Here’s some truth about breakups: Every single one of them totally, completely, utterly sucks. Even if your partner was no bueno, even if you were the one who ended things, even if it was an amicable split, a breakup can sometimes leave you facing a serious identity loss.
But, hi, grieving the death of a relationship is totally a real thing—and no one expects you to bounce back overnight. So what is the appropriate amount of time it takes to get over a split? Well, depends a lot on who you're asking.
Licensed clinical psychologist and author of Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want, Alexandra Solomon gives her two-cents on how long it takes, when you're ready to move on, and what you should be weary of during the breakup process.
1. Screw the timeline
Whether you were the dumper or the dumpee, there are no rules. In other words, there's no designated time frame for getting over a breakup. Putting a timeline on your breakup can slow down your healing process.“The best way to speed things along is to just let ourselves feel what we feel as fully as we can,” says Solomon. Feel it to heal it, girl!
2. Feel at your own pace
Eventually, you’ll have mourned your loss well enough to either channel your best Rihanna and embrace single life for a bit, or start dating new people. And truth be told, there's really no exact amount of time for this. But, if you are comparing potential partners based on how much they are or are not like your ex, you’re still healing, says Solomon. “You’ve moved on when you can get to know someone on their own terms versus as a comparison,” she explains.
3. Date for love, not fear
Still on the fence about whether you’re ready to start swiping again? Ask yourself if your actions are being lead by love or fear. “If you’re dating because you’re afraid to be alone, desperate to stop hurting, or certain that nobody will ever find you attractive again, those are fears,” explains Solomon. “Being lead by love means trusting that you have a lot to give, and being excited about the possibilities of a new partnership.”
4. Learn from the relationship
Love stories (and breakups) are far from one-dimensional—there are bad times, good times, things you loved about the relationship, and issues that were maybe too big to overcome. Before you can fully move on, figure out how the story of this relationship fits into the larger story of your life, says Solomon. Know that every relationship is a lesson learned, so decide what you want to take away from this one and into your next partnership.
Write yourself a letter about why things ended—which, will come in extra handy if you find yourself temped to hook up with your ex down the road (which is generally a recipe for more pain and confusion).
5. Get under someone to get over someone (but only if you want to)
And only if you won't experience an emotional hangover post-sex (like, if you're fine and willing to accept the sex for what it is: rebound sex).
Know that a one-night-stand likely won’t lead to something long-term, but the age-old saying actually does have some truth to it if you're emotionally prepared for the effects. “Love is a delicious cocktail of neurohormones, so you actually go through a kind of drug withdrawal after a breakup,” explains Wendy Walsh, LA-based clinical psychologist and host of Mating Matters podcast. As long as you understand it’s a rebound and a replacement drug, don’t be judgmental of yourself for moving on “too soon.”
6. Give yourself a clean break
We’ve all been there. We know it’s very tempting to stalk an ex on Instagram or text them after a second glass of wine, but it will only reignite old feelings and drag out your pain. You lost a piece of yourself and your brain has to heal in order for you to move on. So block them on social media, delete them from your phone, and find a new coffee shop. A proper separation means setting healthy boundaries for yourself and completely cutting your ex out of your life—both online and IRL. The sooner you cut out your ex, the faster you can move on.
7. Self-care is key
In the meantime, as your feelings shift from cynicism into exciting possibility, surround yourself with good people who love you for you and remind you how lovable you are, says Walsh. So plan brunch with your sister, have a girls’ night in with your besties, or cuddle your dog. Don’t let yourself be defined by the breakup; instead, see this as the perfect time to refuel your passions for cooking and horse-back riding that fell to the wayside.
And don’t forget about doin' you, girl: Eat well, sleep well, hit the gym, and schedule regular massages (for the touch and dopamine boost). Promise: you’ll be back to feeling like your old, amazing self—and reclaiming your belief in love—in no time.