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How Long Does Heartbreak Last? Signs You're Healing from a Breakup

how long does it take to recover from a breakup?

Most people will go through a breakup. The experiences of a breakup can range from heartbreaking and tragic to freeing and exhilarating. Nobody’s relationship is the same, and nobody’s recovery from a breakup is the same either. 

Wherever you are at in your break-up recovery, know that healing is possible.

How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Breakup?

There haven’t been many scientific studies reporting on how long it takes to get over a breakup. For one, that’s a hard metric to measure: what constitutes “getting over”? When you started dating again? When you stopped thinking about them? When you healed from heartbreak? These are often subjective and hard to measure scientifically 

However, some studies and surveys have tried, and their consensus averages out at between 10-12 weeks. Around this time, survey takers and study participants report a marked decrease in distress and an increase in positive emotions such as empowerment, confidence, and happiness. 

These studies aren’t perfect though. The problem with these sorts of studies is that it’s impossible to normalize everyone’s experience when dating and breaking up. For example, healing from a divorce can take up to 1.5 years, according to one survey. Commitment, the messiness of the breakup, and your support system after the breakup are all factors in determining how long it will take to get over a breakup. 

There are numerous factors that will come into play when asking the question “How long does it take to get over a breakup?”, and we’ll discuss those below, but, in general, if you’ve said “I love you” but haven’t moved to a long-term commitment stage, you can expect around 3 months of healing time. 

You will heal. Heartbreak is called that because it really feels like your heart is breaking, and studies have shown that there is physical pain involved with losing a relationship. Grief for a relationship that doesn’t exist anymore is normal, and like all grief, it will hurt but it will also end. 

How Long Does Heartbreak Last?

How long it will take to heal from a breakup depends on many factors, including:

Your Commitment

This isn’t just how long a relationship was. One study found that cohabitation (living with your partner) and plans for marriage decreased the quality of life and happiness experienced after a breakup. This implies that the level at which you were prepared to commit to your partner (or already had) will increase the time it takes for you to heal. 

If you lived with your partner and shared finances, friends, hobbies, and spaces together, then suddenly living without them might accentuate the pain. Everywhere you go, it reminds you of their presence, pushing on the pain of your breakup like an old bruise. 

If you were very committed to your relationship, give yourself grace in healing. It may take longer than most.

Suddenness of Breakup

Sometimes, we can see a breakup coming from miles away. “It’s for the best.” or “I knew it was coming.” Relationships are familiar, comforting, and safe. It’s easy to hold onto them simply because you don’t want to be alone. These types of relationships, where the love had already faded, are easier to recover from than relationships that ended suddenly. The stage of your relationship may have something to do with it, too. It’ll be harder to end a relationship when you’re in the height of your feelings for them. 

For example, relationships that end because of infidelity often have a longer recovery time. You’re not just recovering from the end of a relationship, you’re processing and healing from betrayal. 

Also, sometimes a breakup can come out of left field. If you thought everything was going great, just to have your partner drop the “We need to talk” conversation on you, it can hurt more than a mutual ending. You’re reeling with the question of what did I do wrong? And why? If you’re constantly overthinking a relationship, you might be addicted to overthinking

If you and your partner decide to try and work through issues—like healing from infidelity—you’ll have a different sort of grief and recovery process. You’ll still need time to grieve the relationship you thought you had, adjust to your new reality, and forgive your partner.

Relationship Quality

A healthy relationship has many protective factors that increase your quality of life and happiness. Ending a healthy relationship can feel more jarring and painful than ending a less-than-satisfactory one. 

In fact, some people report feeling good after ending a bad relationship. If you don’t feel loved in a relationship anymore, it can be a relief to get out. 

However, this isn’t always the case. Some toxic relationships can be hard to remove yourself from, and hurt way longer than any other relationship. If a relationship is manipulative or emotionally abusive, it can leave barbs in you that hurt when forced to address. If you are healing from a toxic relationship, it’s important to lean on your support system and be aware of your mental health. You may suffer from relationship trauma. In this case, professional therapy can help. 

If you had a relationship that was between healthy and toxic, you might be questioning your decision to end it. Are relationships supposed to be this hard? Try to trust your decision; you made it for a reason. Focus on healing and building your own personal identity. If after a few months, you’re still questioning your decision, then reaching back out for some clarity could be worth it.

Why Does Heartbreak Hurt so Much?

Heartbreak can be an incredibly painful and distressing experience. When we form deep emotional connections with someone, the bond that develops is not just physical or superficial; it's deeply rooted in our emotions and attachment. When that connection is severed, whether through a breakup or loss, it can trigger intense feelings of grief, loss, and sadness.

The pain of heartbreak stems from several factors:

  1. Loss of companionship and support: Losing the presence of someone we were close to can create a void in our lives. We may miss their companionship, emotional support, and shared experiences.
  2. Attachment and emotional investment: When we invest time, emotions, and energy into a relationship, we become attached to the other person. The loss of that connection can disrupt our sense of security and identity.
  3. Disrupted future plans: Heartbreak often means letting go of shared dreams, future plans, and the life we envisioned with our partner. This can be emotionally devastating and challenging to accept.
  4. Fear of rejection and abandonment: Heartbreak can also trigger fears of rejection, abandonment, and unworthiness. These underlying fears can intensify the pain and emotional distress.

It's important to remember that the pain of heartbreak is valid and deserves to be acknowledged. Give yourself time to heal, seek support, and be patient with yourself as you navigate through the healing process.

How to Heal from a Breakup Faster

So you’ve done it: the relationship is over. A tub of ice cream and a few hours of binging your favorite show later and it still hurts. Maybe it’s been a week, or two, or a full month and there’s still a constant ache in your chest.  You’re ready to move on—truly, you want to. But everywhere you turn is a reminder of them and you can’t stop thinking about how much it hurts. 

