The human brain is hardwired to handle a breakup and move on, according to new research published in the Review of General Psychology earlier this month.
The review found that the human brain craves the chemical reaction love creates — which often involves a variety of positive feeling chemicals, like dopamine, rushing through your brain — and therefore continues to seek out and feel romantic feelings for others after a heartbreak.
"Our review of the literature suggests we have a mechanism in our brains designed by natural selection to pull us through a very tumultuous time in our lives,” Dr. Brian Boutwell, associate professor at Saint Louis University said, according to The Daily Beast. “It suggests people will recover; the pain will go away with time.”
To make the pain go away, some people attempt to get back with the one they lost, according to Science Daily, or continue to date around until they find the right person.
“A person might initially pursue their old mate — in an attempt to win back their affection,” Boutwell said, according to Science Daily. “However, if pursuit is indeed fruitless, then the brains of individuals may act to correct certain emotions and behaviors, paving the way for people to become attracted to new mates and form new relationships.”
But the brain doesn't always heal immediately after a breakup. A study from the Journal of Positive Psychology found it often takes three months (or 11 weeks) to get over a breakup, which I wrote about back in January.
“This may seem too short to some and too long to others,” wrote Nicole Weaver for Psych Central. “Remember, it’s just an average — everyone heals differently.”
The study looked at the breakups of 155 young adult relationships, and found that most got over those relationships after about three months. This applied to both those who did the breaking up and those who got broken up with, according to the study.
But there's more than one way to get over a breakup. A study from Social Psychological and Personality Science found that analyzing and talking about your past relationships will help you get over them quicker, which I wrote about back in January.
People who analyze their former partners’ behaviors are able to understand their experiences better and learn more quickly from their previous mistakes with others.
"For most people, breakups have a powerful, painful effect on our sense of self and our wellbeing," Grace Larson, co-author of the study, told Deseret News National in January. "Ignoring this pain probably doesn't help people do the work of repairing how they see themselves now that they aren't defined partly by their relationship."
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.