How Long Does It Actually Take To Get Over A Breakup?

Breakups are hard and painful. In a recent survey, getting divorced or a breakup was the second most stressful life event, with 44% of respondents considering it the worst (via Study Finds). Moving topped the list of the most stressful life event at 45%.

Ending a relationship is never easy, even if it's the best decision of your life. While it might be a little easier for the person initiating the breakup, both parties suffer. According to a study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, a breakup is painful because "it activates the part of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction cravings" (via Hey Sigmund). They compared romantic love to a kind of addiction, because romantic rejection and cocaine craving affects the same part of the brain as people are constantly thinking about their exes. There's no denying that breakups can feel like the worst experience of your life, and at the time, it might feel like you'll never get over it, but the study showed that it does get easier with time. Your mind needs time to heal, and that's what you need to give yourself.

You might think it's going to take you years to get over a breakup, but according to experts, it doesn't take as long as you think. Of course, the length of your relationship plays a vital role in how easy or difficult it might be to move on, but the good news is that it takes less time than you think.

It takes this long to get over a breakup

Ending a relationship can make you sad and angry, and you might feel like you'll never love again. It might affect your self-esteem, affecting various aspects of your life.

You might have heard some people say it takes half the time of the length of the relationship to get over a breakup, but that's not really true. Several factors come into play, like how you think of your relationship and yourself after. However, according to licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., it takes about six weeks to acclimate to life without your ex, per Glamour. Dr. Durvasula said, "I tell my clients all the time: Give everything six weeks before you think you are not coping well." On a more positive note, she added that you could get over a breakup much sooner than six weeks, and it's less likely that it'll be much longer.

A 2007 study showed that 71% said it took them about three months to get over a breakup, while a 2017 survey showed it takes about six months. Every relationship is unique; therefore, Heidi McBain, a licensed family and marriage therapist, told Mind Body Green, "It's so dependent on the person themselves." McBain added that it might take longer to recover if your partner initiated the breakup or cheated on you. Hilda Burke, a psychotherapist and couples counselor, added that if "you were really invested" and you don't want to get over the breakup, it can take longer too.

Social media can make getting over a breakup harder

It's best to cut all ties and stop all forms of communication right after a breakup so you can move on, but social media makes it harder. It can be even more challenging in a world where we're always online.

A 2020 study done at the University of Colorado, Boulder, showed that certain features on Facebook and Instagram, such as Facebook's "memories" feature or people you might know, such as your ex-partner's family members or current partners, can make it more difficult. Anthony Pinter, a doctoral student and lead author of the study, said, "Before social media, breakups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person." He added that moving on is harder when you're constantly reminded of the past with pictures that hold a special place in your heart. Pinter recommends taking a break from all social media after a breakup to make the experience less painful.

Social media makes it much easier to stalk your exes and check what's happening in their lives, making moving on more challenging. According to Dr. Judy Ho, a triple board-certified clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, it was simpler to break up before social media because respecting boundaries was limited to not calling them or seeing them (via Poosh). Dr. Ho recommends removing your ex's presence from your life by unfollowing them online, not posting about your breakup, and taking time to connect with people in the real world more.