Breaking up is no big deal!


Washington: From time immemorial, poets and singers have been writing about the devastation caused when two lovers break-up.

However, a new study has found that break-ups aren't as devastating as they are made out to be. The study, by researchers at Northwestern University has found that lovers, especially those madly in love, do much better almost immediately following a break-up than they imagined they would.

“Our research shows that a break-up is not nearly as bad as people imagine, and the more you are in love with your partner, the more wrong you are about how upset you are going to be when the dreaded loss actually occurs,” said Eli Finkel, assistant professor of psychology in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and co-author of the study.

The study was conducted over a period of nine-months, and observed people who had been involved in a dating relationship of at least two months. Participants still involved with their partners from study entry completed a set of questionnaires every two weeks for 38 weeks, for a total of 20 online sessions, to measure predicted and actual stress.

The researchers then analysed the data of 26 people (10 female and 16 male) who broke up with their partners during the first six months of the study. The forecasted distress reported two weeks prior to the report of the break-up was compared with actual distress at four different time points covering the initial weeks and months following the break-up.

The questionnaires also included a measure assessing how much participants were in love. The researchers found that though people most in love did experience a little more distress over their break-ups, they overall felt much less distress than thought.

“People tend to be pretty resilient, often more so than they realise. No one is saying that breaking up is a good time. It's just that people bounce back sooner than they predict,” said Paul Eastwick, the lead author of the study and a graduate student in psychology at Northwestern.

“But the overestimates of the most-in-love participants, of how badly they would feel after a break-up, were much greater than the predictions of participants less in love. Their levels of distress were nowhere near their catastrophic predictions,” he added.