Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

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

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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.

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.

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.

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389 Comments

Bruce

I am ADHD, I suffer from major depression, I’m bipolar and very sensitive to what I perceive to be negative criticism.
I am on anti-depression meds, mood stabilisers (and the whole kitchen sink) which I use very diligently, knowing that I have a problem and that without them I would be even worse off than what I am. For the past 15 years I am and have been seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist who have helped tremendously, teaching me who I am and how to deal with me but problem is “talk is cheap” and to practice what they preach is just something I battle to do making me hate the me who I am even more after I have had yet another outburst knowing full well that that what I did was wrong and hurtful but revenge is my weapon and unfortunately for me a very evil weapon that I wish I could throw away as far as the east is to the west.
We all know the saying that goes, “it’s never me that is at fault, it’s always the other person” Well I fit the profile of never being wrong to a T and all I do is pick fights, or so I’m told.
My current wife (number three) has not only been my wife and partner for six years but also my best friend, and me hers in spite of all the fighting…………… until now. Finally she has put her foot down and called it a day which has broken me to the bone giving me butterflies in my stomach just thinking of what tomorrow might bring. I also know that what I am doing at the moment is probably the worst thing I can possibly do but I’m spend as much time with her as possible begging for a second chance making all sorts of promises which a few hours later frustrated out of my mind say things which drive the dagger in yet deeper.
Help!!!

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Sissy

I know…..with the diagnosis you have it is hard not to say things you regret when feel upset and hurt. I don’t know the answer and I wish I did….each time we fight about the same thing. He tells me I am immature. I like going places with him. Things for us started great then slowly disingrated. But I feel nuts because he acts differently every 3 or 5 days. I wish I knew if he were cheating…because I wouldn’t be so heart broken and feeling sad that I can’t trust. I just wish it all didn’t hurt so much!!

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Patrice

I’ve been diagnosted severe depression with anxiety disorder after an unwanted all of a sudden breakup. No one around me knows how to deal with me because I’ve always been busy, running two jobs, organising events, surrounded by people, and always kept myself super busy. After 3 1/2 years together I decided to make big changes in my life to adapt to hers, than I proposed and a few months later I moved in with her and her two adorable kids. For me it was all I wanted, but I felt some insecurities from her. Instead of being comprehensive and working with her, I showed disapointment and lack of attention. Even though we had communications problems, I thought it was for life, that love would cure anything and whatever happens, there would always be a way to fix things. Apparently not; after only 3 months living together, she asked me to leave. She said she loved me but accumulated to much of my mistakes and life choices. I haven’t had a good night sleep since. I take pills, I see a therapist, I reach out to friends, but instead of doing better every day it’s getting worse. Social phobia, zombie like behaviours as if I was waiting for a sign from life to tell me what to do. I read I should do something I like, something pleasant for myself, and there is nothing. 3 months later I’m still rumminating, I barely go out and I don’t see the end of it.

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T

I am going threw the same thing a matter of fact I just got out of the hospital today. It feels like I’m going crazy like I can’t breath I cant even taste food any more no sleep. Why do we let me that have rejected us destroy us. I can’t not stay in this round

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Lauren

Why does my body feel numb to everything. I can’t feel any emotion. I really loved him and he didn’t love me.

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Sissy

I know….I am scared. I am sick to my stomach…can’t breathe. I can’t eat…last time I felt like this was 27 years ago and lost 30 pounds and ended with irritable bowel symdrome. What is worse yet is I have to stay here under the same roof because I need to save for an apartment. Which will take me 2 to 3 months. I am sick and still love him, but he acts so strange. For 3 days we get along great..then he will come home work and act like I have the plaque. I am constantly thinking he is cheating ….he needs to take a shower right away…brush his teeth before kissing me. If he tries at all. Finally a big blow out again….because I think he is cheating Everytime he withdraws away. I am heart sick and have to go….it has been almost 2 years since March. I know what I have todo….suffered from anxiety anyway because I thought he was cheating Everytime he withdrew. Ugh

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AMITA

“the process is as physical as psychological”; “the muscles stores lot of blood and energy”;

1. does doing excessive physical exercise help negates the effect of fight and flight response?
2. is there a safe process using which we can our ever activated ” Fight and Flight” response.

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Karen Young

To answer your first question, yes – exercise is the natural end to the fight or flight response and will help to burn the neurochemicals that come with anxiety. These neurochemicals are designed to ready your body for the physical act of fighting or fleeing, but when there is no need for fight or flight they build up and this is where the physical symptoms of anxiety come from. Exercise also helps to balance out the neurochemicals in the brain that contribute to anxiety, so there is an immediate effect and a long term effect.

The fight and flight response is in all of us and is designed to keep us safe. Any time there is danger, our fight or flight response is designed to make us stronger, faster, more powerful, more alert to be able to deal with the threat. The problem is when it happens too often and too unnecessarily – this is when anxiety can become a problem. The good news is that anxiety can be managed. You will find plenty of articles on this site which discuss how to do this.

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Evan

My better half of four years just left me about a month or so ago now. I still have the same pain as the second it happened. I can’t sleep at night, I cry at home, at work in my truck while driving. It’s affected every aspect of my life, I’m only 34 and I was positive I was having a heart attack last week from the pain this has caused. She told me a few days ago she was seeing someone new and he was making her very happy already, I won’t lie that was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever heard. I’ve tried the no contact but it never seems to work. She’s told me to find someone new but I’m nowhere near ready for anything like that. Its sad to read all these messages but just letting everyone know you’re not alone. I just wish they could come up with some miracle pill to get rid of the heartache and pain these bad breakups bring

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Karen Young

Evan I wish they could come up with that miracle pill too. I’m sorry for your heartache. Know that you are not alone, and that you will get through this.

