How long it takes to get over a breakup: All the theories

So you’re in post-breakup mode and you’re thinking, when will I not feel this way, because it sucks? We hear you. While some people will tell you there’s no definitive amount of time that applies to everyone, there are those who believe you can actually calculate your time of grieving. And when you’re really hurting, it helps to have some hard and fast math in order to see out the other end of this dark tunnel. So before you ask Google how long it takes to get over someone, we’ve got ALL the theories about breakup time right here. But, of course, if we’ve forgotten any, feel free to chime in.

The classic theory

We’ve all heard that theory that in order to find out how long it’s going to take for your broken heart to heal, you divide the length of your relationship in half, which is GREAT if you’ve only been dating for a couple of weeks and AWFUL if you’ve been dating for a couple of years. Marie Claire backs this theory, but adds that meeting someone new (who you really like) totally helps speed up the process. Obvs.

The scientific theory

This one really applies to a super-long-term, live-together relationship: A 2009 study found that it took most divorcees a year and a half to get over the breakup of their marriage. Or, to be more precise, 17 months and twenty six days is the average amount of time a person who was in a marriage (or something akin to that) needs before she feels ready to move on.

The depressing theory

According to the Daily Mail, the time it takes to get over someone is the same amount of time you spent together. But take heart, they claim “the time rule is probably nature’s way of making sure we don’t put ourselves in the way of danger from opportunist, unsuitable lovers before we’re emotionally equipped to deal with them.”

The Reddit theory

A Reddit user asked how long it would take to get over his breakup with his girlfriend, almost every user responding with a personal anecdote cited that it had taken them several years to get over their splits. Two to three years on the low end, eight to eleven years on the high end, with one user admitting he has never gotten over his ex. Awww.

The it-all-depends-on-the-breakup theory

Relationship expert Dr. Darcy has a whole breakdown that revolves around the classic theory (divide your relationship time in half) but modifies it according to circumstances. So, she says, if it was a mutual breakup, you can subtract 10% from the classic theory. If you were cheated on, it will take 20% more time to recover. Add 30% if to ye old classic theory if it was your first love. And tack on 10-50% of the time you spent together divided in half (so up to the same amount of time you spent in your relationship) if you were totally and utterly blindsided by the breakup. Got that? No? You might need a calculator.

The month-to-year theory

According to this one article on getting over an ex, “a good rule of thumb is that people need a month to recover from every year they were in the relationship.” But not everyone agrees with this theory, like everyone on this forum.

The “How I Met Your Mother” theories

  • Ted: Everyone has an opinion on how long it takes to recover from a breakup.
  • Lily: Half the length of the relationship.
  • Marshall: One week for every month you were together.
  • Robin: Exactly 10,000 drinks, however long that takes.
  • Barney: You can’t measure something like this in time; there’s a series of steps—from her bed to the front door. Bam! Out of there. Neeeeext!

All that being said, every person and every relationship is different. Of course there’s no exact equation for getting over a breakup. Take all the time you need and let yourself grieve until you’re magically ready to move on one day. It will happen. That’s the one theory that’s hard to dispute.

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