How Long Does It Take To Get Over A Breakup? [2022 Data]

We uncover the average time for Americans to get over a breakup along with its causes, effects, initiators, and the number of people who got back with their ex.

After a breakup, the last thing you want to do is think about your ex. But sometimes, you just can’t get them out of your head! Not only that, but breakups are often mixed with questions like “was it my fault?” or “could I have done something differently to make it work?”.

These feelings are super normal… and most just wonder when they will finally go away so they can move on with their lives.

We took a look at thousands of breakup statistics to find out: How long breakups take to get over, why they happen, what makes them worse or better, and more. Here’s what we found:

Top Breakup Statistics You Should Know:

  • The majority of Americans say it takes an average of 11 weeks to get over a breakup.
  • Keeping virtual possessions such as photos, videos, etc., makes breakup distress last longer.
  • Breakups are most distressing when one person left the relationship for another person.
  • The more committed a person is to a relationship, the less likely that partner is to initiate a breakup.
  • 32.35% said a “Breach of trust” was the main reason to leave romantic relationships.
  • 90% of cases of “broken heart syndrome were women.”
  • 74% of those who broke up and got back together had a 12-month gap in the relationship.

How Long Does It Take To Get Over A Breakup?

Breakups generally aren’t fun for either party, but they can be amicable occasionally. Here’s what studies have found about how long it takes to get over a breakup and how bad breakups are:

  • Views on breakups by the general public:
    When asked which they felt was more likely to describe their breakups, people said:
    • “They tend to be casual/civil”
      • Male: 31%
      • Female: 20%
      • Total/average: 25%
    • “They tend to be dramatic/messy”
      • Male: 55%
      • Female: 62%
      • Total/average: 58%
    • (YouGov, 2018)1
  • 71% of those surveyed reported levels of growth, and 58% reported positive emotions at the mid point after the breakup, compared to only 31% for negative emotions past the 11-week mark.
  • The majority of Americans say it takes an average of 11 weeks to get over a breakup.
    • (The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2007)2
  • Women may experience greater distress/more recovery time at the end of their relationships because they are also more likely than men to attribute the problems in the relationship to their partners.
    • (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1998)3

Factors Affecting Post-Breakup Distress And Recovery Time

Are a messy relationship and bad breakup more likely to lead to a longer recovery? Here’s what studies have shown: 

  • Keeping virtual possessions such as photos, videos, etc., makes breakup distress last longer.
    • Those who kept virtual possessions after a breakup tended to be more nostalgic about the relationship, making the post-breakup adjustment period last longer.
    • (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2020)4
  • If more effort was made to initiate the relationship, there is more post-breakup distress. (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1998)3
  • Breakup distress is also higher when the relationship was characterized by high commitment, satisfaction, and duration.
    • (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1998)3
  • Breakups are most distressing when one person left the relationship for another person.
    • (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1998)3
  • A fearful attachment style predicts both initial and future distress after a breakup.
    • (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1998)3
  • Women report being significantly more upset than men in the initial distress of a breakup.
    • (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1998)3

Essentially, the longer and more satisfactory the relationship, the harder the breakup will be to get over. This could be especially true if one person left the relationship for someone else.


How Frequent Are Breakups In Relationships?

Do most people experience a breakup at one point in their lives? 

  • 85% of Americans report having had at least one romantic relationship end in a breakup before getting married.
    • The vast majority of non-marital romantic relationships end in a breakup.
    • (Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 1998)5
  • The marital breakup rate was 1.2% per year for heterosexual married couples vs. 9.4% per year breakup rate for unmarried heterosexual couples who cohabited.
    • Breakups went up to 30.3% per year for unmarried heterosexual couples who never lived together.
    • This data was gathered from 2009 to 2015.
    • (“Social Networks and the Life Course,” 2017)6

Ways Of Breaking Up With Someone

Do relationships always end with the dreaded “we need to talk”

