A small study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has determined that focusing on the worst characteristics and habits of your ex can help you move on.
But before you start reminiscing on how he always left his dirty undies beside the laundry basket – there’s a catch. This strategy was also found to lower to mood of the participants who practiced it. Basically it means short term pain for long term gain.
For the study, researchers found 24 people who had been in a long term relationship for an average of 2.5 years and whether they were the dumper or the dumpee, they were still in love with their former flames. These people were divided into four groups, each of which were given assigned cognitive strategies designed to help them get over it.
The first group used the aforementioned “negative appraisal” technique, focusing on the crap qualities of their previous companion.
The second group was tasked with undertaking “love reappraisal” in which they accepted their amorous feelings towards their ex without judgement. They were told to read and believe statements of affirmation, like “It’s ok to love someone I’m not longer with.”
The third group used distraction as a means to move on, with participants concentrating on positive things unrelated to their exes, like a favourite TV show or delicious snack.
The final group was a control group who were given no intervention.
Next, all of the participants were showed a photo of their ex and their emotional response was measured by a electroencephalogram. They also answered a series of questions about their mood and their feelings towards their ex.
They found that negative reappraisal decreased feelings of love towards previous partners, but also made participants feel more unpleasant. Distraction made participants feel happier but didn’t alter how they felt towards their ex, while love reappraisal had no effect on either factor.
So next time you get your heart broken start recalling his or her most heinous habits and you'll be back on the prowl in no time.