Almost everyone experiences romantic love in their lifetime.
And although it comes with happiness, euphoria, and increased life satisfaction, break-ups are associated with depression, mood swings, and anxiety.
So, are there any scientific strategies for moving past a break-up?
How can you get over your ex?
The first thing you might wanna do?
Stop creeping them on social media.
Although we might think it's harmless Facebook monitoring a former partner, (it) has been shown to lead to greater feelings of sexual desire and longing for an ex, as well as a decreased level of personal growth.
This is similar to research of real life contact with an ex.
That is, people who continue to see their ex after a break-up report greater sadness and love, ultimately decreasing their ability to move on.
Similarly, for the 30-50% young adults in on-again, off-again relationships, habitually breaking-up and getting back together is associated with increased anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as poorer communication and commitment.
Other studies have shown that people who Facebook stalk or subtweet at their former partners' are six times more likely to participate in a relational intrusion in real life.
Behaviors like showing up at the ex-partner's classroom or workplace.
All this may be related to the fact that sensory areas of the brain associated with physical pain become activated when shown a picture of an ex.
In short, break-ups and social rejection can physically hurt.
So overall, it's probably best to cut the digital, and real life cord with your old flame.
If that fails, perhaps a dose of tylenol.
A study of undergraduates found that
taking acetaminophen, the common pain killer, during a period of social rejection decreased self-reported levels of social pain
and also decreased brain activity in regions associated with social rejection and physical pain.
Tylenol also seems to decrease areas of the brain responsible for aggression, which may help mitigate, say, any desire to carve your name into a leather seat.
Keeping a burn book?
You might actually benefit from focusing on the bad parts of your ex to get over them.
One study had people look at photos of their ex and immediately used a strategy called Negative Reappraisal, which involves thinking about the negative qualities of a former partner, or imagining negative future scenarios with them.
This is actually similar to a strategy used for people who are alcohol dependent.
Thinking about the negative consequences of repeated alcohol consumption can decrease craving significantly.
Some participants used a distraction strategy.
When given a photo of their ex they were asked unrelated question to distract them.
Negative Reappraisal, decreased love feelings for the ex but caused a short term unpleasant feeling whereas distraction increased pleasantness but did not decrease love feelings.
In other words thinking poorly about an ex may put you in a bad mood for a short period of time, but will be beneficial in the long run by decreasing your feelings for them.
While distraction may boost your mood for a bit but not help you get over an ex in the long run.
Based on this research, one researcher suggests writing a list of as many negative qualities about your ex that you can think of at least once a day, until you feel better.
All in all, break-ups are tough.
Psychologists described one of the most important challenges is to regain a sense of self separate from a former partner.
So it may be best to unplug and reconnect with old friends and old hobbies, in order to heal and move on to the next one.
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