By Nicolle

After you break up with someone – or someone breaks up with you – it’s inevitable that your friends begin telling you what a jerk he or she was. How he monopolized your time. How she wouldn’t let you be the real you. How he didn’t treat you right. How she was flirting with all your friends behind your back.

Photo by Kelly Cole

You’re better off, everyone says. You need to move on. You need to heal. And bashing your ex (or listening to the cacophony of ex-bashing inevitably repeated by your friends and family) is supposed to aid in that “healing.”

Well, your friends may be right. Not about your ex being a cheater, but about the necessity of viewing him or her in a negative light in order to move on.

According to a recent study by Christopher P. Fagundes at the University of Utah, using a picture of your ex’s face as a dartboard could help you heal from a break-up faster – whether you were the heartbreaker or the heartbreak-ee.

In a study of 65 undergraduates who had recently broken up with someone they’d been dating for more than four months, those who exhibited strong negative feelings towards their exes immediately after the break-up were less likely to be depressed. And, in a retest a month after the original study, those whose feelings towards their exes had grown even more negative were generally less depressed and recovering faster than those who hadn’t.

From the published paper: “Given the importance of negative evaluations in post-break-up adjustment, future work should explore whether friends and family members might help people adjust to a recent break-up by drawing attention to the negative aspects of the former relationship.”

Sort of falls into the category of “It’s Great When Science Confirms Things We Already Sort of Know,” but intriguing nonetheless. What’s also interesting is the lack of consideration given to the learning experience a break-up can be.

While it could be argued that agonizing over what you might have done differently could make you more depressed, post break-up could also be a time to increase your self-awareness. In many cases, talking through a break-up or a failed relationship with your ex probably isn’t feasible (or desirable), but a self-analysis would be beneficial if you ever decide to date again.

If you can figure out where communication broke down, what things could have been improved on (by both parties) and how you will change yourself in preparation for a future relationship, you might not get over your break-up as quickly, but you’ll be a better relationship participant later.

And once you’re done with that, maybe ceremonially burning all your ex’s gifts in an outdoor bonfire isn’t a bad idea.

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