How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Break Up?

When you break up with someone you loved deeply, you tend to think you'll never get over it. However, in the end, you do. You learn to live without them. But how long does this process usually take?
How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Break Up?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 23 December, 2022

When love breaks down, it’s extremely difficult to mend your heart. Your memories are painful, your house feels empty, and you even feel chills when you think about tomorrow without your partner. You have to reformulate everything, including yourself. You must heal your wounds, redefine your purpose, and appease the whirlwind of emotions that are making you despair.

The pain of a breakup isn’t easy to bear. There’s no instruction manual that you can consult and, when you’re faced with the age-old question of when their absence will stop hurting, there’s no conclusive answer. That’s because everyone is different and we all go through this complex and challenging experience in our own time.

It’s ironic to see how at times, it’s not too difficult to leave behind someone you’ve been with for two or even ten years. At other times, a love that only lasted for a couple of months you never fully overcome. The scar remains, along with the feelings of nostalgia and the dreams that remind you of the experience. You may even secretly wish that you’ll meet up with them again.

However, the pain of a breakup doesn’t last forever. Gradually, you regain your hopes and dreams, motivation, and internal calm.

It’s norml to feel pain after a breakup is. Those feelings are the consequence of an affection that was sincere and a story that was significant.

Sad man looking at the mobile looking for how to overcome my relationship breakup
Eliminating your ex-partner from your social media is essential if you want to overcome your breakup.

How long will it take you to get over your breakup?

Turning the page, healing the wound of your breakup, overcoming your pain, resuming your life … learning to live without the person you loved. This process can be defined in many ways. That said, from a psychological point of view, it implies the same reality: reducing your emotional suffering and getting your brain used to living without them.

The neurological aspect is extremely important. That’s because your brain isn’t prepared to deal with a breakup, so much so that it processes this situation as a physical injury. Helen Fisher, the well-known anthropologist who’s written a great deal about love, conducted an interesting study on breakups in 2009.

She claims that love is, in many cases, like an addiction. When this addictive component is removed, the brain not only begins a process of bitter withdrawal, but it also panics. Therefore, it’s common to develop really negative thoughts and let yourself be overcome by complex emotions.

In the face of this discomfort, you might find yourself haunted by the question of how long it’ll take to get over your breakup. We’ll try and give you an answer.

Not all emotional relationships are the same. So, even if, in the past, it’s never been difficult for you to face your breakups, someone can suddenly come into your life who’s extremely difficult for you to get over.

Science claims you should give yourself between six months and a year

An investigation conducted by the Royal Statistical Society (UK) concluded that married couples who subsequently divorced tended to turn the page completely after a year. Their levels of mental stress and the burden of negative emotions were gradually diluted until, after 12 months, they gave way to a more positive stage.

The researchers found that, as a rule, overcoming a breakup took between six months and a year. They stated that the stage of grief (the phase in which individuals faced emotions such as anguish, anger, sadness, and melancholy) shouldn’t go beyond three to six months.

From that moment on, the necessary reconstruction of themselves began. They drew up new plans and started new friendships and other daily dynamics with which to completely close that stage of their lives.

If the relationship was no longer important, you’ll only need three months

There are many types of breakups. There are traumatic and unexpected ones, those in which you continue to feel betrayed or abandoned. Indeed, if your relationship ends unilaterally and you still feel love for them, your pain will be more complex.

However, sometimes, there are consensual endings and predicted breakups. Therefore, if your affection is running out and you feel like you need distance between you, it won’t be too long until the end. It might be two or three months, just long enough for you to accept what happened and to adapt.

When getting over a breakup takes longer

As we’ve pointed out, the time you need to overcome an emotional breakup always depends on multiple variables. There are some people you simply can’t erase from your mind and who leave a deep imprint on you. On the other hand, you can leave others behind without too much trauma and too many complications.

That said, sometimes, mourning the end of a relationship drags on for too long. But how much is too much? If six months have passed and you see your quality of life as extremely limited and conditioned by feelings of negativity and hopelessness, you should request specialized help.

There’s always a light at the end of a breakup, but you’ll find yourself stuck in the darkness if you do the following:

  • Start a replacement relationship within days of your breakup. Remember, rebound relationships don’t work. Nor does jumping from one person to another to forget the first one.
  • Keep an eye on your ex-partner on social media. The desire to know what’s happening in their life at every moment will only indefinitely increase your feelings of discomfort.
  • Opt for isolation and avoid any social connection.
  • Hold on to your memories, thus fueling your resentment over what happened. This will only make your pain chronic.
  • Become obsessed with resuming contact with them and asking them to try again. Doing this simply puts you in a helpless position.
Walking feet symbolizing how to overcome my relationship breakup
Sometimes, even when a breakup is by mutual agreement, you can experience it in a traumatic way.

Time doesn’t heal emotional pain, your strategies do

Tearing pages off the calendar won’t heal you or make you forget. In fact, you may never really forget the one you loved once but had to let go. However, ideally, you’ll learn to live with their absence and turn to yourself to recover your happiness.

We must clarify that there’s no definitive answer to how long it takes to get over a breakup. Some people will need a couple of months and others a little more. What’s most important is to develop adequate strategies to regulate your emotional pain. You mustn’t get stuck in irrational ideas or in undervaluing yourself and thinking that you weren’t enough for your partner.

To overcome a breakup, you need large doses of self-love. You must also reformulate your goals and purposes and connect with your environment, friends, family, and interesting people. Don’t close the doors of your heart just because a relationship didn’t go well. Loving is always worth it and loving yourself, so you get to enjoy your existence, is even more so.

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  • Fisher HE, Brown LL, Aron A, Strong G, Mashek D. Reward, addiction, and emotion regulation systems associated with rejection in love. J Neurophysiol. 2010 Jul;104(1):51-60. doi: 10.1152/jn.00784.2009. Epub 2010 May 5. PMID: 20445032.
  • Sander S, Strizzi JM, Øverup CS, Cipric A, Hald GM. When Love Hurts – Mental and Physical Health Among Recently Divorced Danes. Front Psychol. 2020 Nov 30;11:578083. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.578083. PMID: 33329227; PMCID: PMC7734469.

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.