Believe it or not, a “broken heart” isn’t as figurative as you might think. A number of biological reactions occur after we end a long-term relationship, whether we’re still in love or not. We get confused or disappointed. We place blame in ourselves or in others. We get irritable. We pretend we don’t care, or that we’re moving on, when really we’re fixated on the past. Eventually, we let go. That’s everything you already know. But what happens biologically, behind closed doors?
When we’re rejected a particular region of the brain lights up like a candle on display. It doesn’t matter if we’ve known this person forever or if they’re just a stranger walking down the street. Rejection does the same thing. What part of the brain, you ask? It’s the same part activated when we are physically hurt. Rejection causes pain. Literal, unquestionable, and enduring pain.
Brain activity also helps us present the case that an ended relationship leads to chronic depression. It’s not such a surprise. All the biological benefits to a long-term relationship, or heck, just a cuddle buddy, are suddenly torn away. It’s hard to cope with the loss. So what do you do? Do you swear off long-term relationships for the rest of time? We hope not. Physical affection and love are the reasons why you feel so down in the dumps after a breakup, but they can also help you get through one. Here’s why they’re so important.
Body warmth feels good for a reason. Cuddling is a creature comfort. It’s both psychological and biologically important to our overall health and wellbeing, and we should all be doing more of it, even if the person we’re doing it with isn’t a romantic interest.
We experience this warmth first in the womb. Science informs us that when babies don’t receive love and affection, they’re more likely to grow up with behavioral or social disorders that won’t go away later in life. In other words, don’t use the “Ferber” method when parenting. You’ll regret it.
When we cuddle, the brain releases oxytocin. This is often known as the love hormone, because it leaves us feeling more relaxed. In addition, it reduces stress and anxiety. Unfortunately when we lose our cuddle buddies, the opposite reaction occurs. Do what you have to do to keep on cuddling!