Point of view: relationships teach even through heartache

By Jessica Acklen
Arts and Entertainment Editor

We have all suffered the pain of a breakup – the deleting of phone numbers, the redistribution of shared goods, the removal of all pre-heartbreak pictures on Facebook.

I have absolutely suffered through this heartache and a study I read got me thinking about my most recent breakup.

According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Nation Academy of Sciences, the same brain networks that react when you spill hot coffee are the same networks that react when painful post-breakup memories surface.

So, that means that post-breakup, you feel the same legitimate pain as if you were burned.

Anyone who has had a broken heart probably won’t be surprised. However, it’s nice that science can explain why we feel the need to lay in bed with a tub of cookie dough and watch seasons one through six of “Sex and the City.”

My mom always told me that every relationship you have will end in a breakup – excluding one, which will be with your spouse. In this day and age, there is about a 50 percent chance that marriage will end in breakup as well.

When you think about it that way, is there even a reason to date these days?

While sometimes my cynical side wants to say no, the answer is absolutely a yes.

It’s true that the relationship may end and we will hurt as bad as if we spilled hot coffee on ourselves.

But, in reality, the best thing about the relationships I’ve been in (and there have been many, healthy and unhealthy) is what we learn about ourselves.

My most recent breakup happened last semester and in reality, it didn’t have much to do with whether he was a great boyfriend or one that was lacking. It was mainly about what was lacking in myself.

I have been in relationships pretty consistently since I was about 15, which is nearly a third of my life.

That left me so dependent on other people that I didn’t know if I could rely on myself. When you put so much effort into another person and making a relationship better for them, what time is there to better yourself?

When my last relationship ended, I felt as though I had wasted the last two years of my life building up and relying on a relationship that I ended relatively easily in about 15 minutes.

What it has taken me a few months to realize is how much I grew in those two years.

When growing plants, there is a point where the plant will die if you keep it in a pot that is too small. It can only grow when the plant is in the soil, on its own.

Even though it hurt, probably more than spilled coffee (and trust me, I spill coffee on myself as often as I wear a white shirt), I had to end that relationship to grow and learn and decide my future by myself.

Looking back on it, I wonder what took me so long and I think I was afraid of that pain that I would assuredly face. However, the pain was worth learning what I have learned about myself in the past few months and what I am sure I will learn about myself in the future.

There are always more relationships to be had and more cups of coffee to be spilled.

Jessica Acklen is a journalism and political science major from Arlington. She is the arts and entertainment editor for the Lariat.