Do you believe in life after love? What do you do to get over a relationship breakup?
Watch rom coms? Eat comfort food?
To heal a broken heart, there are home remedies, and then there’s the scientific method. Which will you choose?
Being in a relationship literally rewires your biological rhythm. As you and your partner spend more time together, you develop a balance and start to act as one. As a couple, you decide when to eat, and when to sleep.
If you’re feeling sad, your partner cheers you up. If your partner is agitated, you calm them down.
But a breakup disturbs this routine, and suddenly, you’ve got to reconfigure your physical and psychological rhythm to accomodate just yourself.
What’s more, particularly intense relationships, either with lots of fighting or lots of passion, put your brain in a state of constant stimulation. So when it’s over, your brain has to adapt to this sudden loss of stimulus, which can be quite disorienting.
But can all this science really describe how you feel? True; we don’t know your ex, or the details of your last relationships, but we do know how the brain works and how you can feel better.
In a study out of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, researchers assigned recently single participants to try one of four coping strategies following their breakup:
A) Think negatively about your ex
B) Think positively about your ex
C) Think positively about things unrelated to your ex.
D) Don’t think about anything in particular
The researchers then monitored their subjects’ brain’s while showing them pictures of their exes.
The results indicated that the first three strategies reduced one’s emotional response to a photograph of their ex, but that those who were told to think negatively about their ex actually experienced decreased feelings of love toward them.
Unfortunately, there’s a bit of give and take. Thinking negatively about your ex will reduce your love towards them, and might help you move on faster, but at the same time, it’ll put you in a worse mood. Whereas other strategies that involve distraction will improve your mood in the short term, but won’t reduce your feelings of love towards your ex as easily, making it harder to move on.
So, according to science, when getting over a breakup, your best bet is to view your past relationship in a negative context, while sparingly introducing distractions to keep your mood up. Over time, your attachment towards your ex will decrease, and you’ll have moved on. Some people are able to stay friends with their exes, while others prefer a clean break. Whatever you decide, take care of yourself first; take the time to properly get over your breakup.
Still not sure where to start? Here’s a quick tip that should help:
Either block your ex, or keep off social media for a while. Roughly 90% of young adults continue to monitor their ex after a breakup. This is usually done by checking out their social media profiles. You may think it’s helping you move on, but really, it increases longing and is linked to less personal growth.
Got a friend who’s getting over someone? Show them this video, and stay tuned for more According to Science!
- “Why It’S So Hard To Get Over Your Ex, According To A Relationship Psychologist”. 2017. Vox. Accessed February 5 2019.
- “Why It’s So Hard To Get Over Some Breakup S”. Lachmann, Suzanne, 2016. Psychology Today. Accessed February 5 2019.
- “How to Get Over a Breakup, According to Science”. 2019. Time. Accessed February 5 2019.
- “Psycnet”. 2019. psycnet.apa.org. Accessed February 5 2019.
- “How To Get Over A Breakup: New Research From UMSL’s Sandra Langeslag Featured In TIME – UMSL Daily”. Morrison, David. 2018. UMSL Daily. Accessed February 5 2019.
- “How To Get Over A Breakup, According To Science”. 2018. Iflscience. Accessed February 5 2019.