Breakups are one of life’s inevitable forces. And although they have been around since time immemorial, we still have questions about them.
Including, how long does it take to get over someone after a breakup?
Here are the answers of 7 experts.
It varies from person to person along with one’s level of emotional investment in the relationship
Some key factors which determine how long it takes to move on depends on who ended the relationship and why, how long they were together, and the emotional investment made. Another major factor which cannot be overlooked is one’s experience with past failed relationships.
One’s “first love” is usually the most difficult to get over. Some people will tell you they never ever really got over their first heartache.
This is because most likely the person was all in from the beginning and never went through the “what if” scenarios one does to guard against heartache.
Unfortunately for most of us, our first love takes place during our teenage years or in our early 20s when we tend to be naïve and have unrealistic expectations.
The truth of the matter is when it comes to love and relationships most of us fail our way to success.
Very few people hit a home run their first, second, third, or fourth time up at bat. If this were not true we would all be married to our high school sweethearts!
The grieving period
Some people believe it takes from one third to one half of the time a couple spent together in order to move on and be ready to date again. This would mean a relationship which lasted for a year would typically require anywhere from four to six months to adequately move on.
Others have been known to say the best way to get over one person is to get under another person. However, in reality, all they are doing is distracting themselves for what essentially works out to be the same amount of time before emotionally moving on.
Read related article: 16 Best Books to Read After a Breakup
Thus the common warning for their new prospective mate is avoiding being a “rebound person”. You’re essentially distracting the hurt person over the time it takes for them to heal much like cold medicine relieves symptoms while the body heals itself.
It’s also possible for an individual to simply jump into one relationship after another as a pattern of life without ever taking any time to grieve.
Their fear of being alone dictates they avoid any lengthy alone time for introspective thinking. Some people treat relationships like jobs. They won’t leave one unless they have another one lined up.
There are three basic reasons why couples split up:
- They chose the wrong mate. (They’re too incompatible.)
- A “deal breaker” was committed in the eyes of another.
- They fell out of love/stopped wanting the same things over time.
Naturally, if a couple has had countless arguments and fights over just about everything moving on probably will take less time.
It may be a case whereby when they met sparks ignited and chemistry was undeniable. Those first few months were a whirlwind of romance and passion. However, once an emotional investment was made their differences took center stage.
The challenge for such couples is walking away from the highs they’ve experienced when the bulk of their time is spent coping with the lows. Anyone who chooses to wear rose-tinted glasses is likely to find it difficult to put the relationship as a whole in perspective.
They may even agree with the romantic notion that they fight like cats and dogs when they are together but are miserable when they are apart.
It’s not uncommon for people to romanticize obstacles in an effort to hold onto a toxic relationship by any means.
Some people are actually motivated by challenges in relationships and believe drama and breakups/makeups are a part of the journey towards happily ever after. In order to move on one must want to let go.
As long as a person on some level hopes for reconciliation they will never allow themselves to truly move on. They persist in the belief their ex was their “soulmate”.
In order for your ex to have been “the one” he or she would have had to see you as being “the one” At the very least a “soulmate” is someone who actually wants to be with you! (And vice versa)
Getting over an ex may take a few months or one may never really move on. Ultimately it all begins with one’s own desire to let go and move on.
Some exes evolve into friends with benefits arrangement and never completely let go even while they are in other relationships or marriages. The only thing that forces them to cease getting together is if one of them falls madly in love with someone else and refuses to continue to see the other.
Whenever a couple splits due to one of them committing a “deal breaker” such as cheating, the hurt or betrayed person is caught off guard. Even when the hurt or betrayed person has chosen to end their relationship under such conditions it may still be difficult to move on emotionally.
Oftentimes they are angry with themselves for being so trusting/gullible, ignoring “red flags”, or they begin to doubt their ability to choose someone worthy of their love. Some people actually make a decision to never fully trust anyone again.
They carry the “emotional baggage” of their pain with them in all future relationships. Therefore ending the relationship does not necessarily mean a person has actually moved on. They build a wall of defense around their heart.
The slate is never wiped clean for a new person to enter into their life without having to pay the price of overcoming the damage their ex committed.
It’s not uncommon for some hurt individuals to routinely bring up their exes and the pain they caused them with their new dating prospects.
Depending on the type of “deal breaker” and the depth of love one had for their ex, it may take an extraordinary patient person to break through and earn her or his trust. Rarely does someone move on quickly after having their heart broken.
