No one envies other people when they’re going through a breakup. It’s a tough, emotionally draining situation, and for some can turn into a pretty time-consuming task. The problem we have is that there is no quick fix to help you move on from a difficult split, nor is there a definitive timescale in which one can confidently claim that one can get over a breakup.
So, if there’s no quick fix and no recommended timetable…how long does it actually take to get past a relationship that’s ending? While it obviously differs from person to person, is there any kind of average that one can turn to? What does “move on” even mean, anyway? These core questions we will try to answer in today’s blog.
What Does It Mean to “Move On”?
Before we get to the question of how long it takes to move on from a relationship, we should first explain in more detail about what it really means to “move on.” It’s a term that’s used a lot, but can refer to a number of different states of emotion and mind. Let’s look at a few key ideas that are behind the term “move on.”
Coming to Terms with a Breakup
Perhaps the most common way that we understand this term is through the idea of simply coming to terms with the fact that our relationship with the other person is over. It’s not that we are happy about it now, but we have moved past the difficult feelings that followed the breakup, and are now feeling more “normal” again in most respects, or at least emotionally. This definition of moving on suggests that we have accepted what happened, and also perhaps understood why it had to happen.
Feeling Ready to Be with Others
Another aspect of “moving on” is the feeling of being ready to start dating other people. There are some out there who wrongly use dating as a way to move on after a breakup, and very often create additional problems for themselves. Being ready to move on in this sense means you are feeling ready to get back into dating for your own reasons and purposes, and not because you wish to use a date with another person simply to “rebound” from negative feelings following a breakup with someone else.
No Longer Losing Sleep or Having Other Extreme Reactions
Finally, another part of “moving on” is the idea that you are no longer in the throes of any extreme reaction to a breakup. A split from a spouse, a boyfriend, a girlfriend or any other significant romantic partner can immediately trouble one’s mind to the point where they aren’t sleeping, for example, or where they refuse to eat (or eat too much). So, getting past these difficult reactions is a key milestone in moving on.
How Long Does it Take, On Average, to Move On?
Let’s now turn to the core part of today’s blog, which is how long does it take the average person to move on from a relationship. It’s important to emphasize the term “average” here because the fact will always be that everyone’s reaction and timetable will be a little bit different.
Short Relationships of 6 Months or Less – 1 Month
A month is a good amount of time to use to get over a short but meaningful relationship with someone that might have lasted up to 6 months. Some might balk at such a thing, saying that nothing under at least a year is a meaningful connection, but they are totally wrong. The end of a short relationship might not cut as deep as the end of a 20-year marriage, but one can still invest a great deal of emotion and hope into even a short encounter.
Shorter relationships sometimes are only cut short due to unlucky circumstances, such as one person having to move away for work. Very often the source of the agony isn’t the breakup itself, but rather the loss of a potentially greater and longer relationship if only the situation had been a little different.
Therefore, a month of time to reflect, process raw feelings and begin to feel ready to put oneself out there once again is an appropriate amount of time, on average.
Average Relationship of 6 Months to 3 years – 3 Months
The period of 3 months might sound a little arbitrary to some, but there is some reason behind this as an average number that suits many people. When a relationship has lasted at least 6 months, or up to 3 years, it has advanced to the point where things have become more serious for the two people involved. This naturally creates a greater potential bank of feelings and raw emotions that can erupt and cause damage in the event of a breakup.
In 3 months, a lot can happen to help one move on from that relationship. To start, one can take time to perhaps go on a trip or vacation, perhaps somewhere remote with a pleasant climate that can allow one to feel recharged after a week or two. Following that, or perhaps instead of that in some cases, some people could seek out some professional help from a therapist or counsellor, to help them process everything healthily and constructively.
During a 3-month gap, one can spend time reconnecting with friends and family, rediscovering other important connections in their life that may have been superseded in recent years by their romantic relationship. This can be extremely helpful in helping those going through a breakup to gain a proper sense of perspective and proportion.
Some may even use their 3-month period of moving on to start dating again, but for many this is not necessarily a good move because so often people start dating again for the wrong reasons. Even worse, they begin dating again prematurely thinking it will help them move past a previous relationship faster, only to find themselves being sent back to square one as they realize they are still very hung up on an ex.
Long Relationships of More Than 3 Years – 6 Months
For those coming out of much longer relationships, there’s no saying for sure how long you’ll need, but an average of about 6 months is a fair estimate. For some, it’s basically the same 3-month process that we describe above, with an additional 3 months to process the far greater buildup and investment of emotions that has been made through the course of the relationship.
While a 6-month period might well serve the average person well enough to help them move on from a relationship, it should never come as a surprise to anyone if that period becomes longer. If one needs 12 months, or even more, they should take that time and use it, no matter what kind of pressure they receive from family, friends and other loved ones. They invariably mean well, but only you will know for sure when you are truly ready to move on. To do so prematurely is only useful for setting yourself back to square one.