Which leads to thinking that hurts

Why does love hurt when it goes

Getting abandoned is painful because you don't make that decision yourself. The abandoned wants to keep the relationship going. The person I love wants to go. She doesn't love me anymore - that hurts! Giving up or letting go of someone is a painful process. It is like a separation through death. Nothing is as it was before. The feeling is mostly of losing the ground under your feet.

Lovesickness explained neurobiologically

Anthropologist Helen Fisher and neuroscientist Lucy Brown explain lovesickness scientifically. You have been dealing with the phenomenon of (romantic) love for years and are looking for answers to the questions of how a feeling of love arises and why we suffer so when love breaks.

From a biochemical point of view, the same processes take place in the body that a heroin addict experiences during cold withdrawal. Our reward center in the brain no longer receives the impulses that make us feel happy. We suffer and have physical and emotional pain.

How come The reward center is located in our midbrain (mesencephalon). The midbrain houses our reflexes such as B. Breathing or walking, anything that we don't have to actively think about to make it work. It also activates when we want something or, in the case of love, when we really want someone.

It is responsible for our desire for someone and for directing all of our energy and attention to him or her. The reward center in the brain stores when we like a person and when this encounter makes us happy. The hormone dopamine ensures that these activated nerve pathways close and connect in our brain. It saves when something (chocolate, drugs) or someone makes us feel good.

Being in love and being loved, which makes us humans happy to a special degree, makes us all the more dependent and greedy. When we lose this loved one, our body switches to survival mode, as in the case of oxygen deficiency, and activates everything so that the previous state can be restored.

That causes pain. We feel them psychologically as fears, temporary or long-term depression, pantic attacks, insomnia and much more.But they can also express themselves physically, e.g. B. as heart pain. Then you feel a burning sensation in your chest that can get so bad that it is called broken heart syndrome. In the brain, heartache is represented in the same area as physical pain.

How relationships fail

The most common reasons for separation are: infidelity, sexual problems, different goals and values ​​in life, loss of mutual respect, indifference, lack of communication

Relationships start with a desire to do what is best for one another and for oneself. Like everything else, relationships are subject to change. If you don't actively work on a relationship and devote time and attention to it, a dynamic of withdrawal and mutual reproach develops.

Love turns into indifference and sometimes even venom. You don't feel seen or meant. Mutual appreciation can be practiced anew every day. In our couple counseling, for example, we give up the homework of giving your partner three appreciations every day.

At first glance, this seems banal, but it is precisely these little everyday situations where you can open up again. Change takes place in small steps. Coldness and indifference prevent closeness and contact. A downward spiral begins. You feel neglected and ignored. Devaluation and spite are increasing.

Sensuality and eroticism are also important. After a few years, boredom or disinterest takes hold. But one can and must also work on a successful, satisfying sexuality. When couples settle for the smallest common name, there is a great risk that adventure and exciting experiences will be sought outside. Affairs are usually a great burden for couples. Many break because of it.

Basically you have to say to all couples: Everything is constantly changing. Relationships too. Sexuality too. Change is the only constant, so to speak. Therefore, for the continuation of their relationship, couples should first and foremost learn how to deal with change. That is possible. There are many effective methods of counseling and, of course, seminars and other offers.

The most common symptoms of lovesickness

Nothing feels as bad as lovesickness or losing someone to death. Brooding begins with lovesickness. Day and night, every minute, every second. Self-reproach, doubt and anger at the person who has left us alternate. We are caught in negative loops.

What happens in the psyche with these negative thought loops also finds a correspondence on a physical level: sleep disorders, eating disorders (some eat too much, others completely lose their appetite) anxiety disorders and panic attacks are the result.

We feel exhausted, experience aching limbs, chest pain and, of course, deep sadness that can even develop into depression. Many resort to alcohol, drugs, medication such as B. Sleep pills. The stress hormone cortisol is sent out in the body. If this condition lasts too long, it has a negative effect on our immune system.

We are less able to defend ourselves against viruses and other diseases. Anyone who has ever had a bad infection after a stressful career knows what we're talking about.

What do most people suffer when a relationship comes to an end?

When a relationship comes to an end, massive changes and traumatic events take place on many different levels. For each affected person, a different feeling comes first. In summary, however, we can say that it is loneliness and the associated lack of strength to start a new life without a partner.

In a relationship, you share a lot and also compromise. In addition, many people think that only in a relationship can they lead a happy life. You only feel “whole” in pairs.

As mentioned at the beginning, the neural networks in the brain play a special role. “Relationship” is interconnected with almost all areas of life. It takes a long time and lots of new impulses to wean ourselves off.

Add to this the shame and shame of not having made the relationship or a good family life. This is usually paired with a weakened self-esteem of not being enough and of not having met one's own requirements. Many people also experience that they fall out of their familiar social environment.