Several months or even years of grappling with the pain one suffered is not uncommon.
It’s a long process for them to reach the point of forgiveness whereby they no longer dwell on the actions of their ex when considering new dating opportunities. Just because someone has begun dating again does not mean they have actually emotionally moved on.
When it comes to love and relationships over the long haul we’re either growing together or growing apart. There is no neutral.
Relationships which end due to no egregious acts by either party are usually the result of self-introspection and lengthy contemplation by one or both individuals. In such instances, couples may have simply been going through the motions until one of them decided to bring things out into the open.
Sometimes one person may actually be content with things as they are the other wants more and realizes their mate is incapable of being who they need. The contented person isn’t so much madly in love as much as they are comfortable with the companionship established or status quo.
They hate the idea of having to start over by finding someone new in order to get back to a similar place of comfort.
Some people view the length of time they were in the relationship as being a total waste when it doesn’t have happily ever after ending.
Initially, they may delude themselves into believing they had the “perfect relationship” and out of the blue, their mate decided they no longer were in love.
However, in retrospect, they too may realize it was the comfort and stability of being in the relationship or marriage they loved and not the individual.
It’s been said human beings are creatures of habit. Whether it’s the loss of a long-term relationship or a long-held job one grieves as if there was a death.
The importance of taking the time to heal
Not only is it important to take the time to heal it’s very important to learn the lessons of a failed relationship.
It’s very easy to get caught up in playing the “blame game” which essentially makes one powerless.
Each of us chooses our own friends, lovers, and spouse.
Each of us has our mate selection/screening process and must-haves list.
Each of us has our own boundaries and “deal breakers”.
Without taking time out to heal and learn the person is likely to find them self repeating the same scenario over and over again.
If you find yourself having one bad relationship after another it’s probably time to reexamine your mate selection process. The only thing all of your failed relationships have in common, is you. Thankfully we have the capacity to learn from our mistakes.
“Some people come into our lives as blessings. Some people come into our lives as lessons.” – Mother Teresa
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.” – Helen Keller
Know yourself, Love Yourself, Trust yourself. Every ending is a new beginning!
Health and Wellness Expert, Maple Holistics
You’re not over your breakup is if you still envision them in your future
Before getting back into the dating scene, it’s important to make sure you have completely moved on from your previous partner.
It’s childish and futile to respond spitefully or rashly to a breakup by transitioning too fast. You need to take the proper time to digest your previous relationship so that you are properly prepared to handle what comes next.
That being the case, one of the tell-tale signs that you are not over your breakup is if you still envision your ex in your future.
The past is valuable because it has shaped who you are today, so there’s nothing alarming about thinking about your past with your ex. However, if you find yourself fixated on the potential future you could have had with your ex, you are likely not over them yet.
There’s no timeline on love
There’s no timeline on love, whether you’re falling into it or getting over a breakup. Breakups affect people in different ways, and there is a grieving process involved. It really depends on the breakup and the people involved!
You will feel a lot of different emotions after a breakup, ranging from sadness and anger and pain to relief and even joy and freedom, depending on what your relationship was like. You may need to grieve the plan, more than the relationship itself.
If you planned to spend your life with someone, or planned to have a child with someone, or planned to travel together on a really cool trip next year, you need to process the loss of those plans.
For me, leaving an abusive ex was an up-and-down roller coaster of emotions. I was so relieved and proud of myself for getting out of there, but I questioned if I would ever want to marry again or ever have the child I had longed to have with my husband. That whole path of my life was just gone overnight, and it was hard to process.
Then, when I started dating someone new, I panicked that it was happening too fast. My sister had to remind me that there’s no timeline and that it was safe to move on if I felt good about doing so.
You will also move on in your own time.
Reach out to friends, a trusted therapist, an inspirational book, or a pint of ice cream if you need to. Take the time to not have any expectations about your life.
Understand that your value does not come from what you do for other people, or whether you are partnered with someone.
Read that again: You are not valuable based on what you do for a partner. You are valuable all by yourself. Take your time, don’t rush it, and do what makes you feel comfortable.
Dr. Diana Kirschner
Psychologist | Owner, Love in 90 Days
Recovery from a breakup can take anywhere from several months to several years or longer, depending on the length of the love relationship and its intensity of emotional connection, as well as the person’s willingness to let go.
Willingness to let go and heal is the key component.
If there is no will, it is possible for a person to not recover for decades, as we see in divorced people who continue to be bitter and resentful for many years after the dissolution of the relationship.