  • When asked how people chose to break up with someone (the “dumper”) by gender.
    “From own past experiences, through which, if any, of the following ways have you ever broken up with someone?”
    • “In-person”
      • Male: 61%
      • Female: 68%
      • Total: 64%
    • “Over a text”
      • Male: 12%
      • Female: 16%
      • Total:14%
    • “Over a phone call”
      • Male: 28%
      • Female: 30%
      • Total: 29%
    • “Over an email”
      • Male: 8%
      • Female: 5%
      • Total: 6%
    • “Over a letter”
      • Male: 9%
      • Female: 10%
      • Total: 10%
    • (YouGov, 2018)1
    • Note: Respondents can select all that can apply, so percentages will not equal 100.
  • When asked about their experiences of being broken up with (Being Dumped) by gender.
    “From own past experiences, through which, if any, of the following ways have you ever broken up?”
    • “In-person”
      • Male: 57%
      • Female:  57%
      • Total:  57%
    • “Over a text”
      • Male: 15%
      • Female: 18%
      • Total: 17%
    • “Over a phone call”
      • Male: 31%
      • Female: 28%
      • Total: 29%
    • “Over an email”
      • Male: 11%
      • Female: 5%
      • Total: 8%
    • “Over a letter”
      • Male: 11%
      • Female: 8%
      • Total: 10%
    • (YouGov, 2018)1
    • Note: Respondents can select all that can apply, so percentages will not equal 100.
  • Only 47% of those aged 18-34 said they would break up in person, compared to 71% for those aged 35-54 and 74% for those aged 55+.
    • (YouGov, 2018)1
  • When asked about their experiences of being broken up with (Being Dumped) by age.
    “From own past experiences, through which, if any, of the following ways have you ever broken up?”
    • “In-person”
      • Age 18 to 34: 47%
      • Age 35 to 54: 71%
      • Age 55+: 74%
    • “Over a text”
      • Age 18 to 34: 29%
      • Age 35 to 54: 12%
      • Age 55+: 3%
    • “Over a phone call”
      • Age 18 to 34: 30%
      • Age 35 to 54: 33%
      • Age 55+: 25%
    • “Over an email”
      • 18 to 34: 9%
      • 35 to 54: 8%
      • 55+: 2%
    • “Over a letter”
      • 18 to 34: 10%
      • 35 to 54: 10%
      • 55+: 9%
    • (YouGov, 2018)1
  • Note: Respondents can select all that can apply, so percentages will not equal 100.

Imagine being dumped over email… oof! 


Who Initiates The Breakup?

Who is more likely to break it off in a heterosexual relationship – the man or the woman? Let’s find out:

  • The more committed a person is to a relationship, the less likely that partner is to initiate a breakup.
    • Those with a preoccupied or “clingy” attachment style generally have difficulty being apart from their partner and are the least likely to end the relationship.
    • (University of South Dakota, 2021)7
  • Mutual breakups were substantially more common in non-marital breakups (32% for cohabiters and 35% for non-cohabiters) than in marital breakups (19%) in one study.
    • (“Social Networks and the Life Course,” 2017)6
  • In an examination of 371 breakups wanted by men, women, and mutually:
    • Married Couples (92 breakups)
      • 19%: Wanted by the husband – 18 breakups
      • 60%: Wanted by the wife – 56 breakups
      • 19%: Mutual breakups – 18 breakups
    • Nonmarital Cohabiter (76 breakups)
      • 31%: Wanted by the man – 24 breakups
      • 36%: Wanted by the woman – 28 breakups
      • 31%: Mutual breakups – 24 breakups
    • Non-cohabiting nonmarital couples (203 breakups)
      • 28%: Wanted by the man – 58 breakups
      • 41%: Wanted by the woman – 84 breakups
      • 30% Mutual breakups — 61 breakups
    • (“Social Networks and the Life Course,” 2017)6
  • Women generally initiate the breakup:
    • 69% of marital breakups were wanted by women. 
    • 56% of breakups for heterosexual cohabiters were wanted by the woman.
    • 53.4% of breakups were wanted by the woman among the non-cohabiting nonmarital unions.
    • (“Social Networks and the Life Course,” 2017)6

Factors And Reasons For A Breakup

Here’s why people break up most often:

