How Long It Actually Takes to Get Over a Relationship, According to Research
Relationship experts explain when you'll have moved on, based on the science.
A bad breakup can really do a number on you. While crying and/or stalking our ex's social media, we tend to hear the same thing over and over again: "You'll get over it with time." But what does that mean, exactly? How much time is needed for a broken heart to heal? Some people seem to move on the very next day, while others are still pining over their ex years down the line. We consulted experts and looked at the research to give you the clearest answer possible. Read on to find out how long it really takes to get over a relationship.
The average person will experience three major breakups in their lifetime.
When it comes to casual dating, we might see many "situationships" come and go. But most of us only experience the end of a serious relationship a few times in our lifetime, according to research.
A 2021 survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Yelp Eat24 found that the average person has been through three major relationship breakups. When it comes to healing, people will try many different methods—whether that's spending time with friends and family or treating themselves to their favorite comfort foods.
"Breakups are tough, and while there are many different ways to deal with the end of a relationship, it seems that the general consensus is that you should treat yourself well," Yelp Eat24 CEO Mike Ghaffary said in a statement. "There are plenty of ways to make sure you treat yourself right during the tough times."
But how long do those tough times last?
It takes around six months to move on each time.
The survey found that after the end of each breakup, the healing process lasts around six months. That means that the average person spends more than a year and half of their lives getting over past relationships.
It's important to note that the six-month period is made up of several different timelines in the healing journey. For instance, most people give themselves an average of just four days to "wallow in sadness" immediately after the end of the relationship.
According to this research, after one month and 12 days, the average person stops shedding tears over a breakup, and four days following that, they're usually able to delete their ex's number. But it takes a full two months before most of us will be able to stop bringing up our ex in conversation.
As for finding new love, the average heartbroken American won't feel ready to date again until three months and 11 days after a breakup.
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Experts say several factors can affect this recovery timeline.
The six-month mark after a breakup is typically around the time in which "many people hit their stride and start to feel better," confirms Kristin Davin, PsyD, a psychologist who has a focus in counseling for relationships, marriage, and divorce. But it's difficult to call this a definitive timeline, since people move on faster or slower due to different circumstances.
"The duration of feeling better post relationship often depends on several factors—like intensity of relationship, if they were part of their partner's family or friend group, attachment style, and reason for the relationship ending," Davin says.
No one factor determines the healing timeline, according to David Tzall, PsyD, a licensed psychologist based in New York City.
"It is easy to say that if two people were together for a short period of time then it should not take them a long time to get over one another," he explains. "However, this diminishes the connection and intensity that they might have had."
There are signs that can help you know if you're actually over your ex.
There's no need to box yourself into a certain timeline when it comes to moving on after a breakup—and it may even hurt your healing, according to Davin.
"Don't compare yourself to others as this will just keep you stuck," she says. "There is not a 'one size fits all recipe' when a relationship ends. Don't forget to give yourself some grace and self-compassion."
But if you're coming up to the six-month mark unsure of where you stand with your healing, there are some signs that could help you figure out if you're actually over your past relationship. As Tzall explains, most people will experience extreme emotions right after a breakup, but over time, they should notice that this intensity has lessened.
Once you start creating plans for the future without your former partner in mind, that's a good sign that you've managed to move on, he says.
"Eventually the relationship and the good times will fade and you will find yourself speaking of the relationship as simply a memory and are not emotional about it or pulled into the past and triggered by things that remind you of your ex," Tzall shares. "You can move on when you find that the memory and emotions are no longer tied together."