartbroken so much it let to dissolution to most of my friendships none of which have yet fully recovered.

Add a high sense of betrayal when I eventually found out she is lesbian.

Right now I’m engaged to a lovely woman who I’ve been with for going on 4 years. However, I’ve never felt the same as I did with britt. Was what I felt with britt real? Why do I feel basically no emotion anymore? (Let me explain to the level: I had a car wreck last week and neither got scared, not upset, nothing)…I’m worried that I may never feel the same again nor recover which if that is true how do I know that marriage is right for my current situation? I just want to feel like my old self again without the pain, the hurt, I want the happy emotions to be there but it’s like they’re permanently gone. ….

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Hey Sigmund

Chris our memories of our first young love are very powerful. They are often built during an innocent time before the pressures of life get in the way. That doesn’t mean they aren’t real, but they will be different to the love you feel later when there is work, bills, and other day to day stresses. Of more concern is your inability to feel happiness. If you are unable to feel emotion, that would be something worth getting checked out, perhaps through a doctor. It is always best to make sure if there is something that doesn’t feel quite right.

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Emma

I was with my boyfriend a year, we were ridiculously close. However, we just finished university in the summer and since then he had been panicking about getting older and feeling the pressure of being an adult. He was starting a new job after christmas, his first proper job, and he was always saying ‘can we be together until i start and then end at the beginning of my job it’s too much pressure’. We stayed together when he started his job but he met loads of new people and was going out loads and basically decided he felt really young again and didn’t want the pressure of a serious loving relationship whilst he was trying to make a new impression at work, pre-occupied with all these new people. I begged him to give it ago (when we split face to face) but now we have not spoken since- it’s been six weeks. We are the same friend group from university so now either i miss events or he does.

I haven’t contacted him in the six weeks because, call me old fashioned, but if he wanted to make contact he’d reach out right? I feel absolutely horrendous but out of principle i don’t think it’s up to me to message him to see how he’s doing. However, i am completely torn. I don’t want to look back in three months and think “if only i had text him and made contact”. Maybe i’m missing my chance to rekindle by sitting back and doing nothing?

What does everyone think? Some friends tell me to reach out to him, others tell me absolutely not.

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Hey Sigmund

Emma I really do understand how torn you would be feeling on this. Based on what you have said, he has made it very clear that he does not want a relationship. Your gut feeling is important and worth listening to – if he wanted to contact you, he would. If there is any doubt in your mind and you are finding it difficult to reach closure, there is nothing wrong with asking him one more time if this is still what he wants now he has had six weeks to think about it. Bear in mind though, that if you don’t get the answer you want, which is very likely, your pain will be worse for a while because it will feel fresh again, but at least then you will be able to move forward. If you do reach out, be prepared to believe what he tells you. If he tells you that there will be no relationship, make sure that you are ready to let go. This will be painful, but the freedom it gives you to move forward will be worth it.

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Sue F

Hi Emma, you sound like you are on the verge of a new life after finishing your college. I think your boyfriend feels the same; he wants a new start. I would start doing things for you such as travelling or meeting new friends and doing new things. Don’t put your life on hold for somebody else. There’s nothing worse than just waiting for somebody else to “see the light” when that might never happen. Good luck.

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B jones

My husband and I have been living a parallel existence for 30 years. Ten years ago I met a man I was deeply attracted to, and he to me as well. I never told him my feelings of him. He’s my first thought in the morn and my last thought at night. I told my husband ten years ago I wanted to leave, he begged me to stay, and out of deference to the kids I did. I learned the other is getting married and my heart is crushed. I desperately want to tell him how I feel, put it all out there, living no regrets as they say. I know it probably won’t have any effect, but what if….?
Any advice?

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TaraK3

You should tell him. Doesn´t really matter what happens but what matters is you being brave and not having regrets. I was in love with a man for few years and than one day he just died. Now..If I could go back and tell him how I felt I would- even if he rejected me. I think you should always do what you really want to do and not let any fear stop you. No matter what happens, you can always be proud of your self for being brave and doing someting despite you fears (and thats very special when you look around and see how people function in their lifes). I wish you the best of luck. let me know how it turned out!

