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This is the best way to get over your ex, according to science

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Susan Devaney
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Break-ups are hard, but this might be the best way to move on from a failed relationship, according to a recent study.  

From a romantic break-up to broken friendships, heartbreak is hard in every shape or form. And try as we might, moving on from a broken heart is up there in the most difficult things we’ll ever experience in our lives.

But, according to a new study some methods can be more successful than others for dusting ourselves off and starting again.

The research, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, compared three cognitive strategies for moving on and leaving the love behind. By including 24 participants, all aged 20-37, who’d recently had their hearts broken and were on the mend, the researchers showed them 28 pictures and asked them to follow one of four techniques when presented with each image.

Each group then had to follow a different break-up method. One was asked to think only negative thoughts about their ex, the second were asked to accept their love for their ex, the third was given a set of distractions (like conjuring up positive thoughts about anything but their ex) and the fourth group was, well basically, asked to mull away in their own thoughts.

And the group that came out on top? The ones who had to focus on negative feelings about their ex.

“This suggests that in the context of a romantic break-up, negative reappraisal is an effective love down-regulation strategy, whereas distraction is an effective positive emotion up-regulation strategy,” the researchers concluded.

However, the group felt significantly low in comparison to the other three. 

And try as we might, moving on from a broken heart is up there in the most difficult things we’ll ever experience in our lives.

Looking at the analysis and method over the long term, the researchers admitted that more studies would need to be carried out. “To evaluate which regulation strategies would best help people cope with a break-up, it would be essential to consider both the short-term and long-term effects.”

Is that the answer? You’ll find success if you focus on your ex’s flaws? Easier said than done, right?

“I always get clients to write a list of everything they did not like about their ex and the things that annoyed them or irritated them,” explains Divorce Coach, Sara Davison, in agreeance. 

“We often romanticise about past relationships and see them through rose tinted glasses. It’s important to take them off and see it for what it really was – warts and all.”

From having a good cry to getting support and writing a bucket list of all things you couldn’t do while in your last relationship, Davison believes each technique will help you learn from it all. However, she stresses that you don’t have to let go off all the good stuff.

“You don’t have to trash all the good memories. Keep those but don’t focus on them. If you can let go of the pain but keep the magic moments from the past you will be able to move forward,” Davison explains.

“But taking responsibility for your break-up will allow you to let go and move forward. If you blame your ex you are giving your power away to them and they are still able to control your emotions like a puppet on a string, even though they are not there anymore. It is empowering to learn the lessons from your break-up and identify where you went wrong.”

So, dust yourself off and start again. We believe in you. 

Images: Unsplash 

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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