Be it that you are judged by friends or family and they break off contact. You can also be excluded from the common environment by your ex-partner. Often, in order to protect yourself, you have to leave your previous social life yourself.

We observe that the dynamics of separations often turn around. In the relationship, you blame the other for the failure. After a breakup, most people look to themselves to blame and weaken themselves through self-reproach and self-doubt. Here advice and our group offer help significantly to regain self-love and a stable trust in yourself.

In some people, a breakup also triggers a narcissistic offense, the ego reacting with anger and anger. Some begin to stalk the ex-partner and, in bad cases, even threaten them. In the end, you hurt yourself more than the other.

Through anger, one continues to be connected to the person who has left one instead of breaking away from them. Sometimes men in particular can even react to the rejection with physical violence. Healing only succeeds in letting go, not in clinging. In whatever direction. Some do the opposite and begin to idealize the ex-partner. We support our clients in developing a realistic view of the past.

Lovesickness lasts differently - in separation pain you always go through four phases

Lovesickness depends on the depth and course of the relationship. How the breakup ended also plays a role. Basically: it takes as long as it takes! Putting yourself under pressure doesn't make sense and disrupts the grieving process. To get over a breakup, you have to grieve.

It used to be common that z. B. a widow wore black for a year. In doing so, she expressed her pain. Allowing the sadness and the tears is important. It is just as important to do something that for a moment does not remind you of what happened.

That feels good and these moments usually get longer and longer if you plan them consciously.
In our society we are expected to function again as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this pressure means that our wounds cannot heal because we are not allowed to care for them adequately. Our soul needs time!

If, however, after more than one or two years the pain continues to overwhelm us unbroken, then one can usually conclude that it has something to do with earlier experiences, mostly from childhood. The trauma of separation meets and awakens a previous trauma. This also explains why we feel like young children in a breakup process: alone and lonely and unable to survive.

Four phases after a breakup

The pain of a breakup starts immediately. As with a physical injury, we feel less at first because the body wants to protect itself. Basically one speaks of four phases after a separation.

  • Shock phase
  • Emotional chaos
  • Broadening your perspective
  • Reorientation

These phases are not linear and sometimes, as in drama, there is a retarding element. If you think you have overcome the worst and are already in the reorientation phase, you are triggered by something and can be thrown back for hours or even days.

Tears and sadness rule us like the day after the breakup. Triggers, i.e. triggers, can be smells, places, pictures, people and much more. This is completely normal, because nothing is more interconnected and networked in the brain than a relationship.

Over time, the intervals between the bad phases increase and the time of suffering decreases. Until one has fully arrived in the new life. At the latest when you can look at your ex-partner neutrally, you have completely overcome your heartache.

Draw an interim balance sheet - a separation takes place in small steps

In the process of dealing with the separation and the pain, one should draw an interim balance. Often it is still old projected expectations that bind us to the other. After a while you can ask yourself the question "Is he or she really the only one who makes me happy?"

Anyone who has only invested in the relationship breaks up completely when the partnership is gone. This can happen to men and women alike.
It is therefore essential for us that we encourage those affected to new experiences.

They support you in your search. It's part of the process of slowly gaining new experiences. No matter where. In a singing club, in a hiking group, a yoga group, a trip, sport. Do something that you didn't do before because the partnership didn't allow it. If you have several stable pillars in life, you get out faster.

Get out of the pain of separation sustainably and well

The most important thing is the grief work. To do this, you first have to accept what happened and that it is over. Hope is a bad advisor. Many of those affected ask us what they can do to ensure that the partner comes back. Hope prolongs the pain.

What can a new, good life look like? It is important for those affected that they practice directing their attention back to the present instead of the past. It helps a lot to get into the here and now. In this way, those affected gradually develop a feeling for themselves again. We help to direct attention away from the ex-partner and instead towards the future.

In the initial period of separation, those affected spend countless hours analyzing why it is over, what their fault was. You analyze the ex-partner. Often he or she is also pathologized. It is easier to be abandoned by someone you consider disturbed than to accept that the person has chosen to leave.

Time heals wounds, it is popularly said and it is true. Grief work takes time. But of course there is a lot that can be done to speed up this process.

Supportive steps in the event of a breakup


We support active letting go. In some cases, we even advise total abstinence: no meetings with the ex-partner, or, when it comes to children, only as much as is organizationally necessary. Many who leave offer friendship to the abandoned, or even wish to do so. We advise against that.

At least for the time of mourning and the process of detachment, when one is suffering. Every encounter triggers again and triggers feelings of longing. As I said, think of it like addicts. If you want to get away from the drug, you have to avoid it completely.

Social media contacts are also a big topic these days. People who have been abandoned tend to observe the ex on Facebook or Instagram. The best thing is to go out, switch off, defreeze.