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Ana

Hi, I am going through probably one of the most difficult times in my life.
I have been in very Toxic and dependant relationship and I am just trying to accept that it is over and move on but it seems impossible.

My ex-partner and I were together for 4 years, the first two were amazing… He was completely dedicated to the relationship and so was I . He was my best friends, then I suffered an accident and I had to go through surgery (few of them) he was there for me, taking care of me and supporting me with so much love, for the first time in my life I felt that my independence was gone and I had to trust him fully. I did… 6 moths later after the check up I was told I had to go through another surgery.

My ex started changing after that, excessive drinking, his support started vanishing, I saw how he got frustrated to not been able to help … I felt guilty and pain. My self steam and my strength were very low… I tried to go back to college to prove myself and my ex, that I could move on from it and learn another profession. I moved to college 4 hours away from our home. And what started as an amazing project soon felt down the drain when I notice how my ex wasn’t there, I had grown dependant on him… He started been distant… Tired I suppose of my hard personal situation. That wasn’t the person he felt in love he said more that once afterwards.
By the end of the first year college I started suffering from panic attacks, he was there sometimes, then he will be absent… I broke down and I started having Generalized anxiety.

My physical health first and then mental health…. it was too much for me. He cheated on me on top of all that…. And when I was about to give up college and leave him, He came with the most emotional apologies And I did took him back part because he had been so good to me in the past and part because by then I needed his love to be able to move on and finish college.

Had my second surgery in my home country and he came with me, Another 4 months dedication to the relationship and then the loop started: Drinking and emotional abuse and then as soon as he saw me going cause I couldn’t take it, he would come back with the most amazing apologies and excuses.
I felt absolutely trap, I wanted him to love me like he did before I got sick, I wanted to get better but I couldn’t… I blamed it on to me. I felt alone, scared and guilt, like I deserve no love and I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t leave him. I realized I was dependant on his love I was soo sick I NEEDED HIS SUPPORT.. He started not involving me in his life, and I felt so bad for being sick I just felt depressed. I started counselling and it was the first time I heard the word emotional abuse and dependency.

That keep on for months!! He left to his friends house in one of his attempts to make it out after a very bad abuse episode and I felt my anxiety got a bit better, he loved me but he wasn’t around too much so at the weekends he had missed me and we will get on. Perfect I thought! I am getting better, he is really lovinG

Until last weekend when he was coming home in one of his “You are the love of my life periods, marry me and take me back ” but instead he cheated on me and texted me that he was not in love with me, that he hadn’t been in so long and he just didn’t want me to stop loving him. and believe it or not he found a way to blame me for it! he said as well that he told everyone else months ago that we were not together so I was the only one who didn’t know about it.
I feel broken and in pieces… I couldn’t believe. I knew it was a toxic relationship by both sides but I thought we were aware of the problem and loved each other
I know is my fault for allowing it, it didn;t felt right….
If I could see this from an objective situation I will probably tell that he is an abuser and that I am better off without him. But I blame myself for the fact that he stopped loving me and I don’t know how to stop beating myself up, stop missing him badly… and move on.

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Me

I read this blog, and it feels like all I’ve been doing is reading about this type of stuff on the internet recently. My ex-girlfriend and I broke up about a month ish ago. I am 22 years old, and she is 21 years old. We were a semi long-distance relationship, as she lived in a city 2 hours away and went to school there while we were together. However, distance didn’t seem to be much of an issue as I would usually see her at least once a month, sometimes twice a month for a full weekend or weekends. We had a great balance between our personal lives and our own lives together. The reason she broke up with me was because she said she doesn’t have the same feelings for me anymore (doesn’t love me anymore) and because of pressure from her parents.

She’s a Sikh girl and I’m a hindu boy. These are both religions in India, and while they are as close as two religions could ever be, her family and her parents are extremely traditional. Although she hasn’t explicitly had this conversation with her parents, she is fairly certain that her parents will never approve of me. To make matters worse, she does not have a healthy, working relationship with her parents. Her parents are extremely strict, they barely let her go out with her friends, if at all, and they are indirectly heavily included in all her decisions. This is because the relationship between her parents and her are built upon fear and making sure she does not go against their will. They also put a lot of pressure on her to do well in school and have a well-established career. I have already graduated university and am in a steady career path with a solid job already in an office.