  • Here are the factors that are most likely to predict a breakup:
    • Strongest predictors:
      • Commitment
      • Love
      • Inclusion of others in the self
      • Dependence
    • Moderate predictors:
      • Satisfaction
      • Perception of alternatives
      • Investments
      • Social network support
    • (Personal Relationships, 2010)8
  • 32.35% said a “Breach of trust” was the main reason to leave romantic relationships.
    • (Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2017)9
  • Top 10 reasons for wanting to leave/breakup romantic relationships
    • 32.35%: “Breach of trust”
      • The partner was deceptive, cheated, suspected of cheating, or couldn’t trust the partner.
    • 26.44%: “Emotional distance”
      • Feelings of distance, never talking anymore, falling out of love, growing apart, or not enough closeness.
    • 24.21%: “Partner’s personality”
      • Partner flaws that could make a person want to leave.
    • 24.21%: “External reason”
      • Environmental influences – something that’s outside the relationship or outside of both partners’ control. (e.g., someone had to move away)
    • 22.17%: “Incompatibility”
      • Not seeing eye-to-eye, different lifestyles, different values, diverging personalities, or not getting along.
    • 20.81%: “Conflict”
      • Too much arguing, not getting along, fighting all the time
        • This is different from incompatibility in the emphasis on the conflict’s frequency and unpleasantness as opposed to a root “lack of fit” problem.
    • 16.29%: “Dealbreaker”
      • Addiction, abuse, legal issues, psychological problems, the partner was controlling – with an emphasis on the partner’s problems.
    • 15.84%: “Alternative partner”
      • Someone fell in love with someone else, someone is leaving the current relationship for someone else, or you believe you can get someone better
    • 15.61%: “Lack of enjoyment”
      • The relationship got stale, boring, no longer getting anything out of it, or things weren’t fun anymore
    • 15.16%: “Social consequences”
      • Your parents disapprove, the relationship is harming your friendships, social pressure to leave, or not getting along with your partner’s friends or family.
    • (Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2017)9

Effects And Risks Of Breakups

Breakups can be painful, emotionally draining, and in some cases can have long-term, even deadly, consequences:

  • The immediate effects of romantic breakups include:
    • Depression
    • Anger
    • A broken heart
    • Intrusive thoughts
    • An orientation toward future relationships
    • Fear of being single
    • Having the relationship as part of your identity or your self-worth
    • Experiencing social constraints like criticism
    • (International Journal of Psychological Research and Reviews, 2020)10

49% said they had experienced some form of sacred loss and/or desecration with regard to their breakup.

  • (Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 2015)11

50% of participants endorsed experiencing some anger in response to the breakup.

  • 15% of them experienced moderate to high levels of anger.
  • (Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 2015)11

66% of participants experienced some form of intrusive thoughts and/or avoidant behaviors related to their breakup.

  • 9% experienced intrusive thoughts and/or avoidant behaviors to a moderate or high degree.
  • (Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 2015)11

As many as 43% of participants who experienced onset insomnia are connected to nighttime ruminations about losing the relationship.

  • (University of South Dakota, 2021)7

“Takotsubo cardiomyopathy,” or the broken heart syndrome, is what inspired the term “died of a broken heart.”

  • These are cases where sudden or prolonged stress, such as an emotional breakup or death, causes overwhelming heart attack-like symptoms.
  • (University of South Dakota, 2021)7

Broken heart syndrome will often present itself as a heart attack, including cardiac contractile abnormalities and heart failure.

  • Death from heartbreak won’t include clogged arteries as it would in a heart attack case.
  • (University of South Dakota, 2021)7

Women are 7-9 times more likely to suffer from Takotsubo cardiomyopathy than men.

  • (University of South Dakota, 2021)7

90% of broken heart syndrome cases were women in a study by Arkansas University analyzing records from a nationwide database in 2007.

  • (Netherlands Heart Journal, 2012)12

What Do Most People Do After A Breakup?

