The breakup of a relationship is tough for most people. Alongside the pain of breaking up there are also often still feelings of love towards your ex partner. It’s primarily these feelings of remaining love that cause a lot of the pain and heartbreak of a breakup and make it difficult to move on. A 2018 research paper on this subject in the Journal of Experimental Psychology has shown that negative reappraisal is the most effective short term solution in dampening down remaining feelings of love.
So what is negative reappraisal? To put it simply: it’s remembering all the bad points about your ex. They might have been apathetic, forgetful, arrogant, or just plain old boring. Whatever bad points they had, now is the best time to remember them. Repeatedly remembering their bad points during moments of heartbreak helps to reduce the remaining love you feel for your ex and so lessens the pain over time; helping you to heal and move on.
Another interesting and useful way to help feel better after a breakup the researchers found was that distraction was an effective strategy to use to raise your mood. This makes complete sense as keeping busy gives you less time to think and ruminate over the breakup. Another useful strategy would be to spend time with friends and other loved ones, it’s often easier to be distracted in the company of others. This could also be the perfect time to plan for the future, to plan some things you’ve been wanting to do for a long time but have been delaying, or to plan for something brand new and exciting. Take the trip, learn the new interesting skill, join the class you’d been looking at for years but never got around to doing, get out into the world and meet some new fun people. Heartbreak is awful but you have many new opportunities on the horizon, you just need to be brave enough to take the first steps.
Takeaway: When feeling moments of love and longing remember all of the bad things about your ex in order to dampen the feelings of love over time. Keep distracted as much as you can and try not to ruminate over the past.