It takes 2.38 years, on average for men to get over their breakups.
Yes, I’m completely serious. I surveyed nearly 100 men from ages 18-65 on the end of their relationships, and this is what the final results showed.
These relationships lasted 3.47 years, so what I can say is on average, for every year you’re with a woman, it’ll take 8 months and about 6 days to recover.
I bet that wasn’t the answer you were looking for, right?
Even though these numbers seem to almost perfectly align with the old saying that it takes about half as long as you were together to completely get over an ex.
The problem I have with this old saying is that some men religiously cling to it, choosing to be passive as opposed to taking charge and shortening their recovery.
Overall, that’s just the wrong approach.
Let me tell you a little story.
Back in 2015, I had just suffered my first heartbreak, and I had no idea what to do. The long relationship I had was over, and I was beside myself with no experience on how to handle such a situation. Driving home down the highway at night I called my mom and asked her:
“How long am I going to feel like this?”
My mom didn’t know, but she told me to be patient.
Only, I was feeling anything but patient. The next day under the crushing weight of my depression I scoured the internet for everything I could about how long it takes men to recover from a breakup. This is an actual passage from the journal I kept at the time:
There’s no answer. All these websites just say give it time. How long should I expect to feel like this? I want to feel like myself again.Journal Entry
I ended up keeping track of the days afterward in my journal, which became the inspiration for writing here, so you don’t have to go through what I did.
It ended up taking me about 6 months to partially recover, and about a full year before I could say I was 100% over my ex-girlfriend of 3 years. I made plenty of mistakes along the way that slowed down my recovery time.
Since then though, I’ve paid close attention to my own relationships and to others and watched how others have ended.
Now, I have a formula I’m confident in, so you can predict how long it’ll take you to get over your breakup.
Why do breakups hit guys later?
The music was loud, the beer was cold, and I was having a hell of a time. It was early April 2015, and I was finally free.
It was a crisp night in our college town and I was on top of the world. No longer did I have the burden of caring for my girlfriend. We were on a “break”. It was such a relief to put the last month of issues to rest.
The party had been going on for several hours, with about 3 dozen guests, including one particularly attractive brunette, who I had my eyes on all night. I had seen her in the gym several times. She smiled at me, and we danced and made out.
I was floored to have such a hot girl all over me. My relationship with my at the time girlfriend had been quite rocky, and my confidence wasn’t quite up to snuff.
That night, I would be introduced to Paige, who would later become my rebound relationship a few months later. We ended up hooking up later that night, and when I woke up the next morning I felt like I was on top of the world.
However, it would all come crashing down a few short weeks later.
The terms of our break weren’t entirely clear, so about two weeks after this incident I began to get an itch, where I started to miss my girlfriend. I drove up to where she went to school and promptly tried to talk about ending our break.
Instead, she ended our relationship, stating that it had been over for several weeks.
In my heart of hearts, I understood what she was saying, and I had the same impression from our first break.
However, I was crushed. Shortly afterward I would find myself calling my mom and asking how long it would take me to get over the entire thing.
But you already know that.
What I had just experienced was what I now call the breakup hangover, which is a period of time where the weight of your relationship ending hasn’t quite hit you yet.
I later realized that my breakup took longer to sink it because I was so happy to taste what I thought I had wanted my entire relationship: freedom. My first taste of freedom was sweet, but it would quickly turn sour when I realized I no longer had the emotional support that came from my girlfriend.
It took me longer to confront my feelings head-on, and when I did, the pain really began. I missed her attention, her comfort, and I missed the consistency. I also enjoyed a breakup hangover because the break had been my idea, although the complete split was hers.
“How do guys get over breakups so fast?”
Paige asked the question honestly, as we continued our jog deep on a forest trail. I had been dating her for around a month at this point. Paige was my rebound relationship after my first breakup and was hotter and more submissive than my ex was. Everything I had read told me that all I needed was a better girl and my problems would go away.
“Jack?” she said confused, her dark brown eyes shooting a questioning glance up at me. I realized I had been spacing out.
“It’s our superpower” I muttered.
She pursed her lips slightly but chose not to say anything else. I hadn’t been very convincing, although I wasn’t trying to be. Later that night, she approached the question in a different way.
“Am I how you got over your breakup so quickly?” she said, as she lay naked on my bed, her perfect body glowing in the light from the TV.
I smiled. Shortly thereafter we had sex, and she went to sleep. I pondered what she had said, as I was extremely introspective at the time.
Little did she know, I had been tearing myself apart inside. I was still in love with my ex-girlfriend, and I didn’t know why. Of course, even though I was doing many things right, I was also doing many more wrong.
But Paige raised a good point.
There’s a misconception out there that guys recover from breakups faster than women do. Before I had gone through one myself, even I assumed this was the case.
This false idea is out there that men somehow get over their breakups faster than women, when in fact research says the opposite.
This idea stems from the fact that most men either can’t or won’t share their feelings after a breakup. Men tend to suffer in silence, whereas women will broadcast their pain to others. Men also have limited emotional support networks, whereas women tend to have wider ones.
