How best to get over your ex, according to scientists

Louis Staples
Monday 11 June 2018 12:00
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As any ABBA fan knows, break ups can be awful at best, horrific at worst.

For centuries humans have been trying to find the perfect recipe for getting over a breakup. Some turn to new hobbies, others plough into work and the rest move on with a rebound partner.

But if you don’t want to have to enrol in Harvard Law school to realise you can do better, like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, science has the answer.

Researchers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis analysed three strategies people use to move on from a relationships.

The research follows 24 subjects, aged between 20 to 37, coming out of relationships that lasted just under three years. They were split into four groups that focused on one of three coping mechanisms plus a control.

The first group was told to think negatively about their exes. The second one was to accept what happened and acknowledge that the love they feel for the person. The third focused on things unrelated to their exes, like other people. The fourth group weren’t tasked with any method in particular.

The participants were then asked to complete a questionnaire and the team measured their emotional attachment to their former partners.

The research team found that all three strategies worked, but there were limitations. The first group felt less love towards them, but they also ended up in a worse mood. The second group didn’t feel any better and their love for their exes didn’t change. The third group felt happier overall, but the approach didn’t change how much in love they were with their exes.

The study shows that none of these methods should be considered as long-term solutions, as they wear off over time, but should make it easier to cope with reminders of your ex.

After all, getting over a break-up means changing your thinking, which takes time. Interviewed by TIME magazine, lead author professor Sandra Langeslag said:

Love regulation doesn’t work like an on/off switch. To make a lasting change, you’ll probably have to regulate your love feelings regularly.

But writing a list of as many negative things about your ex as you can think of once a day can be effective, Langeslag advised, adding that it might make you feel worse at first, but that tends to go away.

So there you have it, there’s no quick fix on a broken heart.

TB: IFL Science

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