The last time my heart was broken, I remember actively trying not to talk about it. Sure, I spent the first day blabbing about it non-stop to my friends, but, once that day came and went, I decided the only way to truly get over it was to stop talking and, ideally, stop thinking about it. Well, it turns out I might have been wrong. A study actually found that, as counterintuitive as it may seem, talking about a breakup can help you get over it faster.
The study, published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science in 2015, is back in the news now after The Independent covered it yesterday. While the study was on the smaller side, with only 210 participants, the findings are still pretty interesting. Each one of those participants had just gone through a breakup and the researchers sought to find the most effective way of getting over their heartbreak.
In order to do this, researchers split the participants into two groups. The researchers instructed one group to making them fill out questionnaires about their breakups and monitoring their heart rates while they interviewed them about their former relationships. The second group was asked to put little to no thought into their breakups, only filling out initial and final questionnaires.
Much to everyone's surprise, the members of the initial group were able to recover more quickly from their heartbreak.
The research credit this phenomenon to something called "self-concept reorganization." In this process, participants learn to see themselves as totally separate from their exes. In doing this, they're able to "psychologically untangle" themselves from their exes.
“The process of becoming psychologically intertwined with the partner is painful to have to undo," Dr. Grace Larson of Northwestern University, one of the study's authors, told Science Daily. “Our study provides additional evidence that self-concept repair actually causes improvements in well-being.”
The researchers hypothesized that once people distanced themselves from their partners, they were able to create a new "narrative" and look at their breakup from a totally fresh point of view.
“It might be simply the effect of repeatedly reflecting on one’s experience and crafting a narrative - especially a narrative that includes the part of the story where one recovers,” Dr Larson told Science Daily.
Since this study was published in 2015, a new one published in May of this year looked into some other methods for moving on from a breakup. In their study, the researchers were able to find that talking about your exes negatively was the most effective in getting you to love them less. So, when you're talking and thinking about your ex, try thinking about all of the things they did to annoy you. Like, remember how he always used to leave the toilet seat up? Or how she lied to you about having a dentist appointment just because she didn't want to hang out with your mom?!
Think and talk about those issues, and soon, your breakup will be a thing of the past.
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