Fall out of love with your partner? Or just feel bored? Well, you can fall back in love with the same old person, new research shows.
The study, done by psychologists at the University of Missouri—St. Louis and Erasmus University Rotterdam, explored “love regulation,” and discovered that humans can use their mind and thoughts to increase their love for someone. It also works the opposite, and you ca think your way out of love, following a breakup.
In “Regulation of Romantic Love Feelings: Preconceptions, Strategies, and Feasibility,” published in PLOS One, 40 people were brought to a lab. Twenty of them were currently in a romantic relationship and 20 had recently suffered a breakup with a partner. Each person brought with them 30 pictures of their partner or ex with them to the experiment.
“The relationship and break-up groups did not differ in how long they had known their partner for, how long ago their love feelings had started, and the duration of their relationships,” said the study. “The break-up groups did tend to report lower relationship quality than the relationship group. The break-up group also felt less attached and tended to feel more infatuated with their partner than the relationship group. Moreover, the break-up group tended to have experienced less positive affect during the past two weeks and had experienced more negative affect in the past two weeks and at the start of the testing session than the relationship group.”
First, they were told to stare at the pictures and think positive thoughts about their partner, and a future together. They were then asked how in love with the person they felt. Following that pleasant experience, they were told to look again at the photos and start to think negative thoughts—about their partner. And about their future with that person. Again, they were asked how in love with the person they felt. Their brain waves were also measured during both halves of the experiment.
The study found that the participants brainwaves became stronger and they felt closer to their partner after the positive thought experiment. During the negative thought portion of the experiment, the participants felt less attached and were not so into their partners or exes. Their brainwaves were also weaker.
“Participants mostly used distraction and reappraisal when heartbroken,” the study reports. “Distraction was used more to feel better, while reappraisal by focusing on the negative aspects of the beloved/relationship was used more to decrease love feelings.”
In conclusion, researchers found that “participants had the preconception that love is somewhat uncontrollable, as indicated by their scores on the series of questions assessing the perceived controllability of love feelings.”
“Moreover, a few participants reported that they are unable to decrease love feelings when heartbroken…Research, however, has shown that infatuation (passionate love) and attachment (companionate love) typically do decline over time, so having this opinion might limit one’s chances of having long-lasting relationships. However, the mean score on the perceived control questions approached the midpoint of the scale, indicating that participants did not entirely reject the idea of controllable love. In addition, participants perceived some aspects of love to be more controllable than other aspects. Participants perceived feelings of attachment as more controllable than feelings of infatuation and they felt more in control of the intensity of love feelings than of who they are in love with.”
Also, researchers said real -life heartbreak could heal properly when people don’t look at pictures of their ex.
“Some participants reported avoiding beloved-related cues, such as pictures or conversations, when heartbroken…avoiding beloved-related cues may reduce ‘craving’ for the beloved in the short term.”
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