Not eating, not being able to sleep, thoughts circling: many of us have had really bad heartbreak. A drastic life crisis, which we feel physically and emotionally. Fortunately, there are ways out of lovesickness – even if it takes time.
- Lovesickness can catch us at any age.
- There are different types of lovesickness.
- Lovesickness consists of four phases.
- What lovesickness causes in the body.
- Why we have lovesickness.
- Lovesickness can make you sick.
- What helps with lovesickness?
- Can one avoid lovesickness altogether?
Much more than a teen feeling
Lovesickness occurs more often at a young age, but it can catch us at any age. So it’s more than just a teen feeling. Men and women are equally affected, but women are more intense and talk more about their suffering.
Men tend to crowd out the loss, plunge into the next relationship quickly – but on average suffer statistically longer than women. This has been found in a worldwide study by Binghamton University.
Men tend to crowd out the loss, plunging into their immediate relationship – and on average suffer statistically longer than women. This has been found in a worldwide study by Binghamton University.
Psychologically, lovesickness is considered an adjustment disorder, reactive depression. Such depressions are an immediate response to a stressful incident and typical of drastic changes in life. They also occur, for example, in the event of sudden unemployment, the departure of adult children, or the death of a family member, that is, whenever a day and life structure collapses.
Lovesickness can hit anyone
Different types of love skin
The psychologist Karl-Heinz Renner distinguishes three types of lovesickness:
- the heartache after a breakup, so the classic lovesickness
- the lovesickness in an existing relationship, for example, when the partner is cheating or there is other stress in the relationship
- the lovesickness with unrequited or unattainable love, the so-called lovesickness: One loves someone without being loved by him, who knows nothing of the secret love or does not know one, for example, a prominent athlete, an actress or the neighbor.
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The phases of lovesickness
A serious heartbreak may well take between 12 and 36 months. As a rule, it runs in four phases, which can overlap or shift. Sometimes a phase does not take place at all.
1. Displacement: One does not want to believe that one of the partners really leaves. One suspects a warning shot, a short-circuit reaction from the partner, but one is sure that he or she will return.
2. Mourning: Anyone who has accepted that love has no future falls into a period of deep mourning, which can increase into depression. Living on is futile, with no prospect of happiness or even a new relationship. Many lovers of love in this phase completely neglected, eat, drink and sleep no longer, are unable to work and to maintain their daily lives.
3. Anger: In this phase, the disappointed realize what the partner has taken from them. They develop true hate feelings on the former lover. With this, they initiate the final farewell.
4. A new beginning: The ex-partner has been overcome. You can re-open yourself to live. There remain scars on the soul but also experiences that can enrich one’s own life and make the next partnership more successful.
Anger is a phase of lovesickness
What love sickness causes in the body
When we love, we feel strong, energetic and almost invulnerable: the brain releases more and more happy hormones like dopamine and oxytocin; the adrenaline output increases, we are always in a state of joy. Brain areas that are responsible for rational thinking have a break – a constellation as in the drug rush.
If love is withdrawn from us, the level of dopamine in the brain drastically drops: we become insecure, depressed, discouraged. Insomnia, lack of appetite and concentration problems torment the lovesick. The adrenal glands increasingly produce the stress hormones norepinephrine and cortisol. Tachycardia, sweating, trembling to occur.
Lovesickness is comparable to serious drug withdrawal, says the US anthropologist Helen Fisher. The body reactions triggered by the lovesickness can attack internal organs such as the heart, lungs, stomach, and kidneys.
Why we have lovesickness
Behind elementary feelings there is always an evolutionary sense: anthropologists suspect that the obvious suffering of the lovesick was originally an indication for the group: “This man needs care and attention!”
In addition, researchers suspect that the phenomenon lovesickness early served as a deterrent to the psyche: who knows how it hurts to be alone, will take care to leave the reproductive partner. This ensures continuity of reproduction and mutual protection in child-rearing.
The neurobiologist Oliver Bosch, a professor at the University of Regensburg, has tested the function and impact of lovesickness in prairie mice: prairie mice live in lifelong relationships. However, male rodents tend to skip when they are foraging.
Bosch let the females disappear from the joint construction in vole-mice. The abandoned males fell into it in listlessness and depressive states. They suffered from a strong heartache and seemed to pursue only one goal: that the disappeared mouse partner may return.
Responsible is the messenger’s dopamine and norepinephrine, which served in the course of evolution actually, as desperate as energetic to recall a lost mother. With the same existential force abandoned people – and also prairie mice – try to recapture the partner.
Even prairie mice suffer from lovesickness
Lovesickness can make you sick, promote alcohol abuse and have a destructive effect: According to studies by the University of Vienna, 45 percent of all those who suffer from heartache have suicidal thoughts. And many make it true: In adolescents and young adults, failed love is the most common reason for suicide.
It is particularly tragic when other people are taken to death, so if the ex-partner or the children are also killed during a so-called extended suicide.
Another destructive, pathological form of lovesickness: stalking. After the relationship ends, stalkers harass and pursue their ex-partners. Stalking has increased through social networks because the ex-partner is often easier to reach and monitor.
If love sickness leads to aggressiveness, caution is advised. Especially male love sufferers react in the anger phase by fighting with bystanders or aggressively against the ex or their new partners. Heartache as a cause of homicides is an underestimated phenomenon, says psychologist Professor Karl-Heinz Renner.
What helps with lovesickness?
Speeches: Who can talk with friends or relatives about his love pain, should use that. In severe cases, a coach or psychological counseling may be necessary. It can also help a separation diary or letters to the ex, in which one writes the pain of the soul. But you should not send these letters.
Treat yourself to something: If the ex-partner no longer loves us, we have to love ourselves. This includes: take your time and pamper yourself with wellness, sports, a hairdresser’s visit or a nice meal.
To start something new: To do more and to do things you did not do in the old partnership: riding a motorcycle or traveling again, starting a new sport, looking for a cooking group or joining a choir. In the process, you also get to know new people and avoid leisure holes where you could crash. Beware of rash new relationships: Often one is not ready to do so and hurt the other person.
Clearing the old life: delete connections to the Ex in the social networks, so that one is not tempted to spy on the old partner. Put away things that remind you of the end of love, put them in a box and put them away. Do not burn everything – after all, it has been part of life.
Rearrange, repaint or decorate the apartment and prove yourself: This is my home. If that does not work, a move can also be helpful.
Make some thought: You smell your perfume somewhere or see his bike standing on the corner and then the whole pain of separation is back. For such moments, Elena-Katharina Sohn, founder of an anti-lovesick agency, recommends little notes with a note why it is much better off without him or her now. They can help to pry out the grief triggers.
Can one avoid love sickness altogether?
If you want to experience love, you always have to put up with the danger of being lovesick. But it is possible to love so much that the disappointed love hurts, but not annihilated, says Elena-Katharina Sohn: Who creates a good balance between the sources of happiness of his life, who cared for family, friends, work, hobbies and partners alike which is caught when the partner falls away as just one of these pillars.
And: A person who is not fixated on a single partner is freer, stronger and more interesting for others – even for a new partner.