Break-ups are part of dating sometimes, but they are not easy and they’re not fun. Logically, we may be able to gain some perspective, reason it all through and tell ourselves it’s okay. Yet this isn’t stopping the emotional roller coaster or pain we’re experiencing. However, the latest research from psychologists offers us three bits of advice to help us deal with the heartache of a break-up. 

I remember talking to a friend who had just broken up with his girlfriend. He was understandably upset, and while it wasn’t a total surprise, he had hoped it would turn out differently. 

If you asked him about it at the time, he could tell you all the reasons why it was probably best for both of them. Why it wasn’t going to work out long-term, while giving all the good reasons why they had separated. But he would also have these emotional outbursts and want to get back with her.

Emotional Bond

I thought, and still think, that this is totally understandable. A relationship isn’t only about reason or logic, it involves our emotions too. 

Breaking an emotional bond is hard in any situation. Some break-ups are mutual, some aren’t. Some may be coming for a while, but others are a complete surprise. The common denominator though is that all of them leave some emotional pain and heartache.

The emotional bond is probably going to be harder to deal with

So whether we can or can’t reason with ourselves that it’s for the best, we need to understand that the emotional bond is probably going to be harder to deal with. This needs to be addressed if we want to get over it.  

New Research Offers 3 Tips  

Saying to someone there is plenty more fish in the sea, or saying that it could be worse, may be logical and help to an extent, but it doesn’t help people get off the emotional roller coaster. However, new research from psychologists may be able to help us.  

The research suggests 3 main strategies to get over heartbreak. 

  1. Think Negatively About Your Ex
  2. Accept Your Lingering Feeling Towards Them 
  3. Distract Yourself

Think Negatively About Your Ex

This strategy involves us critically examining our ex and remembering that they’re not perfect. 

This will help because it reminds us that it’s unhealthy to just remember the good bits, which can cause us to fall into the trap of thinking that no one else will ever make us happy again. This will also cause us to be stuck in the past, rather than putting our energy into moving forward. 

Taken too far, this can become really negative and make you feel worse. I had a friend who would endlessly list and exaggerate all the things that she (now) thought was wrong about her ex. But it made her really bitter and she processed her emotions in the wrong way. (Read The Worst Advice You Can Hear About Rejection)

Thinking negatively can help us gain the right perspective if it’s balanced with the other 2 strategies. 

Accept Your Lingering Feelings Towards Them 

This involves accepting that the emotional bond is still there.

We can’t ignore it

We can’t ignore it, pretend the feelings don’t exist or try to cover them up with another dose of anger. We’re allowed to say and accept that breaking the emotional bond is hard.

It will also help us to dig down into why we like them. Was it because of their sense of humour or the way they treated you, etc. These characteristics can help us to look for the right things in the next partner when the time is right.

Being able to realise what was good and reminding ourselves that they will not be the only person who has a sense of humour or who will treat us well, will help us to focus on moving forward. 

Distract Yourself

This strategy is as simple as it sounds. It’s about putting things in the diary, keeping ourselves busy, and meeting up with friends. 

The research suggests that this will not necessarily help reduce the feelings we have for our ex, because we all know just ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. However, it can make us feel more positive and optimistic because we won’t just sit there and think about the break-up.  

New research seems to offer us some real tangible and practical advice

Doing things we love to do or used to do, but haven’t in a while because of the past relationship, will also help create a more positive and forward-looking mindset too (Read Revealed: Why Some Break-Ups Feel Good (After A While))  

Imagine If…

All three strategies can help people overcome the pain of breaking an emotional bond. While there is no magic formula, and everyone is different with unique situations, new research seems to offer us some real tangible and practical advice. 

Imagine if you made sure you did indeed: Think Negatively About Your Ex, Accept Your Lingering Feeling Towards Them, and Distract Yourself, and enabled others to do the same, we could find real help in times of need. (Read Break-Ups, Anger, and Frustration, What Should I Change?)

What other advice have you given to people in this situation? Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 19/11/2018