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Emotional (or loving) withdrawal syndrome: what it is and how to overcome it

Emotional (or loving) withdrawal syndrome: what it is and how to overcome it

June 23, 2022

After a love break, and especially in the first days and weeks after the goodbye, we can live very intense feelings that, in many occasions, can affect our ability to be objective and rational. The pain, the sadness, the anguish, the inability to concentrate and the desire to contact our ex-partner can lead us to situations of vulnerability, in which it is possible to be carried away by impulses or outbursts that we can repent afterwards.

End a relationship and let go of the person we have wanted so much is complicated, and although we have clear that we have done the right thing away, may arise moments in which we feel weak and let our emotions dominate us. In fact, psychologists say that the same brain regions are activated when they fall in love with drugs, which leads some individuals to experience the emotional or loving abstinence syndrome when they have to break up with their partner. This not only causes psychological pain, but it can also lead the sufferer to suffer physical symptoms as well.


In the following lines we will talk about this phenomenon and we will delve into its characteristics.

Chemistry in the brain of the lover

Anyone who has experienced falling in love knows that it is, without a doubt, one of the best experiences we can live. But there is also the other side of the coin: it is the lack of love. A difficult situation to overcome, which can lead to an existential crisis if we do not know how to manage it correctly.

And is that the lack of love leads us to live really painful moments, because the cerebral chemistry of the lover can make us feel addicted by our ex , directing all our senses towards that person and making our day to day become an attempt to get ahead and recover our well-being even though we want to merge in the arms of our special someone.


  • Related article: "The chemistry of love: a very powerful drug"

When we have the "monkey" by someone

The chemistry of love can make us live in a cloud, but when we do not have the possibility of being with the person we want we can feel the "monkey", as if it were a drug.

When we fall in love, our brain secretes substances such as serotonin (related to happiness), endorphins (hormones associated with the sensation of pleasure), adrenaline (makes us feel energetic) and dopamine, which plays an important role in the survival of the human being, by provoking the repetition of those behaviors that are key to the survival of the species. For example, food or sex. But is also involved in addictive behaviors , such as drug use or gambling.

In this sense, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, after an investigation, stated that "when love is broken, as when someone leaves drugs, side effects can appear such as depressive or obsessive behavior, and even withdrawal syndrome . Generally, this syndrome, whether emotional or drug abuse, causes psychological and physical symptoms, because it affects our nervous system. "


  • Related article: "Psychology of love: that's how our brain changes when we find a partner"

Symptoms of emotional abstinence syndrome

The emotional abstinence syndrome appears when we must stop seeing the person we are in love with, either by our own will or by others. And in those situations where there may be conflicts, such as toxic relationships, infidelities, etc. Your symptoms may increase. Luckily, some people are aware that these symptoms are transient and that, over time, it is possible to regain emotional balance once the neuronal circuits weaken.

However, some individuals are unable to cope with emotional pain , have low self-esteem or do not have the necessary tools to overcome this stage. As a result, they are hooked on the couple: they are unable to overcome the addiction. In these cases it is necessary to go to psychological therapy.

The symptoms that a person with emotional abstinence syndrome experiences are:

Psychological symptoms:

  • Anxiety and anxiety.
  • Sadness and melancholy .
  • Desires to be with the beloved person, to call her and to contact her.
  • Stunning and lack of concentration
  • Insomnia.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Obsessive thoughts .
  • Feeling detached for life.
  • Inability to enjoy daily activities.

Physical symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Sickness.
  • Headaches .
  • Chest tightness.
  • Vomiting

The duration of the withdrawal syndrome varies from one person to another, and in many cases it can be a brief experience that is disappearing as the situation is accepted . However, since lack of love is not a linear process, it can happen that the affected person experiences this syndrome frequently, because he is unable to cope with the situation or because he continues to have contact with the person he loves despite the break.

What to do to overcome the emotional abstinence syndrome

To overcome the withdrawal syndrome and, in general, lack of love, it is possible to follow some of these strategies.

1. Recognize the symptoms and know that it is transient

The emotional abstinence syndrome has a high point shortly after the break (the first month is usually the most difficult) but over time it is possible to overcome it. Because, It is important to recognize that one is going through this phase of heartbreak (which is transient) in order to try to control this very real and painful physical and emotional experience.

2. Contact 0

When one is in the situation of leaving a relationship, continuing to have contact with the couple (with the illusion that things could be fixed) is counterproductive. This only makes clear that there is emotional dependence and extends the suffering if the true intention is to return to be happy and regain the well-being after a relationship that has not worked.

For this reason Psychologists recommend contact 0, that is to say "all or nothing" , because just as with drug addiction, seeing the loved one and having contact with her favors relapse. If we follow the logic of Classical Conditioning, exposure to the beloved person reactivates the neural circuit that is involved in falling in love, so if we want to weaken it and recover emotional stability, we must be strong and break any contact with the person .

In addition, if the feeling is very intense, it is even recommended to avoid contact through social networks, because these cause some phenomena such as the FOMO Syndrome that increase obsession and suffering after a break .

3. Distracted

One of the big mistakes that can be made in this phase is to let loose the obsession and the intrusive thoughts, which are usually habitual: memories and memories appear again and again in our mind . That is why it is important to look for activities that oblige us to be distracted. Spending time with friends, studying or going to the gym work very well.

4. Fight for one's personal development

When we leave it with our partner, the cost for our self-esteem is high. Therefore, we must connect with ourselves and do those things that we like . Things that make us grow as people and with which we enjoy. Maybe studying that master that motivates us so much or join dance classes. You know what really makes you happy and makes your life full.


How to Overcome Heartbreak, Obsessive Love & Separation Anxiety: Why Can't I Let Go? (June 2022).


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