“Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”
Letter from an addict:
I can’t get my ex to stop popping in my mind. No matter what or where I go, everything reminds me of her. What can I do? As it stands I have the power, she’s called me last, but I keep gettin the urge to give in and call.
The fact that I’ve been spinning plates has only made it worse. When I’m out with these new girls, keeps reminding me of stuff that I did with her, its whacked.
I feel like I just can’t get away, no matter where I look or go, there she is. The sad part is, I don’t even pine over her, I despise her, I think of her negatively but I’m addicted.
I need help.
If you were a drug addict or an alcoholic the first step back to sobriety is your moment of clarity. You’ve obviously had that. The next step is to detoxify yourself – that’s the hard part. You need to isolate yourself, and put yourself into complete separation from your drug of choice; in this case that’s your ex.
You’re feeling hopeless about her and your present condition because the cessation of what you’ve mistaken as a reward for so long is now out of reach. You need to understand that what you want to go back to isn’t what you think it is, nor will it ever “get better”. Even if you could reengage with her, it will never be what you think it could.
I think half the battle of controling an emotional response is consciously recognizing that it is taking place. Children (of both sexes) cannot help but react emotionally to external stimulus. They do this because they have no prior experience with that stimulus to associate a response to. In addition, they have an underdeveloped capacity for abstract thought and therefore an emotional response is almost a given. But as we mature and experience things, we understand what is happening (because it’s happened to us prior) and we can better react and prepare responses for them accordingly.
When a person first experiences jealousy this triggers a complex chain of hormonal and emotional imbalances. True jealousy, the type generated by the suspicion of having invested emotionally in a person who betrays that investment, rarely occurs before puberty so there is no prior experience to prepare an individual for it. It also happens so rarely that we don’t acknowledge it an issue to consider until we’re in the middle of experiencing it. This is further complicated by an immature, but developing capacity for abstract thought, as well as the fact that jealousy is an in-born, innate biological response that has served our species well for millenia. Needless to say this severly limits rational thought processes and the ability to form appropriate behaviors based on them.
Now lets further complicate the situation with the same chemical cocktail and the emotional responses associated with sexual relations and you can see where this is going.
Depending upon the level of emotional attachement, what most guys experience in a breakup are withdrawal symptoms from an addiction. The brian’s neurochemistry in response to environmental cues and the effects solidified by routine experience are truly fascinating. Studies have shown that the chemical/hormonal signatures that naturally occur in the human body while one is experiencing love are virtually identical to the euphoric properties of heroin. The reason you pine over this girl, the reason that her rubbing your nose in it (so to speak) seems satisfying, the reason seeing her with another guy or the idea of renting her a room to go fuck him in provokes such an intense emotional response from a guy is because it re-triggers that same hormonal charge you got from it the first time and you’re seeking ways to re-stimulate that rush. You’ve yet to develop the cognitive capacity to deal with the associations of this rush because you have few or no prior experiences with this jealousy/betrayal dynamic, so you think of it in the only terms that have been available to you up to now – that which media/culture has conditioned you to take at face value. Therefore you have this Shakespearean sense of betrayal.
There is a quantifiable hormonal response to environmental cues that inspire jealousy. From an evolutionary perspective this makes for a semi-efficient genetic-investment protection mechanism. Animals that get hormonally pissed off at the cues indicating cuckoldry will reserve their parental investments for better, more prolific breeding opportunities. However , the same evolutionary advantages that same hormonal response causes are also liabilities in other instances. While it may be beneficial for parental investment that a chemical cocktail engendering feelings of trust, infatuation, love, etc. be pumped into our bloodstreams to inspire pair bonding, that same cocktail can also become a powerful narcotic when the rewarding ‘high’ is removed.
What happens in a breakup is similar to coming down off a narcotic. The addict seeks to re-stimulate the reward process, only now that process is denied to him (or her). Thus the addict is forced to create novel ways to reestablish that reward, however under these new circumstances that reward rush doesn’t compare to the original high of infatuation, love, etc.. Creating situations where jealousy, indignation and suspicion are present is an attempt to trigger that rush the original triggers did, only this time it’s cheaper and less potent since its conditions are temporal, few and far between. So is the high of love, lust and infatuation replaced with the lesser high of suspicion and jealousy.
This is the biochemical addiction phase most guys find themselves in in a post-monogamy breakup. I should add that this is yet one more reason to cultivate a Plate Theory mental model of abundance, however, once again, knowing is half the battle. As the more rational and reasoned sex, one condition for dropping this default mental state is whilst under the influences of intoxication (funny we call love intoxicating) and hormonal imbalances. In other words it’s very hard to make rational assessments when your physiology is jonesing for a fix, but if you know you’re jonesing and why you’re jonesing, you’re half way to recovery.
The Beta Response
As an end note here I think I should elaborate that Beta men, in comparison to more Alpha Men, tend to have a much tougher experience when it comes to jealousy and post-partum emotional states. You’ve got to consider that men who have less opportunity for sex, love, emotional investment, etc. will experience a sense of loss greater than men who have more intimate opportunities. On a subconscious level, the Beta male has a much higher investment risk in losing a potential long-term lover since most of his proverbial eggs are going to necessarily be tied up in one basket at a time. This is a liability of the Beta breeding strategy – All In, but also All Out if he loses on his bet.
Furthermore, by his nature, the Beta will have less prior experience in coping with the emotional response prompted by that biochemical rush. Ergo, the guy who you “never though was capable” of the actions he takes will often surprise you by the extents to which he will go to reestablish that reward prompt. The Beta male and post-partum rejection, jealousy, betrayal, suspicion, etc. are often a very volatile mix.