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Tiffany

I’ve been reading through some of your articles about recovering from a breakup and am finding them to be so helpful. My boyfriend and I broke up a week ago and although it was a mutual decision, and although our relationship had been slowly and rather messily dying for quite a while…and although we’re both in our 40s and this is not a new experience for either of us…the actual end of it all has been agonizing.

I’ve spent the weekend trying to do things…I weeded the yard, went out for brunch with some female friends, baked some bread…but most of the time I’ve spent lying on my bed and listening to an audio book I’ve already heard dozen times before. It’s comforting, and that’s fine, I guess, but I’m neurotic about being productive, even on my days off, and I can’t…do…anything. I’m just lying here, letting time go by.

I feel guilty about that, which is ridiculous, I know, but still…I keep telling myself it’s okay, that it’s kind of like being sick. Because it does feel like that. My whole body hurts. It’s hard to breathe. The crying jags are like stomach flu…I can feel it building up, when it comes it’s completely incapacitating, and when it’s over, I feel a little better, for a while, until the next one. If only this were just a 24-hour bug.

I know we did the right thing. This is not even close to my first breakup and I know it gets better. But in the moment…god, it’s a nightmare, and it’s hard to imagine ever feeling whole again. Someday…

Anyway…thank you for all the wonderful articles. For me, making sense of something is a huge part of dealing with it. That, and the validation is comforting…a reminder that I’m not crazy or whatever, it’s a normal response to a genuinely traumatic situation.

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Karen Young

Tiffany you are so welcome. I’m so pleased the articles are helping. Breakups are awful and there is no easy way to move through them. You sound clear and strong – and NOT at all crazy! Your heart body and mind are adjusting to a traumatic experience. You sound as though you are doing all of the right things to move yourself through this process as gently and as lovingly as you can. Keep going. There will be and end to the pain.

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Mayra Nava

I recently lost my boyfriend to suicide two weeks ago.

I have a long distant job in Nevada, where I have limited service my boyfriend of 7 intense months is from Colorado and was very supportive and we knew communication and trust were key in the relationship.

we both were secure on the fact that we would never cheat on each other and that communication would be difficult.

The last week before he took his life, he was very sad that I was not able to be on the phone with him, he was just enrolling in college again and getting a new job. We had talked on the phone and he would always think that I did not have enough time for him. I would tell him I cared and that my job was very stressful and demanding. I too was getting irritated with him and had no realization how sad he really was about this.

finally on the night of his suicide, we had video chatted on the phone he asked me if i was cheating on him and I was not. I then got irritated and decided I was not going to talk to him until the next day. He kept calling and texting me frantically. I was annoyed and upset and didn’t want to deal with his high emotions until he calmed down. He called one last time I called him a creep, and that I was already in bed. He told me to tell him if we were still a couple, I told him I see him back in Denver at the end of the season. I also told him to stop calling me and that I would talk to him at a later time.

I regret everything and not being able to tell him I love him one last time. Maybe if I said this to him he wouldn’t of taken his life. His heart was broken he was in so much pain.

I never knew he was depressed, we had been in heated arguments before although not long distance.

any thoughts sorry for the heavy story just trying to wrap my mind around this still.

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Michael

The last time I had my heart broken was when I was eighteen-years-old. I am forty-two now, and have not had a broken heart since. I like reading posts by people who have a broken heart, it reassures me that I made the right choice in staying to myself all these years. Once was enough for me.

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Eliza

Hello, I’m a Senior in High School, and I fell in love for the first time this school year. My break up story isn’t as tragic as most people, but it still hurts my heart at times when think about it.
It has been about 2 months since the break up when I decided to call it off. He told me that he was indecisive about how he feels about me- that he does love me, but at the same time, he feels that there are other options as well. Hearing that broke my heart, and made me feel so low about myself.
As each day passes, I feel more empowered as I go down the journey of finding self-love, but at the same time, a piece of me is still stuck with him.
I see him everyday, but once this school year ends, we will be going to different uni’s and our ties will be cut.
A part of me doesn’t want that to happen in fear of returning back to the loneliness that I felt before I met him and became close with him. I try to be his friend, but at times he says that he’s still confused about how he feels, and these conversations just make my head spin. I miss him when he’s not around, but whenever we are together he always seems to find a way to bring me down. Yet, his hugs are incomparable and I miss his very presence when I don’t hear from him.
Why is it that I still miss him and yearn for him when he brings me a lot of pain? Why is it that one day I feel as though things are going to be okay and that I am finally moving on, but then the next day hits me like a brick?
Please, any advice or suggestions to help detangle this mess in my head would be much appreciated!

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Karen Young

Breakups are painful and it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how long you have been going out – if it was someone you cared deeply for, a breakup can hurt your heart in a way that can feel devastating for a while. Every relationship you have is preparing you for the one that will be so good for you, and so right for you. I wish none of us had to learn our relationship lessons through breakups, but it is also through these experiences that you will learn what works, what doesn’t, and the type of relationship that will help you grow. In the meantime though, it can feel awful. You still miss him because you are adjusting to a new normal, one where you know what life is like with him, but where you are learning to adjust to your life without him. This will happen. You will find a new normal and it will be rich and full and wonderful. Give it time, spend time with people who care about you and be patient. I wish there was another way, but it’s just time. Here is an article that might help you, particularly the comments from others who have been where you are https://www.heysigmund.com/dear-broken-hearted-one-when-youre-in-the-thick-of-a-break-up/. Know that you will get there and your heart will feel whole again. Give yourself time and be gentle to yourself.

