Breaking up is hard to do.
But while the temptation is to hole-up in bed sobbing into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s or make like Dua Lipa and adopt the break-up rules (because ‘If you’re under him, you ain’t getting over him’), it’s not always the best strategy.
Thankfully, though, you can step away from the ice-cream because scientists have discovered a far better way of getting over a bad break-up.
Researchers from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, recently uncovered three effective ways of dealing with a split including negative reappraisal of the relationship, reappraisal of love feelings and good old-fashioned distraction.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, included 24 people between the ages of 20 and 37, most of whom were still in love with their ex after a relationship average of 2.5 years.
The participants were made to try out a few different strategies to help them get over their ex and viewed photos of their exes at each stage of the study.
For the first part of the research they focused on their ex-partners’ negative traits, be that not being thoughtful or a lack of ambition.
In the second stage, they were encouraged to acknowledge their current feelings toward their ex, based on the idea that acceptance might help them feel better equipped to move on.
And in the third stage, participants were asked to think about positive things as a way of distracting themselves from thinking about the breakup.
The results revealed that highlighting your ex’s negative traits was the most effective strategy in regulating post-break-up feelings of love. Funny that!
But before you phone your friend for a post-breakup slagging sesh, this strategy also made participants feel worse, at least in the short term.
Meanwhile, though love reappraisal did lower the emotional response to the photo, it didn’t do much to help participants find acceptance after a breakup.
And while distraction temporarily improved participants’ moods, researchers didn’t consider it a suitable long-term strategy because it focused on avoidance instead of learning to deal with negative feelings.
Overall, researchers concluded that the best way to cope with a breakup was using a combination of negative appraisal and distraction.
And though it is helpful to have the scientifically proven methods for moving on, remember not all breakups are created equal.
Sure, slagging off your ex might make you feel better, ditto taking your mind off things by hanging with your mates, but there’s actually no right or wrong way to get over heartbreak.
So, take things at your own pace and keep assessing your feelings as you go.
Still probably a good idea to listen to Dua Lipa though.
Got a story tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org