Whether things ended on good terms or bad ones – after a breakup, many of us feel lonely. What can you do to get over a breakup and feel better again?
In this article, we’ll look at what happens to our bodies when we’re heartbroken and why we have to readjust to life alone again following a breakup. OpenUp psychologist Eva Rüger also gives some tips for getting back on your feet after a breakup and building up your network.
What happens in our bodies when we’re heartbroken?
Anyone who’s ever had a broken heart knows that it isn’t a pleasant experience and it drains our energy – whether we can’t stop crying or get stomach aches. But why exactly do we have such a bad physical response to this?
Using fMRI-Scans, scientists have discovered that heartbreak activates the same areas of the brain as physical pain. This means that a broken heart isn’t that different from a stab wound.
What’s more, it throws off our hormonal balance. Following a breakup, our dopamine levels drop rapidly and stress sets in. In order to cope with this, our bodies initially release adrenaline, which eventually gives way to the stress hormone cortisol.
“The end of a relationship is also a type of loss, which means you can compare it to the grieving process,” explains psychologist Eva Rüger. Not only are you grieving for your ex-partner, but also for your shattered hopes and dreams. “We grieve for the previous relationship, but also for the loss of the future we were imagining with our partner.”
Since the breakup process is so personal, your needs can vary greatly. Phases like shock and numbness, despair, sadness, anger, and anxiety, but also looking towards the future with optimism are often part of the breakup process.
On a side note, men take longer to get over breakups than women. A study by Binghamton University (New York State) found that women tend to be worse affected by breakups in the beginning – however, they are better at processing the end of relationships and this means that they are able to move on faster. Meanwhile, men are more likely to try and suppress their emotions, meaning they bear the weight of the loss for longer.
📚Further reading: Why Do People Cheat? 3 People Open Up, 1 Psychologist Explains