Why Do So Many People End Up Losing Weight After A Breakup?

Breaking up is hard to do, regardless of the circumstances. However, sometimes it’s not just emotional pain you have to deal with. Oftentimes, ending a relationship comes with physical side effects too. The idea of losing weight after a breakup is almost cliche at this point, but that’s only because it’s such a common occurrence. So, why is that and what’s it all about? Read on for a full explanation.

Why do people tend to lose weight after a breakup?

  1. Emotional distress causes decreased appetite. The more upset you are about the end of your relationship, the less likely you are to have much of an appetite. As licensed marriage and family therapist Lauren Cook-McKay explains: “Being in a relationship and feeling loved constantly means being exposed to a stable, bottomless source of happy hormones. With enough, long-term exposure, we get hooked on the person and the love they offer. During this time, the body becomes dependent on the euphoric feeling of love that a romantic partner provides and reaches addiction levels. Losing access to this love that serves as a source of all happiness and pleasure, the body suffers a withdrawal.”
  2. Getting “hotter” often seems like good revenge on your ex. You should never have to change yourself for someone else in any way. If they don’t appreciate how amazing you are as-is, they don’t deserve you. However, it’s natural to wonder after a breakup if losing weight or getting “hotter” would be a good way to show your ex what they’re missing. You start to focus all your energy on this task, which can become an all-out obsession if you’re not careful.
  3. Your fixation on the breakup/the end of your relationship takes your attention away from food. Maybe you don’t necessarily lack an appetite, but you’re so busy processing what happened between you and your ex that you simply “forget” to eat. (Yes, there are people out there like that.) While it’s not common, it’s been known to happen.
  4. The lack of a relationship gives you more time and energy to focus on diet and fitness. Maybe you initiated the breakup. The relationship was toxic or had run its course and you were ready to end it. You’re not necessarily cut up about it, but you are grateful for the free time. You’re way more motivated to hit the gym and eat well because you have the time and space to focus on it without distractions or obnoxious comments from your ex. You aren’t necessarily trying to lose weight post-breakup, you’re just trying to get your health together.

What is the “heartbreak diet”?

We’ve all experienced the intense heartbreak after a breakup that hurts so badly, it becomes physical. You’re so depressed and distraught that the last thing you can even think about is enjoying your favorite foods or eating anything at all. This often results in the person losing weight after their breakup. However, this should even out as time passes. It’s not intentional and usually isn’t even a conscious choice. However, it is extremely common.

“When people break up with someone they assume they are going to spend the rest of their lives with, there is an explosion of emotions that erupt. Depression, anxiety, anger, regret — they’re all normal after a serious breakup,” relationship coach Jon Dabach tells Bolde. “When that kind of emotional stress happens, it is natural for someone’s appetite to diminish significantly. This can sometimes be quite dangerous but often goes away within a few weeks.”

However, not everyone loses their appetite post-relationship. If you’re someone who tends to experience emotional eating, you may find yourself wanting to consume unhealthy foods in greater quantities to drown your sorrows and numb the pain of the breakup. This should also resolve itself as you heal, but both changes are worth being mindful of moving forward.

Why do people become obsessed with getting a “revenge body”?

Revenge bodies are everywhere. It seems like the minute someone becomes single again, they experience the ultimate glow-up and become a ripped, glamorous version of their former self. Hell, Khloe Kardashian even had a whole TV show about the phenomenon. So, what’s up with people’s obsession?

  1. The desire to get back at an ex provides strong motivation. Revenge is a dish best served cold. The old saying means that hitting your ex when they least expect it — say, a few months down the line when they’ve stopped thinking about the breakup — will have the biggest effect. Spending time and energy getting what you believe to be the perfect body is worth it. So is a new haircut, a bomb new makeup technique, etc. The look on their face when they realize what they’ve lost is a strong motivation for many.
  2. It replaces all those feel-good hormones you lost after the relationship ended. “Adopting an active lifestyle and developing healthy eating habits to achieve the revenge body also replaces what’s lost as the source of happy hormones,” Cook-McKay explains. “Working out and eating healthy to achieve a desirable body will deliver pleasure, and therefore, improve one’s well-being.”
  3. It’s a way to console yourself after a breakup. Losing weight after your breakup is one way of trying to console yourself. If you suffer from low self-esteem or have always wanted to shed a few pounds, doing so may provide you with some comfort. (Or so you’d think.) You may feel that even if you’re single and without a partner, at least you can fall back on being thin. Of course, this rarely works long-term.
Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia