5 Ways To Know You're Over A Relationship, According To Science
Breakups are tough in countless ways, despite which of you ended things. However, alas, there will be a moment when you’re officially over it. A lot of research has been done on breakups, and ways to know if you’re over a relationship. If you’re questioning whether you’ve moved on, this is the article for you.
Even if your breakup was mutual, it can still feel like a knife to the chest. That initial pain though is nothing compared to what you’ll feel later that night when you’re in bed alone. The pain varies from person to person, and I think we can all agree that when we’re in the breakup recovery period, we can’t think about anything else but when it will finally be over. There are so, so many determinants for how difficult it’ll be for you to get over an ex. According to Elly Prior, a British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy accredited couple’s counselor, some main factors that influence just how hard it will be include the length of the relationship or marriage, how recently you split up, how “intense” or even “obsessive” the relationship was, how important it was to you, how it ended, whether there was any domestic violence, where or not the relationship was an affair, and whether or not it was an “on/off” relationship.
Despite how many cards are stacked against you in terms of post-breakup recovery, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here are five ways to know if you’re over a relationship, according to science.
1. You’ve Fully Reflected On The Relationship
According to a study out of Social Psychological and Personality Science, those who reflect on their breakup and talk about it openly with others are successful in processing their past relationship, and in turn, getting past it. To come to this conclusion, researchers had two groups of volunteers who’d suffered from heartbreak — one group came into the lab regularly to talk about their breakup over several weeks, while the other group simply filled out a survey on the topic at the start and the conclusion of the study. Ultimately the study found that first group did better in terms of processing the end of the relationship, as they were able to talk it out. If you’ve gone through the reflexing period and talked it through with friends and family, you might just be one of the #blessed that’s officially over your past relationship.
2. You’re Attracted To Someone Else
Not only are you attracted to someone else, you’re not comparing the new person to your ex in any way, either. You don’t find yourself staring at their face examining if they have physical similarities, or analyzing how their interests line up to your ex’s. Rather, it’s a brand new and fresh attraction, and you feel good about it. According to a study out of Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin and reported on in Psychology Today, getting back out into the dating world is a good way to move on from your past relationship — so if you’re doing this it could be a sign to yourself that you’re moving on quite nicely, and you’re over the previous relationship. Psychology Today noted this shows you’re shifting your romantic focus away from your ex. This is not to encourage rebounds, but once you’ve had the proper time to reflect on your breakup, it’s good to get back out there, so if you’re at this point — more power to you, looks like you’ve made it out of the breakup period alive!
3. You’re Genuinely Happy For Them That They’ve Moved On
You run into the local coffee shop and see your ex sitting there with a new love interest. Surprisingly even to yourself, it doesn’t bother you at all — you feel completely and genuinely happy for them. This is yet another way of telling you’ve moved on, according to Lois Tarter, divorce blogger and author of The Divorce Ritual. She penned a Huffington Post article on the topic, and noted seeing your ex with someone new and being unfazed is one of the main ways to tell you’re over the past relationship. As with the research we discussed in the previous point, it’s your ex’s way of showing they, too, have shifted their romantic focus. If you feel comfortable that he or she has done so, this is great news for you in terms of breakup recovery.
4. A Lot Of Time Has Passed
For the most part, time heals all wounds. At least according to research out of Stony Brook University on getting over an ex. According to these researchers, your inability to let go of a past relationship can be blamed on your nucleus accumbens — the part of the brain associated with reward — which has developed an addiction, of sorts, to this person. The study said, “the findings are consistent with the hypothesis that romantic love is a specific form of addiction.” Ultimately, when you break up, the way the brain reacts is the same as it would react during a drug withdrawal. What does passing time have to do with this? The researchers claimed this study proves that over time, the activity happening in the brain associated with your addiction will fade. Look at the calendar — if it’s been a long time, chances are you’re over that past relationship, or at least your brain is.
5. You No Longer Feel Your Life Is Lacking Without Them
For me, the worst part of a breakup is waking up thinking the other person will be in your bed, and realizing they aren’t. I cringe just thinking about that feeling. In that initial time following a breakup it’s likely you’ll feel like your life is completely different without your ex and that something is lacking. However, as I mentioned, time heals pain, and over time that feeling will start to fade. If you’ve now reached a point where you’ve let go and regained a sense of self, you’ve likely moved on, science says. Research out of the journal Personal Relationships showed that the best way to move on from an ex is by gaining back that true sense of self. Oppositely, if you’re failing to redefine yourself following the breakup, the study stated it’s going to contribute to post-breakup distress. The “I’m a strong, independent badass,” feeling you had when you woke up this morning — it means you’re one with yourself again and have moved on.
If you’re wondering whether you’ve really moved on or not, hopefully some of the signs above can point you in the direction to your answer. If you have moved on, go celebrate. And if not, you'll get there. Don't worry.
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