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mary

i knew of someone whose heart was broken, his girlfriend was with him the night before, left in the morning and go marry someone else. The guy was told and went to the church to see his girlfriend getting married. He returned to his home. lock his door was unable to speak and walk and ended up hospitalized for two months, he had to learn how to walk and talk. Anyone able to explain this phenomenon please

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Emma

My boyfriend of 6 years broke up with me 5 days ago, forcing me to move out to my parents house in the suburbs and live out of boxes. Our last conversation was extremely intense–3 hours laying in bed next to each other, not touching or looking at one another and staring at the ceiling while crying. I’ve never seen him cry before. He told me he started feeling like he didn’t love me halfway through our relationship and hid those feelings from me for 3 years. Our lives were so intertwined. We did everything together and shared all of the same friends. Our place was the meeting spot for all of our friend hangouts and parties. We experienced the end of college, several job changes, many world travels. The last time I was single, I was technically a child. Now I am 28 and have no idea how to live my life without him by my side. I haven’t slept well nor had much of an appetite. I feel nauseous all the time. Even worse, I have Stage 0 Cervical Cancer (I was given this diagnoses 6 days ago) and I’m so worried that this will hurt my immune system and prolong my treatment, which will make my ability to get pregnant very slim in the future. I’m trying very hard to keep my head high but I can’t escape all of the memories we made for most of my 20s. They were the happiest of my life until he told me most of them were a lie. The worst is imagining him with another girl. He’ll probably be ready to date earlier than me and I can’t avoid him forever because we are in the same social circle. I have a very supportive network of family, friends and coworkers. I try to stay busy so I don’t become depressed. I joined a Crossfit gym. I’m trying my best to stay strong but I feel like I am dying inside and out.

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Vicky

I broke up with a man in Sept. He didnt treat me the way I wanted to be treated so I stopped seeing him. Id been seeing him for a year and a half. I found out on Fri he was getting married this Sat. He has met and married someone less than year after I broke up with him. Im sick to my stomach. I dont know why Im so upset.

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KateA

Vicky, I am right there with you. I broke up with my boyfriend in October because I was sure we couldn’t make each other happy even though on paper we were perfect for each other. A week ago someone told me he was in a relationship and really happy (despite me trying to shield myself from any knowledge of him) and I have been literally sick to my stomach, every night and morning, and then a headache all day. All week long.This is ridiculous.

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Darcy

I am a 60 year old woman with an amazing life, friends and job. I have been divorced for 5 years and never thought I would fall in love again. I decided to open my heart to the possibility and I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I gave myself permission to stop being so body contentious. And then it happened and I fell very very hard. Physically and emotionally in love like I never had before. I felt so lucky that I had taken this risk. He broke up with me and now I feel actual physical pain. It has been a week and I am still shaking. I have spent lots of time with friends and family appreciating their love and their understanding of my grief. I think a big part of my pain is that I see the rest of my life void of this joy I felt. For many reasons I will likely not meet another guy who will mean this much. I just lost my chance to feel loved in this way. Its a very very sad reality.

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Hope

Darcy,

I really do feel your pain. Our situations are very similar. I got divorced 4 1/2 years ago, after 33 years of marriage. That was hard, but I got over it and met someone three years ago. I fell in love. We made lots of future plans. I put my house on the market and was going to join him at his retirement home as soon as mine sold.

We broke up last month. He left for his home, which is many states away. The roller coaster of emotions I have felt has been unbelievable. I go from grief to anger to regret to anxiety to sadness and back again, over and over. I have friends and family, but I act to them like I’m doing fine (with the exception of one close friend.)

I guess, the worst of it is what you are expressing. I don’t think there will be anyone else for me. I am looking at growing old alone. I was looking at having joy-filled golden years (for lack of a better term). Now all of that is dashed. My house is still on the market. I don’t know where I will go when it sells.

I am five weeks out, and I can tell you week one was the worst. I am slowly recovering. I don’t think about him every minute of everyday anymore, and that’s a bit of a relief. The pain, the squeezing in the chest, and the tears have subsided, but the emotional roller coaster continues.

I try to stay busy. I think what Sue has posted is good advice. No contact is best. Any kind of contact, through social media or directly, will set you back. It was hard for me to accept that it is over, but it is definitely over. I deleted his speed-dial number from my phone just yesterday, and yes, I cried when I did it. The finality of it or something.

Also being kind to yourself, as Sue mentioned, is a good idea. I have read that water is good for grief. Baths with some baking soda and apple cider vinegar are said to help rid the body of toxins, emotional and physical. Swimming is probably the best – exercise to flush the toxins out and water to wash it away.

And then there is hope. I think we stand a better chance, for a brighter future, if we take care of ourselves.

