It's Official, We Become Addicted To Our Lovers

It's Official, We Become Addicted To Our Lovers

It's Official, We Become Addicted To Our Lovers

sad woman with rose
New study uncovers why it’s so hard to move on after a breakup.

Having trouble getting over a former flame? Well, you're certainly not alone; and, according to new research, like many other things in life, you can blame it on biology.

When a group of scientists at Rutgers University showed heartbroken men and women photographs of past romantic partners, activity increased in the same regions of the brain known to be associated with cocaine addiction and cigarette addiction, which helps to explain why you can still crave your ex, no matter how hard you try to move on. 

Study author Helen E. Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting Love, explains, "It's [romantic love] a very powerfully wonderful addiction when things are going well and a perfectly horrible addiction when things are going poorly." Fisher believes that our brain's reaction to romantic rejection served an evolutionary purpose—helping us to win back a lost mating partner. But we understand why that's not much comfort when your heart feels like it's been shattered into a million pieces. 

It also explains why getting dumped can quite literally drive you crazy. So if you've ever found yourself checking your ex's Facebook page ten times a day, you can take comfort in knowing you're actually wired to stalk him. (Although we're not so sure that justification will stand up in a court of law.) I Facebook-Stalk My Ex's New Girlfriend

But before you resign yourself to a pint of Ben and Jerry's and a life of loneliness, we've got good news: Fisher and her team found that as more time passed since the breakup, there was less activity in the brain region associated with attachment. So it seems that your mother was right after all—time does in fact heal all wounds. 

Although for the freshly broken hearted, any amount of time without your beloved can feel like an eternity, there's actually a silver lining to your brain's tendency to obsess over your ex. The brain areas involved in emotion regulation, decision making and evaluation were also activated when the participants viewed photos of their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, indicating that instead of just wallowing in their sorrows, they were actually evaluating their past relationships and partners, which Fisher says can help you to move on and, even better, avoid future heartbreak. 4 Breakup Warning Signs

If you want to speed along your heart’s recovery (and who wouldn't?), Fisher recommends talking about the experience with someone else, rather than trying to get your ex back. Why Your Ex Should Stay In Your Past

Friends sick of hearing about it? Read 5 Tips to Move On From a Painful Breakup and How to Have a Better Breakup for tips on finding closure.

Photo via istockphoto.

Join the Conversation