Can’t Stop Staring at an Ex’s Photo? Here’s What Psychologists have to Say

Chances are that you have had your heart broken at least once or even a couple of times. What would you say about the moving on phase? Relationships start off on a high note─ the thrill and the new adventures it brings can blur a person’s thoughts. Months into the affair, when the scales begin to fall off, people confess to regretting their decision. This regret sometimes ends in breakups. The weeks following the breakup are usually difficult ones for both parties. At every turn of moving on, the memories of good times haunt them. Some cannot stop staring at an ex’s photos.

Moving on after breakups, takes time. For some people, they get fine in a matter of weeks. But there are some others who need months or even years to heal. The length of time required to move on depends on factors like the depth of love and sacrifices made. Except one party was just a player, the estranged lovers do feel the pain of loss. Some people take lots of alcohol, douse their soul with sad songs and cry at night.

How psychology explains breakups and the struggle to move on

According to a relationship expert, “(the) loss is undeniably painful, and now there is physiological evidence to support this. Many imaging studies suggest that activity between the amygdala and prefrontal regions of the brain regulate attention and sadness during pangs of grief. This might explain why it’s so difficult to concentrate on anything during the mourning period that follows a break-up.” Is there a certain way the brain reacts  when a person goes back to photos of an ex? Yes, there is.

Looking at an ex’s photos, activates the ventral tegmental area, the part of the brain that was active when you were in love. While it is not sure if this leaves a soothing effect, we know that it makes moving on more difficult. Wondering why anyone should keep an ex’s photo? Mark Johnson has this to say, “because they were an important part of the person’s life. It doesn’t mean that they want to get back together, any more than my keeping pictures of when I was a kid mean I want to be 5 again.”

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