Feeling ‘nothing’ post breakup? After envisioning it to be the most painful thing in the world, are you surprised about not feeling any sadness, anger, or other overwhelming emotions that come with an end of relationship? Some may feel it’s unusual, but as per mental health experts, it’s one of the most common after-effects in case of a heartbreak and could mean a range of things. If you are feeling numb and empty from inside, it may show that you are allowing yourself to feel the barrage of emotions trying to flood and overpower you. Acting as a self-defence, the feeling of numbness prepares you slowly to come to terms with your breakup. (Also read: 6 things to do when you are missing someone you love)

The emotional fallout of a breakup can manifest in the most unexpected ways. While sadness and anger are normal post-breakup feelings, numbness is an equally common yet underappreciated reaction(Freepik)

The numbness post breakup could also be the second stage in grieving loss of a relationship. After an emotional storm, you may need some downtime to make repairs and heal yourself. In many cases, if the breakup happened on a painful note, the numbness can envelop a person to save them from feeling devastated.

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Numbing your emotions could be an individual thing too. Some people like to keep their feelings hidden. But this may cause pain in long term long after the other partner has healed and moved on.

“Breakups are difficult for most people! We know there are cool-headed folks out there who are always calm and collected, and breaking up with someone does not bother them. However, a breakup can be heartbreaking and leave us feeling numb on the inside. The emotional fallout of a breakup can manifest in the most unexpected ways. While sadness and anger are normal post-breakup feelings, numbness is an equally common yet underappreciated reaction,” says Dr Chandni Tugnait is M.D. (Alternative Medicines), Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Business Coach, NLP Expert, Healer, Founder & Director – Gateway of Healing in an interview with HT Digital.


Dr Chandni shares eight reasons why you may be experiencing numbness following a breakup:

1. Psychological self-defence

Numbness can be the mind’s attempt to shield itself from acute emotional anguish. When confronted with a deeply traumatic situation, such as a breakup, the brain may momentarily shut down or suppress specific emotions as a self-defence technique. This emotional numbing permits you to operate and get through the day until you’re ready to handle the heartbreak.

2. Emotional overload

On the other hand, numbness may be caused by emotional exhaustion. The stormy feelings that accompany a breakup can be so intense and relentless that you finally get emotionally exhausted and shut down. Imagine blowing a fuse due to an emotional power surge. Numbness permits your psyche to reset before experiencing the powerful feelings again.

3. Idealisation preventing closure

If you continue to idealise your ex or the relationship, numbness could arise when you fail to grieve the loss adequately. Idolising the relationship keeps you from accepting and dealing with the fact that it is finished. Numbness might be a dysfunctional placeholder that prevents you from experiencing full closure.

4. The long-lasting impact of rejection

Being broken up can be a devastating blow to one’s ego and self-worth. The rejection and loss of the relationship hurts deeply. Numbness can develop as a dysfunctional way to cope to avoid experiencing the full psychological impact of being “dumped.”

5. Trauma response

If the breakup was very traumatic, complex, or involved emotional abuse, numbness could be a subconscious traumatic response. This emotional disassociation might reduce the impact of psychologically distressing situations, serving as a post-traumatic coping technique.

6. Fear of future abandonment

Ambivalence regarding future relationships can lead to a fear of desertion down the line. As a kind of self-preservation, you may unknowingly build an aversion to intense emotional experiences. Numbness protects against vulnerability and potential heartbreak.

7. You are not being present

Numbness can result from your failure to be mindfully present rather than the circumstances of the breakup itself. If you have difficulty focusing on the past or worrying about the future, you will be unable to process current feelings related to the loss.

8. You are emotionally withholding

Some people’s natural coping strategy is to keep their emotions at bay. If you struggle with vulnerability and keep your feelings hidden, numbness after a breakup is not uncommon.

If you’re feeling numb after a breakup, be patient kind to yourself. The numbness will most likely fade over time as you grieve and heal. However, if the numbness lasts for months or hampers your functioning, you should seek professional help to process the breakup in a healthy, adaptive way.

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