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How Long Does It Take Someone to Get Over a Breakup? 34 Steps & the Timeline

How long does it take to get over a breakup with someone you love? A month, a year, two years? There are a lot of factors that determine this, but you’ll get there.

How Long Does It Take to Get Over a breakup or Someone you love

If you’re currently going through a breakup, we have sympathy for you. It’s certainly not an easy time in anyone’s life. You’re probably asking yourself one very simple question – how long does it take to get over a breakup with someone you love?

The thing is, that’s not a simple question to answer. Everyone recovers from pain differently. It also depends on how long you were together, what happened at the end, how much you loved them, and if they betrayed you.

It also comes down to how you cope with adversity in life. Everyone faces hardship, but either some people face more than others, or some know how to handle them better. Either way, coping with adversity equips you with the tools to handle emotional upsets *like a breakup*.

When you break up with someone, life becomes harder for a while. Whether the relationship was going through a tough patch or it was completely out of the blue, the end of a relationship requires time to heal. You’re mourning the end of something that you hoped would last a lifetime. [Read: How to get over a breakup and pick up the pieces of your heart]

How long does it take to get over a breakup on average?

Unfortunately, there is no magic number, but we can give you some general ideas. Most people say that they start to feel better around three months after a breakup.

Yes, we know, three months is a long time! But that doesn’t mean you’re going to be miserable for the whole three months.

After the first week or two, you will slowly start to build up your strength. That doesn’t mean you won’t have slight relapses, but you’ll be able to cope with them as you face the future.

Studies have also backed this up. One particular study took a group of students who had gone through a breakup at some point in the last six months. The study showed that 71% of participants started to feel like they could consider dating again at around 11 weeks, which is about three months. [Read: How to survive the first 168 hours after a breakup]

Why does a breakup take so long to get over?

Of course, you might wonder why it’s so hard to get over a breakup and why it takes such a long time.

Think about it – to make a relationship work, you invest yourself emotionally and allow yourself to be vulnerable. You go into it with hopes that it’s going to last. And then something happens to change all of that.

In some ways, the course of your life has been altered a little. That might sound dramatic, but it’s true – for your romantic life, at least. [Read: The 7 stages of heartbreak when you become someone’s ex

A timeline for getting over someone

There is no science or math for getting over someone. You can’t add up the amount of time you were together, multiply it by the pain, and divide it by your goals to get a number. It just doesn’t work like that. But, what is possible, is following a timeline. 

There will always be good and bad days. However, there are some stages of a breakup that everyone goes through. 

Working through those stages and staying on track can help you get over someone faster and with a bit less pain. [Read: The harsh truth about getting over someone]

1. Shock

Whether the breakup was mutual or not, there is always a stage of shock. In almost every breakup, there is a point where it doesn’t even feel real because you’re just not used to the idea of not being together.

Your mind, body, and emotions haven’t come to terms with what just happened. This can normally last from one day to one week. But you can take all the time you need to process what happened.

2. Sadness

Mourning the loss of a relationship is important. If someone tells you not to cry, they are wrong. You were in a relationship. It is over. You lost something that was a big part of your life, and it is okay to cry.

Take some mental health days. Stay in bed. Pig out on ice cream. Just try not to let this go on longer than a week, or you will wallow and only make yourself feel worse. You want to let out your sadness but not let it overwhelm you. [Read: How to survive the beginning of a breakup]

3. Denial

Even after mourning, you may try to get them back. You might tell yourself this is temporary or just a break. Maybe you reach out to them to try again under the guise of wanting closure. 

This won’t work. You need to understand that the relationship is over, or things will get worse. This period can last from weeks to months, especially if you keep talking to your ex. So, to move past this hurtful stage quicker, cut all communication with your ex. [Read: 36 healthy ways to handle rejection and respond positively even if it hurts]

4. Obsession

Whether you are talking to your ex or not, there comes a time when any recent breakup-ee becomes obsessed. Even if you don’t want them back, you stalk their social media and ask around about them. You complain and vent to your friends nonstop.

If this phase goes on for too long, you will struggle to move on. 

Continuously keeping your ex in your mind will only let them have power over you. Talking about them keeps them in your headspace, and if you never get them off your mind, you’ll never get over them. 

Vent and let it out, but don’t obsess. If you find yourself repeating what you’ve said or driving yourself crazy trying to analyze their posts, you may want to unfriend or block them for your own peace of mind. [Read: Are you obsessing over your ex?]

5. Staying busy

Staying busy is an important step in getting over someone. Focus on your work, make plans with friends, or pick up a new hobby. And when you feel up for it again, maybe even go on some dates. That is all fine and well. 

Keeping your thoughts occupied with productive and positive things is a great way to put space between you and the person you are trying to get over.

6. Acceptance

Above, we discussed the initial stages of a breakup, where you need to process the shock of the event and take care of your emotions. But to get over someone, the real work begins with acceptance. Accepting that it ended and you’re not getting back together is the beginning of the end, in a way. 

Despite how much you miss them, coming to terms with the facts is a big step to getting over a relationship. Once you know that the breakup is for the best, you are closer to being over them than not. [Read: The honest truth why it’s easier to get over someone if you dump them first]

7. Clarity

You’ve gained clarity. Whether it was from them or not, you have closure for why things ended. You know that things weren’t good, and gaining clarity has allowed you to analyze your feelings from the last few weeks or months. 

You are okay with the fact that things are over and understand it as well as you can. [Read: How to come back stronger after a breakup]

8. Fall back

There is always a point in the breakup timeline where you fall back. Maybe you had a rough day, maybe a friend’s engagement has reminded you of your loneliness, or maybe you’ve been drinking. 

You want to call them or text them, and maybe you do. This is normal. You slide back into old ways because part of you misses them or reminisces about the old days.

9. Peace

If you can come back from a slip-up, you will find peace. You realize calling, texting, or even seeing them was a bad idea, and it didn’t offer you anything. 

Keeping this person in your mind is only slowing down your moving-on process. You feel good about where you are without them. [Read: Calm your mind – How to get the inside voices out of your head]

10. Moving ahead

You are looking ahead. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel instead of living in the state of the breakup. This means that you’re ready for the next step. This can take months or even years, and that’s okay as long as it feels right to you. [Read: Move on from a break up with a smile]

Factors that might affect recovery

There are several factors that come into play when getting over a breakup that slows down the whole process. Some people might not have to think about some of these, but for others, they can drastically lengthen the amount of time it takes to get over a breakup.

1. Your commitment

If you were totally committed to your partner, you’re going to find it harder to let go. Commitment means investing your energy, your emotions, and your vulnerability. Losing what you were committed to means that you have so much more to process.

However, if you weren’t quite so committed, e.g. you were losing your feelings, you might find it quicker to get over them. [Read: What is commitment in a relationship, and how to know if you have it?]

2. Infidelity

If your partner cheated on you, it’s going to take you longer to get over the breakup because you also need to deal with the betrayal. Being cheated on causes you to question everything you thought you knew about love and trust.

If you were the one who cheated, you might also be dealing with guilt and regret, which could lengthen the amount of time you need to feel better.

3. Relationship quality

If your relationship was rocky and you were always arguing, some part of you might be relieved that you don’t need to deal with that any longer. You might also acknowledge that the breakup was probably for the best. That could help you get over it faster.

However, if your relationship was wonderful, at least in your eyes, it will come as a shock to you when it ends. In that case, you’ll need to process all of that and get closure before you can move on. [Read: 36 signs of disrespect in a relationship that reveal a lack of love and respect]

4. Who ends the relationship

If you ended the relationship, it doesn’t mean you’re going to click your fingers and feel great overnight, but you’ll probably find things get easier much faster. However, if you didn’t see it coming and your partner broke up with you, you’ll have a longer grieving period.

Why do some people take longer to get over a breakup?

Not everyone finds it quite so easy to let go. If a person is struggling with self-esteem issues, they may hang onto the past a little more tightly, therefore causing them to suffer for longer.

As we mentioned above, if you were cheated on, you might find it harder to start to feel better.

There is no right or wrong amount of time, but if someone takes longer to get over it than average, it may be that they need to address the issue and perhaps seek some help. [Read: How to break up with someone you love – 18 steps and the things to say]

How to get over a breakup 

There are a few steps you can follow to help you get over a breakup. You could think about using a timeline or even creating a plan, but in the end, it’s usually better to just give yourself however much time you need and go with the flow.

You might feel fine one minute, and then the next, you might feel wretched. By making a plan, you’re putting pressure on yourself, and that’s not something you need right now. 

You might feel better far soon, or it might take you longer. Don’t put pressure on yourself by asking how long it takes to get over a breakup and then being upset if that’s not the right timeline for you.

Let’s look at a few steps you can work through to help yourself to feel better. [Read: How to get over a broken heart – The full guide you need]

1. Allow yourself to feel the pain

It’s easy to distract yourself, but if you want to start to feel better a little sooner, allow yourself to really feel it. Yes, it’s going to hurt. There are going to be a lot of tears, memories coming back to you out of nowhere, unresolved anger, and questions about ‘did I do the right thing?’

However, you should go through all of this to move on to the next step. Be brave, and know that it will get better.  [Read: 15 life lessons you can learn from your own breakup]

2. Block all contact

It’s important that you block all contact with your ex, whether you do this over the long term or not. At some point, you’re either going to miss them too much or regret the breakup, and you’ll want to reach out to them. But that’s not going to help you.

