Why are breakups so hard?

The Real Reason Why Breakups Are Emotionally Devastating

Why are breakups so hard?

Every day, in my inbox, on my Facebook and Instagram accounts, and in person from my friends, I am hit with stories of heartbreak and emotional devastation. I receive countless questions wanting to know where it all went wrong and how to get him back.

Breakups are savage beasts. They rip you apart from the inside out and the pain can almost be unbearable. But have you ever stopped to think about why that is? Why do they wreck us so spectacularly?

A lot of women believe the pain is caused by not having this amazing guy anymore. They believe his absence is causing the pain and thus, getting him back will take the pain away. However, this isn’t necessarily the case and the real reason can often go a little deeper.

As humans, we all have the same core fundamental desires. Some desires feed our animal self (food, water, shelter) while other fuel our emotional needs (love, appreciation, respect). Most of the trouble we experience in life happens when we identify a desire for something or someone outside of ourselves.

The desire to be loved is a universal one. In most relationships, the high experienced is really that of our desire being fulfilled. We cleave to that person, not always because of who they are, but because of how they make us feel (loved, or at least, worthy of love).

If you’re a little shaky in your sense of self-love, then the other person fulfills that void and he comes to represent self-love for you. When he leaves, the devastation is immense. Not only is this person gone, but he also took something fundamental to your very existence, your sense of worth and your need to feel loved.

When a relationship dies it’s so easy to get caught up in longing. You long for the other person, believing he was the perfect man for you. You may also enter into a destructive cycle of replaying every single event in the relationship trying to figure out what you did to mess things up.

The important thing to remember here is it isn’t him you’re missing. The fact that the relationship ended is all the proof you need that this wasn’t the right person for you. What you’re longing for is that love and sense of fulfillment. Realizing this is helpful because it will help you realize that there is an end in sight and that the antidote won’t come through getting back together with him.

It’s also important to realize that trying to figure out where things went wrong is a complete waste of your time. It wasn’t anything you said or did, it was the fact that you relied on him to give you something that only you can provide for yourself.

This topic strikes a particularly strong chord with me due to personal experience.

I once fell very hard for a man that was very wrong for me. On paper, this guy was a mess. He was depressed, unemployed, broke, selfish, and unable to see beyond is own issues to connect with me in a real way.

So what the heck was I doing in this relationship? Well, when I was with him I felt special. Despite his flaws, he could have had his pick of women (now what does that say about us ladies? Hmm … separate topic!) and he chose me. It didn’t matter that he didn’t treat me the way I knew I deserved to be treated or that he didn’t appreciate me in the way that I knew any other guy would. I was the one he wanted to spend his time with, I was the one he came to with his problems, I was the one he opened up to more than anyone else in this world.

While he couldn’t love me in the way I wanted to be loved, he still loved me in the only way he was capable of giving love, and that was enough to keep me around. I was unhappy in the relationship, but it didn’t matter. I was loved. 

When the relationship ended, I was a disaster. Rather than taking the time to work on myself, I ruminated over every single aspect of the relationship, trying to figure out what I had done wrong and why I was suddenly no longer worthy of his time or his love.

Since I had no inherent sense of self-worth to fall back on, I continued to outsource the task of gaining self-esteem by going out and trying to attract as much male attention as I could. I would get high off of being “wanted” by guys.

Suffice to say this sort of thing didn’t heal my wounds, it only made me seek out more validation, like a junkie on a constant quest for the next fix. And it didn’t matter how many guys wanted me, at the end of the day, there was only one person’s approval I still longed for (his). No amount of attention or compliments could ever compensate for the fact that the love of my life was gone, and with it, any sense of self-love I once possessed.

In time, I realized that he wasn’t the missing ingredient in my life; self-love was. It took some time, and a lot of inner work, but eventually I did learn to love myself for exactly who I was. When that happened, I could finally see that failed relationship for the toxic mess it really was and I no longer felt any pain or any longing. I had come to a magical place where the only question I had left was: What was I thinking?

People who know their worth and genuinely love themselves can move on from experiences with their heads held high. They don’t see a breakup as a personal failure or as a sign that they aren’t enough. They can look back and say, “I had trouble opening up in this relationship. I’ll work on it so I can be better in my next relationships, “ as opposed to, “I’m emotionally dead inside and can’t open up and I’ll never find love because of it.”

Getting your ex back isn’t going to solve anything until you heal what’s within and take responsibility for the healing. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Sabrina Bendory is a writer and entrepreneur. She is the author of You’re Overthinking It, a definitive book on dating and self-love.

Keep up with Sabrina on Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, TikTok and linktr.ee