Need someone to blame for your lacklustre love life? Point your finger at your ex. According to a new study from the University of Toronto, your old flame gives you fits long after the break-up.
Researchers tracked 123 people in relationships for six months, asking them to rate their feelings of affection both for their current partner and their most recent past partner. Turns out that as your current relationship goes sour, you begin to wistfully reminisce about the good times with your ex. “She starts to seem like a much better alternative when your new relationship isn’t going well,” says study author Stephanie Spielmann, a PhD candidate in psychology at Toronto.
What’s more, people who started a relationship with relatively positive feelings for their ex saw their new relationship quickly fall apart, the study found.
That doesn’t mean you should let nostalgia for your ex push aside the legitimate reasons why you broke up. “Trying to get back together is often associated with feelings of anger, hostility and sadness,” Spielmann says. “Plus, on-again, off-again relationships tend to be of lower quality.” It’s true: According to new research from Kansas State University, people in cyclical relationships tend to feel less satisfied, have lower self-esteem, and have more doubts about the future of their relationship than more stable couples.
In order to forge a new dating path without worrying about your ex, you need to make your breakup stick. Here’s how.
1. Get rid
You were probably wise enough to give back her stuff, and you may have even tossed most of her gifts. But plenty of your belongings can remind you of your ex. “Get rid of that blanket you cuddled together under, move your bed, buy a new bedspread, and rearrange your couch and your flat screen so the familiar look of your living room doesn’t stir up old memories,” says Melysha Acharya, founder of BrokenHeartedGirl.com and author of The Breakup Workbook for Men.
2. Other’s perspective
Ask your close friends what they really thought of your ex-girlfriend. “The key questions to ask are: ‘Did I seem happy with my ex?’ and ‘Did you think she was good for me?’” says Acharya. Their unvarnished opinion will help you see past your idealised memories. If she broke your heart, chances are your friends will loyally hate her for you. But if it turns out they actually liked your ex, take that as a sign that you’re meeting the right women and you’ll be able to find a better match soon.
3. Rebuilding ego
You may feel like you’ll never meet anyone better than your ex, and you fear you’ll be alone forever. So even if you’re not ready to date yet, set up an online dating profile and browse the available women in your area. A 2009 study by Spielmann found that merely thinking about the number of available women you know helps reduce feelings of attachment to your ex. — Agencies