The Science Behind Break-Ups and How to Move On

Depending on the bond and length of your relationship, recovering from a break-up can take several months or even longer for you to get back on your feet. Even though breakups are tied up heavily in love and emotional connection there’s actually some science behind it. Here’s a look at the science behind heartbreak.

Why you're hung up on your Ex

When we’ve truly fallen for someone, the parts of our brain responsible for processing judgement and negative emotions, the Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex, switch off. Concurrently, your brain produces a mass amount of hormones from the cerebral cortex, which is why you remain attached to this person and the idea that they they’re “the one”. These changes in hormonal and chemical reactions can last up to two years, which is why it can take so long to figure out why someone may not be right for you. Also, when you’re the one being broken up with, it makes it all the more painful.

Broken connection

Emotional areas of the mind are dictated by the deep limbic system, a part of the brain that modulates motivation and libido, promotes bonding, and stores highly charged emotional memories. Upon sexual intercourse with someone, your brain experiences neurochemical changes that result in limbic emotional bonding, explaining why you’re staying addicted to the person. Of course, there’s the emotional attachment produced by the cerebral cortex that we discussed earlier. Often times this attachment is stronger than the physical parts of your relationship.

The power of love

Romance gives the people within it feelings that are both exciting and liberating. When that bond is breaking, you experience withdrawals and a rapidly changing emotional cycle similar to an experience of giving up a vice such as alcohol or cigarettes. According to Anthropologist Helen Fisher, “Love is not an emotion - it’s a motivation system, it’s a drive, it’s part of the reward system of the brain.”

How you can heal

Rely on loved ones

When you’re feeling alone, you need to spend time among the people you care about most, the ones who will never break your heart. Not only that, do things with these that bring you joy, that doesn’t make you think about your ex. A study conducted by researchers at UCLA concluded that your brain releases natural opioids that act as painkillers, which helps the healing process.

Recognize a bridge when you see one

Unfortunately, there’s no scientific method or reasoning to help you recover from a broken heart. That is completely up to you. You need to affirm to yourself that the experience spent with someone you cared about that didn’t last is an experience to learn from. Take absolutely everything from it, the good parts and the bad, and move forward. This is a bridge to cross, but it’s not the end of your journey. The best is yet to come!

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