Why is Breaking Up so Hard?
Break-ups can be hard on our mental health. You’ve been emotionally tied into someone’s life, and your sense of wellbeing is included in the mix. Now it’s over and you’re left feeling alone, sad, and nothing seems to cheer you up. It can impact other aspects of your life to the point of depression, substance abuse, and it can even affect other relationships.
Especially these days we need all the comfort and support we can get. So when we lose someone who previously comforted and supported us (emotionally, physically, or both) it hits really hard.
At my practice I see no shortage of people going through relationship issues and breakups. Breaking up these days can be emotionally cold. I’ve heard of people breaking up through text, and that’s particularly curt when it can cause such intimate pain for the person getting broken up with. The way a breakup goes has a huge psychological impact.
It can be like a drug withdrawal, in fact neural pathways causing negative feelings during a breakup are actually the same ones becoming activated when kicking substances like cocaine. Furthermore, as we develop, our relationship with attachment is affected by the different people in our life. Romantic attachments are quite significant for most people.
This neurological and developmental aspect combined with heightened emotional distress creates what for most people becomes a major, often negative, life event. When a major part of our life and a source of good feelings goes away, it can result in deep sadness and even grief.
Whether you need to break up with someone or you’ve been broken up with, we can safely return to the same self-care principles: focus on your own wellness, and pay attention to your own feelings.
Are you the breaker-upper?
If you care at all about the person you’re breaking up with (and you hopefully do!), remember to break up nicely. Nobody likes to get rejected. There’s no good way to initially tell someone the relationship is over, but it should be upfront and honest... and definitely NOT via text message.
Hopefully a breakup can end in respect and friendship like two people simply going their own way with no hard feelings. When anger comes into the picture this can be a lot different. Sometimes there were resentments and animosity before the breakup itself, but often a breakup can be the cause of these issues - or at least trigger their escalation. In these cases it’s best to still give upfront honesty, and then cut off ties without being mean or saying unnecessary negative things. And remember - safety first!
If the relationship isn’t for you but you’re scared of hurting your partner, just remember they will get over it and you can even offer support if it makes sense with your specific dynamic. Think about yourself and your own wellness, and stand firm. Dragging things out will just prolong negative feelings.
Are you the one getting broken up with?
As a psychiatrist, I see breakups as a primary attachment issue. As a human’s sense of attachment goes through developmental stages, it can really affect your sense of self if you’re on the receiving end of a breakup. Has a relationship ever ended and then you didn’t “feel like yourself?” This is a common issue that goes straight to the heart of why some people have such a hard time when their partner ends it.
Looking at the bigger picture it's an identity issue. In a way you’ve fused your sense of wellness to another person’s presence. When handled gracefully, this phenomenon can lead to a wholesome relationship. When obsessed and dwelled upon, though, it can sweep a person away with negativity. So when a breakup feels awful and interferes with life it’s good to make yourself feel as “you” as possible. See friends, treat yourself, and do things you love to do. But maybe don’t “rebound” right away - in many cases a bit of independence can work wonders for mental health after a breakup. Around six months is a good length of time, affording enough to work on oneself. Date, go out, have fun, but unless you’re absolutely sure about something don’t jump in the deep end!
Once again, this is about your wellness so focus on yourself. As time passes the severity of emotions will wane, and you’ll be back to enjoying life fully before you know it.
Have you gone through a breakup lately and notice it’s affecting your mental health? If the insight from this blog isn’t enough to help you find your way through this tough time, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Bregman Medical Group offers online or in-person treatment! Simply schedule at our website www.bregmanmd.com or call 786-321-4909.