Whilst there have been many studies trying to formulate and quantify heartbreak recovery over the years, the reality is that there is no definitive answer – it might take a few weeks, or a few years. 

It very much depends on the person going through the breakup and their ability to manage stress and cope with emotional overwhelm. Everyone is different and has different resilience to tough situations with their own inbuilt coping mechanisms. We usually learn these mechanisms unconsciously from childhood by observing what our parents, teachers or other people that influence us did. So, for example, one of my recent clients learned response was to withdraw from the world and shut herself away which in many ways had kept her stuck and prevented her from moving on with her life, another client decided that she was no way going to let her husband’s betrayal have a long lasting negative impact on her so was determined to do everything she could to move through this as soon as possible…So some coping mechanisms can keep us stuck in the pain for longer – others are more empowering and will move you through a lot faster (our learned response is just to withdraw from the world which might be a negative way of processing pain; some people get stuck in wallowing and carry the breakup grief around with them; others simply refuse to process it and, instead, bury it; some people drink too much to help bury it and this can mean it recovery from a breakup takes a lot longer). 

The other factor is the impact of what’s happening to you – for some their lifestyle may not change very much, whereas for others – their entire world may be thrown into disarray.  Because of all of these widely varying components, it makes it very difficult to create a one size fits all formula. It’s down to the individual and their unique set of circumstances, inbuilt response system and when they decide they are ready to start healing. It is possible to power through it quickly but it is a grieving process – we go through ‘the loss cycle’ which means denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then finally out the other side towards acceptance. Depending on what’s happened, some of us will get stuck on one or two of these processes for longer. This is where having a Coach can help to expedite the recovery process. 

  1. When should you start moving on after a break up? When is too soon to meet someone else?

This is the question I am asked the most in my coaching clinic! Again, there is no definitive timeline – it is totally down to the individual. If you’ve been in a long marriage and the relationship has fizzled out over a period of time – you will have already done a lot of the grieving whilst in the relationship and may be ready to start coming out at the other side. Other people may have had the rug pulled from under their feet and be in shock and denial. The important thing is that you take time out to reflect, heal and learn the lessons. It may not have been your fault but there will always be lessons to learn without which you may repeat toxic patterns and cycles. So, think about not what you want from a new partner but what you need. So, beyond the ‘tall, dark and handsome’ list – a need would be ‘well, my relationship broke down because my partner wasn’t honest’ so honesty becomes a high priority for a prospective new partner. 

When it comes to dating again, there is no such thing as too soon. Dating is not just about finding Mr or Mrs Right – it’s your chance to get out there and have some fun and look for Mr or Mrs Right Now. If you can enjoy the journey of dating and have some fun with it, it can be a really empowering stepping stone to help boost your confidence and to reaffirm your faith that there are people out there who are kind or emotionally intelligent, deepening your needs. As long as you’re honest with yourself and also those you’re dating, it can be a very positive way of taking your power back a little and moving on with your life. 

If it’s been a year or so down the line and you’re still resisting from putting yourself back out there perhaps you have to ask yourself if you’re doing so to avoid getting hurt again? If you’re telling yourself you’re happy on your own but, really, it’s about not getting hurt again, then you’re not being honest with yourself or moving on with your life and that’s a huge shame because we only live once. 

How can we speed up getting over a breakup? Or is it a case of just ’time is a healer’?

Time is most definitely a healer but there are things you can do to help speed up your recovery. At a basic level, keep yourself fit and healthy so you can make better decisions, stop telling your sad story over and over again, which only suspends you in the pain, and surround yourself with the right people – put your support team in place. Also getting the right help for yourself – either by reading empowering books or getting some coaching can really help banish the heartbreak and speed up your recovery. Starting to think about and plan for your future is also a great healer – so if your future is a blank canvas, throw some colour on it so you can start to feel good about it. This is the time to push yourself out of your comfort zone, try something new or learn a new skill – or take a holiday. Creating a ‘break up bucket list’ is a really powerful way to get yourself back out there living and enjoying life and to keep up the momentum of moving forward. 

5 ways to get over a breakup

Heartbreak is all consuming and has a ripple effect across your whole life. A breakup is known as the second most traumatic life experience after the death of a loved one and it triggers similar symptoms to grief. It can feel like the end of the world and that nothing will ever make it better. It prevents you from sleeping as your mind whirs away until the early hours, your concentration will be diminished and working will be a struggle, it will have an impact on your ability to parent well and your ability to do even basic daily tasks. On top of this it can have a devastating impact on your body too.

Have you ever felt like your heart is actually breaking? The suffering of heartbreak is not experienced emotionally – it can feel like a physical injury too. Some people feel it in their chest and for others it seeps through their entire body. Research into heartbreak shows that our brains register emotional pain in the same way as physical pain. So the gut-wrenching heartache feels real.

Because you’re suddenly starved from your love hormones (dopamine and oxytocin), it’s a huge shock to your body, which is now flooded with stress hormones ((cortisol). Too much cortisol can cause anxiety, nausea, fatigue and weight gain which are all symptoms associated with heartbreak.

So what can you do to move on from a breakup? In the early days it’s small steps:

  1. Create your Breakup Support Team: Surround yourself with friends and family members who love you and make you feel good about yourself.
  2. Self-care: Be kind to yourself and make time for treats and pampering. Run a warm bath, take an extra hour in bed or snuggle up on the sofa with a good book.
  3. Take off your rose-tinted glasses: It’s human nature to reminisce only about the good moments and what you are missing out on now. So refocus your mind by writing a list of everything that wasn’t good about the relationship and read it every time you feel heartbroken.
  4. Don’t use your ex’s full name: Names carry a lot of emotion and memories so can trigger sadness. Shorten your ex’s name to its first initial and make it small caps. Use this when you are talking or writing. It’s amazing how powerful this tiny technique is!
  5. Go outside and look up: We tend to walk looking at our feet or directly in front of us. By looking up it really shifts your mood.

The challenge with heartbreak is the negative impact it has on your body. But you have to go through this excruciating process to enable your body to heal and let go so that you can move forward in a healthy way. If you stuff your negative feelings down and refuse to face them you will be dragging this emotional baggage forward with you into new relationships. So, whilst it can have a devastating impact, it is only temporary and a necessary evil for you to heal.