Why does love hurt? I mean, seriously.
Love in the movies is full of roses and sunshine but, for some reason, in real life it’s different.
Being in love means being in pain. Maybe not all of the time but certainly some of the time.
Many people are in pain because they are actually being physically or psychically abused by their partner. We aren’t going to talk about that today. We are going to talk about why every day, regular, loving relationships can be painful.
The answers might surprise you!
#1 – The uncertainty about the future.
When you are wondering why does love hurt one of the biggest reasons is because of the uncertainty of it all.
Love is wonderful and when we are falling in it we feel so wonderful and secure. And happy. And we get accustomed, in a way, to that security and comfort and we don’t want it to go away.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in love. We know that from experience. And our hearts are so scared that this relationship will turn out like others and will cause us pain. Again.
So, it’s the not knowing the future of our relationship – how it will turn out – that causes us physical pain. The anxiety can cause stomach pain, heart ache that feels real, head fog and other physical symptoms. Symptoms that cause us literal and figurative pain.
Try to manage your worries about the future. No one knows what will happen and worrying about it will only take away from the happiness that you are feeling right now.
#2 – The expectations of what could be.
Unfortunately, it’s that darn future that causes love to hurt in a relationship.
For many of us, living in the moment is very difficult. Instead of enjoying where we are right now, we project ahead to the future. Even if you are secure in your relationship, wondering what is next can cause physical and psychic pain.
It’s those questions that you run over and over in your head that do it. When will I see him again? What will we do, if anything, this weekend? When can we move in together? When will she introduce me to her friends?
Again, worrying about the future, even in a secure, committed relationship, can cause pain. The symptoms can be similar to those described above. You might also find yourself feeling needy and clingy, neither of which are very fun for your partner.
So, if this is you, worrying about the future constantly, try to let it go and focus on right now.
#3 – The chemical crash.
Another reason that love is so painful is because of our body’s chemistry.
When we are falling in love, all sorts of wonderful chemicals are coursing through our bodies.
Dopamine, serotine, oxytocin and endorphins are all stimulated when we are experiencing love and lust. Those chemicals feels SO good that they are, in a way, addictive. Because our bodies only produce them at certain times, like when we are falling in love or after we exercise, when we don’t have them we crave them.
You know how, when after a lovely weekend together, you separate and the feeling is intensely painful? That is because your body is literally going into withdrawal of those chemicals that make you feel so good. And you won’t feel them again until you have some contact with your person.
This withdrawal is extremely painful and we will do just about anything to ease the pain. This need leads to anxiety about when we will see them again and the suffering is intensified.
If they are struggling with withdrawal pain, I encourage my clients to exercise. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins are generated by exercise and you can, at least temporarily, get those chemicals coursing through your blood again and alleviate that pain.
#4 – The baggage we bring.
Yes, we have all been in and out of love over the course of our lifetime and, for many of us, the memories of what caused previous heartbreak is real and still present in our mind. As a result, we bring the baggage from past relationships into our new ones and that can cause pain.
I know that I have had a number of boyfriends who have let me down. They made me promises, big promises, and then didn’t follow through with them, leaving me heartbroken.
As a result, when I am in a new relationship, I am constantly on the lookout for being let down. Sometimes it’s so bad that I set up my new guy to let me down, just to see what he will do.
This baggage, baggage that comes from past relationships, can cause us a lot of pain in our new ones. And that is dangerous because we don’t want that baggage to interfere with the new one’s success.
If you are carrying pain from past relationships, try to let it go and not project it onto your new partner. It’s not his fault that another guy messed up so don’t make him pay for it!
#5 – The letdown.
You know when you are falling in love and you are so excited that you finally met a person who had their shit together and knew how to treat you. Years and years of searching and FINALLY you hit paydirt!
Or did you?
When we are falling in love, all we know is that our person is perfect. But then, as time goes on, our person reveals more of who he is and we learn that maybe he isn’t exactly who we thought he was.
I am not saying that your perfect guy turned out to be a narcissistic sociopath (although that does happen) but your perfect guy does turn out to be imperfect.
Perhaps the guy who always used to hold the door for you sometimes doesn’t. Or perhaps he has revealed himself to be a bit of a slob. Perhaps he spends more time at work then he used to or he plays a few more video games then you might like.
When the person we thought was perfect turns out not to be, there can be a huge letdown. It’s not that they aren’t perfect enough to keep around but sometimes the awakening can be a rude one. And a painful one.
So, what do you do when the letdown causes you pain? You take stock of the good things about your person (like the fact that he isn’t a narcissitic sociopath) and, if necessary, address the things that might not be so perfect. If you know that the video games are going to be an issue, either talk to him about how you feel about them or choose to accept them as part of your life.
Either way, don’t let the fact that your person isn’t the perfect person you thought he was get in the way of your happiness. You probably aren’t quite the person he thought you were either and still he stays.
Why does love hurt? Why can’t life be easy and full of joy?
On some level, these are existential questions but there also some concrete reasons why.
Fortunately, the pain doesn’t need to mark the end of a relationship. Take stock of the things that are causing you pain and take steps to address them.
Are you feeling uncertain about your future? Do you wonder about expectations? Do you struggle with the chemical crash or the weight of the baggage that you bring? Do you wonder if this imperfect person is the one for you?
Address these things one at a time and the pain that you feel in your relationship can be managed and reduced.
Love can be wonderful and love can be painful. Make sure that the balance of the two is equal and you can live happily ever after!
You can do it!
Do you want to know more about how to deal with pain in a relationship?
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I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.