How Long Does It Take To Get Over An Ex?
By: Joanna Smykowski
Updated February 14, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kristen Hardin
If you've recently come out of a relationship, whether it be long-term or short-term, it's probable that you're struggling to come to terms with the loss. When a relationship ends, many aspects of our lives can immediately change. Our daily activities, our living situations, and even our social lives can be greatly affected following a break-up.
A lot of people will be asking themselves: 'how long does it take to get over an ex?' and 'why do I still keep thinking about them?' as they try their best to remove any mention of them from their lives. However, there's no set of rules in place. There's no mathematical formula which dictates when you'll feel back to your normal self. It all comes down to your personal circumstances. But do not get discouraged. There are things you can do to heal more effectively and therefore faster.
Factors to Consider Following A Break-Up
It is generally believed that there are seven main factors which influence the length of time it will take to get over your ex-partner: relationship length, relationship 'intensity', personal importance, break-up circumstances, how recently the relationship ended, and whether there was domestic violence or infidelity involved. For example, a long-term relationship that you thought would lead to marriage will take longer than a casual dating relationship. If there is pain such as infidelity, it can take longer because you may feel extra rejection, hurt, and anger. If there was domestic violence or any kind of abuse, you will need time to heal from this and learn how you want to move forward so that your next relationship is free of abuse.
Depending on the severity of these factors, the longer it will take to come to terms with your break up.
Furthermore, in the age of modern technology, constant reminders of our ex can be found everywhere. From photographs on our phone to old social media posts we accidentally stumble across can drag out the break-up process if you are often bombarded with them. It can be especially painful if through social media you see they have moved on and are dating someone else. It is often suggested that for at least a month, to unfollow all social media of your ex. It does not mean that you cannot be "friends" but you need a solid break from them so that you can focus on yourself and give yourself time to heal.
Speeding Up the Process of How Long It Takes to Get Over an Ex
Regardless, there are many steps we can take to speed-up the heartbreak process and return to our old selves. First, the fact that the relationship is over doesn't take away months or years of happiness. Instead of focusing on what the relationship could have become, focus on what it actually was. In other words, let yourself remember the good and the not so good parts of the relationship. Don't fantasize about what your wedding would have been like, or how he was supposed to be your date at an important work event. Stay in the present. Focus on what actually happened and what is currently happening in your life. Mindfulness exercises can be very helpful in this task.
Removing all mention of your ex can help, providing it's done in a healthy way. As they're no longer part of your life, you don't need constant reminders of their existence. However, on the flip side, don't try to convince yourself they've simply vanished from the earth. Blocking out the truth can be very unhealthy. Instead, an occasional reminder of the good times you and your ex shared can greatly aid your recovery process. Instead of throwing everything away that reminds you of them, or everything they ever gave you and all your pictures, put them in a box and put it somewhere you don't see every day, like the top shelf of a closet. Just because a relationship ended does not mean it was not important and after the hurt has passed, you might want to see those things again. Also, you can always get rid of things at a later date. It is just important to not have a knee jerk reaction that you cannot take back.
It's also important to remember a solid psychological principle: extreme emotions don't last long term. For example, think back to when you and your ex first got together and your relationship was white-hot. That feeling gradually subsided as the relationship went on. Human beings aren't prone to severe, long-term emotions because they're detrimental to our prolonged survival. So, with this, let yourself grieve. It is healthy to stay with your feelings and let them pass. Your friends may encourage you to "get back out there" and go out and "forget about him". Listen to yourself. If you feel like lying in bed and watching movies and spending time at home with a good friend, do that. Grief is important. If we can let ourselves experience it, it can actually pass faster than if we try to ignore it and force ourselves into moving on sooner than we are ready.
There is a therapy quote that says, "no feeling is final". Therefore, the despair you might be feeling now will eventually diminish to unnoticeable levels. Occasionally, a reminder of your ex may pop up and you'll feel a sudden pang of heartache, but it will only be temporary. Also, if you've addressed your initial heartache in a healthy way, you could see these moments of reminiscence as something quite beautiful. This will allow you to keep a balanced perspective with the memory of your relationship.
If, however, a significant amount of time has passed and you're still unable to come to terms with the end of your relationship, it is advised to speak to a professional about how you're feeling. Prolonged heartache can be symptomatic of depression, anxiety or similar mental illnesses. It is important to address these issues as soon as possible to prevent them from increasing in severity. Signs that you are having trouble coping with your break-up could be if you notice that after each week, you don't feel even a little better. If you feel like you are staying the same or worse. Or if you are not able to go to work or fulfill other responsibilities. It's perfectly okay if you feel you aren't yourself or performing to your usual levels, but if you cannot show up at all, that is cause for concern. If you need some help in moving forward from a break-up or have questions about how well you are coping, it is a great time to reach out to a therapist. On BetterHelp, you can get matched today with a therapist who is trained to help people navigate break-ups. All you need to get started is an internet connection and a smartphone, computer, or tablet. You can communicate with your therapist in a variety of ways: live phone, video, and chat sessions as well as messaging. You do not have to do this alone- reach out today!
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