With the breakup of a relationship comes searing emotional pain, loss of a sense of self, and a sense of disorientation. You’ve lost something that you love and cherished and it feels horrible.
So you want to feel better. You want the pain to go away and you want your life to feel stable and secure. But when will this happen? How long will it take to get over this breakup?
In this article, we will discuss several different perspectives on how long it takes to get over a breakup to give you a comprehensive guide. This guide includes scientific data and expert opinions. We’ll also include a calculator you can use to determine how long it will take you to get over a breakup.
What the Science Says About Getting Over a Breakup
In 2007, researchers Gary W. Lewandowski Jr and Nicole M. Bizzoco of Monmouth University did a study of 155 undergraduate students who had gone through a breakup within the past six months.
The average relationship length prior to their breakup was 77 weeks on average, but ranged from 4–236 weeks. A total of 45.2% of the people in the survey initiated the break-up themselves, 25.8% were dumped by their partner, and 29% of the breakups were mutual.
The results of this study were that 58% reported feeling positive emotions after 11-24 weeks. And 71% of the students said they had grown from the breakup. In contrast, only 31% of the students reported negative emotions after 11-24 weeks and 33% reported a negative overall impact, 25% were neutral, and 41% reported a positive overall impact.
So what this study says is that after 3-6 months you’ll most likely be feeling better. So if you're feeling bad and wondering if you should get back with your ex, give it 3-6 months before you decide.
You might find that after this time, you won't feel like you are still in love with your ex and you can move on to better things.
The 3 Major Factors That Affect How Long It Takes to Get Over a Breakup
A 2011 study conducted by Steven P. Gilbert and Sarah K. Sifers of Minnesota State University identified several factors that affect how painful a breakup will be and how long it takes to get over a breakup:
- Your relationship with your parents or primary caregiver
- How you view your past
- Your time orientation (future, present, past)
Participants of this study were 1,404 students at a medium-sized Midwestern university between the ages of 18 and 25 and had experienced a breakup of a significant relationship in the past 12 months.The students were given several standardized, validated psychological tests: the Parental Bonding Instrument, a short form of the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory, Future Time Orientation Scale, and the Mental Health Inventory.
How Your Relationship With Your Parents Affects Your Breakup Recovery
The first and most important factor that affects the time it takes to get over a breakup is your relationship with your parents. Students who had a weak or mistrustful bond with their parents or caregivers reported significantly higher levels of anxiety, depression, loss of behavioral/emotional control, and affect after a breakup.
In other words, they felt like they couldn't get over their ex.
A separate study found that people who have a weak bond to their parents were more likely to use alcohol and drugs to cope with a breakup.
The study shows that if you have a strong, secure and trusting relationship with your parents, you’re going to get over a breakup more easily and quickly. And this makes sense. If you have a good relationship with your parents, you’re probably going to have better coping mechanisms and a more positive view of yourself and others. And if you have that, then you’re going to have an easier time going through a breakup.
How You View Your Past Also Affects Your Breakup Recovery Time
This study reveals that students with a positive view of their past were more resilient after a breakup. They reported significantly less distress than students who viewed their past negatively.
The researchers aren’t exactly sure as to why having a positive view of your past positively can help you get over a breakup. They suggest that when you see your life history in a positive light, you give less weight to a breakup.
The breakup is seen as a small flaw in generally positive ground. People who view their past positively have more self-confidence, self-worth, and an expectation that the future will work out. In other words, people who see their past in a positive light, also see their future in a positive light.
So how do you view your past? Do you view your past from a mostly negative perspective or do you have a generally positive view of your past? If you have a more negative viewpoint, then it's going to take you longer to get over your breakup.
A big part of what The Breakup Healing System is about is letting go of the past, particularly your negative thoughts and feelings about the past. When you do this, you feel more naturally positive. It is like taking the weights off a balloon. Without the weights, the balloon naturally floats upward.
I've created a free 4-part video mini-course that will show you how to get started with letting go.
How Your Time Orientation Affects How Long it Takes to Get Over a Breakup
This study also found that your time orientation can influence how resilient you are to a breakup. The students in the study who have a more future relationship orientation (i.e. they have strong desires for relationship commitment and permanency) were more likely to experience more distress after a breakup and take longer to recover.
Conversely, students who are less anxious about finding a life partner and better able to enjoy relationships in the here-and-now are more resilient when the relationship ends. This difference in resilience makes sense because more is at stake for people with a future relationship orientation.
When you’re heavily invested in finding a life partner, you experience the loss of a boyfriend or girlfriend not only as the loss of that particular person, but as a threat to your urgent immediate goal of finding a life partner.
A future relationship orientation also contributes to the cognitive error of particularization - the idea that a romantic partner is the source of love and is necessary for the experience of love. Particularization results in the glorification of romantic partners and anxiety over a possible breakup. The loss of your partner means the loss of love itself.
