The feelings you have after breaking up with a lover is very similar to the withdrawal symptoms after giving up coffee, cigarettes, or alcohol. There is actually a period of psychological and physical withdrawal.
The solution to overcoming breakup withdrawal is the same: Abstinence! You’ve got to completely cut off all contact and use. And you’ve got to do this until you’ve regained your emotional and physical equilibrium.
Anyone who has ever been through a painful break up is familiar with the emotional withdrawal symptoms. They are depression, anxiety, irritability, confusion, insomnia, bad dreams, fatigue, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fear. If you look up the withdrawal symptoms for the other things I mentioned, they are mostly the same as these. I believe that there are also physical withdrawal symptoms after a breakup that is similar as well.
After you get used to receiving those feel-good sensations when you hug, hold, kiss, and have sex with your partner and then suddenly these are taken away you can experience physical withdrawal symptoms. Although these expressions of affection may have become sick dependencies because the relationship has become unhealthy, you can still get a “fix” from them. Here’s how it works.
Your brain has become accustom to getting the stimuli that produce those feel-good sensations. I would propose that your brain chemistry and wiring has adapted to these in the same way as it does with the repetitive use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. I find it interesting that people often refer to their addiction to one of these drugs as a love affair.
You will not be able to see the toll that the relationship is taking on your physical and mental health until you’re away from it for a while. Once the withdrawal is over and you’re no longer receiving the poisonous feed from your toxic relationship, you’ll start to feel good in a way that you haven’t for perhaps years! You will have returned to a normal feel-good state that you had probably forgotten about. The same thing happens when you give up coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs.
The method for breaking the addiction is the same as with other substances. To break your addiction to a person (or relationship) after a breakup you must completely remove them and all reminders of them from your life. Each time you give in to your cravings and get a fix by contacting or meeting them, you’ll need to restart the process. But you won’t be starting from the beginning. You will have gained some strength and knowledge on how to deal with the withdrawal symptoms.
Just like you can’t drink wine to deaden the pain when you’re withdrawing from an addiction to whiskey, you can’t deaden the pain of losing someone by being with another person. It doesn’t work. You’ve got to go completely through the withdrawal before you’ll be able to truly enjoy a new relationship.
How long does it take? That depends on how long you were with your ex and the depth of your relationship. I have found that the circumstances of the break up make very little difference in how you feel. If you once loved them deeply, it doesn’t matter who the bad person is. It still hurts either way.
As with any withdrawal, things get better each day that you’re free from the source of your addiction. The first few days are the hardest. And weekends and holidays can be difficult for a while as well, but it’s doable.
Instead of running away from the pain, embrace it! Use it for self-discovery. Use it to fuel self-improvement projects. I describe how to do this in this article entitled, “Breaking Up: How to Ride the Pain to Gain.”
Here’s what to do during your withdrawal.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Put major decisions on hold.
- Remove all reminders of your ex.
- Train your thoughts away from your ex.
- Exercise daily.
- Get lots of rest.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Read inspiring books.
- Start envisioning your future.
- Begin self-improvement projects.
In a few weeks, you’ll begin to feel an exhilarating sense of freedom. You’ll not only feel free from your ex, but you’ll also feel free from the unrelenting craving to start another relationship as quickly as possible.
It’s really quite a wonderful adventure. Just don’t spoil it by letting your ex back into your life. Until you completely regain your strength, sense of self, and courage avoid them like the plague.
You might be able to be friends with your ex someday, but not now. You can be kind to them. Just don’t make any further investments in your relationship right now. Once you’re completely through your withdrawal, you can begin the process of negotiating the “new” terms of your relationship if you want.
I find it best to break away completely for an extended period regardless of how friendly your break up may have been. I think this is best because during the withdrawal your brain and emotions are not working normally. Once they are, you’ll feel your brain power and emotional strength return.
I have discovered that there two guarantees after a breakup. There will be significant personal growth and the next relationship will be better than the last. 🙂