Between me and her, we never had any problems. Things were amazing, and all our time spent together felt amazing. We travelled together, and literally explored her entire school city together. However, when we started dating, I was worried about the uncertainty about the future. We just kept putting it off though and said we would deal with the future when the time came, and decided to just enjoy the present. However, I could tell the pressure from everywhere in her life (parents, pressure about this relationship, school, career) was mounting up. It seemed as if she was happy and doing well on the outside, but she said she was just hiding the truth. All the pressures got to her and she said she forced herself not to love me as much as I loved her, not to get as attached, because she knew the day to break-up would come, because of the uncertainty of her future. Now, when I’m trying to fight and save our relationship, she says there’s nothing left fighting for because she’s felt this way for so long and she already decided in her head. She also refuses to let me see her, or talk it out in person, as she thinks it’s a bad idea. We’ve only talked about all this stuff over the phone or via text. She has said she just wants time to figure this whole thing out and understand herself and see what she wants, but when we fight, she explicitly says I’ve already decided I don’t want this, nothing’s changing, etc. It’s been really hard for me to not contact her.

Anyways, for me, I’m struggling with life more than ever. This break-up seems like it has turned my world and life upside down. I lost the thing that mattered to me most. My job is high pressure, I work long hours, and my performance is suffering pretty badly. I can’t focus on my work, I can’t seem to get things done, they’re taking me much longer. I go to the gym pretty much daily, as I have for the last 2 and a half years, but some days in the gym I’m just not mentally there. Living daily seems like a struggle. I have no appetite on most days. Yesterday, I had 3 seperate instances of an anxiety/panic attack, in which I felt like I was going to collapse/die. I just don’t know how to deal with this and what to do, and I just want this thing back.

Any advice/feedback is appreciated.

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Hey Sigmund

What you are feeling is completely understandable given what you have been through. Your body and your mind are adjusting to a new normal. You will adjust, but this will take time. Breakups are deeply painful but when the relationship is close and loving, it can be all the most difficult to understand. Circumstances can be just as important and can play such a huge role in whether or not a relationship will work. For now, there is no easy way through the heartbreak. All you can do is understand that this will be as difficult for her as it is for you. If she has asked you to let go then that’s what you need to do, as much as that heavies your heat. You will be okay and you will love again, just be gentle with yourself in the meantime.

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Just me

Here s my story. Me and my ex were living together for about 4-1/2years. We moved a part March of 15. Feb 28th we had a big blowup and he end up pushing me and fell. I was not hurt but it happen all the same. He left the house immediately after and did not come back til the next day. This is not the first time he didn’t come home .

We eventually got to a place that we could talk. I asked him if we were still going to be together and his response is that he didn’t think so. He could not stop playing the push in his head. Looking at me only reminded him of it. There is much more that lead up to all of this, but not enough time in the world.

Anyway, before he was complete moved by the end of March we talked and agreed we did not want us to end and we would work on it. We ultimately ended up living in separate apts down the street from each other.

We continued to talk and see each other and we’re still considered a couple but working on things; more so him then me. We were getting along great. We were happy together.

Come abt the end of October, beginning of Nov we confirmed we were still a couple. Now somewhere in November he found out that back when he went out on February 28th, the girl he cheated on me with had a baby and it was his. I noticed a change in his demeanor and the more time was passing for me to see hi. I didn’t say at the time.

Come Dec, we had been talking about what to do for Christmas and what I wanted and he wanted. We ultimately agreed that he would come over for Christmas and I would cook. We does this the night before; he never showed up. He called me at 11p that night. I was in tears, bcs I flashed back the year b4. We were not in a good place then. The next day we was suppose to come over and did not. We finally spoke and he said he made a mistake. He would tell me what it was. So my mind was all over the place. I think I cried everyday minus 2days until Jan 17th.

He finally comes over to talk and I ask what is going on. We are we. He tells me that I don’t think I can see you and more. Then he goes to the comment about a mistake. After beating around the bush he tells me he has a baby. This when he tells me abt the cheating back fen 28th. He says that he can’t be with me bcs he has to try and make something work with her for,the sake of his son. According to him, he had only been with her once and does know her. Nor has he had DNA test. I don’t believe that he was only with her once.

