YOU DID WHAT?!

YOUR CRAZY BREAKUP BE­HAV­IOUR EX­PLAINED

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE -

STHE RE­LA­TION­SHIP

THE BREAKUP With­out the doc­tor, there was no re­la­tion­ship, and ‘any bar­rier to the re­la­tion­ship stim­u­lates the dopamine sys­tem more,’ says He­len Fisher, a bi­o­log­i­cal an­thro­pol­o­gist at Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity in the US. ‘So you’re more in love and try­ing to win back your for­mer part­ner.’ prior. ‘He came over to my house that night and didn’t leave un­til 4am,’ she says. ‘From then on, it was con­stant call­ing, tex­ting, and see­ing each other.’

All that time to­gether lit up Elena’s brain with a raft of chem­i­cal ac­tiv­ity bi­o­log­i­cally de­signed to bond the new cou­ple, says neu­ro­sci­en­tist Larry Young, au­thor of

The Chem­istry Be­tween Us (R318, Pen­guin Put­nam). Each in­ter­ac­tion re­leased oxy­tocin in her brain, the neu­ro­hor­mone of sex and so­cial con­nec­tion, and dopamine, as­so­ci­ated with re­wards. ‘Th­ese spurts of oxy­tocin and dopamine form con­nec­tions be­tween the face and smell of your part­ner and the brain’s re­ward sys­tem,’ says Larry – mean­ing no mat­ter your gen­der, the brain sees your part­ner, and the at­ten­tion you’re re­ceiv­ing from them, as a drug. Five dates turned into 15, and Elena was hooked. For a year, her brain hummed along hap­pily in a cy­cle of an­tic­i­pa­tion and re­ward – un­til the doc­tor abruptly dis­ap­peared. he had been sit­ting in the bas­ket­ball arena for an hour when Elena, a 30-year-old phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal rep, tried her boyfriend’s cell for the 12th time. They hadn’t spo­ken in days, but his job as a doc­tor kept him busy. She di­alled again and got a recorded voice: ‘You have reached a num­ber that has been dis­con­nected.’

Elena stormed out of the arena and ca­reened down the road to his house, where she leaned on the horn. ‘I was work­ing off emo­tion,’ she says. ‘I was think­ing, I’m not gonna be ig­nored! Af­ter all we’ve been through to­gether, how dare you! I just felt so pow­er­less.’ His lights were on. She pounded on the front door, to no avail.

Her car was bumper-to-bumper with his in the drive­way. She slammed on the ac­cel­er­a­tor, push­ing his car into a tree. Soon a po­lice car pulled up be­hind her. Elena tried to ex­plain nights a week. They’d been to­gether for a year. The po­lice knocked on his door and spent a few min­utes in­side. ‘I don’t know what he said, but they didn’t ar­rest me,’ says Elena.

This out­burst might seem like the clichéd be­gin­nings of ex-girl­friend leg­end; the clas­sic trope of a woman scorned. But, in fact, neu­ro­chem­istry can ex­plain Elena’s ac­tions. all take lost love a lit­tle less per­son­ally.

You think you’ve got life han­dled un­til you hear those two spe­cial words – ‘It’s over’ – and you be­come a dis­con­so­late rage ma­chine. What’s go­ing on? Turns out, it’s re­ally not just you. It’s your brain chem­istry

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