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anu

my long term boyfriend broke up with me a month ago.we were together for 5 years.and all of my mid 20’s spent wd him.in 3 months he is getting married to someone else. he dint even gave second thought abt me.but saying reasons as his parents will never agree for this marriage.all these 5 years i hoped one day he will propose one day he ll see me as im seeing him.i got pregnant twice in this 5 years.we did abortion and all.yea i understand just because someone got pregnant doesnt mean tehy sld get married.but how come he was able to move on.that was his baby too.and i have gone thru all the pain alone.we are normal middle class family from india.we were from different state.how i was thinking all along a happy future with him? and he saw a different picture.apart from loving him inside out i didnt do any mistake.i have never even talked wd some other guy when we wre gng out.my whole world was that guy.i lost my appetite,lost sleep,its been so many days dat i have eaten a proper meal.now im 29 that makes things difficult for me to get married and i cldnt think of myself in any other man’s arms or kissing him or place him in my future.when i think of the past im feeling nauseated,panic attack something like that.not able to focus on work.my all question is how and why u cldnt fight with ur parents to marry me.is that all im worth of?suddenly wre i ll go.he was my world for me never thought he cld hurt me this much. and he justify each of his action.i will never b able to smile anymore or think of even in being love.no guy had ever taken some steps for me. feeling like used not loved

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Imani

My friend and I kissed once and then a week or so later decided to date for a month and see if anything was there. I fell for him and he didn’t I guess. I fell hard, I would bring him small gifts like treats to bring up his mood when he’s sad, tea when he was sick for awhile, helped him with homework and even wrote an essay for him at one point because he was so busy. I realize I was probably over bearing. He’s a really kind person and told me I wasn’t his type and that he didn’t really have time for a relationship, but I feel like that second part was just to spare my feelings…he still wanted to be friends. Several weeks later we became friends with benefits, nothing too extreme and we’ve only had an encounter like that a few times and we are still really comfortable with each other and we are great friends, but then I saw him talking to his ex and he said he’s just going with the flow and they’ll see what they want out of this and that if he were seriously pursuing a girl he’d tell me and we’d stop what we are doing. I believe him, I know him well enough. But I know he hangs out with her and sometimes doesn’t explicitly tell me to spare my feelings and I just respect him and even told him to go for her because I think he still likes her, but then my chest gets so tight and constricted. When I’m alone and in bed I cry because I know I’m young but I really did like him. I’m wound up pretty tight because I get nervous and I tried to be more relaxed like he was and how he encouraged me to be, but I didn’t mind that we were different because i liked him and we weren’t polar opposites I don’t think. I can still be friends, all I want is to not hurt like this anymore; I don’t want this tightness in my chest, these tears, I want to be okay with him going back to his ex girlfriend, I feel I need to be prepared for that, but it hurts and I just feel so stupid for once again feeling like I have a chance with a guy again. They always say I’m great, I know attractiveness isn’t an issue, and I’m smart, but I’m never anyone’s first choice. Even though I know I’m going to find someone and that this isn’t finite, exercise and putting myself first isn’t working. I can’t handle this heart break it hurts so much. I think about him everytime I wake up and every time I go to sleep and I don’t want to anymore because I know he doesn’t and won’t ever care for me that way, he shows all the signs. Sorry this is long.

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Mary

Hi–all the with it psychologists are going to tell u that nobody else can hurt you–you only hurt yourself by taking it personally. But people do need each other & when you are left behind whether it be a lover or best friend or family –or you are no longer 1st choice when you were for awhile–it can shake you up bad for awhile. I’ve done the crying & heavy exercise & it helps–but the only thing that really really helps me is imagining your heart is attached by a cord to your lost one & pull the cord out of your heart and throw it very far away from you–just keep doing it everyday & try to go out a lot on new adventures with new friends 🙂 Just keep trying to raise your energy levels 🙂

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Nicole

Reading about what others have gone thru has been helpful. Just to know I’m not alone hello helps. My fiance broke up with me a week ago and up until now I’ve been in denial. I woke up crying and feeling empty and alone. I know that I need to go thru this process to heal but am just wondering how long it’s healthy to give into this process. Right now I would prefer to just climb under the covers and cry for week. I guess the constant questions in my head will be there for awhile but it’s hard when someone promises the world but delivers me my heart in shattered pieces. I know I deserve better. Thank you all for sharing your stories. Surely all our friends are over us talking about the ex nonstop. Here’s to moving on with grace and lots of tears.

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Nancy L.

Kimberly I feel really sad that you haven’t been able to move on after five plus years. I think the only thing for you would be a life changing experience to get him out of your mind. Perhaps putting yourself through a degree program, going on a long trip, joining a busy organization, etc.
As for myself, I have been confused because my feelings of break up have been quite bizarre. I am hurting every day because the guy I started dating 3 months ago, totally engaged with me at the beginning and the 20 years we have known each other was the major connection I had with him. After a while I started asking him to give me a little more of his time since it was just once/twice a week that we’d meet and he was skipping on that gradually too. I know he has been totally into me but because of his personal, ex and family and work pressures, he has given me the cold shoulder saying that I have been bugging him too much and he needs space so I did jus that cold turkey! Who knows he could have a women on the side as well…
So I pulled away and I am in pain and think about him every hour of the day. I also evaluated his behavior and realized he wasn’t really treating me well to begin with and have tried to convince myself to move on. But I know it will be tough because in my eyes no one will measure up to him. He is the perfect package for me… I have been so honest with him too as I don’t like to play games.
I am not some low life and have accomplished a lot for him to treat me as though I am very insignificant part of his life. He has been bluffing too. He has shown a deep attachment to me in every way yet fighting his own ideals (I think) that I am not educated enough for him and I have kids, etc. as he is a surgeon and he deserves perhaps a young doctor or someone of that caliber as a partner. Our connection has been out of this world for both of us admittedly. But that is not enough for him I guess…. 🙁
I have decided to get busy somehow maybe go to law school (a long term desire) so I will never have time to think about this stuff and demonstrate to him that I can… Your suggestions are appreciated.

