By Chris Seiter

Published on July 28th, 2023

Today I’d like to have an honest discussion about how long after a breakup can the actual breakup be considered over?

In other words, how long does it take for the average person to get over a breakup?

It’s an interesting question because no one can seem to agree.

Most reputable studies will claim that it can take anywhere between 3 months to 3 years to fully move past a breakup. Though my argument is that each individual who goes through a breakup will “get over it” based on how accomplished they are at processing grief, finding healthy distractions, and doing things they love.

So, here’s what I would like to do. I’d like to take information from three different sources eo establish a type of baseline,

  1. External Resources (Basically, any polls, studies, or information from reputable sources that I can find, which speak to how long it takes to get over a breakup.)
  2. Internal Resources (I’d like to discuss some of the insights I’ve personally gained from my own research into breakups.)
  3. Artificial Resources. (Given the current buzz around AI, let’s sift through the data and see, on average, how long all of these sources suggest it takes to get over a breakup.)

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What External Resources Have To Say

So, I was able to find a bunch of studies, but I didn’t want to just randomly pick some for the sake of it.

For me, the study had to be reputable, which is why I’m going to be linking to every single study that I discuss here today.

External Study #1: 3 Months


The first one I really want to talk about is a 2007 study titled ‘Addition Through Subtraction: Growth Following the Dissolution of a Low Quality Relationship.’

This study claimed that 71% of people who had recently gone through a breakup felt better about it after three months.

External Study #2: 18 Months


Next, I would like to consider a 2017 survey which focused on divorce.

Cited by The Telegraph, it argued that it takes an average of 18 months to recover from a divorce.

External Study #3: 11 Months

Finally, we have a TED talk that I found particularly relevant.

The speaker talks at length about an average 11-month timeframe found in a study related to this topic.

But then goes on to disagree with the cited study – more on that later.

So, we have three wildly different answers:

  1. the 2007 study suggests recovery in three months
  2. the 2017 survey posits up to 18 months
  3. And the TED talk cites a study that suggests 11 months.

Essentially, the range is anywhere from 3 to 18 months – quite a broad span.

What My Internal Research Has To Say

As you know, we run a website specifically focused on breakups.

Therefore, we feel we have enough authority to claim some insight and knowledge about this particular topic.

Here’s the thing, though: our studies are slightly skewed because most people coming to our website are desperate to get their exes back. As a result, their behavior and approach to breakups align with what we often recommend. Much of the advice we provide not only supports moving on to get an ex back, but also typically improves their chances of achieving the outcomes they desire.

The only true studies we’ve conducted concern how long, on average, it takes for people to get their exes back after starting to work with us.

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We’ve found that our average success story occurs around 5 to 7 months after the client has begun working with us.

Here’s a video of me talking through that,

There’s another interesting aspect we’ve learned through our years at Ex-Boyfriend Recovery, and that is the role cortisol – also known as the stress hormone – plays in your ability to get over a breakup.

When you go through a breakup, your cortisol levels shoot up significantly.

Your ability to scientifically recover from the breakup, or to feel less stress, largely revolves around your capacity to lower your cortisol levels.

The problem is that we live in an age where your cortisol is constantly getting triggered.

We’re all connected through social media; you can see what your ex is doing and who they’re talking to.

Every time you check your ex’s profile, your cortisol levels increase and stay in this elevated state for longer. Now, under normal stressful conditions, your cortisol is supposed to level out in about 3 to 4 hours.

However, if you continually maintain high cortisol levels, it can take as long as 6 months for them to return to normal.

So, essentially we have two data points:

  1. Firstly, our average success story occurring between 5 to 7 months
  2. And secondly, the cortisol factor. If you’re going through a breakup and consistently doing things that keep your cortisol elevated, it can take as long as 6 months for it to return to normal.

That’s my perspective based on the research we’ve conducted.

What AI Research Has To Say

AI is an intriguing concept to me.

From my understanding it learns off of us. So, theoretically it’s answers should be similar to what I’ve already stated above. But there’s only one way to tell for sure, right?

There are two sources of AI that I consulted.

  1. Firstly, I turned to Chat GPT, which is all the rage nowadays, and asked, ‘How long on average does it take to get over an ex?’
  2. Secondly, I went to Google’s Generative AI Experience.

