When we set out to find love, none of us intend on breaking up. However, no matter how much we may want to avoid it- sometimes it is inevitable.
In cases in which it is inevitable, and fate forces your hand to break up, it’s a heartbreaking experience. Even if the relationship or the person you broke up with is toxic- it doesn’t make it any easier to walk away. Breaking up is much like grieving. Except in your mind, you are always faced with the thought that you could just go back. Our mind likes to play tricks on us that way, but the thing is- in most cases, you should stick to your guns.
So, if you stick to it, how long does it take to heal? This is what science has to say.
Research On How Long It Takes to Heal from a Breakup
Various studies have been carried out to find out the average time it takes to recover from a breakup. One study that analyzed 155 undergraduate students that had recently gone through a breakup found that the three-month mark provided a lot of relief for those who had experienced a breakup.
Another study carried out surveyed college students that had gone through a breakup. What they found was quite similar to the first study, and showed that at around the 11-week mark, most of those who had gone through a breakup were happy again.
A third study followed those who went through a breakup and had them complete a survey every two weeks, to rate their distress levels. By around the ten-week mark, much of their stress had alleviated.
Based on this, we can conclude that by the third month, most are feeling better. Now, with that being said, of course, if you had been with someone for a long period, it is likely your timing could be extended.
How to Move Forward from a Breakup, Based on Science
In a small study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, they had 24 heartbroken participants who had been in a long-term relationship tried different strategies to heal from their breakup. This is what they found.
In strategy one, they were told to negatively appraise their ex. Instead of focusing on the best parts of them, they were told to take note of the worst. The second prompt was referred to as love reappraisal, and they were told to say statements and affirmations like “It’s okay to love someone I am no longer with,” as a means to accept their feelings.
The third strategy was a distraction. Instead of focusing on their ex, they were told to focus on things that made them happy, like a favorite dish or meal.
There was also control, which was to think about nothing in particular.
Then, they were given a picture of their ex and given an EEG reading. This reading measured how positively, or negatively, they thought about their ex. What they found was that those who had used the first strategy had the best results. Distraction came in as a close second, but because it was an avoidant strategy, it wouldn’t work long-term.
So, if you are in the midst of a breakup, science says to take a negative inventory of your ex and focus on that instead of focusing on the good days.