Why it hurts a lot

In Why it hurts we learned that, essentially, a breakup is supposed to hurt. The pain we feel is Nature’s way of telling us that there is something here we need to avoid to improve our odds of survival.

That being said, the pain can also be utterly debilitating. It can completely paralyze us, disrupt our eating and sleeping patterns and remove all the joy from our lives.

Surely there can’t be any added benefit there for our survival, can there?

And what about those who suffer heartbreak over and over again? Are they not picking up on Nature’s lesson? Or is something else going on?

I seems that while most will suffer some degree of pain following a breakup, especially one they didn’t initiate, some suffer more than others.

What do those that suffer more have in common with one another?

I believe what they have in common is one or more older, unhealed wounds.

Those of us that are the most lost, the most hopeless and the most crushed after breaking up, have also been carrying the most pain with us from the past. Perhaps a difficult childhood, unavailable parents or an traumatic event.

Invariably it is the older wound, that we are unaware of, that gets re-opened when we are hurt again. This opens the floodgates to pain, past and present.

The severity of pain that we feel after the breakup is not the only indication that there may be underlying pain. How we relate to those we love is shaped by our experiences growing up. Pain, more than anything else, colors these experiences.

Loosely interpreting Professor Gabor Maté’s work on understanding drug addicts — addicts seek out drugs to self-medicate the pain they are feeling. It is often only through drugs that they are able to briefly escape the constant pressure of sadness that pushes down on them day after day.

I believe those that suffer the most after a breakup are also the ones that relied on the relationship, and their ex-girlfriend’s, the most to help them escape past pain.

Much in the same way as the addiction assumes control of the addict’s life, the relationship assumes control over the dumpee’s.

About Jesse

I’ve been helping guys recover from their breakups since 2012. Work with me to fast-track your recovery.


  1. Eric Luzania says:

    If anybody is going through pain and the struggle of a break up right now, you’re not alone. Im fighting that battle right along side you. Whether you’re in the same city as me or a world away, someone is going through that same battle with you. Been 5 weeks since my break up, and it hurts like hell. I miss her so much, and the emotional pain is excrutiating. I haven’t been happy in weeks. But I know I will be happy again. But not yet. My heart goes out to everyone who is going through what I’m going through. I know how much it hurts. But you’re not alone. Stay strong and carry on.

  2. Hi Guys,

    It’s less than a week after Thanksgiving, and I am going through what doubtless many other are this season – dealing with the memories of past holidays.

    My ex and I dated and lived together for many years; years that I can truly describe as some of the happiest of my life. Then, about five months ago, while we were saving for our wedding, it all came crashing to a sudden and shocking halt. I’m not here to talk about that though. Sure, I have my occasional moments, but I’m well on my way to reconciling the end of the relationship in my head.

    She and I forged many memories during our time together – vacations, weddings, great meals together, simple nights at home watching movies, etc. However, I can avoid thinking about those things for the most part. I can choose not to watch a movie that we liked. I can choose not to look at pictures from my sister’s wedding. I am not confronted by things that remind me of places like London, Quebec City, Maine, Charleston, D.C., etc. on a regular basis. Still, there is something about this holiday season – a time of the year utterly wrapped in memories, traditions, and nostalgia – that feels like a hard punch to the gut. Over the years, we made many of our own traditions. I remember how every Thanksgiving we would “adopt all of the ‘Thanksgiving orphans'” for a meal at ours. Thanksgiving was OUR day, and though I was the cook in the relationship, she would scour the recipe books for days for something special to add, and she would be so damn proud of it, because it was her dish, she had discovered it, and she had made it. I remember buying and decorating our Christmas tree each year, Christmas shopping together, how we would dance the night away at my work holiday party. I remember the annual trips to Vermont to spend the holiday with my family; how I would wrap my scarf around her and hold her close to keep her warm in the Vermont cold. I remember the drives together through quaint New England towns with their small and snow covered greens reflecting the lights of their Christmas trees, side trips to Boston or Montreal, and stretching out together in the warm glow of the wood stove. I remember our winter hike each Christmas, after the meal. We would always hike up a mountainside through the snow to the same waterfall, usually frozen. I can hear her, with that thick British accent of hers, exclaiming how beautiful it was.

    I can usually avoid walking down memory lane, yet in this season, so imbued with nostalgia and tradition, I can’t seem to avoid the memories. I dread Vermont. She had become part of the family, and I think my whole family dreads the holiday a bit. We all seem to know that it will feel a sort of hollow without that silly petite little British girl there sharing it with us. It really is like grieving a death. How do you get through this season?

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