The relationship is over for a reason, so you need to avoid contacting them. Block them, delete their number – just do whatever you need to do to avoid going around and around in circles. [Read: All the reasons why the no contact rule always works]

3. Focus on yourself and rely on your friends

Now is the time to turn your attention inward. Use your friends as the support network they want to be. Cry, talk, or scream it out if needed, but you must focus on what is best for you. You’ll find that the company of your friends is definitely better for you than wallowing in your room.

At this stage, you might also start to feel a little better, only to have a memory come your way and bring you right back down again. This is when your friends can jump in and lift you back up. [Read: How to focus on yourself and create your own sunshine

4. Listen to the advice of those around you

It is not uncommon for people to come clean about how they felt about your ex. Now is the time to listen to them. If they say they were no good or not good enough for you, go with it. 

Your friends are there for honesty, so take it and be rational about what you really lost and what you thought you did.

Losing someone is one of the hardest things we experience in life, no matter the reason. There is no magic time limit where you wake up one day feeling like the loss is over, and they are erased from your heart.

But you can take the situation to gain some clarity over what the relationship was actually like. [Read: Help! My friends don’t like my boyfriend]

5. Put away memories for the time being

If you were together for a significant amount of time, you might have a trail of memories sitting around your house or apartment. Seeing memorabilia every day is going to do nothing but bring up memories and keep you stuck in the past.

You don’t have to burn the pictures, rip them up, or even throw them out. You can put them in a box somewhere or ask a friend to hold onto them. Seeing a picture of them every day will only resurface your sad feelings. Hiding their photo is like protection, really.

You can’t erase them from your life, but it isn’t healthy to continually upset yourself by seeing your ex everywhere you go. [Read: Post-breakup questions you should be thinking about]

6. Stop fantasizing

When something ends when we didn’t want it to, the loss is usually experienced greater than if we ended it ourselves. We focus only on those things that were excellent about the relationship and ignore all those things that were not.

You might daydream about the good times. You will miss all the great things. But your sadness is making you disregard all the bad stuff. Did you fight a lot? Were they controlling? Did they ignore you? Were they respectful? Were you actually happy or just convincing yourself you were? 

Seeing the relationship for what it really was will help you come to terms with reality. [Read: Letting go of your ex – 15 ways to make it easier]

7. Stop talking about it

If you didn’t get the closure you expected, it is not unusual to repeatedly rehash things. No matter what conclusion you come to, it is over. Continually talking it through does nothing but keep you stuck.

Sure, you want to vent and explain what happened to your close friends, but if you find yourself repeating things, you are jumping into obsession territory. This will only slow you down in terms of moving on.

Letting your ex take over your conversations with others only makes things worse. You can’t move on unless you move forward, so leave them in the past. [Read: Unpopular opinion – why you shouldn’t seek closure after a breakup]

8. Don’t try to get information about them

Please don’t talk about them or inadvertently get information about them when you are with mutual friends. Likely, your friends don’t want to get in the middle of it, so don’t drag them in.

But more importantly, you don’t need to know what they are up to or if they have moved on. That information won’t do anything but drive you crazy. Finding out that they are in another relationship will not make you feel anything but more sadness and like you are missing something.

9. Learn the lessons and acknowledge any blame

As you feel like you have a better handle on your emotions, it’s time to acknowledge any blame on your part and to learn the lessons from the relationship. However, don’t do this too soon. You might end up sending yourself backward in the healing process. But once you feel like you can prod the wound a little, try it out.

If you’re to blame for anything, accept it, learn from it, and let it go. If you’re not to blame, what could you do next time to handle the situation better? There may be nothing you did wrong, but there is always a lesson of some kind if you dig deeply enough. [Read: How to come out of a relationship stronger than ever when it ends]

10. Set small goals to build up your confidence

By this stage, you should be starting to see the light a little, although your confidence is still battered and bruised.

When people ask how long it takes to get over a breakup, they should really be asking, “how long does it take to build up my confidence and self-esteem again?” That’s exactly what a breakup damages.

You can build this up by setting small goals to work toward, and you can do this on a daily basis. It can be small or large. But the more you achieve, the better you’ll feel. [Read: How to succeed in life – All you ever need to know]

11. Be respectful

It is hard to do, but go out with class. When you talk badly about someone, it only prolongs your own agony. There is no sense in carrying on about what they did to you or what a jerk they were.

In the end, it only makes you look vengeful and weak. If anyone asks you what happened, say, “it didn’t work,” and leave it at that. That way, they won’t ask again, and you won’t find yourself talking about it over and over.