It has been hell for me ever since. I have read many of the postings and the expressed devastation experienced.

I thought maybe he was going to tell me he did not want to try anymore and I thought I would be ready for that, but this; I was not ready for. He tells me his plan was to move on past the cheat night and ultimately be back with me, but now things have changed.

He tells me he still loves me and is till in love with me; but he knows it is hard to believe.

I was in a tail spin for then on. He finally called to just listen to me and answer some questions. One question I asked is, does the girl live in this area. Keep in mind we are literally only blocks from each other. He says, yes.

I stop at his apt and asked him to come down to his car( I hv never seen the inside of his apt). He tells me he can’t. Then I asked”you do not live alone anymore, do you? He said know. He text me and told me the baby and mom are there.

He moved them in with him. This a man that has really wanted a child and we discussed it. I really wanted a child with him. I just wanted some level of peace in our relationship first.

So, since Christmas til now I have only gone 2days without crying. From the 17th til now, I went 3days with out eating and 2days in total darkness. Keep in mind I moved to Ga., on my own in 2008 and met him the end 09. He was all I had here. We fell head over heels for each other. To the point strangers commented on it. I had no friends and just last year met some decent woman, but for the most part I am alone.

The fact he has a son with this girl, took the wind from me and he moved them in with him I decided when I was 36 I wanted a child, then I met him and knew he would be the father. He is going to be a great father. Now I am 42 and lost it all. I wanted my child to be born from love. I spent 6yrs with the man and I have nothing.

I am trying to hang on to some level of sanity. Now I look in the mirror and see and older woman. It’s as if being with him made me forget I was 5yrs old than him. Everything was about him. Through all the b.s. We went through, I have been in love with him. I am still in love with him.

He says the only joy he has now is his son. That does not help my pain. I don’t have any issue with the baby, it’s the way the baby came about and it is not ours.

I am so lost, confused, and just sad about life. Oh and I was laid off off in Dec.

Your article explains my pain physically, but I just don’t know anymore.

Sorry for so much typing. I apologize for any typos as well. I did not go back and proofread.

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Hey Sigmund

You’ve had an awful time of things lately and it’s not at all surprising that you are so sad and confused. You have been betrayed by the person you love over and over. As well as this, you have lost your job – another major life event to deal with. Your sadness runs deep, I can hear that, and it is important for you to let yourself feel what you need to feel, but that sadness will pass. What I need to ask though, is are you with this man because of love and hope for a future or because of a habit and concern that there will be nothing better for you? I am all for second chances – we all make mistakes – but as for chances after that, I would have to ask what you’re getting from this relationship. There has been violence, betrayal, lies. The problem is that your mind and body adjust to this and learn to tolerate it, but you deserve so much more – and can have so much more.

I know that this will probably be the last thing you feel like right now, but anything you can do to meet other people will really help your healing. Join a group, a sports team, volunteer at your local animal shelter – anything – there are plenty of people who would love to know someone just like you. It might be something that is really difficult to do at the start but it is so important that you have some sort of exposure to other people. It will make a difference. If it feels too hard, pair it with something nurturing – on the way home, grab your favourite takeaway and curl up on the couch with a movie – or something that makes you feel good. Pairing something hard with something nicer will make the hard thing become easier. The problem with not have any other social support is that this man is your only option and your mind will likely keep playing over and over the different ways you have been hurt. Find a way to move forward – any little step will do and keep your focus pointed that way. I wish you all the very best.

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Just me

I was with him because of my deep love for him. I have had trust issues with men for a good part of my life; that is an entirely different article and post conversation.

It was not until I turned 27 that I decided to give someone a chance with me in the hopes of a relationship. That lead to my ex husband and then this situation. These are the only real relationships I have had in my life.

What was I getting from this relationship? Initially I was getting love , affection, and much more than I even thought I wanted. He it took me longer to fall for him then the other way around.

Once we got past my walls, all his insecurities came to light. We really should have parted ways at the end of 201o, but I was all in and so was he. We discussed breaking up numerous times, but neither of us could let go. It’s as if we were addicted to each other.