If you’re in this situation, you can remedy this problem in a constructive way by journaling daily.
I ended up going to sleep that night deeply unhappy, despite the modelesque woman next to me. I was no closer to the answer
The 5 components that determine how long it will take you to get over your breakup
It took me several years of reflection, observation and analysis, but I ended up boiling down the amount of time it’ll take you to recover from a breakup down to 5 factors.
- Time together/Seriousness (T)
- How it ended (H)
- Your self-confidence (C)
- Your personal situation (S)
- The amount of work you’re willing to put in (W)
Now let me arrange these variables for you so you can see the equation.
This equation takes into consideration relationship factors (T and H) as well as your own personal condition (C and S) while dividing it by how hard you want to work.
The amount of time you were together, plus how it ended make up the upper bound of how long it will take you to recover, while your self-confidence and personal situation will reduce the amount of time it will take.
However, the most powerful of all 5 components is the amount of work you’re willing to put in. Your situation could be terrible, and you can have zero confidence, but with enough work you can counteract both.
When I realized this was the true breakup equation, I nearly cried. I had finally found the secret to figuring out how long it will take anyone to recover from a breakup.
However, I do want to point out a major limitation of this equation: it presumes you’ve been in a long term relationship of at least a year or greater. This equation becomes inaccurate at predicting the recovery time if you were in a relationship for less than a year.
Plus, let’s be honest. You’re not reading this article because one of your friends with benefits broke up with you.
So let me show you how to compute this equation and solve the problem that I once wondered, and you are wondering now.
1: How long you were together
Time is always a factor. The longer you spend with someone, the more your identities become intertwined.
In other words, it becomes harder to see a life without your ex. You might add another woman to your life, much like I did, but it won’t take away from the fact that your very being is tied to someone else.
The amount of time together is the most heavily weighted factor in this equation, and it’s also compounded by how serious your relationship was. Chances are if you’ve read this far your relationship was serious so we’re all in the same boat.
To calculate the time factor, take the amount of time in years that you two were together, and plug it in for T in the equation. If you were in a relationship of more than 8 years, set your value at 8. I’ll explain why at the end.
2: How it ended
We tend to remember the messy, 1 sided breakups more than the mutually acknowledged splits.
If you were the one that ended your relationship, then you’ve had time to think about everything and process it ahead of time. It will still hurt when it’s over, but it will hurt much less then if your ex-girlfriend came out of nowhere and dumped you.
In my case, I felt great when I thought the breakup was under my control. However, as soon as it was snatched out my hands, I sunk. The funny thing, the emotions that were exchanged in the moment didn’t matter so much in the long term. It was more about the directionality of the split.
I’ve noticed a trend since, that whomever initiates the split tends to recover faster.
Assigning a value to this is a little bit more difficult than the time factor, as we need to take into account how it ended.
|How It Ended||Value to Add|
|You broke up with her after some thought||-.25|
|You mutually split up||0|
|You broke up with her rapidly (cheated, made other mistakes)||.1|
|She broke up with you, after some thought||.25|
|She broke up with you suddenly, without explanation||.5|
Choose the value from this table, and then assign it to the variable H in the table.
By adding T and H together, you now have the upper bound for how long it will take you to recover. This is the maximum amount of time it will take.
Now, let’s look at the mitigating factors.
3: Your self-confidence
Confidence is borne of experience, and having experienced breakups before will give you more confidence that you’ll be able to handle another one.
Confidence after a breakup is the second most important factor for understanding how long it will take you to recover from a breakup. Being self-confident will help you tremendously, as it gives you this courage to take the steps you need to take in order to recover from a breakup.
To measure your confidence, you’ll need to answer a few questions. Answer them honestly. Lying to yourself about these is a deduction, so be as honest as possible.
|Question||Value to subtract if yes||Value to add if no|
|Are you confident you can get a better woman in the next 6 months?||-.5||.1|
|Have you been through a bad breakup before?||-.75||.25|
|Do you have a positive self-concept?||-.5||.15|
|Are these your honest answers?||0||.10|
Add up your answers to these questions and then plug the resulting value into the C variable in the equation.
4: Your personal situation
Your personal situation is a measure of how well the rest of your life is going. If your life is going really well and your girlfriend breaks up with you, you’ll be less affected then if your life was in the gutter and your girlfriend broke up with you.
It’s also a measure of whether or not your now ex-girlfriend was your first love. The first time you lose a woman you truly love, you’re only partially feeling heartbreak. The other piece of it is a mix of abandonment and loss fueled by selfishness.
If you’ve gone through a bad breakup before, the second time around isn’t as bad. It’ll still hurt, but not nearly as much considering your brain knows what to expect.
It’s the unexpected that hurts, and it’s why you’re reading this article.
It takes longer when it’s your first love, for sure. Because the first time you lose a woman you truly love, yo don’t realize that what you’re feeling is only partially heartbreak.
The other part is a mix of selfishness and a fear of loss/abandonment. Once you start dating again, the fear of loss/abandonment becomes silly, and your selfishness tends to fade into the background.
