How to get over your ex, according to science

There’s no getting around it – break-ups are bloody hard. In fact, getting over a broken heart is one of the hardest things we as humans go through in life, no matter the cause.

While everyone has their own methods for managing and overcoming the pain of the end of a relationship, a new study has found that one action in particular could help you to figure out how to get over your ex: thinking negative thoughts about them.

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Researchers whose work was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology came to this conclusion by testing out and comparing different cognitive strategies for dealing with heartbreak.

24 participants between the ages of 20 and 37 who had recently had their hearts broken were all shown 28 pictures, and asked to follow one of four break-up methods when presented with each image.

One group was asked to only think negative thoughts about their ex, the second was asked to accept their love for the ex, the third was left to get into their own thoughts when looking at the images, and the fourth was given a set of distractions, like focusing their thoughts on positive parts of their lives outside of their previous relationship.

At the end of the experiment, the results showed that the group who were asked to think negative thoughts about their ex were the first to move on from their break-up.

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‘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 said.

However, the study also found that the same group felt significantly lower in mood than the three others, and researchers later admitted that they would actually need to carry out more analysis to determine the long-term effects of the concept.

‘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,’ they added.

The study as a whole should be take with a pinch of salt though, according to love coach Perisa Lawson. In per expert opinion, the best way to get over the breakdown of a relationship is to get really honest with yourself about what worked and what didn’t. “Look at what positive and negative traits your ex had. The big mistakes both people made in the relationship, and most importantly, the reason for the break-up,” she tells YOU.

“This way, you can use what you learn to make better romantic choices in the future – as well as accepting the good and bad elements of the relationship – and person you’ve just broken up with. This will massively help with closure so that, when the time is right and you’ve had plenty of time to heal, you can move on to a relationship that’s a better fit – without bringing all the negative baggage from the previous relationship in to the new one.”