The imaging also showed that rejected lovers are trying to understand and learn from what happened, and the researchers conclude that falling out of love is a learning process.
"Romantic love evolved to start the mating process," Fisher tells Web MD.
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The 56-year-old Japanese actor, who made his American stage debut last year opposite Kelli O'Hara in the revival of The King and I, was due to return to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical from March 1-April 17.
Fisher's team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (f MRI) to record the brain activity of 15 university-aged heterosexual men and women who had recently been jilted by long-term partners, and who described themselves as still being "absolutely and very intensely in love." The average length of the relationships was about two years.
About two months had passed since one of the partners called it quits.
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One thing we found in the study is that time does heal."Attachment evolved to help you sustain this relationship." So what can the jilted do since there are no halfway houses for this addiction? "It needs to be taken more seriously." Her advice: "You've got to treat it as an addiction, and get rid of the cards and letters and don't call or write the person who jilted you.Don't try to make friends with this person for at least three years.The results were clear, Fisher says, even though she and her colleagues tried to get the participants' minds off their lost lovers by completing a simple math exercise that required concentration.Researchers found that looking at photos of former partners stimulated several key areas of participants' brains much more than viewing pictures of "neutral" people."The evidence is clear that the passion of romantic love is a goal-oriented motivation state, not a specific emotion," Fisher tells Web MD, adding that the results showed that romantic rejection is a form of addiction, and those coping with these hurtful feelings are fighting uphill battle against a strong survival system.