Really, truly feeling heartbreak is agonizing. I’ve seen people handle the death of a loved one or the collapse of their company they built from the ground up better than heartbreak. Our romantic relationship is often the nucleus of our life. With a solid romantic relationship, we can weather other tragedies like deaths of loved ones and collapses of companies much better. We pin so many hopes on a romantic relationship. It is to be the building block of many, many adventures and phases of life. And, it’s just so personal. Heartbreak feels like having the very core of your being rejected. When you lose a job, that company or boss didn’t really have access to the true, deeper layers of you. But when you lose a romantic relationship, that individual really got in there, and the loss is deeply felt. That’s why so many people choose to not feel heartbreak, but there’s no getting around it in the end. Here’s why it’s important to process heartbreak. Just find your ways to do so.
He left you with landmines
The person did something that’s stuck with you. Perhaps he cheated. Perhaps he was bad at communicating. Perhaps he didn’t make an effort with your friends. These actions left you rather sensitive about those matters.
Don’t get triggered
Any person you ever date again will do something reminiscent of your ex’s mistakes. A future partner may actually be a wonderful person but you may totally freak out over a tiny action that resembles those of your exes. A text coming in too late, or a female friend who seems too affectionate—these things can set you off. You haven’t processed your old heartbreak, so you see it in new relationships—you’re seeing ghosts.
You closed up shop
The first thing we do when we have our heart broken is shut down. We put up walls. We create distance between ourselves and the world. We put up these thick, emotional barriers because we are just so sensitive.
So you can be open again
It’s okay to have up barriers for a bit. In fact, it’s important to take time to yourself after a breakup but it’s in order to process that heartbreak. Processing it and understanding it will make you feel, one day, safe enough to take your walls back down. And that’s the only way to meet someone new.
You’re not fault-less
Look, even if your ex cheated on you or did something horrendous, I’m going to say something that’s hard to hear: you selected that partner. Why? When you’re hurt and want to avoid processing heartbreak, your instinct is to put the old relationship in a box and put that in a vault and put that under the house. You don’t want to look at it.
So you can learn
Processing heartbreak is an important part of understanding why the heartbreak happened. In fact, if you’re bold enough to break it down, you may even see how it was so clear that that relationship was wrong for you. That’s a gift you only receive if you’re willing to process.
Your heart and body are connected
Our emotions and mental state affect our physical health deeply. Jaw grinding, bad posture, muscle clenching—these are all things we can unknowingly do when we are holding onto emotional pain.
To avoid stomach issues
The strongest connection between mind and body (and I’ll say heart and body) is that between your emotions and your stomach. If you don’t process this heartbreak, you can wind up with years of unexplained irritable bowel syndrome. For real.
You are thinking of him
Even if you aren’t consciously analyzing the relationship or thinking of the person, you are still thinking of him. He doesn’t just—poof—vanish from your subconscious because you try to distract yourself.
To release the person
If you want to stop having nightmares about this person, or thinking you see him when you don’t, you’ll have to process the heartbreak. Feel the pain—fully and intensely now—so you can excorcise this relationship from your subconscious.
Your protection makes you vulnerable
Your effort to protect yourself from feeling pain by ignoring this heartbreak is actually making you vulnerable. While you’re doing anything and everything to run from your feelings, you may be running towards more like them.
To avoid a repeat
Nothing really teaches you not to touch a burning stovetop again like being burnt, right? The best lessons are learned the hard way. If you let yourself feel this heartbreak, then you’ll know—without a doubt—that you never want to feel this way again, and you’ll be extra cautious of relationships that seem to be headed in this direction. Not looking at this heartbreak makes you blind to other impending ones like it.
You’re training your brain, badly
So, you just don’t want to think about this heartbreak or feel the pain of it. You put it in a box. You put it over there—way over there—and you focus on everything else in your life. This is called compartmentalizing.
To prevent compartmentalizing habits
Unfortunately, you don’t get to, well, compartmentalize your compartmentalizing. What I mean by that is that, once you start to train your brain to do that in romantic heartbreak, it will start to do that in all areas of your life—like issues happening with your family or your health. Compartmentalizing is rather unhealthy, and once you start it, it’s hard to stop.
You can’t control your mind
There’s one other thing about compartmentalizing I should mention: we weren’t built for it. When we do this, we’re basically trying to hold together a bursting dam with glue.
To prevent public breakdowns
Eventually, the feelings you’ve been pushing away to the corners of your brain will just come flooding forward, and at a very inconvenient time. You could have a full on emotional breakdown in the middle of giving an important work presentation.