I know, I know. That headline seems ridiculous and probably very irritating if you’re currently going through a breakup and I’m not being naive and completely ignorant to the painful feelings that follow. It’s hard and will be hard for a while, but like most things if we understand why something impacts us, maybe we can understand what we need to do next to feel better and cope. Of course there’s the usual suspects. It was someone you loved, someone you thought you’d be with forever or someone you thought would never hurt you but did. But when you think about how many relationships start and fail in the world and how many people pick themselves up to find happiness again, this should make you feel hopeful.
If you’ve already cried an ocean of tears, eaten tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and watched four new TV series in the space of two weeks, there needs to be a next step. Understanding why your heart and head are reacting the way they are could help you make sense of your emotions and needs.
Love expert Kathryn Alice is a bestselling author, who writes breakthrough material and talks about dating and love. She explains that breaking up is so difficult because you are “letting go of a romantic attachment. Detaching from another person is extremely hard and explains why sometimes it takes years to get over a heartbreak.”
Think about it. If you’re a baby, you get attached to your parents or whoever your primary caregiver may be and that attachment stays with you forever. This happens for everyone, and Alice says that “babies who don’t make that critical attachment tend not to thrive, sometimes even to the point of death.” This doesn’t change just because we now drink coffee and have jobs… we still have similar feelings.
“We see attachment as a constant in our lives, determining where we live, who we spend time with and who we fall in love with. One of the reasons letting go is so tough is attachment. We’re hardwired to become attached as children, but as adults, we must learn to let go. For some, it’s a daunting process and can be extremely painful,” explains Ms. Alice. Ouch. That actually makes sense though, because the process of letting go hurts regardless of the situation. It’s very rare that we leave a relationship or friendship and feel completely content and relieved. While there may be an element of that, the majority of what we feel is alone or hurt.
So, what’s the problem with attachment? Alice says it’s that: “you can’t turn it off like a light switch. When romance is not working, many stay in the relationship just to avoid the pain of detaching.” That’s why sometimes we stay in situations despite knowing they aren’t quite right for us. We don’t want to start again. We don’t want the pain of letting go or the pain of losing someone. These feelings are totally normal and typical but it’s about knowing when to detach for your own sake and realising that sometimes being scared to let go will cause you even more pain in the long run.
Take some time to yourself to try and understand your feelings and rationalise them. If you can make sense of them, hopefully you’ll be able to trust yourself to make the right choice for you. If this leads to a breakup, we know you have the strength and courage to get through it. YOU are enough.