real life

Science confirms: Breaking up actually makes you crazy.

Romantic love is an addiction. A perfectly wonderful addiction when it’s going well and a perfectly horrible addiction when it’s going poorly.”

In general, breaking up with someone makes you a crazy person.

This sounds like a sweeping statement, but we now know it is based not only on anecdotal evidence, but scientific evidence too.

Here are a few of the (very scientific) reasons that break ups can feel so tough, which can start to explain why it can feel so devastating when you end a short or longterm relationship.

(Also, as a handy bi-product of this research, you can now feel completely justified in eating three tubs of ice cream while watching six hours of Netflix on repeat post-break-up. You’re welcome.)

Love is like an addiction

Helen Fisher (a Biological Anthropologist) has studied “this madness” that is love for years.

In a Ted talk, she summed up the experience of love fairly succinctly by saying, “romantic love is an addiction. A perfectly wonderfully addiction when it’s going well and a perfectly horrible addiction when it’s going poorly.”

This addiction is formed because the area that controls reward and motivation in the brain, the ventral tegmental, is “involved in feelings of romantic love” according to Fisher’s research.

As a result of activity in the cells that make dopamine and forms the reward system, being in love can feel the same as a hit of cocaine.

Because of this, Fisher suggests that “romantic love is one of the most addictive substances on earth.”

Why you’re emotionally and physically sad when you break up

Throb recently explained that a break up can make you feel like you’re back in the early stages of a relationship with your partner.


Except of course, that said relationship has usually well and truly ended.

This is because when we’ve been broken up with, we become deprived of the chemicals in our brain that give us pleasure (here’s to you, oxytocin and dopamine) that we were being given in bountiful supply when in a relationship, according to Blue Nation Review.

They go on to say that, “to make up for the sudden lack of oxytocin and dopamine, our bodies try to compensate by flooding the body with a stress hormone, CRF (corticotropin-releasing factor), which suppresses appetite, memory, and the immune system.”

So not only are we emotionally sad, we are feeling physically poorly too.

As if break ups weren’t bad enough, Throb states that in rare cases, heartbreak can result in a weakened heart which can cause the fatal condition called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as “broken heart syndrome”.

Fisher explains that because love is like an addiction, when you stop ‘using’ it you experience the same qualities as giving up a substance. These are:

1. Tolerance (wanting to take more)

2. Withdrawals

3. Relapse


How do you move on?

Fisher says it’s like all addictions. In order to move on, you need to cut it out of your life completely.

Headspace also recommends trying these things:

  • Letting yourself be upset
  • Looking after yourself
  • Being realistic when thinking about your ex
  • Trying to limit how much you think about your ex
  • Giving yourself some space
  • Keeping busy
  • Taking time out for you
  • Treating yourself
  • Talking to friends and family
  • Not use drugs or alcohol
  • Giving it time.

Good luck, you love addicted soldier.

If you like this, you’ll like: 

The 9 stages of break ups.

Is there a good way to break up?

The definitive guide to the best break-up binge watching TV.

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