The Secret To Getting Over Your Breakup…According To Science


Breakups are never fun. When you’re going through such a tough time, it is important to take care of yourself. But if you’re trying to get over your breakup fast, a new study carried out by researchers at the University of Arizona may suggest that what you should focus on doing is recovering your sense of self.

While the study only included a sample size of 70 people, the results can perhaps still offer us insight to the type of feelings we have to grapple with post-breakup. And how we can work through them.

The researchers found that participants who indicated that they were still having feelings of love and attachment to their former partners were more likely to indicate that they were suffering from a loss of their sense of self. In other words, their breakup left them questioning, on a fundamental level, who they were.

Those who continued to struggle with this question reportedly struggled more with moving on. Those who reported that they had recovered their sense of self, or even had new feelings about who they were post-break up reported feelings of better psychological well being overall. Check out more details on the study here.

But what exactly does “sense of self” mean and how can you maintain it, or strengthen it during a break up? Psychologists define sense of self as personal identity and self concept clarity. According to the Association of Psychological Science, measurements of personal identity refers to, “the degree to which one has developed a clear, internally consistent bundle of goals, values, and beliefs,” while self concept clarity refers to, “individuals’ tendency to feel sure of themselves and describe themselves in positive, consistent terms”.

If you’re going through a break up, it makes sense that the changes involved in disconnecting from a partner may result in a lack of self assuredness and the ability to describe yourself in positive terms. If your own personal identity, or in other words, your goals, values, and beliefs were tied to the goals and values you had within your former relationship, then you may have greater difficulty figuring out your personal identity once that relationship has been dissolved.

So how can you rediscover your sense of personal identity during a break-up?

Creating lists of your goals might be a good place to start. Write down the types of things you would like to accomplish, based on your personal interests and values. These could range from substantial long term career goals, to what you’d like to accomplish in the day to day. The next step may be self explanatory. Now that you’ve written these goals down, start spending time working towards accomplishing those goals.

Many people find that when they are in long term relationships, their ability to dedicate time to personal interests and hobbies is greatly reduced. You may find that focusing on a long lost hobby will help you to improve your sense of personal identity and self concept.

If you’re not going through a break up right now, you might still want to use this information and be proactive about maintaining your sense of self even while you’re in a relationship. Psychologist Debbie Hebernick, recommends “being together, apart,” or what she terms “co-puttering”. This practice basically amounts to giving yourself and your partner space to do what you both are interested in.

Perhaps what is the most important take away, is that “what you are interested in,” should extend beyond your partner.

We’ve talked about being your own person, and being your own first priority a lot on Galore. Having your own life, goals, and ambitions outside of your partner and your romantic relationships help to cultivate balance and levelheadedness.

They also help you to maintain a sense of self that is independent of your partner. This study seems to support a lot of what we’ve shared anecdotally.

So even science is encouraging you to keep doing you!

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