Your personal situation also encompasses how happy you are with the support system around you. If you have a great support system with a loving family and/or good friends, it’ll be easier then if not.
There’s also the matter of how happy you are with the direction your life is headed, outside of your ex. If you’ve got a really great life going for yourself, you’re going to be a whole hell of a lot happier than if you don’t.
In my case, even though I did a ton of things wrong I had a very strong personal situation and it helped me immensely.
But even if you don’t, you can still change it, so don’t worry too much. Again, you’ll need to answer a few questions so we can score you for this variable. One thing to note, is that if you feel neutral, skip the question. Only use the values you feel STRONGLY about.
|Questions||Value if yes||Value if no|
|Do you have a supportive group of people around you?||-.25||.1|
|Are you happy with the direction of your life?||-.75||.1|
|Are you working towards your goals?||-.5||.25|
|Was she your first love?||.25||0|
Again, add your answers up and then plug them into the equation for the variable S.
5: How much work you’re willing to put in
By now, if things aren’t exactly great in your life, you’re probably thinking that you’re going to be in for a protracted period of suffering. However, that’s only the case if you choose to do nothing.
The great secret of breakups isn’t that time heals all wounds. Plenty of men spend their entire lives grieving relationships from their past.
I don’t want that to be you.
The secret to breakups isn’t re-framing your self-concept. That old hippie bullshit has more holes in it then swiss cheese.
I’m sure this is one of the last things you want to hear right now, but bare with me, because I’ll explain.
Think of hard work as your great equalizer. Everything else in your life could be going wrong, but if you’re willing to work hard you can change everything. In fact, it’s hard work I attribute to my quick recovery, as well as the men I teach.
Part of working hard is working at the right things that will actually improve your life, because you will pay a price for your hard work, or lack thereof no matter what. Harry Browne puts it best:
Everything you want in life has a price connected to it. There’s a price to pay if you want to make things better, a price to pay just for leaving things as they are, a price for everything.Harry Browne
If you can identify all the pain points in your life, as well as your grandest goals, you’ll have the foundation for building lasting happiness that can carry you out of a breakup.
That happiness will carry you to heights far beyond your breakup if you work hard enough at it. In fact, I credit my breakup in 2015 for making me the man I am today. My happiness, wealth, friendships, and life outlook are ALL related to the things I did right after that breakup.
Feeling motivated yet? Good.
The last step for filling in the equation is asking yourself how hard you’re willing to work.
Do you just want to coast and do nothing new? Change W to 1.
Are you willing to work harder than before? Change W to 2.
Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Change W to 3.
Analyzing your results
Just to confirm, I ran my own numbers on my 2015 breakup for an example. It took me about a year to fully get over it.
The equation predicted it would take about .9 years, which is almost right on the mark.
Of course, this equation will skew with longer relationships. Part of the reason I cap the T equation at 8 years is the nature of human memory. Generally, we live in periods of 5 years where our lives will change immeasurably. For longer relationships, your ex is going to have a bigger imprint on you, and it becomes more a function of you gradually forgetting about her as your life changes.
With that being said, I’m sure you’re wondering how to interpret your results. The number that gets spit out is a guideline for how long you should expect it to take before you are completely over your ex, which means you can look at her and feel mostly indifferent.
It’s very common to get a result that numbers into years, depending on how you answer. Again, this can be made smaller by how hard you’re willing to work.
Considering the average amount of time to recover from a breakup is 2.38 years, don’t feel discouraged. Everyone heals at their own pace.
Ultimately, how long it takes is going to vary based on the individual. The number you get is a guideline, not a fact. How long it takes you after a breakup is really a function of what you do, not what’s happened to you.
So if you’re hurting right now, I’m with you. Be patient, and use the resources I have here for you to speed up your recovery.
If you want my help getting over your breakup faster, book a coaching session with me today and I’ll help you cut your recovery time in half.
How To Speed Up Your Recovery
I briefly touched on hard work as being vital to your recovery, but what I didn’t mention is where you should be working hard.
As with most things in life, breakup recovery follows the Pareto principle. 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes.
In other words, it’s important you work on the right things. If you do – you’ll have to do a lot less than you might think to get the majority of the results.
Here’s what I recommend. I’ve attached several articles that will help you immensely, and I highly suggest you read them all. If you apply the principles I teach in each article, you will shave months, if not years off your recovery time. Bookmark this article and come back when you need inspiration.
- Use the no-contact rule IMMEDIATELY. This includes removing her on social media.
- Read my article about journaling and use the information to help you rationalize and explore your feelings. Frequent journaling is one of the best things you can do to aid your breakup recovery time.
- Get into a consistent post breakup routine that prioritizes lots of physical activity.
- Read my article about why your ex-girlfriend isn’t special, and then read my article about how to stop fantasizing about her.
- Once you’re in a good headspace and making progress in your personal life, you should start trying to date again using a roster management system.
- Read about outcome independence and how to handle yourself around new women
- Book a coaching session with me for extra help applying these principles.