How Long Does It Take To Get Over Someone? 13 Women On Exactly How Long It Took Them To Move On From Their Ex
How long does it really take to get over someone? If you listen to Sex and the City's Charlotte York, "It takes half the total time you went out with someone to get over them." Which, when you think about it, can either be a good thing or a bad thing. For example, you dated someone for only six months, then you're pretty much home free within three months. But if you were with someone for, say, 10 years, going by Charlotte's theory on love and breakups, that's five long years of wallowing in pain and sorrow, trying to recover and move on.
According to a 2017 study of 2,000 Americans by OnePoll, all of us will spend, on average, 18 months of our lives getting over breakups, which, honestly, seems quite low. Although this average was based on three major breakups, how many people only have three major breakups in their lifetime? Between the ages of 18 and 25, I easily had half a dozen breakups, and considering the shambles they left me in, they were indeed "major." Or, at least, they were to me.
“The time it takes to get over someone depends upon two factors,” Susan Winter, a New York City-based relationship expert, love coach, and the author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache, tells Bustle. “How central a figure they were in your life; such as husband, wife, or live-in partner, and how much you (think) you need them.”
As Winter explains, if your partner was your “person" (read: your ideal match) it can take at least six months (or longer!) to grieve and eventually regroup. If we’re talking about someone whom you regard as the love of your life (read: soulmate), that six months can take even longer, maybe as much as a year. If the breakup is a legal one that involves a divorce or a custody battle for kids, the time it takes to get over someone can be even more difficult and prolonged, because you have to be in touch with your ex, and even sometimes on a regular basis.
“Anytime you're required to continually see an ex, it resets the clock and makes getting over them much harder,” Winter says.
When it comes to how much you think you need your ex, things are equally painful, but in a different way. Especially if you put all your hopes and dreams in this one person. If this is the case, the loss can linger, meaning recovery time is long and deep.
“If [your ex] played a dominant role in your life, their absence can appear as though all you wanted is now gone,” Winter says. “As the leading man or woman in the movie of your life, their significance is not easily erasable. Especially so if you're dependent upon them financially, emotionally, socially, or in business.”
"It's more than normal to grieve the loss of a relationship while moving on with your life," Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D., a psychotherapist and author of Smart Relationships: How Successful Women Can Find True Love, tells Bustle. "Don't get fooled into thinking that grief of past loves has a clear 'end'." Ultimately, there is no timeframe for how long it takes to get over an ex. And, for some, there's no end in sight either.
Here are 13 women on how long it took to get over someone.
1. Jenn, 23
"It took me YEARS to get over my first boyfriend. Although I think it took so long because our relationship dragged out for quite some time. While we broke up after dating for eight months, we kept seeing each other on and off for about two more years. It was easy for me to get over him when he wasn’t around or constantly texting me, but the second I saw his name in my phone or saw his face in person it was like I was back at square one — I had to start my 'grieving' process all over again.
It’s been about seven years since we first broke up and about five years since we officially ended things for good. Now when his name comes up on my phone or his face shows up on my social media newsfeed I don’t have that same reaction. It took me about five years to feel nothing toward him. Actually at this point I don’t even think he’s attractive anymore; maybe my taste has evolved."
2. Robyn, 37
"My experience getting over my ex is — I think — a little unique, because I mourned my relationship in reverse. I was married to my high school sweetheart, who, one day said something that made me question whether I wanted to continue that relationship. I cried for three months, every day, almost all day. But after I actually asked for a divorce, I was over him in three days. That's why I am convinced that relationship was mourned in reverse. I'm 37 now. I was 32 when I called it quits."
3. Anonymous, 21
"My ex ended our long-distance relationship the last week of August 2017, and I was devastated. Although I've had a few FWBs here and there since that time, I have to say that, almost nine months later, I'm still not completely over him. I think about him way more than I'd like to admit."
4. J, 40
"It took me about a year to get over my husband, after getting divorced (12 years), even though it was my idea. It takes time to unravel your relationship emotions once you have decided to end it. I then had a three-year rebound relationship that I was not emotionally engaged in and I would say it took about a week."
5. Amanda, 31
"My longest relationship was five years. We lived together, he bought the house (that we picked out together and took care of and decorated), and he cheated and cheated. And, in the end, he never wanted to get married.
He then, within six months found someone else, married her... and had a baby together. Took probably two years to completely get over the relationship. The first year was all the emotions, rediscovering self, the missing the sex, etc. was all hard to get over. You find someone else, but you still think about that person. Until, finally you are happy in the relationship you are in and can finally move on and forget about that lying and cheating ex who wasted five years of your life. But, in the end, it brought me to meeting my now fiancé! And my cheating ex still contacts me, because he is not happy and [I am finally am]."