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lynne

these are hard reading..its sad to think that all of this pain is generated in the mind…your body isn’t broken you just ‘feel’ bashed..your heart isn’t broken it just feel that it must be ..but it really isn’t… its all hyped up in your mind..we talk ourselves into feeling we are hurting and what you think about comes about.
if you saw a fire burning in the corner of your room you wouldn’t sit and watch it, you’d jump instantly into action and try and put it out or get out of the room but you wouldn’t sit and burn…your mind is the same don’t let it simmer and burn…get out!!! fill the mind with anything that makes you feel good and we can all find lots and lots…
honestly the only thing that is hurt is your ego…you are still intact complete and living…xx

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Mark

My lover of four years broke up with me 8 days ago. The emotional and physical pain has been building over the days as I come to terms with this rejection. I normally have a low resting heart rate but it’s been running 20-30 BPM higher than normal and my BP has been well over 130 over 90. All a bit scary, especially given the pain in my chest. I’ve tried meditation to calm down but it hasn’t been working very well. It’s been really tough to focus on work. I’ve never suffered this emotional stress before. Really tough

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Kimberly

Does anyone still struggle to get over a relationship that ended years ago? If so, was it a long term one, like 3 years or more?

It’s been just under 5 years and 2 months since my ex and I broke up, and despite my best effort, I am still hopelessly in love with him and cannot seem to let go and move on. I’ve even dated other guys, one to for over a year who I thought I could love,but my mind always drifts off to thinking about him, all the time, constantly, and not even intentionally or on a conscious level. I think part of the reason why is because he was my first real love and long term relationship, in addition to the fact that we were together for 5 1/2 years, 3 of which we lived together. I was 22 and he was 26 when we became girlfriend and boyfriend, and broke up a week after I had turned 28. I just… well, it’s exhausting to always be mourning the loss of our relationship yet still hoping maybe there’s a chance or there could be. I I know it might sound crazy or silly, but I can’t help it, I miss him so much. If anyone has any advice or has/is gone through a similar experience, I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions on how to finally let go and begin enjoying my life. Thank you. XO

Reply
Linda

You need to love yourself! Stop hurting yourself, by thinking of what could have been! Sweetheart, it’s time to see a counselor, to help you move on….. He is not worth your pain! You have your whole life ahead of you. As of now, please let go and let God! You deserve happiness. HAPPINESS, mind you!!,! So as of now, let go and love yourself. Be happy u deserve it hun, stop being his prisoner. Break free and run for freedom and happiness. Your stronger than you think! Best of luck to you sweetie. You will get through this heart ache rather you like it or not! ?

Reply
L

Hey Kimberly,

I’m really sorry to hear what you’re going through, it is such a painful situation.
It sounds kind of mean but let me explain what I mean by this – I was really happy when I scrolled down and read your comment! This is because I am going through a very similar thing to you. Most of the comments or information on the internet seems to discuss recent breakups and it’s quite hard to find anything about long term breakups and the process of still getting over someone years later – which is even more disheartening because it makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you and you’re beyond help. So to see one person who is going through something similar made me feel slightly less of a loner! Me and my ex broke up two years ago in December 2014. For about nine months after that we were still close and at some points were intimate but that all came to a close when I went off to uni in the September. We had been together since I was fifteen and he was my first real love and my first everything really. I really see that relationship with him as interwoven with my journey into adulthood if you know what I mean? I feel like I evolved from a teenager to a woman in that time period and he really defined a huge part of my most important young years and I find it so hard to escape that. When I started uni and I had had about nine months to accept that I would be moving towns away from him I was very relaxed and okay about the fact that I was probably leaving behind the potentiality of having a relationship with him. At the time he was more hung up on me and told me he had decided to move on in about November (to which I thought I had done) but for the last year and a half I have become so mournful of our relationship and his place in my life. Every day he will cross my mind and so many things remind me of him still to this day even though I haven’t actually seen him for a year and three months. I can’t stop thinking about him. We don’t speak as he is in a new relationship and although we are friendly, I feel that he would see it as complicated if we were friends. I don’t feel that I can tell anyone I feel this way about him because everyone expects and thought I was over it. I think our situation is so difficult. I definitely think loving yourself and spending time to remember what it is about you that makes you so valuable to the world is important. Doing things for you and nobody else. I find it hard to suggest because I am in this predicament and would also love a way out haha! I think part of it is accepting that you will always love this person and understand that is the truth of your connection to them. But to realise that that doesn’t necessarily mean they belong in your life or to you. I have always known that I would always love him, I feel that about anyone in my life that I have loved. But particularly with him, I wish I could tell him how I feel or find some reassurance that he at least still values me as an important person in his life but I wouldn’t ever tell him that as I respect his relationship with this new person. I think it’s just nice to remember that all the good times with that person do exist, just because they are in the past, that does not diminish their importance. I feel like sometimes your present is so different to your past and you know so little about that persons daily life now that you question whether it really happened, it sometimes feels like you fabricated it all. But you did not. What you had was real and valid and beautiful. But sometimes what we love is not constant in our lives. So we must love ourselves more and continue to find more meaningful causes and people to spread our love to. I’m sorry if this was ridiculously long! Kimberly if you have any response to this or want to share any of how you’ve been feeling to someone who seems to be in a similar place please feel free! And anyone else for that matter x

