Love may be one of the great sources of happiness that human beings can enjoy, but it is also true that, in certain circumstances, it can give rise to nightmare situations.
Deep down, any aspect of our lives that leads to attachment is a potential vulnerability. And when we love someone, that attachment becomes so strong that much of the love relationship that can arise from it becomes one of our most important projects, so that if something happens to that bond, everything around us is shaken.
These kinds of emotional impacts are so strong that they are neither relieved nor in the cases where we are brokenhearted in a predictable way: the fact that we feel disappointment in love and actually see that the other person did not care for us as much as it seemed at first does not prevent us from continuing to miss that relationship. Why does this happen?
What Happens When Our Hearts Are Broken
Under the concept of “breaking our hearts”, several psychological processes are actually occurring that run in parallel but that, when they appear more or less at the same time, are perceived as a whole. All of them produce discomfort and are the emotional tails that remain from the emptiness that the other person leaves in us.
Thus, the reasons why it hurts when someone breaks our heart are the following.
1. The end of shared habits
When someone with whom we shared our daily lives disappears from our side, it is not only her who goes: so do all those routines that we associate with that life together. Whether it is a walk in the park, a frequent trip to the cinema or a sport, the fact that a very important part of those experiences is no longer there makes them become habits that mean nothing .
So after having gone through an intense love affair, one has to deal with the uncertainty of how to rebuild one’s life without the other person’s participation, which is painful for two reasons: on the one hand, it is a constant reminder that one’s heart has been broken, and on the other hand, having to decide how to start over is something that causes stress.
2. Intrusive thoughts appear
There is no greater myth than the belief that thoughts, because they are higher psychological processes (therefore, theoretically far from “instincts”) are something we control. In reality, anyone who has gone through a highly stressful or traumatic experience knows this is not true.
Thoughts related to those memories that marked us emotionally in the past often appear and disappear without warning, regardless of our will power. It is something that is beyond the intentions with which we decide to face the day; they simply emerge within our consciousness and, once there, it is almost impossible not to pay attention to them: they act like a magnet over our attentional focus, precisely because they are thoughts that produce emotional pain.
3. Emotional distress usually lasts
We must bear in mind that, just as evolution has made us capable of thinking through abstract concepts and of loving from a sophisticated understanding of the other person’s identity, it has also made us capable of suffering greatly from events that do not involve physical injury.
What happens when our hearts are broken is the paradigmatic example of this: curiously, it has been seen that what happens in the brains of people who are going through this process is very similar to what happens when the neurobiological mechanisms of physical pain perception are activated. However, unlike what usually happens when we receive damage from cuts or blows, emotional problems can last much longer . As a result, the wear and tear is greater.
4. Something like withdrawal
When a person accustomed to the consumption of a drug stops using that substance, his nervous system goes into crisis, because because of the dependence it had adjusted to abnormal levels of chemicals between the neurons, creating a kind of false biochemical balance in the body.
Similarly, when someone breaks our heart we have to adapt to a world where something we took for granted is no longer there: the love and affection of someone in particular . Specifically, they come out to reduce the effects of the absence of those moments together that we used to enjoy.