Repeatedly, reflecting on the breakup or discussing it with friends or even experts generally speeds up emotional recovery, new research suggests.

"Breakups are ubiquitous - most adults have experienced at least one in their life - and are typically very distressing," said Grace Larson from Northwestern University.     

After studying divorce and breakups for years, Larson and her then-adviser David Sbarra further wanted to study whether these research techniques on their own were affecting participants.

"At first glance, it might seem like repeatedly reminding participants that they had just broken up - and asking them to describe the breakup over and over - might delay recovery," she said.

Researchers split participants into two conditions: with one group, using a suite of methods for observing coping and emotions (such as questionnaires, psycho-physiological measurements like heart rate monitoring); and with the second group, only asking them to complete initial and final questionnaires.
All the participants had experienced a non-marital breakup around six months ago.

Those who completed the more intensive set of tasks had better recovery from their breakups.

Asking the participants to reflect on their relationships helped the participants "build a stronger sense of those who was as single," Larson said.

The researchers yet to know exactly which aspects of the study caused these changes but they suspect it relates to participants thinking about their breakups from a distanced perspective.

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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