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.