A breakup can be physically and mentally debilitating, both as a reminder that romance is lost and that you're alone again. Indulging in copious amounts of junk food, watching rom-coms, and listening to sad songs can be a way to deal with the breakup, but when will you start to feel like yourself again? According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, it takes three months to get over a breakup and get out of the recovery zone.

Most research on breakups have focused on the negative outcomes like physical pain, grief, and despair. Those who are overwhelmingly upset over their breakups tend to show brain activity patterns that are consistent with chronic depression and sadness, according to a 2006 study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Exes who were still hung-up on their ex for more than six months after the breakup displayed brain patterns consistent with depression.

However, Nicole Bizzoco and Gary Lewandowski Jr., authors of the recent study, believe there are growth and positive emotions that can be associated with self-related variables, such as self-expansion and rediscovery of the self. This also includes coping strategies. The team of researchers recruited a total of 155 undergraduates who had experienced a breakup in the past six months.

The findings revealed 71 percent of 155 young adults take about an average of three months, or 11 weeks to be exact, in order to see the positive aspects from their breakup. This is the point where participants felt they’d grown as a person and were goal-oriented. Although this is found to be the magic number, it’s important to remember most situations are unique, since there are various circumstances that can lead to the downfall of a relationship.

A contrasting study by Fifties.com, a dating site, found it takes divorcees much longer to get over a breakup. The study found it takes 18 months, or 17 months and 26 days is usually the point when an ex-spouse feels ready to move on after signing the divorce papers. Out of 4,000 divorcees, while 43 percent felt relief when their decree nisi came through, 31 percent were sad that it was over. Six of 10 said the feeling of failure was the hardest to grasp, while one in five said the initial feeling of loss was harder to deal with than the implications of divorce.

“Divorce is tough for everyone involved and it does take a considerable amount of time before you feel ready to move on,” said a spokesman for Fifties.com.

Unlike divorcees, however, Bizzoco and Lewandowski Jr. found it takes 11 weeks for the dumper and the dumpee to leave the recovery zone. So, while the dumper may have had more time to mentally prepare for the breakup, he or she will still recover at the same rate as their ex. Perhaps they might not be over you.

It looks like science does believe in life after love, Cher.


Bizzoco NM and Lewandowski Jr. GW. Addition through subtraction: Growth following the dissolution of a low quality relationship. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2007.

Aron A, Brown LL, Fisher HE. Romantic love: a mammalian brain system for mate choice. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2006.