The 4 Real Reasons Why Break-Ups Hurt Like Hell
There’s no denying that a break-up can be both a painful and overwhelming experience to go through in life. It can cause feelings of rejection, change the daily routine and turn someone’s life completely upside down.
But, it’s not all tears and soltitude. The American psychological association found that „although break-ups are stressful events, they have the potential to produce positive outcomes (Tashiro & Frazier, 2003; Tashiro, Frazier, & Berman, 2006). These findings coincide with previous findings that a break-up can lead to positive outcomes such as personal growth, particularly when the former relationship did not provide sufficient opportunities for self-improvement.”¹
In order to promote these positive effects and the ability to see a break-up more as a chance than the end of the world, however, it is necessary to understand the real reasons why break-ups hurt like hell. This is why I tried to figure them out and I guess the fourth reason could be the main reason.
1. Emotional dependency
According to scientist Javier Fiz Pérez, emotional dependency in romantic partnerships is ‘a personality disorder with deep roots’. People who are emotionally dependent carry past emotional pain which created a big emotional need and made them suffer from a big lack of self-love and self-esteem, as they never really learned how to love themselves. That’s why their emotional needs strongly depend on an external validation.
Emotionally dependent persons are afraid of not to be loved for the person who they really are, which — in most cases — leads to a tendency to change habits and adapt to the partner in order to please, bind and keep him or her. It can be recognized by great fears of being left, jealousy and (pathological) control behaviors.
If you had possessive thoughts like
- “My partner needs me.”
- “I need my partner, without him or her I’d have surely failed in life.”
- “I can’t imagine a life without my partner.”
- “I’m afraid that my partner wants to leave me one day (for another, better person).”
well then, you probably were emotionally dependent and not actually in love with your partner, even if you thought you were.
In addition, if you suffered from feelings of emptiness when spending time on your own and probably thought you need a partner to keep your self-esteem ahead as well as having difficulties in trusting in their feelings for you, then it’s definitely time to focus on changing your way into a direction called ‘autonomy’.
The most important thing is, to be aware of your own feelings and not living an (emotionally dependent) life that is only motivated by motives such as fear of loneliness or being left only.
It is definitely worth it, working on becoming an emotionally less dependent person. So, take your time and get to know yourself better.
2. Fear of change
Let’s be honest. Having or even living with a partner can have many convenient advantages as it often makes it easier to deal with responsibilities and daily life tasks just like managing finances, cleaning, cooking, buying food and so on. (Love) At first sight, it seems that a partner is supposed to make one’s life a lot easier, right?
As soon as being used to a partners presence and support, it gets very awkard and uncomfortable as soon as one’s ‘better half’ is not present anymore. Feelings of being overwhelmed and desperate come up that make us feel like a child that was left in the lurch.
Suddenly, we have to be alone although we don’t want to. We are not just afraid of a new stage of life without that partner but also afraid of having to take full responsibility over decisions and actions. We try to persuade ourselves that we will never be able to handle life on our own and start distrusting ourselves as well as doubting our unique abilities.
This might be the perfect time to recognize that this is the perfect time to learn how to stand on your own two feet. We often forget that growing independence of each partner is a hugely important condition to separate oneself from a close relationship to integrate oneself into new social groups.
Beginnings and endings are the best periods in life even if it doesn’t feel like that immediately. Entering a new phase of life means, to continue or start growing and learning something new that provides oneself with the ability to understand the past suddenly.
Even if it may take some time to feel that way: Each life chapter gets better and never worse than the chapter before — as long as you brave enough to demonstrate the willingness to grow.
Engaging in toxic self-criticism, psychoanalyzing and questioning all words and sentences one said and asking what really went wrong — Blaming yourself is nothing but a big energy guzzler and an emotional exhaustion.
If you have been the ‘baddy’ who broke up with your partner, it might be very likely that your partner reproached you for things you have(n’t) done. By telling our partner that it’s over, we risk an eruption of enormous anger, unspoken words and perhaps there’s even violence and danger. But that might say more about your partner than about you.
Did you know that blaming yourself leads to delayed broken heart healing and -recovery? Blame causes shame — another painful feeling that causes negative self-regarding feelings. We see that these associated effects won’t bring any benefits at all.
A break-up is no child’s play for anyone and exactly this makes it all the more important for us to communicate more clearly together and enter into a dialogue that is based on mutual respect and understanding.
What really matters: That we learn from relationship-ending mistakes as we can take self-recrimination and -blaming too far for things that were not our fault at all.
Stop blaming yourself, start reframing negative thoughts, learn from reflecting on your experience and move on!
4. The lost half
Have you ever called your partner your ‘better half’ or have you ever caught yourself thinking so? If so, this would sadly mean that yourself was a half only and that you saw your partner as incomplete too.
It is a fact, according to Ph.D. Lisa Firestone, that „the qualities we look for in a person go along with expectations that are left from our past. We want our partner to be our missing piece and provide the things we longed for or lacked early in our lives. Therefore, we’re more inclined to have certain expectations or feel hurt by specific things that can have little to do with our current relationship and more to do with ones from our history.”²
“We want our partner to be our missing piece and provide the things we longed for or lacked early in our lives.”
Lisa Firestone sums it up pretty well: “In addition, we are compelled to recreate patterns that mirror what we’re used to and tend to seek out relationships that reflect those of our past. In this way, our partner may be a missing piece to an old but unhappy puzzle. As a result, many of us unconsciously choose partners who are unable or who struggle to provide the very qualities we say we want. We then feel a constant and familiar level of pain or frustration at our partner not being able to meet our wants and needs.”²
Therefore “it is necessary to question the underlying belief that another person must complete us”. Further, we must finally take responsibility for ourselves, our lives and of course for our own happiness.
Last but not least, the APA also found that those who focused on the positive aspects of their break-up reported experiencing more positive emotions regarding their relationship’s end and did not experience an increase in negative emotions. The increased positive emotions included feelings of such as comfort, confidence, empowerment, energy, happiness, optimismism, relief, satisfaction, thankfulness, and wisdom.³
What if we start seeing (failed) relationships more as a chance for new beginnings as well as a great opportunity to grow personally and learn more about ourselves?
As they say: Practice makes the master.
¹ American psychological association (2019) Breakups aren’t all bad: Coping strategies to promote positive outcome https://www.apa.org/research/action/romantic-relationships
² Ph.D. Lisa Firestone (July 01, 2019) Are You Expecting Too Much from Your Partner? https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/compassion-matters/201907/are-you-expecting-too-much-your-partner
³ American psychological association (2019) Breakups aren’t all bad: Coping strategies to promote positive outcome https://www.apa.org/research/action/romantic-relationships