2014 to 2015 was the worst year ever. He was not happy abt where he was in his career and I made much more money than him at the time. He never thought is was good enough for me because I hv had more experiences in life and my family is much different from his. Everything was an argument for him.

Anyway, back to you initial question. I loved him and still do. I also wanted a child out of love. I know we discussed it, but as I stated before I wanted some level of pice with us b4a child was brought into the picture. We were suppose to be each other “til death do us part”, I guess I was the only one that held that close. We both agreed that the only thing we would split for is infidelity. Now that I am in the situation, I still can’t let go and I know I need too.
Do I believe there is a future for me with someone else, no. I am now back where I started when I was 27. Getting myself to take a chance is not something I see again.

I have been working out just abt every day since the 2nd week of finding this out. I hold on in public, but as soon as I get in my car, I fall apart. It hurts beyond words and imagination.

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Hey Sigmund

I completely understand. You are in so much pain right now, but it will fade. I know it doesn’t feel like it but it will. Until then, try to avoid making any long term decisions. Your heart, mind and spirit need to heal, which they will, but it will take time. I hope he knows how lucky he is to have somebody who feels so much love and commitment for him.

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Andrew

I will tell you Karen, that I am going to my first meditation session, of many.
I hope this will help me to find some inner peace in my life with the losses I have experienced in the past 15 months.
I’ve tried all the talk therapies in conjunction with my exercising with little relief as I feel like a dog chasing it’s tale, getting nowhere.
I do hope this meditation can put me onto a pass of inner wellness.
I know it sounds a bit deep but it is needed.

Thanks
Andrew.

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Hey Sigmund

Inner peace is so important to finding balance. I’m really pleased to hear that you’re doing this. I hope it helps – stick with it.

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Andrew

Hi Karen,

I am just replying again after your insightful email above.
This may seem extremely futile but from your experiences from people’s many relationship questions to you, once a woman / girlfriend who breaks off a relationship says at the end, that the door is closed on the relationship, are the chances of getting back close to zero?
I realise it’s not an easy question to answer.
As I had mentioned it’s only been 11 days since the split and wow I can’t believe how painful it still is.

Lastly do you believe all memory / contact of my former girlfriend should be erased?
I am not talking about personal photo’s etc but things like Facebook?
No I do not contact her at all since the split, but Facebook is a communication tool a lot of us use , you are still usually connected to your former partner / girlfriend through friends on Facebook.

I do use the FB like many people to connect with people overseas but does it keep the wounds open when you have access to your former lovers page?
I find de-friending quite severe and odd.
I know this seems like a question a person of a lot younger age would ask but as we know FB is a medium that is now used mostly by the older generation.

Thanks
Andrew.

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Hey Sigmund

I’m pleased you have asked your questions – the are certainly not futile. Here’s what I think, and remember they are just my opinions.

I think when someone says the door is closed, it’s important (for your own sake) to believe them. If the door opens one day, you may or may not be interested but in the meantime, the healthiest thing for you to do is to move one as though it will stay shut. If she wanted you to believe there was a chance, she would have given you some hope to hang on to.

I definitely don’t think you should erase all memory of her. There will be things you will have taken on from being with her that will make you grow and become more enriched. Keep the memories, but give her back the things that are hers – you don’t need them jolting you into further grief every time you lay eyes on them. As for contact on Facebook – that’s not a clear one either. FB is great for keeping up with people but it makes letting go of relationships so difficult. FB are on to this though (clearly there are a lot of people in your shoes) – here are some things they are trialling to make it easier to avoid without defriending. Here is the link http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/11/improving-the-experience-when-relationships-end/. See if it will help – I haven’t tried it, but hopefully it will be a way to stop you hurting every time you jump on FB. You will get through this. I know it feels awful right now – I’ve been there myself, but it does end. Keep moving forward and try not to get pulled back in. There is someone who is looking to meet you and be with you and love you like crazy, but first you’ll have to make it easy for her to get to you. There are good things waiting for you. Wishing you strength and healing.

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Sue F

Andrew, I know this might sound a bit harsh but this is what I did after a breakup. I hid all photos, gifts and anything that reminded me of this person. I unfriended on FB and unfollowed mutual friends. This enabled me time to process everything that happened. It gave me breathing space to process the events and for me to grief the loss. I know it is very hard and we just want to hold onto something but to me that just prolonged the healing process. Also each day I did something for me: a walk, shopping, anything to get me going again. Good luck!

