Still Upset About Break Ups From Long Ago? Science Thinks They Might Know Why

Relationships, man. They’re a bitch. Well, not necessarily the dating and being in love part, that’s kinda cool, but break ups, man, they’re a bitch.

The longing, the wanting, the missing, the feelings again and again of how you blew it and how you’ll never be able to experience something so wonderful, so joyous again.

Some people are unfazed by them, though, and some get hit super, super hard. Could there be a scientific reason why? Why yes, says science. From The Washington Post’s Inspired Life:

A recent research study by Stanford University psychology doctoral student Lauren Howe and her professor Carol Dweck explored why some people are haunted by past rejections and others move on more easily. The answer may lie in how people see themselves.

Howe and Dweck found that people who believe their personality traits are fixed have a harder time getting over rejection.

Beginning in childhood, people have assigned us adjectives. Some kids are shy. Others are class clowns. Kids are lazy or natural leaders.

Let’s use the example of, oh, say someone who is not me. Bayvid Daducci. Bayvid thought growing up that he was a loser. And he believed he was a loser, really did. Still might, even. When he met someone wonderful, who didn’t think he was a loser, they dated, for a long time.

But then they broke up and Bayvid, who still thought he was a loser, was now a single loser who was ditched by the only good person in his life. Since he didn’t think he could ever be anything but a loser, he fell into depression. A sad, lonely loser.

Other people, who don’t think they’re forever labeled as one thing, won’t be as bothered. Science confirmed it.

A person, after getting to know you, has decided they no longer wish to be in a relationship with you. If you believe your personality is fixed, you are more likely to link that rejection to your sense of self — that something is wrong with you.

Howe’s research found that people who agreed with this statement — “The kind of person you are is something very basic about you and it can’t be changed much” — were more likely to view past romantic rejections negatively and report that the rejection made them question their own self worth.

These breaks up can significantly reinforce people’s negative thoughts about themselves.

When asked to write about their past relationships, the study participants who believed personality is fixed were more likely to say the breakup revealed that they were an individual who is, for example, too sensitive or too needy.

Holding on to past hurt also influenced how optimistic the participants were about future romantic prospects. They worried the personality flaws that ruined their last relationship would impact the next.

A shame spiral. The scientists didn’t recommend any sort of way to help dejected Bros out, but may I recommend this optimistic John Butler Trio song? It certainly did wonders for me.

[Via The Washington Post]