12. Throw yourself into health and wellbeing

Another great way to build up your confidence is to completely embrace your health and well-being. This is something we could all do with!

Eat a healthy diet, exercise more, try mindfulness, or take up yoga. Basically, do whatever you need to do health-wise to feel stronger and nourish your mind, body, and soul. This is the single best way to take something positive from a pretty negative situation. [Read: How to hone and increase your positive emotions in a negative world]

13. Avoid your old hangouts

If you think going to the same old hangouts, either to reminisce or accidentally bump into them, is a good idea, think again. Seeing them is only going to set back any progress you made. You can’t live in the past. It is behind you.

Find a new hangout. Let your ex have the old one. Meet new people and enjoy new experiences instead of reliving the past. [Read: Most common post-breakup mistakes most people do]

14. Make a list of the things you won’t miss

Surely there are a ton of things you won’t miss. Make a list of the mean things they said, how they left their socks in the middle of the room, and how bad their morning breath was. 

There are many things you didn’t “love” about them. Make a list to have in writing for when you start to miss them. This will remind you that things weren’t always as great as your mind might try to convince you.

15. Do all those things they wouldn’t do with you

If you gave up watching “The Bachelor” or stopped going shopping at the mall, start doing those things again! Go to that spa your ex never wanted to try. There is no one to stop you or make you feel bad about doing the things you love to do, so make the most of it. 

Find the time to partake in all those things that you used to love but gave up for them. [Read: Letting go of someone you love – minus the bitterness]

16. Don’t contact their family

If you and their mom were friends, leave that in the past and focus on your other friends. It is not healthy to continue to date your ex’s family once you have broken up.

You are not only inserting yourself back into a situation that keeps you stuck, but you’re also interfering with your ex’s family relationships, which is not fair either. [Read: Stages of a breakup and how to get through each of them]

17. Take a trip

Immersing yourself in other things is a great way to get over someone. Idle time is your worst enemy. If you have saved up some vacation days, take the time to do something you love. 

Go on a road trip with friends, or do something alone that you’ve always wanted to do. Enjoying your alone time is exactly what you need to stop being lonely and find happiness in being alone.

18. Appreciate what it means to be single

Being single isn’t so bad! There are some major perks to being single, including the ability to do whatever you want without having to factor someone else into the equation, star-fishing in bed without having to move, being as selfish as you like, and hitting the town with your friends for some flirty, no-strings fun!

Learn to appreciate being single. View it as the ideal time to focus on yourself without feeling the slightest bit of guilt about it. [Read: How to enjoy being single and live the life you really want to live]

19. But you can still go out on a ton of dates

Don’t jump into another relationship before you are over your previous one. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t date around. 

The more people you go out with, the better. You may discover dating is far more fun than you remember. And far more fun than being in your previous committed relationship.

20. Pat yourself on the back

Once you feel better, it’s time to really pat yourself on the back and appreciate how far you’ve come. Breakups are hard, no matter how long you were with the person.

A bad breakup has the power to completely ruin your faith in love. By taking baby steps and allowing yourself to slowly feel better over time, you’ll see that one bad experience doesn’t equal a bad romantic life for the rest of your days. [Read: 52 happy habits and ways to find happiness within yourself and feel better]

How to know you’ve gotten over a breakup

You’ve worked your way through the steps, and you’re starting to feel better, but how can you tell when you’re finally over it?

Don’t worry if small things still make you feel a little sad from time to time; you spent a lot of time with this person, and you’re bound to remember things occasionally. The most important thing is that you don’t dwell on it.

You can usually tell that you’ve gotten over a breakup when you can look back on the good times you had together without wincing in pain. You might also find that going to your favorite shared restaurants doesn’t make you feel anything.

Perhaps the most reliable sign that you’re finally over it is when you feel whole and complete as your own person. It doesn’t hurt to think about them anymore because you’re comfortable with yourself and your future. [Read: Honest secrets to let go of the past, be happy and look to the future]

When to ask for help

You wanted to know how long it takes to get over a breakup, and now you know. So, what if you’re still struggling after three months or so, and you’re not sure which way to turn?

You reach out for help.

Not everyone finds it easy to navigate their way through the emotional maelstrom of a breakup, and there’s no shame in admitting that you need help. Reach out to your nearest and dearest, but if that doesn’t help you, consider trying therapy.

Remember, this is a major upheaval in your life, and if it feels like you can’t cope at any stage, even before three months or so, it’s important to reach out and get help. It will be a positive step in your life, and you’ll be glad you did it.

[Read: How to date with trust issues and learn to trust people again]

After a difficult split, many people want to ask, “how long does it take to get over a breakup” so they can rush through the process. Well, the truth is, it’s different for everyone. But you’ll get there sooner than you think with each of these steps.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...