Love Galore: The Neuroscience of Heartbreak.

The higher you climb, the harder you fall. However, along the same lines, the higher the peak, the better view. This applies analogously to the laws of physics as it does to business, life, and most importantly, love. Truly, the more you love, the more it hurts. But did you also know that the more you love, the more you live? “Love galore” is a Gen-Z term that directly translates to “love in abundance”, or love in its most bountiful state. This revelation has become a salient movement that encourages the youth to essentially hook up with no strings attached. We all strive for financial independence and personal autonomy to some capacity, and so I’m not here to judge the movement that’s so prominent in today’s music whatsoever. They have to get their coins and sex sells. However, isn’t love that’s sufficient enough to be aplenty what we all aim to feel to some extent in this lifetime? Real love? Unconditional love that is filled with radiance, warmth and ultimate delight? Is that not what the “dream” love galore is? Who doesn’t want that? I don’t know about you, but I personally prefer a “You can get it for the rest of your life,” type of love. Most people in our viral (and toxic) hook-up culture(s) today are stuck in situationships and fake hook-up relationships that don’t go anywhere. A huge percentage of people, men and women alike, are stuck in past relationships and are literally emotionally incapable of forming new relationships. The rest are hopeless and just don’t know what it takes to have the type of partner that they wish to have “one day.” It’s a peculiar dynamic, dating in 2023. Nevertheless, as Newton would say, a body in motion stays in motion, while a body at rest, stays at rest. We must move onward and upwards irregardless of what life throws at us. Everything is not sweet and sugar-coated. I’m personally learning that although I’ve been given a very distinct set of circumstances that are filled with harmonies of emotion, it is up to me to decide which emotions I want to tend to. I always heard that having boundaries was essential to building meaningful connections, but this has undoubtedly been the biggest piece of advice that has saved me lots of time and heartbreak! That being said, let’s get into the Neuroscience of Heartbreak.

In today’s topic, we are going to be addressing the psychological, biological and neuro-chemical logic behind heartbreak. According to scientists, there is a very specific reason why heartbreaks hurt and why you feel so miserable after cutting ties with someone you had formed a (deep) physical or emotional connection with. British Dr. Deborah Lee MD says, “When you fall in love, there is a natural outpouring of hormones,” she told Live Science. These include the ‘cuddle’ hormone oxytocin and the ‘feel-good’ hormone dopamine. But when you fall out of love, levels of oxytocin and dopamine drop, while at the same time there is an increase in levels of one of the hormones responsible for stress — cortisol.” As I’ve already discussed in multiple articles in, oxytocin plays a major role in making individuals feel connected to one another, or rather, “attached”. It gives us feelings of trust amongst one another and allows certain “feel good” neurotransmitters to be released, much like dopamine. Oxytocin is often released during sex, particularly for women, while dopamine, on the other hand, is a critical neurotransmitter and hormone that plays an essential role in rewards and motivation. When dopamine is released, the individual feels like they want more of whatever released that dopamine – much like a drug. This is why when someone you deeply care about suddenly starts acting distant or ends things, you might feel rejected, neglected and like you want to chase them even further – because in your brain, they have something that makes you genuinely feel good. However, one thing that I’ve learned first-hand is that it is sooo important to not chase. Acknowledge that you are experiencing the emotions that you are experiencing, meditate/reflect on what those feelings mean, and MOVE ON! Don’t call them, don’t text them. Think about that annoying person who is always contacting you when you don’t want to talk. Don’t be that person! Walk away with grace despite how desperately you might want to surrender your heart and emotions to them. Don’t allow yourself to get involved in your feelings. The more you trick your brain into desensitizing from the person causing you heartbreak, the faster the healing period. And trust me, you do not want to lengthen your healing period because you are just wasting time at that point.

We’ve all heard of the stress response “fight or flight”, but did you know that a part of the brain called the amygdala is responsible for this response? This same part of the brain is responsible for the acute stress reaction that you might experience during heartbreak. Acute Stress Reaction is a response to stressors that may include transient emotional, somatic, cognitive or behavioral symptoms such as being in a daze, confusion, sadness, anxiety, anger, despair, overactivity, inactivity, social withdrawal, amnesia, depersonalization, derealisation, or stupor. Acute stress disorder (ASD) is an intense and unpleasant reaction that develops in the weeks following a traumatic event such as an accident or even a break up. Symptoms typically last for one month or less. If symptoms persist beyond one month, affected individuals are considered to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most people overlook heartbreak because it is in the “love” arena of life and that doesn’t have “scientific basis”, but when you start observing it’s effects objectively from a neuro-scientific point-of-view, you realize that heartbreak can indeed play a major role in depression, anxiety, ASD, PTSD, and many other psychological disorders that science often overlooks or doesn’t have a root explanation for. This is my hypothesis: If more people are walking around heartbroken and despondent in life, then the world is ultimately transmitting this heartbreak infection amongst each other, and it is causing major emotional havoc and even leading to untreatable disorders such as depression. I truly believe that there is a direct correlation between how people are handling love and relationships in these modern hook-up culture times, and I hope more studies are done on this topic in the near future.

Lastly, the neurobiological effects of heartbreak can reach such heights that it has been likened to that of physical pain as evidenced both by self-reported physical symptoms, such as chest pain and panic attacks, and sufferers’ description of their feelings, such as feeling knocked-out or crushed. Social rejection, such as breaking up with a partner, also activates areas of the brain associated with physical pain, noted a 2011 study in the journal Biological Sciences. Participants who had recently been “dumped” were shown a picture of their ex-partner. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans found that areas of the brain usually associated with physical injury, including the secondary somatosensory cortex and dorsal posterior insula, were activated. In my Neuroscience class, we learn that it is because of insula that people are able to perceive pain and have the awareness about their body and self, or to have consciousness. When we consider that this region of the brain is affected significantly during effects such as a breakup, it then makes sense why some people make poor decisions or even have negative perceptions of themselves and others while grieving an ended relationship. I’d like to think that Neuroscience can explain the basis of everything. For me, having scientific logic and reasoning behind certain concepts is important because it allows me to visualize and understand that I am not “overreacting”, but rather, acting in accordance to my previous and current emotions. I am a huge advocate that failure is neither fatal nor final, and so I’m always trying to learn how to overcome failure whether that’s in my academic, professional or love life. That being said, I really hope you learned a thing or two about the neuroscience behind heartbreak. The main takeaways were that heartbreak can activate a fight or flight response in the sympathetic system of the nervous system, there are many chemicals that are released during heartbreak, and finally, a piece of advice, set boundaries for yourself in your relationships, follow through with them, and do not turn back. Decide what you want and who you aspire to be, and find someone who aligns with those values – not vice versa. Forming boundaries and learning when to walk away will save your heart break because your time won’t be invested in unrequited love – a topic that deserves a blog post of its own. Nevertheless, I love y’all Royalty Family. Thank you for Supporting my Art by reading this content.

With love,

s. Rahaka.


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