Dialing In and Out of Love

an assortment of dials
Image by Matt Brown / CC BY

You might be hung up on an ex and wish you weren’t. Or maybe you’re just not feeling it anymore for someone, and you want to bring the fire. Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn loving feelings up and down like a dial? Maybe something like the mood organ in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

It might not just be science fiction. A recent study by Langeslag and van Strien found that despite participants feeling like loving feelings are largely uncontrollable (in keeping with the rest of us), they were nonetheless able to use cognitive reframing techniques to achieve either increased (up-regulation) or decreased (down-regulation) feelings of love.  Participants who focused on positive aspects of a person or imagined future positive outcomes of a relationship were able to feel more love and those who focused on negative aspects or imagined future negative outcomes were able to feel less love, with self-reported findings confirmed on EEG.

Granted, it’s just a single study of 40 folks, so more research is required, but it’s an intriguing thought with much intuitive appeal… after all, we can regulate a wide variety of other emotions through cognitive reframing (e.g., CBT, DBT, etc), why not love? Maybe the way we talk to ourselves about our breakup can help us get over it faster. And maybe the way we talk to ourselves about our current relationship can make us appreciate it more.

Just food for thought.

 

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