Our society has programmed us to believe that being single is some sort of deficit, so when our relationship comes to an end it’s easy to get in that thought process of woe-is-me-I’ll-never-feel-like-that-again. But, as science is finding out, that’s totally not true. Actually, our brain is wired to get over breakups, and to withstand the loss over and over again.
When we do go through a breakup, even one that is a mutually decided upon demise, there are still so many feelings and concerns involved, a big one being the fear of never loving or being loved again. Breaking up is hard and something everyone experiences at least once in their lives. At least with that bit of factual information in our back pocket, we can feel less alone when it happens to us. You are not the first person to go through a heart-wrenching breakup, nor will you be the last.
A new study has found that our brain is organized to fall in love, fall out of love, and tackle some hot and heavy rebounding in between. According to Saint Louis University’s Dr. Brian Boutwell, “We have a mechanism in our brains designed by natural selection to pull us through a very tumultuous time in our lives.” In other words, as Gloria Gaynor belted out, you will survive, and not just that, you’ll thrive.
The study went on to examine “mate ejection,” in which, for whatever reason (cheating, falling out of love, etc.), a couple breaks up and how that break is like the immediate cease of a drug. Neurological scans of people in love reveal that the parts of the brain that are heightened when someone is feeling that level of emotional intensity are the same parts of the brain affected when someone does cocaine. Since this is the case, love is indeed an addiction, and when that relationship dissolves there is a recovery period, as with any drug.
But because the brain is so in need of that addictive substance called love, it actually helps you, the brokenhearted one, to move on and find its fix once again. Basically, your brain has your back in all matters of the heart.
Boutwell hopes that his research will help to figure how couples can save their relationships by being aware of the mate rejection circle. However, if we were to get into evolution, maybe what the heart wants and what the instincts crave are two entirely different things that fighting against biology is fruitless.
My scientific hypotheses, based on a BA in English and years of dating aside, what it comes down to is that, no matter how much it hurts, you will get through your breakup. You are wired to survive it, mentally and emotionally. Your drug-addicted brain wouldn’t have it any other way.
Images: HBO; Giphy