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Julie

Hi Andrew and Karen . the last I commented on this post I was fresh out if my breakup , reading subsequent posts reminds me of how I felt and I feel for you Andrew. I did exactly what Karen said , I either threw away or boxed up the more valuAble things that had anything bit to do with him . That meant removing pictures not only from my walls , but I used an app picture vault and put all his pics in there and pics of us on my phone . It’s pw protected and I can’t tempt myself to look . I redecorated the bedroom where we stayed , total new color and theme . It helped greatly . It cleansed my soul as I cried . I still get I to safe and look at my engagement ring , I might feel a tear but it’s not that terrible ache . It’s been since November and I find myself feeling stronger everyday . Take this time to be alone , do projects and you will be busy but think and after awhile things we seem clearer and not muddied by emotion . That longing for him is gone , I miss him , but I don’t need him like I thought I did . It gets easier . Be gentle on yourself . Karen your advice is spot on and so appreciative .

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B

Going through this breakup has to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I’ve known my ex for more than half my life, but we have only been dating for just under a year. Being a long distance relationship makes everything harder.

We didn’t break up because we don’t love each other or because there was no connection, we broke up because the distance just became too much and because waiting another two and a half years to be together just seems impossible. I love this man with every fiber in me. He is the sweetest, most caring and most loving guy I have ever met. We just clicked from the moment we met. I think if he had cheated or hurt me in some way, it would be so much easier to get over.

Everything just hurts. I feel so lost. I feel like I have lost a part of me and I have no idea how to get through this. I can’t stop crying, I can’t sleep, I can’t keep anything down. I just want all of this pain to go away.

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Hey Sigmund

Oh these are the worst breakups – ending because of circumstance when you are both so connected and in love. The pain will go, but first it will take some time for you to adjust to a new normal. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Just take one day at a time. Heartbreak can’t be hurried. Love and warmth to you.

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Gillian

My daughter is going through the exact same thing. It’s day 3 of the break up. She lives in another country and we talk on what’s app. I can’t make myself call her because I’m hurting for her too and it will kill me to hear her cry and that heartbroken voice . We very close and she immeadtly turned to me and the first night I was up all night msg her and the next day to it was non stop and I was with her answering every msg. She said she just need to keep telling me everything. I asked her if she wanted me there and she said she did. So I’m flying out next month to stay with her. I’m just afraid how to deal with this and I know I need to let her just talk and let it all out . I know she’s going to lash out at times and I need to stay calm and help her through this. I’ve never dealt with anything like this before. I married my childhood sweetheart who I met when I was 15 and we married 27 years. I just want her to stop hurting its breaking my heart :(.
Gillian

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Andrew

Thanks so much for your reply, it was really appreciated.
You are correct I have read a lot about the NC (no contact) rule and as hard as it is, it has to be followed through, otherwise as you said it just fires that dopamine in your brain.
Once again thank you.

Regards
Andrew.

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Becca

I’m having a really tough time with a recent breakup. We had been talking marriage and kids just a few weeks ago and then all of a sudden he stopped communicating as much, and then after him taking me out one night to celebrate my recent graduation and passing my nursing boards, he breaks up with me the next day saying he loved be but wasn’t in love with me, that he had been feeling off about our relationship. In retrospect I thought he had found someone else, and I was completely ready to work on moving on from him because if he cheated on me then he was not the person I thought he was. Then when I met him to get back the rest of my stuff he insisted there was no one else and that he didn’t even know if he was doing the right thing but he had stuff to figure out and needed time to think. Now I’m so torn, I feel like he’s trying to string me along so I’ll wait around for him in case he changes his mind later. I know I’m better than that, but it is such a good crutch, it helps the pain right now to hold on, but my head is telling me that I’m just putting the pain off until later and that’s not healthy either. I don’t know if it will help me if I make it final by telling him that I’m not waiting around, or if that will just make things worse by contacting him. I know I’ll eventually be happy without him, I just want that sooner rather than later.