Related: How to Move on After Divorce
Briana Hollis, MSSA, LSW, CDCA
Licensed Social Worker | Founder, Learning to be Free
It is an incredibly personal process
It’s common to say that it takes about the same amount of time to get over someone as someone was in the relationship (1-year relationship, 1 year to get over someone.
However, getting over a break up is an incredibly personal process and many factors can go into it.
For example, the connection that was built between the people in the relationship, the mental health status of the individuals, and the types of support that the individuals have access to, all have some weight on how long it will take them to get over the relationship.
I went through a break up where I was devastated and though we had only dated very briefly, I felt extremely connected with him. Months later when I thought I was over him, I wasn’t and still felt butterflies in my stomach when I saw him. Healing isn’t linear and takes time, and that’s perfectly okay.
Producer | Host | Author, Are You The Right One For Me? Whose Choice Is It Anyway?
Everyone recovers from a breakup differently
As the old saying goes, the longer someone is in a relationship, it takes half of the time to recover from the relationship. The reality is everyone recovers from a breakup differently because of the healing process.
There are three phases mourning, accepting and confronting the loss of a relationship.
It’s just like grieving the loss of a death, however, the other person is still alive and may longer be part of your life.
Depending on the formed emotions and time spent together, it can take additional time to release some of those feelings shared together from the individuals perspective. There is also the path the person takes to heal by reinventing themselves by exercising and finding new routines to get past the breakup.
If there is a severe emotional disturbance, it might be beneficial for the person to seek out a support group to cope with the loss. Being proactive about the break can help reduce the amount of time it takes to get over a significant other.
Founder | Owner, Align Mii
The longer the relationship the shorter the time to get over them
Depending on the side of the breakup you are on, a few days or a few years. Interestingly enough for me the longer the relationship the shorter the time it is for me to get over them.
I had two relationships that were both more than 2 years. I can honestly say that by the time they were both done it took me all of about 24 hours to be emotionally done with them. I was, obviously, the one who did the breaking up.
When I was young, 5 years old, my parents got a divorce. When I got older I wanted to know their take on the divorce. I asked my Mom why she didn’t stay. Her answer was simple. She told me “I wasn’t happy and I always told you and your sister to choose happiness. I felt like I was setting a bad example for you.”
Fair enough, but a few moments later, she added to it. “If you try everything, and I mean everything, to make a relationship work you gotta throw everything at it. Therapy, reading books, new things in the bed room, talking, dates, religion, whatever.
If you can honestly tell yourself that you tried everything that was in your power and not something damning, then you can walk away feeling good about your decision.”
This was the advice I took into both relationships. Once I saw them taking a nose dive I did everything. I mean with one guy we moved to another house, I put up money for him to buy another car, and we even got a dog.
The other boyfriend I helped get out of debt. Listen, I tried everything. Once it was finally clear that they were not the people for me, that they were not going to be there person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and that I did not have in my ability to change them, I was done and the healing process was easy.
In both relationships, I essentially was healing from the breakup before it even happened.
With that said there have been off the cuff romances that have taken me years to get over. I think it is usually because I saw potential. These romances would end before I got out of the rose-tinted everything phase. I was still in that swoon love.
I wasn’t yet aware that these people were people. I still had them up on a pedestal and they could do no wrong. It was because of this that it took so long for me to pick up all the pieces of my heart. I was in love with a dream and I woke up before I could even see how it unfolded.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the hardest part of a breakup?
The hardest part of a breakup can vary from person to person, as everyone’s experiences and emotions are unique. However, there are some common challenges that many people face during a breakup:
Emotional pain: Losing a romantic relationship can be incredibly painful, and it is common to experience a range of feelings, such as sadness, anger, anxiety, and depression. Coping with these feelings can be a complicated and ongoing process.
The sense of loss: Breakups can also bring a sense of loss, as individuals feel they have lost a partner, a companion, or even a sense of identity. This can be especially difficult if the relationship has lasted a long time or if the individuals have lived together.
Uncertainty about the future: Breakups can create a sense of uncertainty about the future, as individuals do not know what their life will be like without their partner. This could be especially difficult if the relationship was important to their life.
The social and practical changes: Breakups can also bring practical and social changes, such as the need to find a new place to live or adjust to life as a single person. These changes can be challenging to cope with, especially if the people involved have friends or social circles in common.
