Breakups: Don't think about it
“Every woman has the exact love life she wants.”
Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney) makes this bold accusation in The Wedding Date, a 2005 film in which a desperate woman pays Nick, a male escort, $6,000 in attempt of getting a rise out of her ex-fiance. Kat Ellis (Debra Messing) is the classic and, unfortunately, the all-too realistic example of a woman scorned after a breakup.
Years ago, Kat’s then-fiance ended their engagement with no reason after he wasted a bulk of her life. Up until the end of the movie, Kat did everything and anything to capture her ex’s attention, which seemed to be working in Kat’s mind. As it turns out, her ex fell for Kat’s half-sister, who is the reason behind the two’s unexpected break-up.
If Kat had stopped, for just one moment, from focusing her entire life on her ex, she would have seen the truth – he is a jerk, and she is too good for him. Kat is beautiful. She should have no problem landing a smart and attractive man, but she does it because her unhealthy obsession leads her to be oblivious, and needless to add, insecure.
Every important relationship – good or bad, spouse or partner, friend or foe – affects who we are and shapes our potential relationships.
“In the end, what we pay the most attention to defines us. How you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life literally transforms you,” Diane Ackerman said in The New York Times’ The Brain on Love.
I think this statement is important, especially for women, to ingrain in their brain. If a relationship was unsupportive and unhealthy for the majority of its timeline then you are already negatively affecting future relationships and, this negativity will increase the longer you continue to dedicate all of your precious time analyzing it.
“When two people become a couple, the brain extends its idea of self to include the other; instead of the slender pronoun “I,” a plural self emerges who can borrow some of the other’s assets and strengths,” Ackerman said. “The brain knows who we are. … Through lovemaking, or when we pass along the flu, we trade bits of identity with loved ones, and in time we become a sort of chimera. We don’t just get under a mate’s skin, we absorb him or her.”
This is clearly the underlying reason why a break up can be a tragic event to overcome. That same reason underscores why we continue to love even after experiencing this intense pain. Because when we do find that special one, the comforting and safe feeling we experience is exhilarating.
According to the same article, James Coan, a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, conducted experiments that further prove the supportive part to be crucial. Coan gave electric shocks to the ankles of women in happy, committed relationships and tested their anxiety levels before and after the shocks. The second time, the women were shocked while holding their partner’s hand.
“The same level of electricity produced a significantly lower neural response throughout the brain. In troubled relationships, this protective effect didn’t occur,” Ackerman reported. “If you’re in a healthy relationship, holding your partner’s hand is enough to subdue your blood pressure, ease your response to stress, improve your health and soften physical pain. We alter one another’s physiology and neural functions.”
Now back to Kat. Clearly, Kat was in an unsupportive relationship, one in which she did not feel secure. Coan’s experiments prove there is no substitute for security within one’s relationships. A partner’s support is strong enough to triumph physical pain.
Lucky for Kat, it only took her the length of a two-hour-long film to learn this lesson and find a supportive replacement. For the rest of us living in the real world, it will most likely take much longer to find this special person, and the only way it will happen is if you stop wanting the one who actually is not “the one.”