How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Breakup?

When you're going through a breakup, it's easy to feel like the pain you're experiencing will never end.

You may find yourself having a stretch of hours or even days where you manage not to think about your ex — only to have something trigger a memory of them so vividly it sends you into an emotional spiral of grief all over again.

Experiencing grief, sadness, irritability, and even highs and lows post-breakup are all normal, necessary parts of the healing process. The longer you try to ignore these feelings or drown them out, the more you're prolonging the process of moving on.

How long will it take to get over a breakup? While it'd be great to have a general rule of thumb, experts agree many factors impact how long these feelings will persist.

“It takes massive self-compassion to be patient with yourself as you grieve and re-establish yourself and your life without your partner,” says Angela Sitka, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “You likely will not know your timeline until you begin it.”

Here's a look at the factors that impact how long it takes to get over a breakup and what's been helpful for other guys who have been there.

Length and Seriousness of the Relationship

The longer you spend in a relationship, the more likely you've experienced milestones together that make it hard to decouple.

“A longer relationship also results in more environmental associations — now, you have linked vacations to the beach with your ex, holidays with your ex, and even your favorite band reminds you of your ex,” explains Stephen Hill, a licensed psychologist. “Your body and mind will take time to make new associations.”

Going through a breakup with someone you'd envisioned a lasting future with means you're mourning the loss of your time together and the life you thought you'd have together.

“A serious relationship implies greater meaning and, thus, a greater perceived loss,” says Hill. “Losses are both tangible and intangible; any serious loss may result in future dreams, plans, and expectations being dashed.”

This was the case for Chad, 31. “Like many other relationships that I had, this one started out with me thinking, ‘this could be the one,’” he says. “We spent a lot of time together, and it felt like we were getting to know each other on deeper levels and that everything was moving forward.”

Longer relationships can be harder to recover from because our lives become intertwined, especially if you live together or have a shared group of friends. But short-lived relationships can be difficult to move past as well.

“Shorter relationships could have been intense or all-consuming, which can impact the ability to move on from that connection,” explains clinical psychologist Jasmine Reed.

Which Person Ended the Relationship

It's a common misconception that the person who ends the relationship can easily move on from it. This can be true in some cases — especially if the breakup happens out of the blue, without explanation or, at the very least, prior disagreements or conversations about the relationship's future.

However, deciding to leave a relationship with someone you're still in love with — even if it's the best thing for you — can leave you second-guessing whether or not you made the right decision. Especially as the feelings of grief and sadness start to set in post-breakup.

In Chad’s case, his ex's aversion to commitment eventually made him end things.

“We didn't fight, but when we did, it's what we fought about,” he says. “After nine months together, I felt like nothing was going to change, so I (foolishly) decided to end it.”

Even when both parties mutually agree it's time to end things, moving on can still be difficult, as was the case for Lachlan Brown, 34, the founder of Hack Spirit, who parted ways with his ex after two years.

“To be honest, the breakup was pretty tough,” he says. “It was a mutual decision, but that doesn't make it any easier. We both had to accept that the relationship wasn't working out, which was a difficult realization.”

Getting Closure

For closure to work toward healing from a breakup in a positive way, both parties need to have the ability to be open and honest with the role they had in why the relationship didn't work. Normally, these types of realizations take time and self-work to realize.

“Closure is definitely a process that happens on its own time and may look different for everyone," says Reed. It can also happen without your partner's involvement, which was the case for Brown.

“At the time of the breakup, I didn't feel like there was much closure,” Brown says. “We had a conversation where we shared our thoughts and feelings, but it still felt like loose ends needed to be tied up. However, looking back, I realize closure doesn't always come as a neat and tidy conversation. It's something that I had to work through on my own by reflecting on the relationship and processing my emotions.”

Meeting up with his ex after some time had passed was helpful for Chad, however.

“Six months after we broke up, we met and had a talk which provided the closure I needed,” he says. “What made it hard to move on was that we were really close and shared so many moments. I really thought she could've been the one.”

How Long Is Too Long to Get Over a Breakup?

Though everyone's healing journey is different if you still find yourself experiencing extreme feelings a year after it ends, working with a mental health professional may be beneficial.

“The emotional pain should be decreasing in intensity over days to weeks as the waves of grief lessen over time,” says Hill. “If positive emotions and humor have not returned, seek professional help.”

Getting over a breakup can be a long road, but as Chad describes, the end may appear more suddenly than you think.

“It's funny how when a relationship ends, it feels like you will never get over them. And then, it happens like magic. One day you wake up, and you just don't care about them anymore,” he says.