The potential for regret: One of the most challenging aspects of a breakup can be regret. Individuals may question their decision to end the relationship or wonder if they could have done things differently. This can make it difficult to move on and enjoy the future to the fullest.
Is it normal to feel guilty after a breakup?
It is normal to feel guilt after a breakup. However, it is vital to recognize and accept that breakups are a part of life and that the decision to end the relationship was made for a reason.
Guilt can be triggered by feelings of regret or sadness. But, it is crucial to be aware of your emotions and understand that although you made mistakes in the relationship, there was ultimately no way to avoid the situation.
Taking responsibility for your actions is an essential step toward healing. However, focus on being kind to yourself rather than dwelling on the negative feelings associated with the breakup.
What not to do after a breakup?
After a breakup, paying attention to your actions and behaviors is vital so as not to complicate the healing process. Here are some things not to do after a breakup:
Don’t try to stay in touch with your ex. While it may be tempting to stay in touch with your ex in hopes of rekindling the relationship or maintaining a friendship, this can make it harder to move on. Taking time out to process and heal is essential before trying to rebuild a relationship or friendship.
Don’t try to numb the pain with drugs or alcohol. Using drugs or alcohol to numb the pain of a breakup may provide temporary relief, but it also makes it harder to process your feelings and heal in the long run.
Instead, focus on healthy coping mechanisms like exercising, meditating, or spending time with loved ones.
Don’t rush into a new relationship. While it may be tempting to jump into a new relationship to fill the void left by your ex, rushing into a new relationship too soon can be unhealthy and counterproductive.
It’s important to take the time to heal and prioritize your own emotional needs before committing to a new relationship.
Don’t engage in negative self-talk. After a breakup, it’s normal to have self-doubt or negative thoughts about yourself. However, negative self-talk can make it harder to move on and heal. Instead, focus on building yourself up and practicing self-care and self-love.
Don’t try to force closure. Closure is important to the healing process but is not always necessary or possible. Trying to force closure or demand answers from your ex can only lead to more pain and confusion. Instead, focus on finding closure within yourself and moving forward positively.
Can a breakup be a positive thing?
While the end of a romantic relationship can be painful, it can also be positive in the long run. Here are some ways a breakup can be positive:
Opportunity for growth: A breakup can allow one to focus on personal goals, explore new interests, and prioritize self-care.
Learning from the experience: A breakup can help an individual identify unhealthy dynamics in a relationship, develop stronger communication and problem-solving skills, and take lessons learned into future relationships.
Build stronger relationships: A breakup can provide an opportunity to rely on the support of loved ones and build deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Freedom to explore: After a breakup, individuals can focus on their own needs and desires without the pressure of maintaining a romantic relationship.
Search for a better partner: A breakup can lead to finding a partner who is a better fit and who has similar values, goals, and interests.
What should I do if my friends or family don’t understand why I’m still upset?
Everyone grieves differently, and while your loved ones may not fully understand your emotions, it’s crucial that they show you compassion during this difficult time.
If they don’t seem to understand your feelings, simply explain to them that everyone heals differently, and ask for their support by talking to them about your feelings.
You may also want to seek other sources of support, such as talking to a therapist or joining a support group. Talking with professionals and peers who can listen and give feedback can help you process your emotions.
In addition, physical activities such as walking or exercising can help reduce the stress and emotional toll associated with the breakup. Taking time for yourself to reflect on all sides of the situation is also important for emotional healing.
How can I avoid falling into old patterns in my next relationship?
Identify the patterns: The first step to breaking old patterns is identifying them. Take some time to reflect on past relationships and identify any patterns in your behavior or in the dynamics of the relationship.
Focus on communication: Communication is key to any healthy relationship. Be sure to talk openly and honestly with your partner about your needs, wants, and concerns, and encourage them to do the same.
Prioritize self-awareness: It’s important to be self-aware and recognize your own role in the relationship dynamics. Be willing to take responsibility for your actions and behaviors and work to improve them in the future.
Set new boundaries: If you find that certain behaviors or dynamics contribute to old patterns, it may be helpful to set new boundaries in your relationships. Be clear about what you’re willing to tolerate and what you aren’t, and communicate these boundaries to your partner.
Seek professional help: If you’re having a hard time breaking old patterns on your own, it may be helpful to seek therapy or counseling. A trained professional can help you identify patterns of behavior and give you tools and strategies for making positive changes in your relationships.
Remember that it takes time and effort to break old patterns, but it’s worth it to build healthier and more fulfilling relationships in the long run.
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