The Secret to Getting Over Someone

Having trouble moving on from that lost love? If you're working on getting over a breakup, try putting romance-related items out of sight. Those having trouble getting over someone may be helped by sealing those relationship-related items away, researchers in Singapore, Canada and Hong Kong suggest.

Dilip Soman of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, Xiuping Li from the National University of Singapore and Liyuan Wei from City University of Hong Kong suggest putting something related to a failed romance or a failed investment into a box or envelope.

In four separate experiments, the researchers found the physical act of enclosing materials related to an unpleasant experience -- such as a written recollection about it -- improved people's negative feelings toward the event and created psychological closure. Enclosing materials unrelated to the experience did not work as well, the researchers found.

"If you tell people, 'You've got to move on,' that doesn't work," Soman said in a statement. "What works is when people enclose materials that are relevant to the negative memories they have. It works because people aren't trying to explicitly control their emotions."

The paper is scheduled to be published in Psychological Science and is available at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/newthinking/troubles.pdf.

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