How people handle breakups can vary depending on their personality type and whether or not they were the one broken up with:

  • Most Rejectees (those who experienced rejection in a romantic relationship) after breakups do the following:
    • Discuss the breakup
    • Crying and/or pleading with their ex-partner
    • Avoiding ex-partner
    • Threatening ex-partner
    • (Evolutionary Psychology, 2008)13
  • Most Rejectors (those doing the rejection in a romantic relationship break-ups) do the following:
    • Remain friends with an ex-partner
    • Boost ex-partner’s self-esteem
    • Drink heavily
    • Use drugs
    • Spend money to attract a new partner
    • Show affection to someone else in public
    • (Evolutionary Psychology, 2008)13
  • Female rejectors (women who have broken up with their significant other) reported:
    • More rumination
    • Discussing the breakup with family and friends
    • Crying and pleading with ex-partners
    • Shopping after the breakup
    • (Evolutionary Psychology, 2008)13
  • The largest sex difference in coping strategies is seen in the act of shopping, used by women Rejectors as well as women Rejectees.
    • This may be due to a strategy of “appearance enhancement” before getting back to dating again.
    • (Evolutionary Psychology, 2008)13

How Many People Got Back Together After A Recent Breakup?

  • 28% of men and women say it doesn’t help or hurt to stay in contact with an ex.
    • (YouGov, 2018)1
  • When asked about their views on staying in contact with their exes:
    • “Much more beneficial”
      • Male: 7%
      • Female: 2%
      • Total: 5%
    • “Somewhat more beneficial”
      • Male: 13%
      • Female: 11%
      • Total: 12%
    • “Somewhat more harmful”
      • Male: 13%
      • Female: 11%
      • Total: 12%
    • “Much more harmful”
      • Male: 15%
      • Female: 20%
      • Total: 18%
    • “It doesn’t help or hurt to stay in contact with an ex”
      • Male: 29%
      • Female: 26%
      • Total: 28%
    • (YouGov, 2018)1
  • When asked if they have ever gotten back together with an ex-partner after breaking up/separating:7
    • “Yes, more than once”: 21%
    • “Yes, once“: 23%
    • “No”: 47%
    • (YouGov, 2021)14
  • When couples broke up and got back together, they averaged 14.1 months of breakup/separation ranging from 12 to 24 months before getting back together.
    • (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)15
  • 74% of those who broke up and got back together had a 12-month gap in the relationship.
    Among those 74%:
    • 25% did not have another sexual partner during the break-up
    • 48% had one sexual partner during the breakup
    • 27% had two or more sexual partners during the breakup
    • (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)15
  • 19% of those who broke up and got back together had an 18-month gap in the relationship.
    Among those 19%:
    • 8% of participants did not have another sex partner during the break-up
    • 46% had one sex partner during the breakup
    • 46% had two or more sex partners during the breakup
    • (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)15

Conclusion

Based on these studies, it seems like breakups generally take at least 11 weeks to get over, but that can be even longer if the couple was together for a long time. It’s also apparent that women are generally the ones instigating the breakup (in heterosexual relationships) and are experiencing the most distress from the breakup. 


Footnotes

  1. YouGov, 2018. A 2018 survey of 1,201 U.S. adults.
  2. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2007. A study of 155 American undergraduates.
  3. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1998. A study of 257 American adults.
  4. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2020. A study of 234 American college students.
  5. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 1998. A study of 1,480 American men and women cited in a 2016 study.
  6. “Social Networks and the Life Course,” 2017. A study of 2,538 U.S. adults who had partners.
  7. University of South Dakota, 2021. The Art of Breaking Up: Ending Romantic Relationships.
  8. Personal Relationships, 2010. A study of 37,761 participants (including U.S. participants) in over 137 studies over 33 years.
  9. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2017. A study of 442 American undergraduate students and workers in Study 1 sample.
  10. International Journal of Psychological Research and Reviews, 2020. A study on the immediate effects of romantic breakups.
  11. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 2015. A study of 455 U.S. undergraduate students
  12. Netherlands Heart Journal, 2012. A study of 6230 patients with broken heart syndrome.
  13. Evolutionary Psychology, 2008. A study of 193 American participants.
  14. YouGov, 2021. A survey of 22,038 US adults.
  15. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012. A study of 392 Americans late adolescents and emerging adults aged 14-19 years.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

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