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Bitter Breakup Myths

by Caroline Williams


If the breakup was for the best, you shouldn’t be sad

As much as we would like our emotional reactions to be logical, they’re not. The part of our brain that governs emotional reactions doesn’t care whether or not the breakup was for the best or if you’re better off without them .

We are actually wired to suffer .When we experience “love rejection “often the response is to believe we love the ex more than ever and discount the reasons why we broke up. You have to blame your brain and the sea of chemicals for this phenomenon when our ex becomes a type of  Human Heroin .In simplistic terms this it what happens. During romantic love we are flooded with bonding/pleasure chemicals and experience an almost addictive reward when in the romantic love bubble. But when the object of desire leaves ,our brain goes into withdrawal or abandonment rage and  just like a heroin addict seeks the next high off our “loved one” to feel normal again.

 

breakup mythsClosure is required

If a break up is sudden, painful or one-sided, the general idea is that you should get some closure, some defining words that will finally put your relationship to bed (so to speak) enabling you to move on feeling satisfied. We hold on to this myth that closure brings some clean and pristine end to our doubts, hurts and turmoil.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way and the key is to find closure for ourselves about:
  • sometimes relationships don’t work and there is no why
  • we can’t make someone love us or want to be with us ( no matter how hard you try)
  • people end relationships for illogical and strange reasons including returning to toxic relationships.

Don’t be the guy/gal who keeps drunk texting/ writing letters/being a social media hound without a response and give yourself the gift of  exiting the relationship with your dignity intact.

 

We can still be friends…really

This myth follows closely on the tail of “closure required” when remaining friends can somehow ease the pain of the breakup by holding on to a watered down version of the original  intimate relationship.

In a breakup there is normally the one who leaves and the one who is left with their heart ripped out, remaining friends can send mixed messages and give the signal that reconciliation is still possible. Remaining friends is often achievable when no other romantic partners are involved but the cold truth is one person at some point moves on and begins another relationship leading to the ex having to revisit the pain of abandonment and  jealousy.

If you are determined to remain friends then it’s vital that the breakup is clean and non hostile (that’s right no angry email length texts or drunk begging to reunite phone calls allowed). A cooling off period with no contact is suggested to help some of the wounds heal  and create a new relationship dynamic.

The clause in this one is when children are involved and remaining “amicable and respectful” is an absolute must. This isn’t the chummy “lets catch a movie/I need someone to talk too “relationship, it’s about putting the needs of the children ahead of your own personal hurts or bitterness.

 

Sex with the ex?

First lets address the age old myth that women get more emotionally attached with sex. It’s a misconception that women get super connected to the people they sleep with but  men never do that “needy” emotional thing. In truth, sex releases bonding chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin into female and male brains, and it’s vasopressin that helps a man bond with you. So sex with the ex while an easy way to have sex without the one night stands or experience some of the safe familiar ground of intimacy  has serious pitfalls.

In reality sex with the ex normally leads to:
  • the old emotions being revisited
  • the breakup reasons resurface and the bitterness or blame game emerges
  • one of you begins to have hope of reconciliation that isn’t reciprocated
  • becoming stuck in relationship limbo and unable to move forward

This is a complete minefield but possible as long as you follow some guidelines:
  • Let some time pass after the breakup with no contact.
  • There is no relationship talk, coffee catch ups, movies, dinners or going to events because this is actually called dating and leads to mixed messages and confusion
  • Be clear about your intentions and if you meet someone you are wanting to date then be clear about this.
  • Ask yourself “Is the sex really worth it?”

Article posted 3 February 2015
 
caroline williams anxiety counselling auckland
Caroline Williams is a counsellor and therapist in Auckland.
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