Here’s what they had to say:

Chat GPT

Recovery from a breakup is a deeply personal process and can vary significantly from person to person. It’s influenced by various factors like the length of the relationship, its intensity, personal resilience, support system, and the reason for the breakup.

That being said, a commonly cited study by psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Dorothy Tennov suggests that the average time it takes to get over a breakup can range from approximately 18 months to 3 years.

Another study, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, suggests that it takes about three months (11 weeks to be precise) for someone to feel more positive and regain a sense of self-identity after a breakup.

However, it’s important to remember that these are just averages and everyone heals at their own pace. It’s perfectly okay if it takes you more or less time to recover from a breakup. It’s more important to allow yourself to feel your emotions, seek support from friends and family, and engage in activities that you enjoy and that help you heal.

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In some cases, especially when the breakup has been particularly painful or traumatic, it might be helpful to seek professional help such as counselling or therapy. They can provide tools and strategies to manage emotional pain and move forward in a healthy way.

Google Generative AI

According to some studies, it takes about 3.5 months to heal after a breakup, and recovering from a divorce might take closer to 1.5 years.  Most people start to feel better around three months post-breakup.  One study found that 71% of people who’d gone through a recent breakup felt better after about three months.

Factors that can affect how long it takes to get over a breakup include how intense the relationship was, how invested you were in each other, and how heartbroken you are.  According to a Match survey, half of men are over a rejection in a month, while the average woman takes four months to get over it.

What The Real Answer Probably Is

So, all of this is very well and good, but the thing that annoys me is the lack of clarity around it.

Look at the vast majority of different answers from different sources.

  • The 2007 study suggests three months.
  • The 2017 survey suggests 18 months.
  • The TED talk indicates around 11 months.
  • I propose five to seven months.
  • Cortisol studies that I’ve done suggest six months.
  • Chat GPT says it could be anywhere from 18 months to three years.
  • Chat GPT also suggests it could just be three months.
  • The Generative AI argues that it could be anywhere between three and a half months to one and a half years.

These answers are all over the place and don’t provide any clarity on how long it will take, and I believe that’s the real answer.

Remember that TED talk video I mentioned above, if you actually watch it, it’s fascinating.

Essentially, the entire video argues that an average study went out there claiming it would take 11 months before you’re over your breakup.

Yet the study is flawed, and it argued this because it only represented a specific portion of individuals. To conduct the study properly, you’d need to examine the experiences of those who had gone through breakups over several years, and there’s just not enough money to do that, resulting in an incomplete study.

The speaker in the TED talk video then did something I thought was very unique.

She went to Dr. Tamir, her couples therapist, and straight-up asked him, ‘What do you think?’

Dr. Tamir had something brilliant to say.

He essentially said, ‘There’s not a magic number.’ He suggested that the healing time after a breakup will naturally vary for everyone. He encourages a strong emotional expression and finding distractions to reduce the rawness of feelings associated with the ex-partner.

But here’s his exact quote:

‘I don’t think there is a magic number. If we feel like we can express ourselves and how we’re feeling, we don’t have to keep it bottled up. Once you’re doing things that you’re engaged with and distracted by, then at some point, you look back, and you’re like, “Oh yeah, hey, that’s my ex,” and you notice that the feelings you have are not as raw. You can bump into each other and not feel pain.’

So, the real answer to how long it takes to get over a breakup isn’t precise, and that’s the point.

Instead of counting the days it takes to recover, it’s much more beneficial to reconnect with the things we love, find healthy distractions, and process your feelings at your own pace. This approach can lead to a more emotionally stable, and quite frankly, pleasant recovery from the breakup.

Therefore, I would argue that how quickly it takes for you to get over a breakup is also indicative of how good you are at processing grief, finding healthy distractions, and doing things you love. If you can manage those three things, then maybe it will take you just a couple of months to get over the breakup. If you’re not able to handle those three things, and you fall victim to the cortisol concept I was discussing before, you’re in for a long ride.

So, I think my stance on this is ultimately that there is no definitive answer because it’s indicative of your ability to implement this triad of coping strategies.

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