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Breaking up is like the grand finale of a big life event, complete with high-flying emotions and dramatic exits. But when the show’s over, and you’re left alone on the stage, it’s easy to get stuck obsessing over your ex like they’ll always be the star of the show.

Sometimes, getting over your ex can feel like trying to break free from a grip of emotional quicksand—seriously sticky stuff, especially if you weren’t the one to decide things were over. Unfortunately, getting over the overwhelming sense of longing for the person suddenly deleted from your life can feel a lot like an all-out addiction.

Where do these feelings stem from? Why is letting go so difficult? Take a closer look at why you may feel addicted to your ex.


If you find yourself teary-eyed, obsessing over old photos, and analyzing every old text after a breakup, these are not uncommon reactions. While you may feel like there’s something wrong because you’re having a hard time letting go, there can be a lot more brewing beneath the surface. Feeling addicted to an ex-partner and obsessive over a recent break-up can stem from various psychological and physiological factors.

Biochemical Factors

Ah, the early stages of love—where everything feels like a scene from a rom-com. But guess what? It’s not just all butterflies and sunshine. Nope, there’s some serious chemistry going on behind the scenes.

Dopamine, often referred to as the “pleasure neurotransmitter,” is released in response to novel and rewarding experiences, such as spending time with a new romantic partner. This dopamine surge leads to feelings of euphoria, motivation, and intense pleasure.

Likewise, serotonin levels tend to increase during the initial stages of a relationship. This elevation can make the emotional attachment to the individual who is causing the serotonin levels to rise to be more pronounced.

Additionally, the hormone oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone,” is released during intimacy. It’s like your brain’s personal cupid, working its magic during those cozy cuddle sessions, steamy smooches, and other intimate moments. When oxytocin kicks in, it’s like a warm hug for your heart, deepening that emotional bond.

These biochemical actions, on some level, explain the deep sense of attachment and addictive tendencies toward another human. Researchers found in one study that numerous parts of the brain are set ablaze when people are shown a picture of someone they love.

Not surprisingly, most of the brain regions illuminated were related to the neural reward system, which can be the same with addictive substances. Therefore, when a romantic partner is suddenly out of your life, the lack of reward system response can be a little like substance withdrawal.

Feeling Rejected

A break-up can come along with intense feelings of rejection. Suddenly, you’re hit with a whirlwind of emotions—sadness, anger, maybe even a touch of “why me” thrown in for good measure. This sense of rejection often stems from the perceived loss of love, connection, and acceptance from your once partner.

Interestingly, on a biological level, the brain reacts to rejection similarly to physical pain. This neurological response can amplify feelings of rejection and contribute to a sense of wounded self-esteem and worthlessness. Your ex, on an emotional level, is a physical embodiment of what can be perceived to be what can mend these uncomfortable emotions. Therefore, obsessing over what you’ve lost can be normal.

Feeling Detached and Uncertain

Sure, relationships have their ups and downs. But rosy retrospection can come on in full force after some break-ups. So, detaching from the positive elements of your relationship can make you feel you’re losing something exceptional. Those positive memories and experiences have also generated a bond with your ex that can be difficult to detach from when the union ends.

The end of a relationship can also bring a deep sense of uncertainty. Suddenly, the future looks about as clear as mud, and you’re left wondering if you accidentally took a wrong turn on the road of life. You may feel confused about why the relationship ended or unsure about where you’re going. Serious relationships naturally involve materializing a future for yourself with your significant other as part of that rooted vision. When that person leaves, you’re faced with regrouping and reimagining what your future life will look like.


Feeling a bit stuck on the ex front? Don’t sweat it. Help, and your next chapter, are right around the corner. Therapy and counseling aren’t just for deep-diving into childhood memories. It’s a safe harbor to unpack those post-breakup blues and figure out your next move. If you are struggling to let go of obsessive thoughts about your ex, never hesitate to reach out for advice.

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