Editor: Katerina Tsitoura
Translation: Fani Avgoustaki
We all have lived through the strange experience of breaking-up. Sometimes we breathe with relief, as we get rid of the annoying feeling of maintaining a relationship out of habit alone, and some other times, it is more painful, we are experiencing the end as a little death, and we mourn for him that we have lost, but mainly we mourn for the part of us that he took with him forever.
Everyone reacts in a very personal way in the curtain of the show called relationship, however the common denominator of most break-ups is the profligate consumption of tissues, watching romantic movies with inglorious end, the compassionate friends’ chat, and in the most desperate cases, the obsession of innumerable calls on the cell phone of the former lover.
It is not a coincidence that Lucy Brown and her colleagues compared love with drug dependence, interpreting in that way, the extreme emotional reactions associated with courtship rejection (most of us cry on the shoulder of friends, while, fortunately, only a minority ends up to clinical depression, suicides and murder!).
A particularly interesting research conducted on the subject “Break-up and its consequences on human psychology” is that of Edward Smith and his colleagues, who once collected a sample of people with fresh in their minds the experience of a break-up, and they attempted to examine the participants’ brain activity via MRI, just when they were looking at photos of former partners and in their minds they were re-living everything they experienced with them. Then, the researchers proceeded to examine the brain activity of the above sample after they had induced them in an exercise of pain in the arm or after viewing photos of friendly individuals in order to determine the relatedness of physical pain with the pain of a break-up.
And I bring in my mind all those examples of friends, their own stories, the sore separations and their decision to turn over a new page in life and I ask myself:
“How some of us are turning over a new page to come back a little later to the same one and we are trying to write on blank lines that don’t exist anymore?”
And to be more explicit:
“What leads us to choose the re-heated food while fresh materials are withering in our refrigerator?”
I remember the story of a friend. Familiar to all of us, maybe…
Chris kept a three years relationship with Stella. From the very first year, he began to complain about lack of communication within their relationship. In the second year the fights seemed more frequent even from the threats of a Grexit from the European Union and in the third they were both lying down on the divan of the psychologist, exhausted by a love that didn’t seem to lead anywhere.
When Chris found the strength to move on, he was blaring to friends, acquaintances, maybe even to unknown passer-by, now that I think about it better, that all three of those years had been black and that finally a huge rainbow was rising into the sky of his life blinding the darkness of the sweltering, bad habit named “Stella”.
The first excitement was followed by the need for experiencing the freedom and jubilation of casual relationships. Then, however, my friend wanted to experience again the warmth of a relationship, or even a more upscale version of this famous warmth.
Then he discovered with surprise that the universe did not respond directly to his wishes and instead, it was landing in his lap failed dates and well-served rejections.
The insecurity of Chris was swelling dangerously and one day as if he transformed to a decisive and self-destructive creature, it grabbed his arm and forced him to form the number of the abhorrent Stella on his phone.
Without wishing to expatiate, the two rivals of the match in the fighting ring they got back together, and they followed the usually prescribed course of such re-connections. The passionate kisses and promises of the grace period succeeded the bitter realization that the ex is still the same person that once did the nervous system to dance in the rhythms of salsa, and the frustration for the second end of a relationship that was directed with mathematical precision to a known and hence safe dead-end.
Every love obeys different rules, of course, and every story is written by another pen. However, we cannot overlook the fact that common denominator of most re-connections is insecurity that allows the memory to work selectively, the force of habit, the fear to operate beyond our usual limits and to compromise with loneliness, even for a while.
Always our own choice.
But, when there are so many errors that await us to succumb to their allure, why do we insist on the same ones?….
Kross, E., Berman, M.G., Mischel, W., Smith, E.E. & Wager, T. (2011). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(15), 6270-6275
Fisher, H. E., Brown, L.L., Aron, A., Strong, G. & Mashek, D. (2010). Reward, Addiction and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated with Rejection in Love. Journal of Neurophysiology. 104: 51-60