Even when a relationship has to end, breaking up is hard to do. Why does it hurt so much? Learning why breakups are so painful will give you insight and wisdom, help heal your heart, and show you that you aren’t alone.
“Remember when you held me tight; And you kissed me all through the night; Think of all that we’ve been through; Breaking up is hard to do…” – from Neil Sedaka’s song “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.”
Right there are three reasons breaking up hurts so much: you were physically close, you share bond you can never have with someone else, and you experienced life together. No matter how long or short your relationship was, you shared a piece of your heart with your ex. And that’s one of the biggest reasons breaking up is hard to do.
The more life you shared, the harder it is to break up. Maybe you had kids together, survived family problems, grieved deaths together and made life-changing decisions with your ex. You loved each other (and probably still do!). Letting go of that bond isn’t easy. The longer you were together and the older you are, the harder it is to heal after breaking up. In fact, it’s normal to feel like you’ll never learn how to survive a painful breakup in your 40s.
One of the reasons breaking up is hard to do is because we don’t like change. In fact, humans fear and avoid change as much as possible. We fear abandonment, rejection, and feeling like we’re alone in the world. A breakup is all of those things: abandonment, rejection, and fear. Even if we initiated the breakup and know that the relationship had to end because it was unhealthy or broken, we still find it so hard to let go.
Breaking up isn’t just hard to do, it’s one of the first experiences of a broken relationship with someone you love who isn’t a family member. Someone you gave your heart to, confided in, and were physically vulnerable with. This is what makes a breakup hard: the loss of the joy and heartfelt love that first drew you together.
10 Reasons It’s Hard to Break Up
“Don’t take your love away from me; Don’t you leave my heart in misery; If you go then I’ll be blue; ‘Cause breaking up is hard to do.”
Some people find it helpful to listen to breakup songs such as Sedaka’s “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” It helps you see you’re not alone, that not only has someone experienced a painful breakup…they also wrote about it and shared their pain with the world. This is comforting and healing.
1. You don’t like change
We’re hardwired to resist change. Our lizard brains love the familiar because it’s easy and safe. We gravitate towards people we’re used to being with, jobs we know how to do, roles we’re secure in. We avoid new situations because they’re scary and unpredictable.
And, we especially resist changes that make us sad! Breaking up is hard to do because we feel blue when we lose someone we love. Even when we know the relationship isn’t healthy or good for us, we resist changes that take people away from us.
2. You fear being alone
One of the biggest reasons we ignore the signs of a bad relationship and stay with guys who aren’t good for us is that we’re scared to face life alone. And let’s face it: the world is scary, life is hard, and we feel safer when we’re in a relationship.
We’re scared of being alone for other reasons, too. We worry about what people think about being single or divorced. We fear not being able to pay the bills, take care of the house, navigate life alone. We don’t know how to trust ourselves or God, especially if we haven’t spent time with Him. We don’t know how to go to a coffee shop and have a cup of hot chocolate alone, much less handle life as a single woman.
If breaking up is hard because of your fears, read How to Break Up With Your Boyfriend When You’re Scared to Be Alone.
3. You love the person you’re breaking up with
Back to Sedaka’s second stanza of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”: “Remember when you held me tight; And you kissed me all through the night; Think of all that we’ve been through; Breaking up is hard to do…”
Of course you love – and will desperately miss – your boyfriend or husband. You’ve been through all sorts of intimate ups and downs together. You were physically intimate. You did things together you don’t talk about with others. You’re connected to him in ways you’ll never be with anyone else. Love is why breaking up is hard to do.
4. You’re scared nobody else will love you
I once dated a guy who couldn’t eat an ice cream cone without getting chocolate all over his mouth, nose, and chin. When he used a serviette to wipe his lips, he’d just smear melted ice cream all over the lower half of his face and not mop up a drop. Worse, he was mean to me. He insulted and criticized me under his breath all the time. When I asked him what he said – I could barely hear him – he’d say “nothing.” Then he’d whisper something like, “you should get your hearing checked, dumbo.”
That guy was so bad for me, yet breaking up was hard to do. I didn’t want to leave because I was scared I wouldn’t find anyone else to love me. I didn’t realize that I already hadn’t found a man who loved me.
5. You feel vulnerable and unprotected in the world alone
Safety in numbers, right? Leaving a marriage is risky because we become vulnerable and exposed. We feel like easy prey. Flying solo is romantic and adventurous in books in movies, not in real life.
Emotionally detaching from someone you care about is one of the biggest reasons breaking up is hard to do. A breakup or divorce puts you at risk emotionally, physically, socially, and even professionally.
6. You invested a lot of time, energy, and even money in your relationship
Ah, the “sunk costs fallacy.” In business decision-making, a sunk cost is an investment that has already been made and can’t be recovered. For instance, an investor might not want to sell her stocks because she’s already invested $10,000 over a period of 10 years and doesn’t want to lose more money. The stocks may be declining, but she doesn’t sell because she’s already invested too much time, energy, and money.
We do in our personal lives all the time. We hold on to jobs even though we’re bored, clothes even though they don’t fit us anymore, and relationships even thought they’re unhealthy. Breaking up is hard to do when we’ve been married for 35 years and have four kids together.
7. You fear the unknown, uncertain future
If you decided to leave your relationship, where would you go? How would you support yourself? Who would you be without your husband or boyfriend? What would you do with your life?
This reason why breaking up is hard to do is similar to the “fear of change” one…but it’s a bit riskier. We may know what the consequences of making a change are (eg, moving out of our marital home is a big change), but we have no idea what the unknown future is.
8. You don’t want to upset your family and friends
How will your children react to a breakup? What about your family members, in-laws, and closest friends? Your coworkers and even your pets will also be affected by a divorce or separation.
It’s hard to make a decision that negatively impacts people we love. Breaking up is hard to do because it affects the people closest to us. (Sometimes, however, this is just an excuse to stay in an unhealthy relationship because we’re too comfortable to make changes).
9. You worry what people will say and think about you
What will your relatives and friends and yoga buddies and children’s parents and in-laws and coworkers and babysitters and neighbors say about your breakup? You may be ignoring all types of signs you should break up with your boyfriend because of fear of other people’s opinions.
This is why it’s CRUCIAL to listen to the still small voice inside of you! In your heart, you know what’s best for you. You know if you’re living the life you’re meant to live. You know if you’re blossoming into the woman God created you to be. You know breaking up is hard to do and you know that other people will be affected by it…but you need to do what’s right for you. You need to listen to your still small voice and follow your heart.
10. You want your life to go back the way it was
“They say that breaking up is hard to do; Now I know, I know that it’s true; Don’t say that this is the end; Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again.” – from Neil Sedaka’s song “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.”
A huge part of us longs for how life used to be. It’s like we’re homesick for the past, for the people and experiences and memories. The past often feels simpler and happier. This is one of the biggest reasons breaking up is so hard to do: we don’t want to let go of the way things were.
In How to Let Go of Someone You Love, I share insights and tips for healing your heart after a relationship ends. If you’re dealing with a hard breakup, you’ll find this ebook comforting and consoling.
There aren’t many things that make breaking up easier. This is partly because it’s normal to grieve the end of a relationship. In fact, it’s important to grieve your loss for as long as it takes. This is how you learn, grow, and prepare your heart for another person to love.
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ~ Marilyn Monroe.
What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts on these ten reasons breaking up is so hard to do. Writing about why this breakup hurts might help you heal and move forward.