A recent study on the effects of a relationship breakup by Binghamton University, New York, has found that while the breakup hits women the hardest emotionally and physically, they tend to recover better than men, who never fully recover.
A breakup or divorce often leads the individuals into ambiguous territory. Everything is disrupted: routine and responsibilities, home, relationship with the extended family and friends and, in some cases, part of who one is. In many cases it leads to a lot of questions about what future has in store. These unknowns often seem worse than an unhappy relationship.
Just as individuals experience exhilaration and euphoria during honeymoon, when people feel ‘indestructible’ or ‘on top of the world’, soon after breakup they may feel like they have hit rock bottom.
According to Stephen Gullo, author of Loveshock: How to Recover from a Broken Heart and Love Again, heartbroken individuals make mistakes, called love pitfalls. These are temporary ways of dealing with the immediate pain. Unfortunately, some of the decisions or actions taken in this state of mind can be detrimental.
Gullo categorised these pitfalls as:
1. Hanging on: Not wanting to let go of the relationship mentally, emotionally or physically. This is acted out in three stages.
a) Obsessive thinking: being unable to focus on anything other than one’s ex-mate. Accidental meetings are arranged, letters of remorse are sent, etc.
b) Revenge loving: the ‘victim’, hurt at being rejected, considers oneself as a rejectee and hastily jumps into another relationship.
c) Magnifying: self-pity is at the core of this pitfall. The ‘victim’ convinces himself that his ex is having a great time while he is suffering.
2. Rebounding: ‘The forlorn lovers’ fill up their lives with numerous relationships to avoid emotional pain.
3. Moth-to-flaming: Closer the moth gets to the flame the more is its likelihood of getting hurt. The rejectee begs to be taken back and tries to reintegrate himself or herself into the other person’s life.
4. Escaping through excesses: Resorting to drugs and alcohol to numb pain and to compensate for one’s loss. This pitfall affects adversely and one only loses control instead of regaining it.
5. Comparison shopping: When trying to start a new relationship, comparisons are made constantly to the former love in a bid to avoid being vulnerable to pain again or to look for excuses to reject as the other person does not match up to the ex.
Remember you are responsible only for your behaviour. You cannot make the other person change unless they want to. Recognise these pitfalls so that you may learn to cope and move on. Jumping into a relationship immediately post breakup is not the solution. Individuals owe it to themselves to take the time they require to deal with the pain, loss and frustration they may be feeling. Ignoring the pressure cooker is fine for the first few whistles, but we all know what eventually will happen if it is left unattended.