Be Happy: Hate Your Ex

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It's natural to feel a twinge of envy for people who, after a break-up, miraculously maintain a friendship with their ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. Isn't that the healthiest, most emotionally rewarding outcome? Not according to Tom Bartlett of the Chronicle of Higher Education, who writes that people who end up despising and belittling their exes end up feeling, well, better.

Citing a study in the academic journal Cognition and Emotion, Bartlett writes:

What they [the researchers] found was that people who indicated strong negative feelings about their ex in the immediate aftermath of the breakup were less likely to be depressed. The subjects were re-tested a month later, and those whose feelings had grown more negative also generally felt better.

The paper's less-surprising conclusion, however, draws a scoff from Bartlett. The scientists couch some commonsense relationship advice in science's tepidly cautious, impersonal tone:

Given the importance of negative evaluations in post-break-up adjustment, future work should explore whether friends and family members might help people adjust to a recent break-up by drawing attention to the negative aspects of the former relationship.

Bartlett deadpans: "I think this falls neatly into the category of 'Things We Kind of Already Knew But It's Nice that Science Has Confirmed Them.'"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.