Breaking Up Like Kicking a Drug Habit

April Peveteaux

breaking up like drug addictionIn one of the most painful studies on relationships, SUNY Stony Brook and Rutgers put students who had just been dumped through a psychological experiment that sounds worse than the breakup itself.

What they found was the same area of the brain associated with romantic rejection is also associated with craving, reward, motivation, physical pain, and addiction. Which explains the obsessive behavior after bad breakups: The late-night phone calls, drive-bys, cyber stalking, and other things you'd rather forget you did after a particularly painful heartbreak.

Here's how they found this out:

Each jilted student was hooked up to a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner and asked to look at a picture of his or her ex (which -- oh, the indignity! -- the dumpees had to provide themselves). After looking at the photos, they were asked to count backward from 8,211 by 7s, then look at another picture of a person they knew but were not in love with, then count backward again. As if that exercise wasn't agonizing enough, the participants had to do it five more times.

Holy Mary. Just thinking about this process makes me want to get dumped five times over before ever having to count backward by 7s. Although one student did say the distraction was helpful in getting him over the dump hump.

The point of this study, according to a researcher, was to show that breakups are supposed to hurt. So rather than feeling crazy, you can recognize the universal experience, and hopefully move on. Without having to do ridiculously difficult math.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done post-breakup?

Image via neoliminal/Flickr

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