If you particularize, the experience of a breakup is not just postponing your goal of finding a life partner, but the end of all hope that you’ll ever find love and be happy. In The Breakup Healing System, I have created several exercises designed to help you let go of this type of thinking.
And as you let go, you will find that you become less focused on the past or future and more centered in the here and now. This is a natural consequence of letting go.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can try it yourself for free. A free 4-part video mini course that explains the basics of letting go. We’ll also do some letting go together to help you get started.
Why Women Tend to Experience More Distress After a Breakup
This study also reveals one major difference between men and women. Women in the study reported higher future relationship orientations and more distress after a breakup; thus men were more resilient to romantic loss than women.
And this makes sense if you think about it. Women are generally more interested in having a long term partner or getting married than men. Thus, they tend to be more future oriented and can experience more distress after a breakup.
So if you're a woman trying to get over a guy, then you might want to check out my other article "How to Get Over a Guy Fast."
Summary of the Research Data - What This Means For You
So the first study revealed that most people will get over a breakup within 3-6 months. But that really isn’t the whole story. There are a lot of other factors that affect how long it will take for you to get over a breakup.
If you have a good, trusting relationship with your parents, then you’re likely to get over a relationship more quickly. If you don’t have that trusting relationship, it will take longer.
If you see your past from a positive perspective and don’t put a lot of future expectations into your relationships, then you’re likely to recover quickly from your breakup.
However, if you tend to view your past negatively and have a strong desire for a permanent relationship, it’s going to take you longer to get over a breakup.
One thing that will really speed up your recovery process is letting go. Letting go is a natural ability that all of us have, but most of us don’t know how to use. The Breakup Healing System is designed to help you get in touch with this natural ability to let go of any uncomfortable feeling on the spot.
The results from doing this work can be quite dramatic and sometimes miraculous. I will be sharing some of the stories from my own experience with doing this work on this website. But for now, you can try it out for yourself for free.
I've created a free 4-part video course that explains the basics of letting go and walks you through a few exercises.
How Long Does it Take to Get Over a Breakup Calculator
In this section, I’m going to give you a simple formula that you can use to calculate how long it will take to get over a breakup of 2, 3, 4, or 5 years. But I also want you to avoid holding yourself to a deadline. Healing from a breakup is a healing process like anything else. For some people it will take longer, for others it will take shorter.
As you read earlier in this article, there are a number of factors that will determine how long it will take you to recover from your breakup. So there really aren’t any hard and fast rules for how long it takes to get over a breakup.
The 6 Month Rule: The Breakup Recovery Calculator
The six months rule is a good general rule for how long it will take to get over a breakup. The 6-month rule states that it will take 6 months for every year you were with that person to get over them.
How long will it take to get over a breakup of 1 year? It will take 6 months.
How long will it take to get over a breakup of 2 years? It will take 1 year.
How long will it take to get over a breakup of 3 years? It will take 18 months.
How long will it take to get over a breakup of 4 years? It will take 2 years.
How long will it take to get over a breakup of 5 years? It will take 30 months.
And so on.
Of course this is not a hard and fast rule. I have had relationships that lasted for several years that I got over rather quickly and short relationships that took much longer to get over than the actual relationship lasted!
One of the major determining factors is how much the relationship meant to you. If it was something that you really invested a lot in emotionally, it will take some more time to heal than if you were less invested.
But this should give you some idea of how long it will take in relation to your own situation. And of course be easy on yourself. There are many factors that affect how long it will take you to recover, most of them you have no control over. So be kind to yourself if it is taking you longer than expected.
How Long It Takes Depends on How Much Work You Do
Susan J. Elliott, a divorce lawyer and author of Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You, has a different approach to calculating how long it takes to get over a breakup.
She says that your recovery time depends on “the work” you do after your breakup. And of course I agree wholeheartedly with Susan. The Breakup Healing System is an entire course designed to help you do the post breakup work to help you recover faster and be stronger, happier, and better than you were before the breakup.
One of the steps that Susan J. Elliot recommends that I also strongly recommend: no-contact with your ex. This means deleting your ex’s number from your phone and blocking him or her on social media.
Especially the social media part. If you think you’re hurting now, wait until you see photos of your ex doing something fun or happily embracing a new lover. That’s going to hurt.
If you have to interact with your ex, keep your contact limited to brief and business-like interactions. Cutting off contact and doing your emotional work, no matter how difficult, is what helps you heal and move on.
The amount of “work” you do determines how long it will take you to get over your breakup. You could get over a long relationship in a fairly short period of time if you do the work with complete sincerity. But if you completely ignore this aspect of the recovery process, even the breakup of a short relationship could pain you for quite some time.
So in the spirit of doing the work, I invite you to check out my free 4-part video course that shows you the basics of letting go.
When you do the exercises in this video, you will feel relief right away.