421 Healing Romance Break-ups

Research by Lewandowski, Gary W. (2009).

Written by American Psychological Association, adapted by Juanita N Baker, Ph.D.

Breaking-up romantic relationships can be devastating! Such angst, crying, sleeplessness, depression, even suicidal ideation!

A psychologist examined 100 unmarried participants who experienced a romantic break-up within the past three months. Positive psychology researchers theorize that even in negative experiences,the positive elements of experiences promote growth. Could they cope better by changing their focus by a writing intervention? One group wrote about positive, beneficial aspects of their break-up. A second about the negative aspects. The third wrote about a superficial,unrelated topic. All wrote at home for 15 to 30 minutes for three days.

Results?Unlike the other two groups, males and females who focused on finding and writing about positive aspects of their break-up,such as, “I’ve regained myself, doing what I enjoy” reported more positive emotions (like: comfort, confidence, empowerment, energy, happiness, optimism), provided the break-up was mutual. They had no increased negative emotions. Those in the negative and neutral writing conditions only increased positive emotions if the participant initiated the break-up.

Get a new perspective! Find and write down positive aspects of your break-up or difficult life experience. Doing so may help increase positive feelings without increasing negative ones.

References: Lewandowski, Gary W. (2009). Promoting positive emotions following relationship dissolution through writing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(1),21-31. Contact information Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. Department of Psychology, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ 07764

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