The pain of a broken relationship has inspired a countless number of songs, books, and movies.
The reason these artistic expressions of failed romance resonate with us is because we can relate to them.
The heartache caused by a broken relationship is something that almost all of us will encounter at some point in our lives. It’s a pain which at the time we experience it can seem so intense that it will never end.
But of course, in time our broken heart does invariably mend.
Here we’ll look at exactly how long it takes to get over a breakup and what you will likely experience.
Remember that getting over your last situation is the first step to preparing yourself to start dating again.
How Long Does It Take To Get Over A Breakup?
Conventional wisdom is that it takes about half as long as a relationship lasts to get over a breakup.
If you are with someone for two years, then according to this formula, it would take a year to get over the breakup. Ten years together would equal five years of recovering from the failed relationship.
It is true that the longer we spend with someone and the more emotionally invested in that relationship the harder it usually is to get over it.
But looking at the examples above it should be obvious that this formula is more poetic than realistic.
Most people do not, in fact, take five years to get over a decade long relationship. In fact, the real time to repair a broken heart appears to be much shorter.
One of the most cited studies about breakups was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.
Of the participants surveyed 71% said that they were able to recover from a breakup after only eleven weeks. However, it is important to note that the study looked at a relatively small group of 155 people.
With that being said, it is interesting that it took significantly less time to get over a relationship than most commonly held wisdom would suggest.
Marriage Makes A Difference.
Wedding vows really do seem to make a difference when it comes to getting over a breakup. According to a study published by dating website Fifties.com, it takes nearly eighteen months to get over a divorce. They came up with this number by surveying 4,000 divorcees about their experience with divorce.
A sensible assumption would be that divorces are more difficult than other breakups because of how deeply intertwined spouses lives become. People who are married typically own assets in common and may have children.
However, this did not seem always be the case.
One in five said that the pain caused by divorce was worse than any practical details that needed to be resolved.
60% of those surveyed said that the worst aspect of divorce was a feeling of failure. This may be connected to the fact that we so publicly commit to the relationship for the rest of our lives when we enter a marriage. So not only do you deal with the loss of a relationship but you also deal with the judgmental eyes of people that said “I told you so.”
And despite the commonness of divorce in modern society, there is still a great deal of shame attached to it.
Perhaps most worryingly one in five people who divorce say that they feel they will never get over it.
While it takes about seventeen months to get over a divorce, approximately a third of people never have a serious relationship again.
To sum it up: If you are experiencing divorce for the first time, don’t be surprised if the process is harder than your previous breakups.
Why Breakups Are So Difficult.
Relationship breakups can be extremely painful because you are losing not only what you have, but what you could have had in the future.
When we are in love, we naturally imagine the future we will share with our partner. This may include children and grandchildren you would one day share. The home that you might build together. The places you would visit and things that you would do. And the Golden Years of companionship you would enjoy.
When you breakup that future together suddenly disappears.
What it is replaced with is complete uncertainty. If you break up with someone, then there is almost certainly a good reason for doing so. The future you would have shared would likely not have been as bright as you once imagined.
But, it can still be difficult to imagine a more positive and happier future when you are in the midst of the heartache of a breakup.
The Seven Stages Of A Breakup.
What most people fail to realize when dealing with a breakup is that there are 7 stages that they will experience. And not all of the stages are experienced in a neat sequential order.
Matters of the heart can be messy.
Some people experience a rush of emotion feeling all of the states at once. Others will experience these emotions in different order. But, despite the differences, these are very common stages.
Knowing that you will encounter them can help to normalize the process and make it easier to cope with.
Here are the 7 stages of a breakup.
1. Looking for answers.
Naturally, the first thing we want to know after a breakup is why?
People who experience a breakup often have an overwhelming need to understand why it happened. This means relentlessly examining the relationship and looking for the causes of its breakdown.
Frequently this means you will be quite illogical in your defense of the relationship.
Friends and family that point out the problems with your relationship that are obvious to an outsider will seem to not understand. You may find yourself justifying the things that went on in your relationship to anyone who will listen.
2. Denying that the breakup is happening.
When something painful happens to us, we often go into a state of denial.
It’s simply one of our brains natural coping mechanisms.
Which makes it one of the first stages we go through when experiencing a breakup.
We invest so much emotionally in our relationships that it can be challenging to give up on them. This is why we will often stick with a relationship long past the time we know that it is no longer working.
In this stage, we suggest that you draw a hard line by implementing the “No Contact Rule.”
3. Trying to salvage the relationship.
This is where you feel you will do almost anything to win your ex back.
People who are experiencing this stage will offer to change everything about themselves that they think their partner doesn’t like about them.
The horrible part about this stage is that it means you are taking on full responsibility for the breakdown of the relationship.
Which is highly unlikely.
Generally relationships breakdown because of things both people have done.
In many, the suffering that is caused by a breakup will lead people to give the relationship another try.
In many cases, this attempt for reconciliation will be one sided. In fact, this is how on-again off-again relationships begin.
We cannot force someone to love us.
The process of breaking up and reconciling will sometimes happen multiple times until it is obvious that the relationship is beyond repair.
5. Resentment and anger.
During this stage, you will experience anger at your ex-partner, yourself and the world in general. While this can be a destructive phase of the breakup, it should also be viewed as a necessary part of the rebuilding process.
The sense of anger can be empowering. It demonstrates that despite your pain, you are alive and still capable of feeling.
6. Starting to accept reality.
Eventually, you will reach a point of acceptance. You will realize that the relationship is truly over.
Not only this but that it is not sensible to keep trying to mend something that is fundamentally broken.
Acceptance that it is not a good idea to try and continue with the relationship is the start of moving on with your life.
7. Discovering a new future.
As we already outlined, one of the reasons that breaking up is so painful is because of the loss of a planned future.
In the last stage of the grieving process we realize that while that future might be over, you still do have a future.
You understand that it’s a future that may be even better than you would have had with your partner.
Like the song says “Breaking up is hard to do.” But, a broken relationship that ends means the possibility of a better future.
Science suggests that while it may seem painful in the early stages of a relationship, being able to move forward may occur sooner than you think.
The answer to how long does it take to get over a breakup greatly depends on the magnitude of the relationship. Were you just dating or were you married?
If you were just dating you could be over the breakup in as little as 3 months. If you were married, on the other hand, research suggests that a grieving period of 18 months is more typical.
Regardless of both of those facts, one thing is for sure: If you’re experiencing a breakup there IS light at the end of the tunnel.
Just keep pushing, spend time improving yourself, enjoying your friends and family, and getting back to the things that made you happy before the relationship began.