Social Question

the_overthinker's avatar

Can you define "heartbreak" to me?

Asked by the_overthinker (1252 points ) December 10th, 2012

What does having your heartbroken mean to you? Can you experience heartbreak if you didn’t truly love the person who broke your heart?

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30 Answers

wildpotato's avatar

I think of heartbreak as a stage of mourning, the stage where you acknowledge and accept the loss of the person and the loss of the relationship, and it feels like you can’t breathe for a bit because there’s a hollow empty feeling where the person and their love used to be.

I think that you have to have loved to experience heartbreak.

DrBill's avatar

to have heartbreak, you have to truly love. The pain is so horrific it cannot be imagined. I hope you never find out how much it hurts. Just as there is no feeling as great as love, there is no pain as great as heartbreak.

Whoever said “it is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved” was wrong.

Coloma's avatar

I dunno…I think most of what people call “heartbreak” is really just the infantile fear of abandonment. Anything more than disapointment usually means it is your unconscious wounded child reacting, not necessarily having anything to do with real love.

wildpotato's avatar

@Coloma Ain’t no “just” about it. Infantile fear of abandonment is essential to development of the self, awareness of reality, and a host of other psychic structures. It could be described as the origin of the emotions that become love, because the trauma of differentiation from the mother (ideally) leads to recognition of her as another person, who can be loved (as opposed to the previous conception of her as part of the primary-narcissistic self, who cannot be related to outside of a self-relation that, by its own constitution as a self relation, seems to be the opposite of love). I’m interested – what leads you to say that the reactions of the unconscious wounded child should not be taken seriously? Or am I misreading you?

ninjacolin's avatar

uh.. it’s real, coloma. No escaping that
Physical pains at the mere thought of some other human being!
It’s ridiculous, I agree, but it’s unfortunately very real.

Dsg's avatar

Its very real and very painful. I have to say I am going thru it now. What hurts me the most is, I can’t get closure with it. I keep on trying and I keep getting hurt. I can’t breathe at times and sick to my stomach. @wildpotato I agree with your first comment. So true.

Dsg's avatar

I forgot to add…you need to be in total love to feel this heartbreak. Unfortunately for me, this was the real deal. I never believed in soulmates, but truly felt it with this person.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t believe you can be ‘heartbroken’ if you don’t love the person. Obviously individuals are going to experience ‘heartbreak’ in their own ways. My own experience has included confusion, disbelief and denial, real pain, inability to eat and loss of appetite, spontaneous crying, feeling deserted, abandoned, angry and betrayed. As @wildpotato those who experience ‘heartbreak’ are grieving. Your heart can be broken by people other than romantic partners. Your children for instance. I have read papers about people dying because they have a broken heart.

janbb's avatar

I’m not sure I can define but I sure have felt it and I think primal experience of abandonment is much more accurate that “infantile fear of abandonment.” Even though there were problems in my marriage, there have been times this year when I felt totally rent in two.

picante's avatar

Wonderful answers above. The pain of heartbreak is in direct proportion to the love that you felt. Of course, your romantic partners can break you heart; but your friends, your children, your parents, your siblings (and your pets) can break your heart, too.

It’s grief over a loss that seems too great to bear. It’s “underlabeled” in my opinion—“whole soul break” might be a more apt description. As to the psychological underpinnings, @wildpotato describes it beautifully; and I do believe this relates to our primal instincts—our deep longing for a connection that nurtures and protects us, a bond that allows us to grow and develop. When that connection is severed, the hurt is deep and wide.

bookish1's avatar

I don’t know how you could be heartbroken if you did not love the person in question originally. I’ve had my heart broken three times. The first, by my first girlfriend (and that definitely was fear of abandonment—by the first person I had made a profound and intimate connection with), the second was by a girl who said she loved me but had no idea what that actually meant, the third was by my most recent girlfriend whom I had been with for two years, whom I experienced so much with as a fellow trans person, who ended up being a sociopath. Ugh.

I guess I conceive of it as mourning as well. Mourning for an intimate connection, with someone whom you let see your soul. It’s always felt like I’ve had to reconfigure my reality, because being in love makes me associate all sorts of things with the person I loved.

Sometimes I feel like I am heartbroken over this wonderful dalliance I had over the summer. I had loved this guy for years and finally got to reconnect with him in a profound way. He was the first man I’ve loved and accepted me fully as a guy even though he had only known me as a strange butch girl before I transitioned. This was a profound connection I have trouble even explaining to people. I’m not sure this counts as heartbreak, though, because the connection has not been severed—just put on hold for an indefinite period because we live in different countries and I can’t say when we’ll see each other again.

