5 Reasons Why You Can't Move On From Your Breakup

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash
Why You Can’t Get Over A Breakup And Move On From Heartbreak
Heartbreak

Are you trying to let go and move on from someone you love whom you know is really, really bad for you but you still can't get over the breakup?

The person you love decided that he no longer loves you and has left you with a broken heart. Can you learn how to let go and move on?

RELATED: 10 Secrets Guaranteed To Help You Move The Heck On From Your Ex After A Breakup

Are you sick of craving your ex, ruminating on good memories, trying to figure out personal flaws, catastrophizing about never loving again, seeking information about your ex, and stalking them on social media?

Getting over it ending is not the easiest thing to do.

Letting go of someone you love (or trying to) is frustrating, emotionally exhausting and feels, at times, fruitless. But understanding why moving on is so hard is a great way to start down the path to healing.

Because you can heal. Really.

Here are 5 things that stop you from truly letting go and moving on after a breakup.

1. History

Believe it or not, the number one reason that it is so hard to let go of someone you love is based on evolutionary theory.

Back in the day, as mankind was evolving and becoming who it is today, a key part of survival was the need for attachment.

In order for people to come together to make babies and to ensure the babies survival, men and women needed to form attachments that were strong — even unbreakable. And, because of these attachments, mankind has evolved to be the dominant species on earth.

So, basically, the need for attachment, the need to have a person in your life permanently, is literally needed for the survival of the species. And, as much as we have evolved into modern society, our most basic need for attachment persists because, without it, we would become extinct.

2. Chemistry

When we are falling in love, and in love, our brain chemicals actually change.

Falling in love raises your dopamine which means you are happy, ecstatic even, but lowers your serotonin. When your serotonin is lower you feel more anxious, agitated and restless and have a tendency to be obsessive, compulsive and impulsive.

Think about when your new love hasn’t texted for a while and you are jittery and wondering where he is and if he still loves you.

As the relationship stabilizes into a secure attachment, dopamine is replaced by more serotonin and oxytocin, both of which combine to make you want to nest and feel calmer.

When we are fully settled and attached, the brain produces oxytocin. This chemical is fed by spending time together, doing chores, having sex, and other enjoyable activities.

When we are trying to let go of love, or when we are being broken up with, when obstacles get in the way of the attachment, even more dopamine is produced because the experiences of romantic love are heightened by diversity, obstacles, and uncertainty.

This increase in dopamine means the feelings of love get intensified which means we fall deeper in love with our person at the prospect of being left.

Finally, after breaking up and our person has left us all alone, we are left literally craving the chemicals that have been in our body throughout the relationship. Kicking this craving will be like kicking alcohol or tobacco. It will be really hard.

But, like alcohol and tobacco, the longer you stay away from it, the less you will crave it.

This is why, when trying to let go of someone you love, it is essential that you put a permanent and complete distance between you and him. Don’t feed the craving but let it go.

3. Internal conflict

There are three parts of the brain:

  • The brain stem, which is responsible for bodily functions
  • The limbic brain, which regulates emotions and attachments
  • The neocortex, which regulates executive functioning.

The limbic brain and the neocortex have a very difficult time communicating.

You know how you know that a relationship should be over but you just can’t let go because you don’t ‘feel’ like it’s over. This is because the two parts of your brain aren’t communicating.

We stay in a relationship that doesn’t serve us because our logical brain (neocortex) knows that the attachment is unhealthy but the limbic brain needs that attachment to exist and survive.

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This internal conflict is something that you can’t control when you first break up but, like with the chemicals, with time the neocortex will prevail.

When we start to take care of ourselves, stay away from the person who gets our limbic brain agitated and use mindfulness to focus on other things, our neocortex gets stronger and finally the two parts of your brain will connect and tell you that, in fact, the relationship is over and that it's time to move on.

RELATED: 20 Crucial Things You Must Do Immediately After A Breakup

4. A decimated self-esteem

There is nothing more personal than being left by someone you love. No matter what, we are left with feelings that we aren’t good enough. That we are missing some personality trait that makes us unlovable. That no one will ever love us and that the world would be better off without us, losers that we are.

A reduced self-esteem is one of the reasons why it is so hard to let go of someone you love. When we feel bad about ourselves we want to reach out to the person who once loved us, to get confirmation that we aren’t all that we think we are, that they left us not because of our limitations but because of some external force.

And that is something we rarely get. We continue to feel bad about ourselves no matter what.

Furthermore, the end of a relationship is like a death — something that was super important to us, that we had such high hopes for, that we had pinned our future on, is gone and we are left mourning that loss.

Unfortunately, in this modern culture, mourning is not okay. Sure, we are allowed to be sad for a while but it doesn’t take long for your friends and family to tell you to ‘just move on.’ For them to get sick and tired of listening to your pain and want you to get on with your life does not help how you feel about yourself.

Having your feelings belittled and neglected only adds to the feelings of shame. Not only has our love abandoned us but so too our family and friends.

5. Lack of answers

Almost worse than the trauma of being apart from our loved one is the lack of answers. We have been rejected and are confused and we have no idea what happened.

We spend all of our hours wondering what happened. Why did something so promising fall apart? Why did someone we had been married to forever decide to walk away?

Those unanswered questions torment us and, with the decreased serotonin, we become increasingly agitated. We seek "closure" which only aggravates our limbic brain and gets us going down the same path that we have been on already.

And, more often than not, there aren’t any answers.

"It’s about me, not about you."

"I just need to spend some time alone."

None of these answers will be enough to calm your aching heart. If you can try to disregard the questions, knowing that you might not get the answers that you seek, then it might help you move on more quickly.

You are probably in a lot of pain right now because you have to let go of someone you love.

There might truly be nothing worse than a broken heart. But, you can survive it. Getting over someone may not be an easy process but it's totally possible to heal.

Understand that the history of our species makes us want to stay attached, that our chemistry makes withdrawal from an attachment supremely difficult, that our brain’s internal conflict is powerful, that our self-esteem has plummeted and that we are left mostly only with questions.

Understanding these things will help you let go of someone you love so that you can get on with your life and meet the guy who you are supposed to be with.

It will happen. Winston Churchill said, "If you are going through hell, don’t stop." Suffer through the pain and you will emerge, like a butterfly, on the other end.

I promise.

RELATED: 4 Game-Changing Steps To Take After A Devastating Breakup Or Divorce

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. She works with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world. Email her now and get started.

This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.