Can you do anything to make the healing process go any faster? 

Grieving the loss of a relationship is important in itself. You lost something important, and that loss has to be felt. However, there are a few things you can do that can make the healing process easier and quicker. 

  1. Let yourself process the grief: We don’t often talk about the end of a relationship as something to grieve, but it is! You will probably find yourself going through the stages of grief. This is something you have to move through in order to fully heal from the breakup. Let yourself grieve, however that looks to you. 
  2. Get rid of blame: While blaming everything on your ex can feel good (and can even help you recover quicker) it also increases distress. On the other hand, it won’t help to heap all the blame on yourself, either. A relationship takes two, so the truth is probably messy and that's okay. 
  3. Be honest with yourself: It’s okay if you’re still not over them. It’s okay if you still love them. It’s okay if you’re mostly angry. It’s okay if you’ve already moved on. There is no hard and fast way to get over a breakup, and even if there was, your experience is completely unique to you. So be honest with yourself and let yourself feel. 
  4. Reconnect with yourself: When we’re in a relationship, we stop thinking in terms of “I” and start thinking in “We”. You become part of something bigger, and as wonderful as that is, it is also possible to lose parts of yourself in it. What are hobbies that you’ve let neglected? Music or movies that you love to watch but your partner didn’t? Reconnect with your friends and, more importantly, yourself. 
  5. Don’t let self-care slide: While we’ll all need a few days of bed rotting and microwave meals, it's important to maintain a healthy routine. Exercise, shower, get good sleep, and eat well. These are things that will help you feel good and protect you from other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, which can be common after a breakup. 
  6. Lean on your support system: You are not alone. Don’t believe it? We’ll say it again: You are not alone. You are loved, cherished, and wanted! It can be hard to remember these things in the face of a break-up, but they’re true. Reach out to your friends and family (even if you haven’t seen them in a while) and check-in. 
  7. Get professional help: Breakup grief can feel impossible to get through. If it has been going on for longer than a few months or has significantly impacted your ability to engage in life, work, and play, then therapy can help. 

Everyone’s journey through relationship grief will look differently, so try not to compare your experience with others. Walk at your own pace through your grief and remember that it will get better.

Signs You’re Healing from a Break-Up

After a few weeks, you may start to realize that it hurts less. Maybe you woke up and your first thought wasn’t about them, or you go a whole day without crying, or you make plans with your friends and don’t wonder what they’re up to. Celebrate these small wins. 

Signs you’re healing from a breakup include:

  • Shifting mindset: You begin to see the breakup as an opportunity for personal growth and embrace new possibilities.
  • Decreased emotional intensity: The intense feelings of sadness, anger, and grief start to lessen in intensity and become more manageable.
  • Acceptance and moving forward: You reach a stage where you accept the reality of the breakup and can envision a future without your ex.
  • Reclaiming independence: You regain a sense of independence, rediscover your self-worth, and develop a stronger sense of self.
  • Engaging in self-care: You prioritize self-care activities that nurture your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
  • Reconnecting with interests and passions: You rediscover your hobbies, interests, and passions, finding joy and fulfillment in them.
  • Developing a strong support system: You surround yourself with supportive friends and loved ones who provide understanding and encouragement.
  • Focus on personal growth: You invest time and energy in personal growth and self-improvement, learning more about yourself and your needs.
  • Openness to new connections: You become more open to the idea of new connections and potential relationships in the future.
  • Feeling content alone: You start to genuinely enjoy your own company and find fulfillment in being single.

You may also be ready to start dating again, but being ready to start dating doesn’t have to be present in order for you to be fully healed from a breakup. You may not want to jump into another relationship and that’s okay. You can be a whole person on your own and have just as much value and love in your life as before. 

If you find yourself stuck in the grieving process or unable to move on, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist. Therapy for breakups is a great tool you can use to regain your footing and move forward with your life in health and healing. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

On average, it takes around 3 months to heal from a breakup. However, the duration of healing after a breakup varies greatly from person to person. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Factors such as the length of the relationship, the intensity of emotions involved, and the individual's coping mechanisms all play a role. It's important to remember that healing is a process and takes time. Some people may start to feel better within a few weeks or months, while for others, it may take longer. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to heal at your own pace. The most important thing is to focus on self-care and seek support when needed.

 Absolutely! Therapy can be an invaluable resource to help you recover from a breakup. Professional therapists provide a safe and supportive space to explore your emotions, process the breakup, and develop coping strategies. Here are some ways therapy can help:

  • Emotional support: Therapists can offer a compassionate and non-judgmental environment where you can freely express your thoughts and feelings.

  • Gaining perspective: Therapy can help you gain a clearer understanding of the factors that contributed to the breakup, both within the relationship and within yourself.

  • Coping strategies: Therapists can provide you with effective coping mechanisms to manage your emotions, reduce distress, and navigate the challenges of healing.

  • Rebuilding self-worth: Therapy supports you in rebuilding your sense of self-worth, developing self-compassion, and boosting your self-esteem.

  • Setting boundaries: Therapists can help you establish healthy boundaries, both with your ex-partner and in future relationships, promoting emotional well-being.

  • Processing grief and loss: Therapy provides a space for processing the grief and loss that accompanies a breakup, helping you move towards acceptance and healing.

  • Each therapy journey is unique to the individual, and the approach used by therapists may vary. It's important to find a therapist who is a good fit for you, someone with whom you feel comfortable and understood. Therapy can be a valuable tool to support your healing journey and empower you to create a brighter future.

    Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and therapy can provide the guidance and support you need during this challenging time.

    Yes! Relationship therapy at Lifebulb isn’t just for couples; it’s for individuals who want to work on creating healthier relationships or heal from past relationships and breakups.

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