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Hey Sigmund

Mecca you sound really clear and really wise. There is nothing wrong with giving him some space if there are things he needs to work out. It’s not unusual for people to pull back just when things get close to marriage. He is thinking of a huge commitment and there are clearly things he needs to work out. He sounds very confused. I understand how much he has hurt you, but if you are prepared to wait, decide on a time limit so that you are not rolling along indefinitely. If you think it will help, ask him how much time he needs, but it’s important that you both are on the same page in relation to the rules. Is there contact during that time? Is there an understanding that during that time he will not see other people? If he wants space, that’s okay but work out what that look like – and definitely give it a strict time limit after which he is with you, or you let go and move on. I wish you all the very best.

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Becca

I tried to talk with him about giving it time, as in the advice she gave me. He thought that she was spot on in that he was freaking out about commitment but he said it just wasn’t going to work out. After awhile of not talking he reached out to me again but he said he is having trouble working this out on his own so he thinks he needs to see a professional. He still doesn’t want me to wait, he says he just needs to be single right now. I’m still unsure if he’s telling the truth, its possible there is someone else and he doesn’t want to burn bridges with me in case it doesn’t work out. Either way, I have to move on with my life, I offered twice to be patient and help him in any way he wanted and he said no twice, there’s nothing I can do and I deserve to be happy so I’m moving on.

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Emily Jaquet

I’m literally in the exact same situation as you right now. Talking about marriage, kids, etc. … Everything was pretty normal and then he just broke up with me. :/ Hang in there girl.

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When things feel hard or the world feels big, children will be looking to their important adults for signs of safety. They will be asking, ‘Do you think I'm safe?' 'Do you think I can do this?' With everything in us, we have to send the message, ‘Yes! Yes love, this is hard and you are safe. You can do hard things.'

Even if we believe they are up to the challenge, it can be difficult to communicate this with absolute confidence. We love them, and when they're distressed, we're going to feel it. Inadvertently, we can align with their fear and send signals of danger, especially through nonverbals. 

What they need is for us to align with their 'brave' - that part of them that wants to do hard things and has the courage to do them. It might be small but it will be there. Like a muscle, courage strengthens with use - little by little, but the potential is always there.

First, let them feel you inside their world, not outside of it. This lets their anxious brain know that support is here - that you see what they see and you get it. This happens through validation. It doesn't mean you agree. It means that you see what they see, and feel what they feel. Meet the intensity of their emotion, so they can feel you with them. It can come off as insincere if your nonverbals are overly calm in the face of their distress. (Think a zen-like low, monotone voice and neutral face - both can be read as threat by an anxious brain). Try:

'This is big for you isn't it!' 
'It's awful having to do things you haven't done before. What you are feeling makes so much sense. I'd feel the same!

Once they really feel you there with them, then they can trust what comes next, which is your felt belief that they will be safe, and that they can do hard things. 

Even if things don't go to plan, you know they will cope. This can be hard, especially because it is so easy to 'catch' their anxiety. When it feels like anxiety is drawing you both in, take a moment, breathe, and ask, 'Do I believe in them, or their anxiety?' Let your answer guide you, because you know your young one was built for big, beautiful things. It's in them. Anxiety is part of their move towards brave, not the end of it.
Sometimes we all just need space to talk to someone who will listen without giving advice, or problem solving, or lecturing. Someone who will let us talk, and who can handle our experiences and words and feelings without having to smooth out the wrinkles or tidy the frayed edges. 

Our kids need this too, but as their important adults, it can be hard to hush without needing to fix things, or gather up their experience and bundle it into a learning that will grow them. We do this because we love them, but it can also mean that they choose not to let us in for the wrong reasons. 

We can’t help them if we don’t know what’s happening in their world, and entry will be on their terms - even more as they get older. As they grow, they won’t trust us with the big things if we don’t give them the opportunity to learn that we can handle the little things (which might feel seismic to them). They won’t let us in to their world unless we make it safe for them to.

When my own kids were small, we had a rule that when I picked them up from school they could tell me anything, and when we drove into the driveway, the conversation would be finished if they wanted it to be. They only put this rule into play a few times, but it was enough for them to learn that it was safe to talk about anything, and for me to hear what was happening in that part of their world that happened without me. My gosh though, there were times that the end of the conversation would be jarring and breathtaking and so unfinished for me, but every time they would come back when they were ready and we would finish the chat. As it turned out, I had to trust them as much as I wanted them to trust me. But that’s how parenting is really isn’t it.

