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Researchers Say Craving For Ex Is Similar To An Addict’s Craving For Drugs

Researchers Say Craving For Ex Is Similar To An Addict’s Craving For Drugs

If you’re craving your ex, you’re not alone. Everyone knows that breakups are hard, especially when you still have feelings for each other. It doesn’t matter who did the breaking up, a connection is often felt for weeks (if not months) after the breakup itself. If you’re feeling hard on yourself for thinking about your ex too often, it’s time to give yourself a break. Did you know that you actually have a physical craving for your ex?

What Your Brain Goes Through When You Break Up

Being in love creates disruptions in your brain chemistry[1] that increase dopamine, the chemical responsible for making you feel euphorically good anytime you’re around your ex. Your brain is hard-wired to enjoy the feeling of dopamine, so it releases even more every time you think about your partner. The more you love, the more dopamine you release and the more addicted you become to each other. While you’re in love, this feeling is great and really can’t be beat.

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Some people call being in love seeing through “rose colored glasses,” and in a sense that is true. At the same time that your attachment is growing through dopamine, the feelings of love decrease serotonin levels in your brain. This causes you to have clouded judgment, blindly focusing on your partner, ignoring the negative effects on your life, and only seeing the things that you want to see. Remember when your friends said he was no good for you and you just couldn’t see it? That’s serotonin at work.

It’s natural for you to have these feelings even after your ex no longer makes you feel good. Your brain is starting to return to normal serotonin levels, allowing you to see things you couldn’t see before, but you still haven’t re-trained your brain to disassociate the release of dopamine with your ex. You will actually feel like you’re in withdrawal when your desire is not around.

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This is similar to drug addiction

If all of this sounds a lot like the cravings associated with drug addiction, that’s because it is! Our brains are hardwired to repeat activities that make us feel good, such as how eating makes us feel better than the feeling of hunger. After repeated drug use, our brains associate the release of dopamine[2] from these drugs with a good feeling, tricking our brain into thinking that drugs are healthy for us.

As it turns out, love ranks up there on the list of powerful drugs. This is exactly what is happening when you are craving your ex: your brain remembers the release of dopamine it had when you were around him or her, and longs for that “feel good” sensation again. This can cause you to have cravings to be around your ex, even if your rational self knows that your ex won’t really make you feel better. Once you re-train your brain to disassociate the release of dopamine with your ex, your cravings will subside, little by little.

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It only takes 11 weeks to get over your ex

The good news is that science proves it only takes 11 weeks to get over your ex.[3] In the grand scheme of things, that’s really not that long! The bad news is that 11 weeks may feel really long if you’re craving someone who is no good for you. If you’re feeling serious withdrawals from your ex, hang out with friends and family. When you surround yourself with people who make you feel loved, you will begin to re-train your brain to avoid cravings for your ex.

Being in a community will have healing effects on your brain and will help you bring about new, good feelings. Before you know it, you will realize that you haven’t thought about your ex all day long, all week long, or in months. On to the next, healthier relationship you go!

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Lindsay Mattison

Chef and Cookbook Writer

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

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