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Here’s Why Love Hurts When It Doesn’t Work Out

The pain we feel when love doesn’t work out is just as intense (if not more) as the elation and joy that the presence of love brings in our life. It’s nice to have one’s feelings reciprocated, and when that unfortunately doesn’t happen – especially when it’s someone we love with all of our heart – we become miserable.

Love is great. To put it in the words of Ted Mosby (from hit TV series How I Met Your Mother), “Love is the best thing we do.” But life isn’t peachy and perfect like your favorite sitcom and things don’t always work out like we’d want them to. In real life, the Rachel Green of your dreams may not get off the plane after all. What we’re truly left with is a whole lot of hurt and broken pieces of our heart waiting to be picked back up together.

Suggested read: Why it’s not wrong to hold out for fairytale love in real life

So, why does love hurt us so bad?

While the hurt we feel from a failed relationship is not exactly the same as the pain we feel from a punch in the face, there are more similarities between physical and emotional/social pain than we thought there would be.

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

A few years ago, a group of doctors at the John Hopkins University came across a rare and fatal heart condition caused by excessive emotional pain. The technical term for this condition is “Stress Cardiomyopathy” but it is now popularly known as the “broken heart syndrome,” and professionals think this moniker is not very far from the truth.

Over the years, researches in the field of behavioral sciences have found solid links between physical and emotional pain. Neuroimaging studies have shown that brain regions that are involved in processing physical pain also take part in the processing of emotional distress and pain. In fact, the connection between these two is so strong that over-the-counter painkillers have been found to be effective in significantly lowering emotional pain, in the same way that they affect physical pain. Furthermore, physical and emotional pains share sensory brain regions as well. So, when one goes through a breakup or is rejected by the person of their dreams, the pain they feel is as real as a punch in the face.

A boiling pot of emotions

When we are plagued by a relationship destined for its downfall or faced with the prospect of unreciprocated feelings, the pain we feel in our hearts is a culmination of several emotions imploding simultaneously within us. There is a sense of loss; a feeling of utter dejection; jealousy; the rejection makes our self-esteem and confidence go below the charts; we are lonely and aching for that warmth of human presence and touch; and just very sad. All these come together to form this mammoth ball of negativity, and that, my friends, is the excruciating pain that people who are hurt in love talk about. It’s never just one isolated feeling or emotion, rather a plethora of complex ones.

Dependency on another person

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

When we love someone, we become attached to them. Their existence becomes a part and parcel of our life; we forget what life would be like without them. When that person walks out of our lives, we feel like the air has been knocked out of us, the ground beneath our feet has been yanked out from under us. That sense of familiarity is no longer present. The fear of change and of having to start things anew is another factor as to why love hurts when it doesn’t work out.

The idea of going out there, whether it is in search of someone new or just for starting afresh with our own selves is terrifying and we’d do anything to avoid that. Wallowing in the pits of misery and despair and reliving that failed relationship feels easier then – this gives us an opportunity to spend our time thinking about that person we loved the most and living in denial of the life we are meant to be living.

Suggested read: To the one who is afraid to love me as I am

Why does love hurt? Because of the fixation

It is a human tendency to fixate on things that don’t work out instead of moving on and focusing on aspects of our lives that do seem to work fine. Fixating on a failed relationship brings nothing but more pain and gloom. We fixate to the point of it becoming an obsession, wondering where we went wrong and why things didn’t work out the way we thought they would. This results in us constantly scrutinizing every aspect of our relationship with that person, trying to find some clue which might point us to the actual reason.

woman thinking_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

We look for closure in places we won’t ever find any; we are critical of our own selves, blaming ourselves for everything that went wrong. One might also be overtly critical of the person who left, which isn’t fair to them either. Everyone has their reasons, and sometimes things just aren’t meant to work out. The sooner we realize this, the better it will be for us.

Emotional hurt takes time to heal

We have seen how emotional pain and physical pain activate the same sensory regions of the brain and have similar effects on us; but the key difference between the two is that emotional pain isn’t as easy to cure as physical pain. There isn’t exactly a cure for it anyway. The most we can do is give it time and let it fade to the deepest, darkest corners of our mind and hopefully we won’t have to dig it up ever again.

The hurt we feel never really goes but at least we can give a shot at trying to make ourselves happy for once and make an effort to forget the pain. Of course, the love we feel for them will never really vanish; remnants of it will remain within us and every time someone mentions their name or we come across a social media post made by them, there will be that familiar pang of pain. But there’s nothing that we can do about it, really. Life goes on, people drift apart, and we do end up making the space for new people in our lives sooner or later.

Moving on

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Image source: Pinterest

Time has the power to heal the most painful, toughest of wounds, and it shall heal ours too. The only way out of a failed relationship is to move on. Isolating oneself from friends, family, work, hobbies, and life in general and brooding over your loss is not an ideal solution. You need to pull yourself together, dust off those wounds, and stand back up with your head held high, ready to face the world again. We all have something in life that we’ve failed at, something broken and in need of fixing. But all broken things aren’t necessarily fixed. After a certain point, you need to let it go and make room for newer things in life.

Reconnect with your friends, visit your family more often, pursue that hobby of yours that you’ve been meaning to for a while, go on a road trip, finish off your work assignments earlier than your deadline. You have one life to live and there are far better things to do than being depressed over someone who didn’t understand you or love you back. Life is too short to hold on to past grudges and pains.

The only way to move on is to let go. Imagine yourself walking towards a wild blue ocean, the waves hitting you harder the further you walk. Let the waves wash off the soreness from your aching heart; let yourself be consumed by life and all the experiences that it has to offer you.

Suggested read: Unrequited love is a pain you give yourself

Getting back out there

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Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Even after you’ve moved on, it might still be difficult for you to put yourself out there completely. Like I said before, the pain only fades, never fully disappears. You might be more guarded and apprehensive about letting people get closer to you lest they hurt you again like the last person who did. But in an effort to protect yourself, you might end up missing out on someone who’d truly understand and accept you for the person you are.

Remember that there is always enough good in this world to balance out the bad. The courageous thing to do here would be to bare your heart and soul, know yourself inside out and let people see and know the person you truly are; accept your flaws (they make you an individual different from others) and believe that you are good and true and beautiful, even if no one else is ready to yet. Never stop loving the world and yourself.

Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Article Name
Why Does Love Hurt When It Doesn’t Work Out?
So why does love hurt? It's inevitable that you hurt when it doesn't work out. But how you react after the fact is very important.
Sanjukta Bose

Sanjukta Bose

I'm 18 years old. I enjoy reading, writing, and watching good movies. I'm passionate about words, food, and music. I'm slightly introverted but I enjoy the company of people too. On weekends, I like to stay up all night reading poetry. Slightly awkward with a nihilistic sense of humor.