Reply
Tina

I feel if u still love him u need to tell him. Sometimes men are cowards who cares how he feels. You are doing this for you. He is not married yet I feel that is saying something so I’m saying you have the green light. You need to see for yourself. You are that important to put your heart out there. If he decides he wants to continue his life with out you then so be it that is his loss the he will have to live with. Then you will have your closure you need to love someone one else with a whole heart. It may sound crazy, but if I was you l would let him break what was left of your heart if that was meant to be. The truth is he is going to help you one way or the other. True love or closure. Get him girl. You are standing now when this is done you will be standing even taller. He is not married he is fair game if he was married then I would agree to respect it but, no he is fair game it is time for you to heal. It sounds like your feeling are real acknowledge them one last time. Then if it doesn’t work out walk out of his life forever. Your mind is smart if he acts a fool you will never look at him the same way. Then you will be free to enjoy every minute sharing it with someone else trust me. The topic should be not getting him back but getting closure for you cause you are worth it. If he acts a fool the other girl can have him. You want the man you remembered who made you put your self out there if he is not there to sweep you off your feet girl return that fool back to his owner, cause that was not what you ordered.

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Scorpio

That happened to me 30 years ago ! Here’s how it went for me. There has never been another coupling that felt like that. The next one was different ! I embraced different and it was good. See the thing is, they are all different and they are all a gift. Accept that you achieved something wonderful – special -meaningful and carry THAT gift with you into your future. The mystery and wonder of Creation. No two creations are ever the same. When you’re with someone and your thinking back – it’s time to move forward again. Honoring and accepting feels very different from wishing and hoping. Feel blessed – because girl ? you’ve got it ! Look what you were able to create ! The next guy ? he has a whole new set of parameters for you to work with and now you’ve had practice. Create ! ….love. God loves love in the world.

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Cathrene Brisco

I myself am going through a similar situation. I was with my ex for almost 10 years and im the one who called it quits. He had a couple of new addictions which left me feeling like i just wasnt enough. I started seeing someone soon after and continued to date him for over a year. It never became anything more than dating because i couldnt get over my love for my ex. Even though i adored this new man even felt like i had fallen in love. I just always had my ex and the way he used to love me always in the back of my mind. I truly felt as if it really is posssible to love two people at the same time. I was dissappointed with myselffor the feeling i had because they were so unrealistic; i wanted parts of both of them put into one perfect man.
Just recently, 3 days ago to be exact, i went and picked up my ex and brought him to my house. This was after finding out that the man i was dating was dating someone else too. So both men left me feeling as if i will never be enough. Anyways, even after more than a year, my ex is still very much in love with me and wants to try again, but even though i went and picked him up, i really miss the one i was dating. What the crap is wrong with me? When im with one i miss the other and vise versa. Love is an evil trick our mind plays on us. Maybe i just dont know what love is even though i am turning 37 in a week and already a grandma. I just am very confused and know im going about this all wrong.
So theres my crazy story. I understand how a love for someone can stay even after more than a year. Hopefully youll see there are others who have this great love that makes them crazy and lasts forever. Sirry your heart hurts so. I wouldnt wish the pain on my enemy. Stay strong!

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Wen

It’s been almost 5 months since my ex left me for another women.. Twenty years younger than myself..
It hurts and still hurts.. it’s not him I want back it’s the attention he gave to me… I miss being someone’s special… Someones person that thinks about me when I wake up go to sleep finish work… I miss being important to someone else… I want that back.. my heart hurts my whole world just sucks right now.. I’ve tried everything but honestly nothing really works… I think it’s just life it’s stops hurting when it stips hurting… I give up..

Reply
Karen - Hey Sigmund

Don’t give up. I know the pain of this feels as though it is never going to end, but it will. Your mind, body and spirit are adjusting to a new normal and this takes time. I completely understand that it’s not a normal you want to adjust to right now, but this will change. You will find a way through this, and when you do, you will be ready for the one who will give you attention, think about you, miss you when you aren’t around. Your ex isn’t the only person who could give this to you. There is somebody out there who wants to be all of these things to you. He’s just waiting for you to find him, which you will, but first, this is your time to heal.

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Athena

My break up story has been an unpleasant one as well. I met a greek american guy and myself, being greek in Greece fell in love with him. I visited him, he came in the summer and then spent 3 months there with him only to get dumped a week after I got back and having sent the christmas presents for him and the family (for which I never received a thank you). The thing is that this person was making plans with me that included marriage, however the parents weren’t agreeing. He obviously didn’t want to pursue it anymore since he didn’t receive the support and thus dumped me by saying he knows what whe had, it was true but we are done. The hardest part is thinking that a week ago he was saying how much he misses me and loves me. There were many signs that he wouldn’t keep his word yet I ignored them because… I was in love. I got treated in a very harsh way and for a week I was crying at least 4 times per day, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. It is so disappointing how some people just can’t think outside of the limits they put to themselves and it’s also more sad how insecure unstable people say words like love and forever and marriage only to act like cowards and cold blooded killers. I am still trying to get over the fact that I made dreams with someone that didn’t even want to try it out and preferred to cut me off like that

Reply
Val

My story is similar and I knw how much it hurts. I am not given even a reason why ? I just know his mother said no. I don’t want to love a man who can’t stand for himself. But fuck this love. It jus happens to screw us.

Reply
Keysha

Just got heart broken by my first love it’s the worst thing ever we were together when I was 16 and finally came back to each other 16 years later I loved this man he was the love of my life it hurts so bad I can’t keep trying and crying it’s going to be hard I love me and I do all for me go out eat dinner I just don’t understand I’m a good woman never cheated I did nothing he went got this ugly girl and left all he keep saying is sorry it just happened I’m done I don’t want him I just want him to feel my pain

Reply
Sue

Hi Andy

There is more.

