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The romantic break-up changes a person's self-concept vulnerably, says the studies.
Self-concept is defined as a person's sense of 'me'.
Romantic partners develop shared friends, activities and even overlapping self-concepts. The break-ups will reduce the intensity of one's self concepts, which may lead to emotional distress.
The loss of the relationship has multiple psychological consequences. This includes the tendency for individuals to change the content of their selves, which may provide a sense of guilt and worthlessness later.
"Not only may couples come to complete each others' sentences, they may actually come to complete each others' selves. When the relationship ends, individuals experience not only pain over the loss of the partner, but also changes in their selves. This research is the first to demonstrate the unique contribution of reduced self-concept clarity to the emotional distress that individuals experience post-breakup," says the authors Erica B. Slotter, Wendi L. Gardner, and Eli J. Finkel.
The study has been published in the latest issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.