Study Shows the Positive Effects of Dwelling on a Breakup

Breakups, divorces, separations are tough. Friends and colleges will often tell you to “forget about them,” but new research suggests this “get over it” attitude may not be the right course of action.

Breakups, divorces, separations are tough. Friends and colleges will often tell you to “forget about them,” but new research suggests this “get over it” attitude may not be the right course of action.


Nicholas St. Fleur from The Atlantic writes that one study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science has found that people who reflect on their breakup may have an easier time getting over it than those who do not. Grace Larson, a social psychologist and author of the paper, has spent years looking at the psychological effects of divorce and separation and has now formulated a study to show how to best move on from a breakup.

To find out if dwelling on a breakup helped or hindered the healing process, she found 210 recently separated participants (mostly women). Larson and her team split them into two groups in preparation for a nine-week study. Both groups sat down on the first day to fill-out a survey to help analyze how they felt about themselves since the breakup, gauging their response to such statements as “I do not feel like myself anymore,” “I feel as though I am missing a part of me,” and “I have rediscovered who I am.” One group would not meet with researchers again until the study's end. The other group met four more times with researchers, where they were interviewed about past relationships and asked to privately record their feelings.

By the study's conclusion, researchers found that the group that met with researcher regularly had “better overall recovery from their breakups” compared to the other group.

“That process of feeling complete again, and regaining what you had to let go, is really healthy and drives recovery.” 

She suggest that as part of any breakup it may be best for individuals to write in a journal as part of the recovery process, as a way to vet those feelings and regain your sense of self. But she also note how important it is to talk out your frustrations with friends.

“Take the time to not just drown your feelings in sugary food, but to think about the breakup and reflect on how you’re doing... invite a friend over too, so you’re not just stewing.”

Read more at The Atlantic

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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