Of course there will always be lessons in their experiences we will want to hear straight up, but we also need them to learn that we are safe to come to.  We need them to know that there isn’t anything about them or their life we can’t handle, and when the world feels hard or uncertain, it’s safe here. By building safety, we build our connection and influence. It’s just how it seems to work.♥️
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#parenting #parenthood #mindfulparenting
Words can be hard sometimes. The right words can be orbital and unconquerable and hard to grab hold of. Feelings though - they’ll always make themselves known, with or without the ‘why’. 

Kids and teens are no different to the rest of us. Their feelings can feel bigger than words - unfathomable and messy and too much to be lassoed into language. If we tap into our own experience, we can sometimes (not all the time) get an idea of what they might need. 

It’s completely understandable that new things or hard things (such as going back to school) might drive thoughts of falls and fails and missteps. When this happens, it’s not so much the hard thing or the new thing that drives avoidance, but thoughts of failing or not being good enough. The more meaningful the ‘thing’ is, the more this is likely to happen. If you can look behind the words, and through to the intention - to avoid failure more than the new or difficult experience, it can be easier to give them what they need. 

Often, ‘I can’t’ means, ‘What if I can’t?’ or, ‘Do you think I can?’, or, ‘Will you still think I’m brave, strong, and capable of I fail?’ They need to know that the outcome won’t make any difference at all to how much you adore them, and how capable and exceptional you think they are. By focusing on process, (the courage to give it a go), we clear the runway so they can feel safer to crawl, then walk, then run, then fly. 

It takes time to reach full flight in anything, but in the meantime the stumbling can make even the strongest of hearts feel vulnerable. The more we focus on process over outcome (their courage to try over the result), and who they are over what they do (their courage, tenacity, curiosity over the outcome), the safer they will feel to try new things or hard things. We know they can do hard things, and the beauty and expansion comes first in the willingness to try. 
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#parenting #mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparent
Never in the history of forever has there been such a  lavish opportunity for a year to be better than the last. Not to be grabby, but you know what I’d love this year? Less opportunities that come in the name of ‘resilience’. I’m ready for joy, or adventure, or connection, or gratitude, or courage - anything else but resilience really. Opportunities for resilience have a place, but 2020 has been relentless with its servings, and it’s time for an out breath. Here’s hoping 2021 will be a year that wraps its loving arms around us. I’m ready for that. x
The holidays are a wonderland of everything that can lead to hyped up, exhausted, cranky, excited, happy kids (and adults). Sometimes they’ll cycle through all of these within ten minutes. Sugar will constantly pry their little mouths wide open and jump inside, routines will laugh at you from a distance, there will be gatherings and parties, and everything will feel a little bit different to usual. And a bit like magic. 

Know that whatever happens, it’s all part of what the holidays are meant to look like. They aren’t meant to be pristine and orderly and exactly as planned. They were never meant to be that. Christmas is about people, your favourite ones, not tasks. If focusing on the people means some of the tasks fall down, let that be okay, because that’s what Christmas is. It’s about you and your people. It’s not about proving your parenting stamina, or that you’ve raised perfectly well-behaved humans, or that your family can polish up like the catalog ones any day of the week, or that you can create restaurant quality meals and decorate the table like you were born doing it. Christmas is messy and ridiculous and exhausting and there will be plenty of frayed edges. And plenty of magic. The magic will happen the way it always happens. Not with the decorations or the trimmings or the food or the polish, but by being with the ones you love, and the ones who love you right back.

When it all starts to feel too important, too necessary and too ‘un-let-go-able’, be guided by the bigger truth, which is that more than anything, you will all remember how you all felt – as in how happy they felt, how loved they felt were, how noticed they felt. They won’t care about the instagram-worthy meals on the table, the cleanliness of the floors, how many relatives they visited, or how impressed other grown-ups were with their clean faces and darling smiles. It’s easy to forget sometimes, that what matters most at Christmas isn’t the tasks, but the people – the ones who would give up pretty much anything just to have the day with you.

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