It is also good to either give away memories, pictures, maybe special furniture or other things that you associate with people, or at least to put them away. It's in good hands in the basement. Once you have overcome the pain, you can always pull it out again.

Be in touch with others

It is important not to lose contact with other people. Don't withdraw. Talking and sharing is essential. With friends, with family. Or even in consulting and our group. That is why we also offer the separation group, among other things. Everyone here knows these feelings and the situations.

In the group you don't have to be embarrassed, you get empathy and also some helpful tips. Above all, however, you are not alone. You can also see how things are changing with the others, who may already be in a different phase.

Focus on the positive

Above all, we encourage the participants to tell positive things. What did I do? What has changed? In the first round of introductions, for example, we ask the participants not only to talk about the separation, but also encourage them to tell what they like to do, what they are good at.

In doing so, we also draw attention to other things. This is important for the current identity. Because people in the separation process tend to only define themselves more through it.

We also encourage you to keep a gratitude diary. To write down three things to be grateful for every day. And most of them manage to do that, even if they are barely desperate and sad and confused. Here, too, there is a different focus.

Strengthening self-worth / mindfulness

Anything that helps strengthen self-worth and self-care will help. Do something good for yourself. To move the focus from “we” and “us” to “me” and “me”. Therefore, it is not at all advisable to rush into a new relationship right away. It is good to come to terms with yourself.

Find happiness in yourself. If you can do that, you go into the next relationship in a completely different way and with a new and healthy self-worth. If you are hurt and needy, it is not a good basis for a new relationship.

It is important to learn to treat yourself with appreciation and self-love. We often do small mindfulness exercises in groups. Arrive at yourself. We encourage you to try out meditation at home or in a class.

Meditation, in whatever form, can often change a lot very quickly. Also get moving. Run, hike, swim. Exercise produces dopamine - the happiness hormone. We become more motivated again and gain drive. Life no longer seems so gray and gloomy.

Get professional help

When friends and family reach their limits in “comforting”. When you yourself have the feeling that you cannot deal with the pain and become depressed. When you realize that it is also about older injuries that come up in the course of the separation.

Then you should seek professional help and use it for personal development. In counseling, you can better deal with what you have experienced. Unprocessed topics prevent you from coming into full strength and being happy. Very often existential life issues depend on a separation.

You become aware of your own impermanence. One begins to take stock.One has to ask, what do I actually want to do with the rest of my life? Who am I? What makes me Counseling is helpful when the issues are too big, when you notice that you cannot cope with them on your own because you are too weak from grief.

Who suffers more? Men or women?

The pain is the same for everyone. No matter whether men or women, whether old or young. But there are tendencies for different coping strategies. Basically, gender plays less of a role. It's more about the personality structure. Just as you have learned to deal with challenges, so do you deal with a separation situation. Are you more active and optimistic? Or one rather withdraws, tends to be depressed and victimized.

Socialization plays an essential role. Men have learned to talk less about themselves. They suppress more, often enter new relationships more quickly, or drown their pain. So men suffer the same way - they just have a different way of dealing with their feelings. We can currently read the saddest cases in the media when men kill their wives in marriage and separation quarrels.

Women usually have a larger network of social contacts. Women feel more sorry for themselves, in a victim attitude.

Around two thirds of the groups are women and one third are men because men are more reluctant to seek help.

A good relationship doesn't come about by itself

Love is very fragile and cannot be taken for granted. It doesn't work according to the motto: once in love, always in love. Couples also need to invest energy and attention for a good relationship.
Above all, love cannot be forced. If a constant love is to grow, then couples should pay attention to two moments.

  • People need freedom to develop. Every healthy relationship is a relationship with independent people. A good relationship balances give and take. Often psychological or material dependence is confused with love.
  • Most of the time, when we talk about love, it is about loving. But just as important is the ability to accept love and be loved. That sounds a little paradoxical now, because who does not want to be loved? But we often see people who are afraid of closeness and intimacy. These people protect themselves, they do not show themselves with their whole being and thus remain at a distance for their partner (s).

Couples who have a good relationship shape their lives together. They are actively related to each other. you

  • talk to each other
  • cope well with incompatibilities and discrepancies
  • can deal productively with unpleasant feelings
  • are ready to get involved and want to discover new things in the other
  • but are also in good contact with yourself
  • stay curious about your counterpart
  • Always dare to tread new paths
  • pay attention to their sexuality and are ready to invest in good eroticism
  • See everyday sex as just as important as special sex

Separation outpatient clinic

Sabrina Limbeck and Beatrix Roidinger run the separation clinic in Vienna. It is an open group where help can be given to people who are going through a painful breakup or who are lovesick. The two life and social counselors also provide individual counseling to people who are in a crisis due to a separation.