Being dumped is a pain at anytime of year. Yet it seems even more hurtful when it happens over Christmas and the New Year. Sadly this season is peak breakup time, and there are plenty of reasons for it. The prime time for being dumped is reputedly during the two weeks before Christmas. Maybe then the realisation of not wanting to introduce a partner to family members is enough to signal the end of a fledgling relationship, or perhaps there’s the expectation tinged with resentment of having to deliver an expensive gift for someone who is not quite ‘the one’.
In the New Year thoughts turn to resolutions and aspirations of how we can improve our lives and reach our goals. It’s undeniable that as part of this ‘out with the old’ attitude comes a sense that a significant improvement could be to move on from a relationship that just isn’t working for one or both of you.
Reflecting on my own experience of being dumped (very unexpectedly) on New Year’s Day by my partner of eight years, the reasons probably make little sense to anyone who’s endured the pain of breakup in these past few days and weeks though. And why should they?
It’s no coincidence that we use physical descriptions to describe emotional pain. “I’m emotionally scarred”, “it was like a kick in the teeth,” “my heart aches” and “I’m heartbroken”. Yet why do we find it so difficult to let ourselves (and others) just be with their hurt for a while?
If you’ve experienced an unwanted break-up recently, we know there’s not much we can say to make you feel better right now, but at least allow yourself to feel the pain and take time to heal until you’re ready to face the world renewed and ready for romance again.
A broken heart is not so different to a broken leg
When you’re in the emotional car-crash equivalent of being dumped, there is no more rationale for you or your friends and family telling you to pull yourself together than if you’d been in a real accident and had a broken leg. That’s because the same part of the brain is stimulated by physical and emotional pain so what you’re feeling during a bad break-up is as real as a physical injury or trauma. In other words, just because no one can see the wounds it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
You can’t always stop your sobbing
It’s also known that a traumatic separation can trigger changes to bodily hormones and these changes can produce feelings of deep sadness, stress, worry and even provoke uncontrollable sobbing. So there’s actually not much you can do to ‘cheer up and get over it’ however much you – and everybody else – wants you to.
Show some compassion – some of us are just more pain sensitive than others
We are all capable of feeling lonely, isolated and rejected but some people feel it more than others. Surprisingly, studies have shown that people who are more sensitive to the pain of rejection are also likely more to have physical symptoms, including actual physical pain. And it works the other way around too – people who suffer from daily physical pain tend to experience more fear of social rejection.
Share the pain
Despite the similarities of physical and emotional pain, there’s still no over-the-counter remedy or surgical procedure to help mend a broken heart. Time, as they say, is a great healer but whatever you do, don’t hide under the duvet for too long. For a genuinely speedy recovery, get re-connected with your friends and family and surround yourself with their love and support just as soon as you can. Although you might not feel like being sociable, the emotional pain caused by loneliness or rejection is an evolutionary strategy designed to drive us towards other people, and the comfort, safety and support you need right now.
And if you really can’t do that, BeLoveCurious is here to listen and give you a big virtual hug. It’s definitely better than a band aid, and let’s face it, there’s only so much chocolate and ice cream anyone can eat alone.