Ever worried about the toll your disastrous love life is taking on your mental health? Now you can officially put those fears to bed as it turns out we’re much better at dealing with heartbreak than we might have thought.
A new research review has revealed that our brains are hardwired to handle falling out of romantic relationships and into new ones—meaning the devastation of breaking up isn’t, well, all that devastating.
“Our review of the literature suggests we have a mechanism in our brains designed by natural selection to pull us through a very tumultuous time in our lives,” explains Dr. Brian Boutwell, associate professor of epidemiology at Saint Louis University (SLU). “It suggests people will recover; the pain will go away with time.”
“There will be a light at the end of the tunnel,” he adds.
Studies about love and break-ups were analyzed in conjunction with one another, monitoring the process of moving on—or ‘primary mate ejection.’ Work in the field of evolutionary psychology proved revealing: men were found to be extremely sensitive to infidelity between their partner and another—far more so than the opposite sex.
Women were more likely to reject their other half on the grounds of emotional cheating—something which has developed over time, with natural selection ultimately programming them to want to avoid a possible loss of resources such as the inability to provide for a child.
The team at SLU analyzed the research alongside a brain imaging study of men and women who claimed to be deeply in love, in order to study our neurological responses to matters of the heart. MRIs signalled increased activity in the brain’s pleasure zones of the lovesick participants—the same areas which see a spike when affected by substances such as cocaine.
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