Tom and I broke up a few weeks before he was due to start medical school. We had known each other since childhood but had been dating for just 10 days before he moved down from Connecticut to Pennsylvania and into my small one-bedroom apartment.
A few months later, we were planning our wedding, deliberating what guest favors we would choose (DIY terrariums were under consideration), and stopping in at jewelers to try on engagement rings.
I was elated, effervescent, convinced he was “the one.” Then all of a sudden, we were on the rocks.
Arguments interrupted even the briefest phone conversations. One afternoon at the end of my workday, eight months after our relationship began, I found myself sitting in my parked car, dialing his number in a moment of panic and confusion. In the nights that followed, I had the dramatic push-pull experience that everyone experiences immediately following a breakup: on top of the world and triumphant in my decision one moment, certain that my ex would come crawling back, confident that I had made the right call, and then suddenly heartbroken, afraid, and completely numb, somehow all simultaneously. I sat by my window and listened to “A Case of You” on repeat. When I spoke to Brian Boutwell, an evolutionary psychologist at St.
Louis University, he gave me some insight into the science behind my sadness.
He said that being in love involves the same neural circuitry as a cocaine addiction.
“Falling in love presents very much like an addictive process,” he told me.
There is a real analogy of the, quote, broken heart.
There’s some physiological rationales behind that thinking.
[Breakups] can jeopardize one’s health.” This description rings true to me: After the breakup, I felt physically ill, exhausted, and devastated.
One of these particularly low moments, I scared myself into anger — at my ex, at myself, at this entire stupid situation.
How dare he not fight harder for this relationship?