5 Horrible Things Heartbreak Is A Whole Lot Like

5 Horrible Things Heartbreak Is A Whole Lot Like

You don't have to be a scientist to conclude that breaking up sucks. But it may comfort you to know that your urge to go into post-breakup hibernation while listening to Lana Del Rey on repeat is actually a scientifically reasonable reaction to having your heart broken.

In fact, according to the science, heartbreak is a whole lot like:

1. A minor burn.


The same part of your brain lights up when you think about a lover who rejected you as when you suffer a minor burn wound, according to a 2013 study from the University of Michigan. The scientists behind the study explain that the emotional pain of rejection can have a direct physical effect on the body. Basically, your post-breakup aches and pains are so not all in your head.

2. Drug withdrawal.


"Intense romantic love seems to function much like an addiction," according to Arthur Aron, Ph.D., a professor at Stony Brook University. Aron found that broken-hearted people have similar brain activity to drug addicts going through chemical withdrawal, which he says can help explain "why feelings and behaviors related to romantic rejection are difficult to control." Still, scientists caution that those addictive feelings are never an excuse for bad post-breakup behavior.

3. An identity crisis.

man blank name tag

Breakups can seriously affect your sense of self, making your identity feel less "clear" and even smaller, according to three studies from Northwestern University. The authors write, "Not only may couples come to complete each others' sentences, they may actually come to complete each others' selves." When you're no longer part of a couple, your own personal identity may start to feel blurry.

4. A contagious illness.


According to a study led by Rose McDermott of Brown University, divorces can have a "ripple effect," and you are 75 percent more likely to get a divorce if you have a friend who is divorced. The researchers conclude that your friends' unhealthy relationships and heartbreaks can undermine the security of your own relationship. So depending on your social circle, your breakup may feel like something you "caught" from someone else, simply because you and your partner picked up friends' bad relationship vibes.

5. Intense hatred.

angry cat

You're not crazy: There's an actual biological explanation for your burning desire to key your ex's car. As famous anthropologist Helen Fisher writes in the book "Cut Loose," hatred, rage and love are closely connected in the brain. When your love circuits get interrupted, your rage circuit gets triggered, and "the brain can easily turn romantic love to fury." Because the two feelings arouse the brain and body in very similar ways, Fisher says, you can actually feel both love and hatred simultaneously.

Make no mistake, heartbreak can make you feel kind of crazy -- and a lot of it is programmed right into your DNA -- but it doesn't have to rule you. Check out our divorce care package series and start learning how to heal.

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All images are Getty unless otherwise indicated.

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Before You Go

Louis C.K.
"Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it's true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married and ... they just had a great thing and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times," he said.
Chelsea Peretti
"My parents divorced when I was one year old so I don’t really remember any of the details, but luckily my mom does so she’s been really helpful," she said.
Larry David
"The best situation is being a single parent. The best part about it is that you get time off, too, because the kids are with their mom, so it's the best of both worlds. There's a lot to be said for it. You get married, you have kids -- you should plan this from the beginning. We're going to have these kids, then we'll get divorced when they're four. All right, six," he said.
John Cleese
"I got off lightly. Think what I’d have had to pay Alyce if she had contributed anything to the relationship -- such as children, or a conversation," he said.
Russell Brand
"When you're a monk, you're not allowed to have sex with anyone. When you're married, it's one person. That's one more than a monk. It's not that different," he said.
Johnny Carson
"The difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that a legal separation gives a husband time to hide his money," he said.
Kathy Griffin
"I had to tell my mom and dad that Matt and I are getting a divorce because they read it in People magazine," she said.
Woody Allen
"I should have known something was wrong with my first wife. When I brought her home to meet my parents, they approved of her," he said.
Robin Williams
"Ah, yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet," he said.

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