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Getting Over Breakups Best Solved By Science

First Posted: Apr 29, 2017 05:53 AM EDT

In the movie "How To Be Single," it depicted that single people should focus on themselves, party, sleep around, or generally have fun to forget the missing "other half" of the relationship. However, it seems that science finally found the best way of getting over a breakup.

The study, which was published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that doing something that makes one feel like getting over an ex could help mend a broken heart. Placebos or treatments like sugar pills are known to have some positive effect regarding pain symptoms. However, it is the first time that researchers tried to measure a placebo's impact on emotional pain.

Leonie Koban, an author of the study and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Colorado Boulder, said in a statement that placebo can actually have strong effects on "reducing the intensity of social pain."

For the study, 40 volunteers were asked to bring a photo of their former partner, as well as a photo of a friend. They were placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and shown a photo of their ex while recalling the breakup. The photo is then followed by another one of a friend.

It turns out that regions of the brain that light up during physical pain were similar to those that light up when participants experience emotional pain -- or while looking at the photo of their ex.

In the second part of the study, half the subjects were given a "powerful analgesic" that can help reduce emotional pain. The other half were told they have ordinary nasal spray. When the subjects were put through the same routine in the fMRI, the group that was given the pain-reduction spray reported less physical pain and felt better emotionally. Their brains, too, did not respond the same way it did in the first test.

In the end, it seems that telling one's self that they are doing something to ease the pain actually does so. As Cosmopolitan pointed out, breakups are all in the mind. Doing things to make someone feel better may actually end up doing just that. Tor Wager, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU-Boulder pointed out that the actual chemical in the drug to help mend a broken heart may matter even less than scientists originally thought.

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