By Callie Beusman
The period after a break-up is often incredibly difficult: It’s essentially a grieving process, because you’re dealing with the loss of someone who you considered a partner. As with all grief, it can take time to recover. And while there’s no real hard-and-fast rule for how long it takes to get over a breakup, there are a few crucial points to keep in mind that can help you keep a sense of perspective.
The breakup’s circumstances are a factor
After a split, it’s typical to experience a slew of difficult emotions including sadness, loss, regret, and loneliness. This can be true even if you were the one to initiate the separation. But the extent of these emotions, and how long they last, will depend on a variety of factors.
According to Natalia Juarez, a break-up recovery coach, those factors include “the length of the relationship, your attachment style, whether or not you’ve had experience overcoming heartbreak before, the way it happened (were you blind-sided or did you see it coming?), and the reasons for the breakup.” If the parting was amicable and you both saw it coming, for instance, it may be easier to put it behind you compared to if your partner abruptly left you for someone else.
“Every break-up is uniquely complicated,” explains Dr. Gary Lewandowski, a professor of psychology at Monmouth University. As a general rule, though: “The more the relationship was a part of your life and who you are, which isn’t always directly related to how long you were together, the longer it will take to get over.”
You can probably expect to feel better within a year
Again, because every break-up is so different, there’s no standard rule for the amount of time you’ll feel sad and hurt. Generally speaking, though, Juarez divides break-ups into three tiers based on what she’s seen in her practice: To overcome a “big breakup” (a relationship of three to 10 years), it may take six to 12 months; a “mid-breakup” (a relationship of nine months to two years) may take three to six months; and a “mini-breakup” (under nine months) will usually take under one to three months.
Similarly, Dr. Lewandowski finds that three to six months is “a fairly standard timeframe” to develop the coping strategies needed to move on. The concept of developing coping strategies is crucial here; instead of passively waiting for time to heal all wounds, it’s helpful to think of yourself as intentionally growing, learning, and healing.
Your mindset can speed up or slow down healing
The most important factor in all of this is your mindset. If you want to move on, and work hard on moving on, you’ll find it far easier to do so. Alternatively, if you intentionally wallow in the hurt, check your ex’s social media, or pry information about your ex out of mutual friends, it will almost definitely be harder for you to put the relationship behind you. Stay in a productive mindset by focusing on yourself, leaning on your social network for support, and preventing yourself from obsessing over your ex.
“Heartbreak can be extended by the way we react to it,” says Dr. Brandy Engler, founder of Silver Lake Psychology. “If you accept that relationships end and you seek to grow and learn rather than blame, the breakup period will be shorter.” Try to remember that getting over a breakup isn’t some distant end goal. It’s a process, and one that you have agency in. If you consciously try not to indulge in negative emotions and spend time working on yourself, that process will be smoother and shorter.
Above all, keep in mind that this sadness is temporary and you will get through it. Be patient and gentle with yourself — no heartbreak is forever, even if it might feel that way in the moment.