Romantic Rejection as Powerful as Addiction

Is there a connection between romantic rejection and addiction? According to a study featured in a Science Daily release, these two elements are also connected to motivation and reward. How? The pain and anguish that rejection can create could possibly be the result of activity in the parts of the brain often associated with motivation, reward and cravings of addiction.

Researchers involved in this study suggest its findings could explain why feelings associated with romantic rejection tend to be hard to control. Study findings could also provide insight into why extreme behaviors that can be associated with this rejection – such as stalking, suicide and homicide – occur in cultures around the globe.

The study relied on the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to capture the brain activity in 15 straight men and women of college age who had recently been rejected by their partners. These individuals also reported that they were still intensely in love with the other person.

Participants in the study reported spending more than 85 percent of their time awake thinking about the person who had rejected them. They all yearned for getting back together with that person and activities they indulged in included looking at photographs of the former partner, which stimulated several key areas of the participants’ brains.

The researchers concluded that romantic love has a passion that is goal-oriented motivation instead of a specific emotion. This observation suggests that romantic rejection is a specific from of addiction. If this is true, romantic rejection causes a person to fight against a strong survival system which forms the basis of addiction.