Coloma's avatar

@wildpotato Oh, I’m not saying that those reactions are not “normal” or valid in the pain and anxiety that arise from them, just that they don’t necessarily have anything to do with “love.”
One can know that a relationship is not good for them, or has run it’s course and is no longer viable, yet those emotions still cause great upset.

bookish1's avatar

@Coloma: I agree with your statement. Losing toxic love can be as painful as losing empowering love, and learning the difference between the two has been an important part of my growth.

janbb's avatar

@Coloma That makes more sense.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I was heartbroken when I learned my mom had cancer, as well as when my dog was recently diagnosed with bone cancer. To me there is no fear of abandonment or anything else, it’s truly just being incredibly sad in regards to someone you love.

All of us have heard of the many many couples who are together 40 -50 years and then die within hours or days of each other. Whomever you have that emotional bond with has the power to break your heart.

wundayatta's avatar

In the love and sex addiction group, they used this idea of emotional anorexia. People who are hurt in love respond by cutting out any type of love or sex at all. This, they say, is no more healthy than being addicted to it.

While I don’t believe the idea of sex and love addiction, and neither does the psychiatric community (it’s not going to be in the DSM-5), I do think there is something to be said for the emotional anorexia idea. If you’ve been hurt badly enough, some people will never let themselves love again, because they are afraid of being hurt again. In doing so, they cut off any opportunity for healthy love, and if they have sex, they limit it to the non-meaningful kind, again, so as to protect themselves from the risk of being emotionally killed again.

blueiiznh's avatar

I believe heartbreak is connected to love.
It is also just as hard to put into words as love.

I sadly can’t elaborate on this more because it will make me reflect on my past heartbreaks and that is rather nonproductive for me

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta I disagree. I have known several sexually addicted men in my life and while not a certified psychiatric diagnosis it is real.
Usually tying in to OCD issues which are listed as OCPD on the DSM.
OCD type issues are the underlying cause for many peoples compulsive behaviors meant to reduce anxiety.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma What do you find is helpful about the idea of a diagnosis of sexual addiction? And what is the signficance of it being part of OCD vs a diagnosis all on it’s own?

ninjacolin's avatar

@Coloma said: “just that they don’t necessarily have anything to do with “love.” One can know that a relationship is not good for them, or has run it’s course and is no longer viable, yet those emotions still cause great upset.”

good thoughts but I would say, it always felt more like “love” was the appropriate term right up until that moment where all hope is finally gone and the emotions and pain are no longer out of control. I would say it’s love til it’s over.

ucme's avatar

It means you got the fuzzy end of the lollipop…..again!

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta Nothing in particular, just that sexual compulsevity is an offshoot of the OCD rope. As always, mental health issues are extremely complex, as you already know.

wundayatta's avatar

Which is why all issues of mental health interest me so much.

CardAngel's avatar

I can barely read the screen through my tears at the thought of answering this question and reading some of the replies. Heartbreak sucks and it’s over three years at this point for me. I do think my disability/constant pain, not being able to work, my financial situation which is to the point where I will be homeless soon, and the worthlessness and helplessness I feel make it worse. sigh

janbb's avatar

@CardAngel I hope you are getting some help from social services wherever you live. You sound pretty desperate.

CardAngel's avatar

@janbb , I am, very. I’ve tried everything. I’ve been through every agency available to my area, churches, etc. I don’t know how to save myself this time.

janbb's avatar

@CardAngel Maybe you should call a crisis hotline and see if there is something they can plug you into.

CardAngel's avatar

@janbb , I have spoken to everyone I can think of and followed up with every agency to which I was referred. Thanks for the advice. I know you’ve had your share of heartbreak recently, too.

citizenearth's avatar

Even if you were not truly in love with the other person, you would still feel a little heartbreak. Heartbreak happened when the emotion called love has been vanished.

Dsg's avatar

Heartbreak is tough but you can get through it. I’m living proof! You have to get back into doing things you used to enjoy doing. You have to make yourself and soon in time, you begin to believe you can do it! I have learned that I can live without this person. No one can take care of you, until you take care of yourself first. No one can love you, until you love yourself first. When a person is in a new relationship, you want to be around that person all the time and think you can’t live without that person. Then, times passes by without hearing from them, and you realize “I can do it. I will survive. I will make it.” At least that is what I am finding out. I have moved on and I am happy again.

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