I nursed a very broken heart about 3 years ago after my lover found someone new. A long story but he needed to meet someone free like her and he did and from that moment on, he was unavailable to me on every level. He would not take my calls, he would walk across the street to avoid me and more. It was gut wrenching, sickening and I felt as if my entrails were dragging behind me (to paint a very bleak picture). I was a sad and sorry mess and cried daily for about 6 months.

As this was all happending, I chose to take care of myself. I stopped drinking, ate healthy food (when I could eat), walked, started meditating and fell in love with me. It was wonderful and I am still reaping the benefits of this very special time. It was special in hindsight but at the time – ugh.

No contact works and if she is meant to be your partner, you will hear from her. Please do not chase her. She is not available and made that clear to you at the end of November. Start looking at you as your best friend and companion. So desirable for future lovers if that is the way you will go.

Much care to you

Sue

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Andy

Sue –

Thank you for your note. It’s 11 days since my first post, and I’ve done what you suggested. I’ve focused on me. I bought myself some new clothes, shoes and a winter coat. I’m letting my beard grow out a bit (but still in a presentable sort of way). I’ve bought some art to put on the one blank wall in my apartment. I’ve exercised all but one day since she broke up with me, and that was due to a medical procedure.

As I’ve focused on me, the pain over her has gone away. As I’ve gotten more confident, the pain has gone away. It’s still there and will be there for a while, but it’s significantly less than it was last week, when I couldn’t even talk to my parents about her. I did have several good cries in there as well.

I am challenged in that my normal route takes me by her apartment building at least twice a day. So – I altered my route. I know she unfriended me on Facebook, but I can honestly say I haven’t searched for her since. I could be blocked. Who knows?

I know what went wrong, but I can’t get all the good times out of my head given how recent they were. The good news is that when I talk to her, I’m going to be calm, confident, and ready for me to step away. She’s going to see a different person. I hope to talk with her in mid-January. We’ll see.

I’m getting very philosophical. If it wasn’t meant to be, then it wasn’t meant to be.

Thanks for the encouragement,

Andy

Reply
Dave

Hi Andy

please can you give an update. Did you recover from these feelings? Did you have regrets about how you acted in the relationship, that went over and over in your mind? Are you in a better place now? How long did it take?
Any advice is most welcome

thanks
Dave

Reply
Joe

Sue, that is a very sweet reply on your part. I too am dealing with a breakup and second your advice.

Reply
Andy

Hi there. I’m sitting here at work Googling “How to Get Over the Pain of a Breakup” and landed here. I have all the muscle tightness and even the post-breakup cold.

My girlfriend of 7 months broke up with me just five days ago, and the pain, albeit abating somewhat, has been awful. The conversation we had is such a blur, that I don’t remember good chunks of it. I have been relatively good though, only sending her one text wishing her a good weekend last night (no response) and no more contact. I don’t want to beg or snivel, but I would like to fight.

The end of the relationship, I think is 80% on me. I smothered her. She used the word “exhausting.” That primarily describes the time when we are apart. She’s a mom of an 8, 10, and 13 year old and has a very stressful job. My two kids are older and off at college. So I have more free time, and I know I was “demanding” time from her that she didn’t have. I know in my heart and my head how important being a mom is and that I should have left her alone more. But – at the same time, I spent a decent amount of time with her kids, including a weekend camping trip. The signals were mixed. In the break-up discussion, she even said that we were great when we are together.

There are two other key points. First, she does not like to talk on the phone or do video chat. So we are left to texting and, as you all know, texting can be misinterpreted. Second, she is afraid of taking on the responsibility of my bipolar illness. It’s not severe and the medication works wonders.

Anyone have any thoughts on how to fight? I can’t just walk away. Sunday (two days from now) is one week. I plan to text her after her kids go to bed and ask if I can call. When I talk to her, I’m to ask her to meet in person to talk. I also plan to ask her to join me for an already planned social event the following Saturday. If the talk doesn’t work, then I’ll walk away for at least 30 days.

I know this is getting long – but one other fact. Her best friend doesn’t like me. I’m not supposed to know that. Her best friend pushed her (at least somewhat) to do this.

Anyone with any thoughts on the best way to show her that I can change?

Reply
Brooklyn

I am in the same boat. It feels debilitating. I have been with a wonderful, loving, caring man for the last year. He treated me better than I could have ever imagined. He worked a lot though, a lot of overtime and we worked opposite shifts. It was difficult for me, I felt like we didn’t have any real time together, and often voiced my displeasure with that. One too many times apparently. He was just done. Said the things that didn’t make me happy weren’t going to change and he saw no future for us. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t see it coming. I honestly thought he loved me.
My body has had such a negative reaction. I went for a counseling session the other day and she said I was suffering from Anxiety. I had a horribly stressful year as well, and this just pushed me over the edge. I started taking Lexapro and will continue counseling.
I just want to ask him why we couldn’t try to work this out. I love him enough to work on us and myself. I want him to love me enough to try.

