The understanding of intimate relationships and breakups has been a nightmare in the last two decades. Not because only now occur relational problems, but because the present moment is surrounded by uncertainty and discarding behaviors like never before. It seems like people are never satisfied with their options and are always looking for someone better, when, in reality, that someone better might be right in front of their eyes. Phenomena that partly we can explain with the emergence of a relationship industry where dating apps and even social media platforms earn millions at your romantic idealization expense.
Unsurpriselized, when we look at the educational system exists a profound lack of teaching people what emotions and feelings are because they are different conceptions. The much-needed self-knowledge and self-awareness isn’t part of scholarly programs. So my first question is, how can we understand others if we don’t have the tools to understand and accept ourselves?
Returning to the title of this article, he asked me to be friends what should I do? My answer is NO! You can’t be a friend of your ex, not after a breakup. Because firstly, you have to heal and close that segment of your life. And then why you accept friendship from someone who couldn’t fulfill their role as your partner? Wasn’t enough the pain of being dumped? Do you want to be their reliable shoulders where they can cry on their dating disasters? We can’t be friends with one ex towards whom we still have sexual attraction and emotional feelings.
The difference between Emotions and Feelings
In neuroscience, emotions and feelings are called affections. However, emotions and feelings are distinctive aspects of our human condition. Emotions are unconscious processes commanded by our brain, which will produce chemical alterations in our bodies and provoke action. Emotions are the real root of our healthy or unhealthy behaviors. The real reason why we dump people out of fear, why some individuals are always anxious and perceive closeness as a threat. Emotions are automatic responses ignite by mental stimulation or external stimulation of the old memories, or help you to feel safe always based in your subconscious programming. Feelings, on the other hand, are a conscious process. And the psychological vocabulary used to describe a situation. So when we say I love you or I miss you, we are talking about feelings.
Individuals with avoidant, fearful-avoidant, or anxious attachment style tendency have repressed emotions since childhood to survive, which leads them to experience high levels of anxiety, fear, fear of rejection and abandonment, and unworthy feeling of having healthy relational dynamics.
Why are breakups so excruciating?
Let’s go back to our ancestor’s time. People used to mate and bond as a survival mechanism, but also to procreate, and this way ensure the species continuity. For example, and this is important to explain. The honeymoon phase (12 to 24 months) is a temporary period of dementia in which individuals experience passionate love, occurring the activation of the caudate nucleus and the ventral segmental area, central to emotional processing. Both brain areas are rich in dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and motivation.
But why the honeymoon phase has a short life? You might ask. Remember, in human biology, the honeymoon phase happens to have a baby with the best possible genes. And then, after this period, nature reminds us that lust and passion will subside, and it is time to take care of our children and their survival.
However, if couples can deal with each other correctly, their relationship can survive after the honeymoon phase and evolve into real love making a difference together in the world.
So when and why the relationship breaks down? In the disillusionment stage, where your emotions and your past experiences will make you doubt if you choose the right person or if you were in love in the first place. Unfortunately, more often than they should, people don’t realize this stage is part of the normal progression of a romantic relationship but instead decide to give up without trying correctly to make things work. When you don’t know what’s going on within yourself, your emotions, or subconscious programming, it will be hard to work intimately with another person. You can change for another partner, but your internal emotional patterns persist.
After a Breakup your Pain is Real!
When you experience a breakup, your pain is real, and your brain will be most active in the anterior temporal cortex, insula, anterior cingulate, and prefrontal cortex (same areas for physical pain). You will experience deep sadness, grief, physical pain because of hormonal withdrawal from the intimate detachment. So you can’t, and you shouldn’t accept friendship with your ex after a breakup. Not because you are a mean person or you are playing games, but because your pain is real. After a breakup, it’s time to think about healing, personal growth vanishing yourself from social media platforms and not looking at your ex pictures, surrounding yourself with your family, friends, and things that you enjoy doing. It’s your moment and let your ex face the decision of not having you in his or her life.
Be sure of one thing: you are lovable, you are unforgettable, and you will find your way. And as you can see through this article, our brain explains who we are perfectly and can be our best friend or our worst enemy.
I will close this article with another Susan Winter’s video, wishing you a wonderful weekend.
Treede RD, Kenshalo DR, Gracely RH, Jones AKP. The cortical representation of pain. Pain. 79:105–111.
Peyron R, Laurent B, Garcia-Larrea L. Functional imaging of brain responses to pain. (2004). A review and meta-analysis. Neurophysiology Clin.30:263–88. (a review & meta-analysis)
Eisenberger NI, Lieberman MD, Williams KD. (2003). Does rejection hurt: An fMRI study of social exclusion. Science. 2003; 302:290–2. First ever study to look at social pain in the brain