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What happens in your brain when you're in love

Going through a breakup

Heartbreak is a form of grief and loss that can cause serious issues with insomnia, anxiety and depression.

The pain we feel during heartbreak is similar to the physical pain we feel due to a severe burn on a broken arm.

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What happens in your brain when you're in love

What happens in your brain when you're in love

https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/breakup-neuroscience

bigthink.com

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Key Ideas

When you're in love

When humans fall in love, their bodies are actively producing feel-good hormones and preventing the release of negative hormones.

When this process suddenly stops, the "withdrawal" felt can be extremely difficult to process both on an emotional and physiological level.

Going through a breakup

Heartbreak is a form of grief and loss that can cause serious issues with insomnia, anxiety and depression.

The pain we feel during heartbreak is similar to the physical pain we feel due to a severe burn on a broken arm.

Healing from a breakup

  • Visual reminders are likely to create dopamine surges in your brain that relate to feelings of craving and withdrawal.
  • Replace those surges of dopamine by taking a fitness class. Exercise can also release endorphins that trigger positive feelings.
  • Find a "new normal".
  • Accept the reason for the breakup.

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When we are stalking our exes on social media, we will find something we don’t want to see. But the subsequent feel of your heart dropping and the jealousy aren’t conducive to getting over your heartbreak.
Burn all cyber-bridges - limiting your access to your ex will automatically make you feel better.

When everything makes you cry

The emotional pain of a breakup often results in your body pumping itself full of cortisol, which suppresses the immune system and affects coping mechanisms.

The first step in fixing the problem is understanding that it is normal, according.  So if the littlest things are making you cry, take a moment to recognize that it is most likely caused by your body's response to the breakup.

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Rekindling Of An Old Flame
Rekindling Of An Old Flame

Breakups and subsequent renewals are quite common across all types of romantic relationships and even marriages.

Falling apart and then seeking to mend the old relationship seems to be dee...

The Protest Phase

When people experience breakups they go through the ‘protest’ phase initially, and the rejected lover becomes obsessed with winning back the person who has quit the relationship.

Rejection, paradoxically, makes the rejected person love the partner even more. This is called a ‘Frustration Attraction’, and can be categorized as an addiction.

Chemical Reactions

The rejected lover experiences high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, and are visibly stressed out. These chemical reactions trigger many to do crazy things to win their ex back. Such feelings are erased quickly if the lover starts dating a new partner.

Some people also feel increasingly passionate and loving after the breakup and are more likely to forgive their ex.

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Take Your Time

Breaking up can trigger chemical, emotional and physical reactions that cause you to feel lonely, unloveable, depressed, and worthless. 

Instead of pushing yourself to move forward q...

Good Grief

The five stages of grief are: 

  • denial (inability to accept reality), 
  • anger (physical tension, frustration, resentment), 
  • bargaining (magical thinking, pleading to God), 
  • depression (sadness, emptiness, guilt, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, hopelessness),
  • acceptance. 
Become Anti-Social (Media)

Nothing good can come from looking at your ex’s Instagram stories or Facebook timeline. When it comes to social media, just say no.

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The Benefits Of Sex

Schedule it if necessary. Having sex regularly helps with keeping a relationship from going stale and drives up the testosterone system, which makes you want to have more sex.

You also...

Avoiding Routine

Trying new things will keep the relationship from coasting into routine. this drives up the dopamine system and can sustain feelings of romantic love.

This doesn’t have to be a major change, like taking a trip around the world or deciding to have a baby. Little things, like trying a new recipe together, or going for a walk around the block instead of staying in for a movie, can provide the novelty your brain craves.

The Benefits Of Touch

Touch is proven to foster connection, it drives up the oxytocin system and can give you feelings of deep attachment to your partner. 

Take some time off and let it out

It’s probably best not to suppress or hold back one’s emotions, especially immediately after a breakup. 

However, the emotions can be so intense that they may not be appropriate for publ...

Listen to sad music

In the short term, it might reinforce or flare up painful memories, but it also normalizes the grief you are feeling so that you know you're not alone.

Talk to supportive people

Family and friends can help, but make sure you recognize their limits as well. 

You may decide that professional help may provide a more neutral and long-lasting perspective. They can also point out deeper patterns of behavior or thinking.

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Smartphone Addiction

There are about two billion smartphone users in the world, who check their devices on an average 85 times a day.

Checking your smartphone repeatedly is normally assumed as being addict...

Not Really an Addiction

While being glued to smartphones may look like addiction, for most people it is just a behavior pattern, a habit that can be broken.

A set of people may be having a fixation with checking specific apps on the smartphone, like a gambling site or pornography.

Addiction Defined

The World Health Organization defines addiction as physical and behavioral dependence on a substance.

An addiction can create psychological harm and many social problems with family and friends

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In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.

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Mindfulness meditation

It typically refers to a practice for training your attention. It is an awareness that comes through paying attention in the moment, but non-judgmentally.

It involves sitting down with closed eyes and focussing on feeling your breath go in and out. When your attention starts to wander, you take note and bring your attention back to your breath.

Reduced amygdala activity

Meditation shows reduced activity in the amygdala, our brain’s threat detector. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it sets off the fight-flight-freeze response.

In a study, after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes per day over just one week, participants showed reduced amygdala reactivity only while they were engaged in mindfulness, suggesting they need regular practice.

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Responding To Urgency

Stay-in-love couples are authentic, open, and self-reliant, but they also urgently need one another at times. They trust each other won’t take advantage of their availability but know&n...

Dealing Constructively With Control

Stay-in-love partners know that the need to feel in control at times is natural and that it offers an opportunity for learning and helping each other. Partners have confidence in their own autonomy to not react defensively or take it personally. 

Parenting Each Other

As relationships mature, many begin to feel less willing to give that kind of unconditional nurturing, and might not be as available. 

Stay-in-love couples understand the importance of not letting those special “sweet spots” die. They know that their partner sometimes needs to feel that guaranteed comfort and safety, and are more than willing to act as the good parent when asked. 

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Alain de Botton

"One of the first things couples should do is rather than saying how perfect they are, they should say 'I'm crazy ..."

Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton

"There is a cult of romanticism. It started in the 18th century, and it basically told people that everybody has a soul mate, everybody has somebody who will cure them of all loneliness.

We make the equation that, if you love me, you are supposed to understand me even if I don't explain what's wrong. With any good relationship, unfortunately, we often have to spell out what we need. People cannot be mind readers."

Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton

"There are lovely moments in early childhood when your parent can guess pretty well what you need. In the early days of love sometimes, you will report an ecstatic feeling you have met someone who seems to understand you without you needing to speak.

So many problems of relationships (are) where we have things to say we haven't said, and we blame people and get bitter that people haven't understood what we never explained to them."

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Storytelling is essential to living

Stories are the primary way through which we make sense of our world. We explain ideas by telling stories.

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The brain’s reward system

When the brain pieces separate bits of an image together to form a coherent picture, it is known as pattern recognition. Once we recognize a pattern, it can spark a degree of pleasure, often described as that "a-ha" moment.

Where science and story meet

Despite the verities of science, we feel compelled to tell stories that venture beyond the facts.

When we first see separate ideas, we feel obliged to find a relationship between the ideas to form a coherent picture. Once a possible relationship has been established, we feel the need to come up with an explanation.

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