6. Kathryn, 50
"It took me over four years to get over my first husband. He was the love of my life and I really could not imagine life without him... I was so attached to him, [but] our entire relationship was unhealthy. I had invested all of myself in the relationship and really didn't want to see the red flags that emerged over time. When the stuff hit the fan, it was just a mess."
7. Allie, 33
"My last serious relationship took me two full years to get over. The breakup, initiated by me, rocked me to the core. At some point of every day, he was on my mind.
Yet, my ex-husband, whom I loved from the bottom of my heart, shared six wonderful years together, and swapped vows with, took me just two months to get over. I'm sure it had to do with the condoms I found the night before we moved into our first house together. Anger, fueled by being disrespected by the person I should trust the most, can really speed up the healing process! That and life experience. In my thirties, I put up with a whole lot less BS and know what I deserve in a relationship."
8. Briana, 22
"I’m 22 years old and went through the WORST breakup ever on New Years Eve two years ago. We dated for four years and I really thought we would get married; always fantasized of our wedding and out children, until one day it all turned to sh*t. I was deeply depressed for a year. I didn’t want to go out and when I did, I would drink far too much. I didn’t want to eat, couldn’t sleep, I would go days [without] texting or talking to friends. I never went to therapy because our breakup was a long story that I couldn’t tell to anybody. First year was tough, second year got easier I found myself wanting to go out more and having an appetite, but would still obsess over his social media account — who is he talking to? Does he still think about me? Is he dating someone else? I felt obsessive but it was something I had to get through on my own.
Now I feel like myself. I no longer feel the need to check on him every second or hope to see him while roaming the mall. I can look back on our relationship as a learning experience and no longer feel bad about it. I hope he has found the same sense of peace I have. I know everyone tells you to find help, reach out to friends and family, go to therapy, but for those people like me there is still hope and you will get through it."
9. Michelle, 31
"It's been six years since we broke up and I'm still not over it. But I didn't realize that until about four years ago, when I actually wanted to start dating people again and realized I had a lot of work to do. I still do."
10. Anna, 30
"My ex and I dated for about three years on and off. The first time we broke up, I didn't ever get over it. After eight months of dating and eight months of breakup, we got back together. Even during our breakup, I still felt tied to him, like we hadn't finished trying. Honestly, that may well have just been the undiagnosed anxiety I was dealing with at the time.
When we broke up the second and final time, it was a whole different story. My brain was healthy and we made a mutual decision to part ways. We had given it everything we could. I felt sad to lose the closeness with him, but so right in our decision. I think I cried for like 10 minutes, walked around in a daze for a couple days, and then was over it. It was a long-time coming and a clean break. I held off on dating other people for three months to give myself space and show him respect. We both moved on to much healthier singleness and then relationships."
11. Autumn, 29
"I was with my boyfriend for three years and we broke up two years ago. I hate to say it, but I’m still not over him. It was a clean break with none of that hooking up stuff afterward and we didn’t even try to be friends but here I am, two years later still not over him. I haven’t even been able to start dating again. The desire just isn’t there."
12. Esha, 40
"In my past relationships (and I've had a few of them, I'm 40), it's always worked for me to not date anyone for half the time of my ended relationship. So, if my relationship was three years (that was a magical number for me), then I wouldn't date anyone seriously for about 1.5 years. I would still date and just have fun, but the agreement would be 'just fun' with no strings attached. That allowed me the space and time to heal the past hurt, acknowledge and accept my role in the breakup and decide what the lesson is moving forward. It also gave me time to think through what I would do differently next time."
13. Jennifer, 33
"It took me three weeks. He cheated on me and that was that. I think if he didn’t cheat and we broke up [for other reasons] it would have been harder. But him cheating showed me his true colors and I wanted nothing to do with him."
It can't be stressed enough that there's no time minimum or time maximum for getting over someone. Because of the factors involved and just what role your partner played in your life, it's hard to give a set end date. For some it takes all of 10 minutes to get over someone, while for others, getting over their ex — ever — just isn't in the cards.
But no matter how long it takes, it's important to remember to be kind to yourself. Don't rush it or pressure yourself to get over someone faster than you're capable of doing so in a healthy. Also realize even if you never fully get over someone it will, in time, at least get easier.
Susan Winter, a New York City relationship expert and author
Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D., psychotherapist
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