Heartbreak

How Long It Takes To Get Over A Breakup (And What Can Speed Things Up)

Photo: DimaBerlin / Shutterstock
sad woman sitting on the couch with her dog

You've heard it a billion times: "Time heals all wounds."

But when you're right there in the moment, going through a bad breakup and wondering if the heartbreak and pain will ever end, you're probably thinking it would be super helpful if you knew exactly how much time it would take until you start to feel at least somewhat better again.

Perhaps you find yourself thinking of Taylor Swift's lyrics, like these, from "All Too Well (Taylor's Version)": "Time won't fly, it's like I'm paralyzed by it / I'd like to be my old self again / But I'm still trying to find it."

You may have lost your appetite. You may be having trouble sleeping. Or you might be sleeping way too much. As you go through the post-breakup grieving process, you'll cycle through so many different moods and emotions that it's only natural for you to wonder when — and even if — you'll ever feel truly healed and back to your normal self again.

How long does it take to get over a breakup?

Science-based theories and urban legends alike point to a variety of answers, with averages ranging between three to 18 months.

As it turns out, scientists have, in fact, studied this question. Here are all of their answers — hard numbers and specifics included.

RELATED: 5 Breakup Myths That Are Total BS

4 theories about how long it takes to get over a breakup

1. 11 weeks to six months to get over a breakup.

In a 2007 study of 155 undergraduate students who had gone through a breakup within the past six months, researchers found that it took 71% of the participants 11 weeks (approximately three months) to "get over" their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.

For the purposes of their study, the highly subjective condition of being over someone was defined by factors such as self-expansion, rediscovery of self, coping strategies, and developing a better sense of oneself. More specifically, the researchers explained, "These variables would be mediated by experiencing more rediscovery of the self, less loss of self, and more positive emotions following dissolution.”

The findings of another study conducted that same year indicate that partipants started feeling better an average of 10 weeks post-breakup.

And a 2017 survey of 2,000 American adults found that it takes an average of just over six months to heal from the end of a serious relationship.

Based on these three findings, if you want to put a magic number on how long it takes to get over someone, it would be reasonable to assume an estimate of 11 weeks (or about three months) to six months.

2. Half the length of your relationship.

The HBO classic, Sex and the City, has been credited for popularizing the rule that says you can calculate how long it will take you to get over someone by dividing the length of your relationship in half.

If this formula holds true and you were with someone for 18 months, it will take you nine months to get over them, i.e. 18 divided by 2=9.

For what it's worth, Marie Claire claimed this rule is an "industry standard."

3. The same amount of time as your relationship lasted.

This rule seems to have emerged in an article by Sharon Bexley for The Daily Mail. Bexley posits that the time it takes to get over someone is equal to the amount of time your relationship lasted.

So, if you were with them for five years, it would take five years to get over your breakup.

4. For a divorce, the an average is closer to 18 months.

A 2010 survey of 4,000 divorced adults conducted by the folks at fifties.com, a discontinued dating site for people over 50, found that it takes an average of 17 months and 26 days from the date the divorce is finalized to get over it.

Breakups between those who haven't yet married and divorces are different animals entirely. Not only is divorce an intense legal matter that could take months or years to resolve, but it's preceded by a separation period that was likely to be difficult for everyone involved.

Twenty percent of those surveyed said they will never "truly get over a divorce" and 55 percent said "it was the worst thing they had ever gone through."

RELATED: 13 Uplifting Facts About Breakups That Will Make You Feel Better About Being Alone

How to speed up the healing process after a breakup

Damona Hoffman, a certified dating coach and OkCupid's Official Dating Expert, asserts that anyone in the process of getting over a breakup should "take a period of time to reset and renew yourself."

She explains further that "this could involve journaling, self care, more counseling or simply reinvesting in friendships and family relationships."

Beyond making self-care a priority, Hoffman believes that, as long as you're making self-care a serious priority in your life, the best thing you can do is get out there and start dating again.

Once you've developed a strong foundation for your sense of self and established healthy boundaries, the best way to know if you're over your ex and ready to start dating again is to test the waters and monitor your feelings as you go.

Although you may not feel ready, the truth is that you may never feel ready, so the only way to be sure is to find out by putting yourself out there in the dating world again and being attuned to how you feel in the process of doing so.

RELATED: 9 Signs You’re Ready To Start Dating Again After A Breakup

What determines how long it will take you to get over a breakup?

All of the above being said, everyone's situation is unique and there are numerous circumstances that can cause it to take more or less time for you to get over someone after either a breakup or a divorce.

Factors like the length of your relationship, depth of your connection, remaining ties on social media, shared children, family, and friends — just to name a few — will all have an impact on how long it takes you to fully heal.

When naming a specific time frame like 11 weeks or 18 months, either duration will seem too short to some, and too long to others.

In most of the cases above, the experts themselves acknowledged that their data was based solely on averages and giving a general picture and that there are different aspects that factor into every individual's unique situation.

Breakup recovery coach Natalia Juarez purports that the amount of time it will take to get over a breakup is contingent upon a variety of factors, including "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.”

And while you might assume the one who broke things off is always in a better position and will de facto get over the relationship faster than the one who was kicked to the curb, rest assured that this is not always the case.

Sure, the one doing the dumping had more time to mentally prepare for the breakup and wanted it to happen — at least, at first — but according to the scientists who back the "three-month rule," both parties require the same 11 weeks until they make it to the full recovery zone.

See? Maybe they didn't get over you as fast as you thought!

RELATED: 7 Signs Your Ex Is Just Pretending To Be Over You And Will Eventually Come Back

Nicole Weaver is a love and entertainment writer.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!