Surely, after a certain age and with a certain maturity and lived experiences, we can all talk about some love that ended without knowing very well why.It is very easy to find articles on the Internet that talk about the suffering of lack of love, but what happens to us inside?
Let’s start from a fact that, even today, many people find difficult to accept: Love comes and goes in the brain; the heart only marks some rhythms, and lack of love follows a logic that goes beyond whether a person has stopped “liking” us, simply.
Love is a habit, an addiction
There are studies that claim that love arises in the limbic system, which is the part of the brain from which our emotions are born . A chemical called phenylethylamine is released, which causes a feeling of euphoria, just as some drugs do.
Other substances secreted by the human body whose levels are altered by love are dopamine (related to the learning mechanism), noradrenaline (basically responsible for making our heart race in the presence of our loved one) and serotonin (regulates mood).
We understand, then, from these alterations, that when we are in love we are entities that dance on the air, with a silly smile on their face and constant ups and downs of humor .
Alterations have also been detected in the area of perception, which could make it clear that we see our partner in an idealized way and whose apparent perfection makes her more special than any other person.
But from love to hate, there’s only one step…Maybe less. The neurologist Semir Zeki discovered in one of his investigations how the activation of the same brain regions takes place during the process of falling in love and hate, causing opposite reactions, of course.
And then comes the heartbreak… all of a sudden?
When it comes to finding out more about the process of falling out of love, it is difficult to find articles that explain what happens to us when we take an active role, that is, the decision to break up. They all seem to focus on reviving the poor being who has been unilaterally abandoned (a clue: it’s a matter of time and attitude).
By now you’ve probably read that what we understand as “falling in love” lasts about two years (four for those who see the glass as half full). The process of falling out of love does not usually come suddenly ; it is almost always a gradual and painful process, and it is also the result, in part, of brain activity.
The brain, as time goes by, secretes less and less of all the chemicals we mentioned earlier, such as dopamine. Those substances made us be alienated (sorry, in love) and see the other person perfect. And, little by little, they take the handkerchief away from our eyes and we are able to be more “objective” about our partner , seeing defects more easily and feeling negative emotions.
Suffering this lack of love does not always lead to a break ; it can evolve into another type of more solid and objective relationship. To see the other person as they really are, and not as we want them to be, we need enough emotional maturity to be able to live love without erroneous expectations , unreachable requirements and uncontrolled emotions. A key in this process is communication in couples.
The brain during lovelessness
For this evolution of love there are also studies that show how certain hormones intervene at the brain level. This is the case of oxytocin, which works like alcohol, giving us well-being by being secreted in situations linked to affection, such as in a hug, and that is why the couple enjoys intimate moments not so linked to sexuality .
In the event that the love affair does not come to fruition and we choose to break up, the brain also undergoes certain changes.Brain scans have shown that the person with a broken heart shows more activity in the prefrontal area, which is related to personality, decision-making and planning, as long as it is not a case of depression. This makes us think that the brain is trying to help us overcome the bad feeling and balance our behaviour and emotions.
Likewise, it has been demonstrated that one suffers from an abstinence syndrome similar to that suffered with any other drug; the brain lacks those chemical reward circuits that are set in motion by “consuming” the presence and affection of the other person and, although with time it assimilates it, in principle what it does is to cry out for it.
You have to understand that people who break up the relationship because they don’t feel what they think they should feel, suffer through this whole process anyway, only this happens during the relationship rather than after the break-up.
What to do in the face of disappointment in love?
Both falling in love and falling out of love seems to be out of our control , but what we can manage is whether that falling out of love is worth taking to another stage of love, or whether it is not worth it and we have to let it go. No decision will be totally clear or easy, we are animals of habit, but in the game of love, we must not forget that not everything is worthwhile and that we must become active subjects in our own lives and make the decisions we believe are right.
So fall in love, be loved, break up, come back, repent, rejoice, cry and love again, without fear, because as Winston Churchill said: “Success is overcoming failure with enthusiasm intact”.