In this blog, we will discuss what the withdrawal stage of a break up is.
We will also discuss why emotional withdrawal occurs during break ups and what are the other stages of a breakup that a person goes through.
What is the withdrawal stage of a breakup?
Emotional withdrawal refers to intense feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, irritability, and confusion that occurs after a break up.
This kind of withdrawal after the break up also includes physical symptoms such as fatigue and loss of appetite and in some cases, it can be similar to symptoms of depression.
After a break up, it is normal to feel this way for a period of time because you are mourning not just the break up but also the loss of the relationship and the loss of all the hopes and dreams you might have had with your partner.
This kind of emotional withdrawal takes place because you have formed such a deep bond with your partner that cutting off any emotional connection with them can be something akin to cutting yourself off a drug- cold turkey.
Why does the Emotional withdrawal stage occur after breakups?
A relationship between two people who are romantically committed to each other is not just a state of being but over time it can become an entity of its own.
When the relationship is something that was a big part in the life of those involved, it can be extremely difficult when the couple breaks up- the experiences can involve not only intense grief but also overwhelming emotional withdrawal.
Feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, irritability, and confusion as well as physical symptoms of pain, discomfort, and fatigue etc, can manifest after the break up.
This usually happens because one is grieving a loss and while the entire world around you is still moving forward- so one might feel hopelessness, isolated, and alone as well as directionless after the break up.
When you break up with your partner, irrespective of who initiated the break up, one feels intense sadness and grief because you are mourning not just the break up but also the loss of the relationship and the loss of all the hopes and dreams you might have had with your partner.
This loss is what makes processing the break up very hard and which is why one might experience symptoms that are consistent with emotional withdrawal.
How to cope with the emotional withdrawal stage of a break up?
Here are some things that you can do to cope with the break up withdrawal:
The best thing you can allow yourself to do after a break up is to give yourself grief. This will involve you taking effort to acknowledge your emotions and your feelings no matter how painful or vulnerable you might be feeling.
Take time out of your day to grieve, let yourself cry, get angry, and experience all the uncomfortable feelings that you are feeling without judgement- write about it if you want to, use art to express how you feel.
Seek out professional support if you need it
Get in touch with a therapist or a psychologist and take effort to work with your emotions, grow towards self-acceptance, and move towards rebuilding yourself and your resilience.
Meeting a professional to talk about your depression, grief, and loss of the relationship is something that you can give yourself as an act of self-love and self-care.
What are the stages of a break up?
The stages of a break up is as follows:
Desperate search for answers
The first stage that a person goes through is the result of absolute confusion after one’s heart has been broken.
This is usually for the case of the person who has been broken up with where they are consumed with the desire to know why they have been left heart broken and this often occurs when there is no clear closure.
This desperate search for answers can come at the cost of their well being, all rational thought and behaviours, and can consume their lives. For example, a person might stay awake the whole night trying to figure out why their partner has left them.
At this stage the person becomes fixated on things that could have gone wrong, things that could have been done better, as well as other small things that have happened that have led up to the break up.
During this stage, it is likely that the person moves from clarity to confusion multiple times as they grapple with the magnitude of their loss.
During this stage there is disorganisation of thoughts and confusion and it is all one can talk about with their friends and loved ones- often this desperation to make sense leads one to debate with others as you try to justify why the break up should not have happened.
This constant justification often arises due to one’s desire to convince their ex of the same thing but are unable to do so.
Now, after the initial confusion has abated and you gave come to a point where you realise that the break up has happened for whatever reason, the next stage of the break up often involves denial,
Here the main thought is “It can’t be true. This isn’t happening!” You are unable to accept the fact that this is happening and this is one’s way of holding on to the hope that one can save the relationship.
So as you deny, you postpone coming to terms with it and accepting the fact that it has happened because it is too painful and too disorienting to consider that you no longer have a future with this person.
The next stage, after you have come to a point where you can clearly see that the break up has happened, you seek to bargain with your partner or whatever higher power that you be given a second chance.
Here you are willing to do anything to avoid the thought of never getting back together- so you might bargain with them that you will be a better partner, that you will do anything to have them reconsider the break up.
This often happens because the thought of breaking up for good is so painful that you are willing to do anything to make the pain go away by winning back your partner.
At this stage, the individual is not being logical and the desperation of wanting their partner back tends to consume their life- often impacting their ability to reason and make logical decisions.
When the bargaining stage has ultimately failed, you begin to realise that you matter too and as a result fear and anxiety of never being with this person again is replaced by anger for what you have been put through.
Oftentimes this anger arises from the feelings that one has been slighted by not being given a chance to defend one’s self, or because as you struggled your way through the stages you lost sight of yourself.
Depending on your temperament, life, and family experiences, as well as the break up itself, your anger could be directed towards your ex, your situation, or yourself.
This anger that one feels can either be a negative and destructive anger however it has the potential to be empowering for the person who feels it.
If the anger is towards yourself, it can be challenging especially if you add guilt into the grieving process. However, as you allow yourself to grieve- through anger, sadness, and guilt as well- there is hope that it will move you in a direction that is positive.
The first kind of acceptance that one might feel post a break up often comes in the form of surrender and the acceptance of one’s defeat.
Here, this acceptance means that you stop bargaining as well as let go of whatever anger you might be feeling and instead choose to play out your part in the break up- you let your partner go.
Over time and with effort, your initial form of acceptance begins to develop into something more of a conscious choice as you realise that holding on to your partner is not good for you.
So this form of acceptance is the starting point of you moving forward and taking steps to carry on your life, on your own terms, and for yourself.
This finding of new hope and new optimism can take time- months, years even- however as you allow one’s self to move forwards in acceptance it is likely that your broken heart can begin to invest itself in a whole new direction.
It could be towards a new partner, a new career, a new found vision towards one’s self etc. as you build on acceptance and choose to be more proactive and self-protective it is likely that you will be able to see the break up as a new beginning.
In this blog, we have discussed what the withdrawal stage of a break up is.
We also discussed why emotional withdrawal occurs during break ups and what are the other stages of a breakup that a person goes through.
FAQ related to withdrawal stage of breakup
How long does breakup withdrawal last?
Break up withdrawal symptoms can last at least six months or less depending on the level of commitment that the couple was in. if the relationship lasted longer, the withdrawal symptoms might last longer than six months as well.
Can you have withdrawal symptoms from a breakup?
Yes, one can experience withdrawal symptoms from break up because you have formed such a deep bond with your partner that cutting off any emotional connection with them can be something akin to cutting yourself off a drug- cold turkey.
Does heartbreak feel like withdrawal?
In some cases, when the realtionship has been very important for the person, the break up can lead to what feels like withdrawl. Emotional withdrawal refers to intense feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, irritability, disorientation and confusion that occurs after a break up.
What does love addiction look like?
Love addiction refers to a pattern where the individual is observed to be obsessive over their romantic relationships and are never single.
When a person has a love addiction, they tend to move from one relationship to another and often exhibit insecure patterns of relating to their partners.
Suzanne Lachmann. How to Mourn a Breakup to Move Past Grief and Withdrawal. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/me-we/201306/how-mourn-breakup-move-past-grief-and-withdrawal
Emotional Withdrawal After a Breakup. Positive Progress. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://capecoralcounselor.com/emotional-withdrawal-after-a-breakup/#:~:text=Emoticon%20withdrawal%20will%20happen%20after,appetite%20can%20 accompany%20these%20 feelings.