Reply
Tricia

“I want him to love me enough to try.” It seems he did love you enough, and he tried…in spite of his busy schedule.but if you were unhappy being in that relationship, which to him was the dominant feedback from his efforts, the only thing left for him to do was to love you enough to let you find your happiness – even if it had to be without him. I’m going through this realization right now after my girlfriend of 5 years broke off our relationship 4 weeks ago. I had started to suffer anxiety, panic attacks and nightmares due me worrying about our loosening communications and time spent “together” dwindling in our ( my anxiety is gone now, thank god) but,I wasn’t happy because our relationship wasn’t growing in a direction I thought WE wanted it to go. Instead, it stagnated…she could not fulfill my needs (although she tried her best, bless her heart and I love her for that) but I wasn’t going to give up on us. In hind-sight, I have to admit to myself that we weren’t compatible on many levels while she had to admit that she couldn’t love me enough to continue in our relationship. By doing so, she saved the friendship we did create within our relationship and I am grateful for that. I’ve been doing a great deal of soul-searching lately to find myself again only to realize I got lost in our relationship and even though it didn’t seem so to me, she did too…because I needed her to. I do miss her as my partner terribly like you miss your ex. The best thing to do now, is work on learning to get yourself back (you need you more than anyone else right now) and when you find yourself, hopefully you will discover that your time is worth so much more than waiting for someone to prove his love and commitment to you…which sounds like he tried, but his job was his #1 priority not because you aren’t worth his time, but because that’s where his focus was or is. He wants you to be happy and he knew that he couldn’t carry that responsibility of worrying about you while needing to focus on his duties at work. Know, that it isn’t your fault, though. You have needs, desires, and expectations that are consistent with what makes you feel whole and valued. You deserve to have them met by someone who has the capacity to be with you as much as you want to be with him. I hope one day you find that person after you have found your self’s desire to be with you too. Godspeed

Reply
dannii

i met my boyfriend at a friends party and i fell head over heels for him we just broke up yesterday and my heart aches when i see him or when i think about him ive lost m apetite and i dont sleep i cry till there’s nothing left we have only been together for 3 days but it feels like we were together for years

Reply
Batphink W

My ex Cathy didn’t have a lot of friends a bit like myself,we both knew lots of peopel but called few friends so became each other’s best friend.She had one friend in another town who had lost her husband and I encouraged Cathy to hang around and call the gril more.When we got a house around the corner from her friends,I noticed a change in our nearly 6 year relationship. We had a house warming party and my girl and her friend sat at a table and never socialized with all the others.Something was very wrong there,sometimes your girls friends are jealous because they are single and want to ruin your relationship.

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Hey Warrior - A book about anxiety in children.








Hey Sigmund on Instagram

Our kids are going to make bad decisions. Hopefull Our kids are going to make bad decisions. Hopefully they’ll make plenty - it’s one of the ways they’ll learn and grow. We won’t always be able to love them out of a bad decision, but we want to be the ones they come to when the mess unfolds. 
When they get it really wrong, they’ll know it. They’ll also know exactly what we think. Of course we’ll be tempted to remind them over and over of what they’ve done and the fallout from that, but it will be useless. There is no new wisdom in telling them ‘I told you so’, and it also runs the risk of switching them off to our influence and guidance at a time they need it most. 
There will be wisdom in the mess for sure, and the best way to foster the discovery is to make a safe space for this to happen - and there is no safer space than in their connection with you. 
When we prioritise connection above lectures, criticism, or judgement, we clear the path for self-reflection. This is where the magic happens. When they feel safe with us, and free from shame or disconnection, we have enormous power to facilitate growth - ‘Can you tell me what happened? I know you’re a great kid and I’m wondering what made this feel like a good decision? What can you do differently next time? I know you didn’t mean for this to happen but it has, and I’m wondering how you might put things right? Do you need my help with that?’ When we strip it back to bare, discipline was always meant to be about teaching, and this will never happen when there is shame or when they feel disconnected from us. You are their everything. They don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to disappoint you - but they will, lots of times. 
With every one of their bad decisions is an opportunity to guide them towards growth, but only if we keep them close and hold their hearts gently amidst the breakage. When we keep their hearts open to us, they will open their minds and their mouths too. They will talk and they will listen, and they will know that even when their behaviour is ‘questionable’, they are our everything too.

Our kids are going to make bad decisions. Hopefully they’ll make plenty - it’s one of the ways they’ll learn and grow. We won’t always be able to love them out of a bad decision, but we want to be the ones they come to when the mess unfolds.
When they get it really wrong, they’ll know it. They’ll also know exactly what we think. Of course we’ll be tempted to remind them over and over of what they’ve done and the fallout from that, but it will be useless. There is no new wisdom in telling them ‘I told you so’, and it also runs the risk of switching them off to our influence and guidance at a time they need it most.
There will be wisdom in the mess for sure, and the best way to foster the discovery is to make a safe space for this to happen - and there is no safer space than in their connection with you.
When we prioritise connection above lectures, criticism, or judgement, we clear the path for self-reflection. This is where the magic happens. When they feel safe with us, and free from shame or disconnection, we have enormous power to facilitate growth - ‘Can you tell me what happened? I know you’re a great kid and I’m wondering what made this feel like a good decision? What can you do differently next time? I know you didn’t mean for this to happen but it has, and I’m wondering how you might put things right? Do you need my help with that?’ When we strip it back to bare, discipline was always meant to be about teaching, and this will never happen when there is shame or when they feel disconnected from us. You are their everything. They don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to disappoint you - but they will, lots of times.
With every one of their bad decisions is an opportunity to guide them towards growth, but only if we keep them close and hold their hearts gently amidst the breakage. When we keep their hearts open to us, they will open their minds and their mouths too. They will talk and they will listen, and they will know that even when their behaviour is ‘questionable’, they are our everything too.
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