I’m not quite sure why there needs to be such a fuss about breakups. I was in an extremely loving 3-year relationship, and my girlfriend broke up with me a month after I returned from a semester study abroad trip (we maintained fidelity and communication throughout the trip). The breakup was fairly out of the blue. HOWEVER, by no means did it take me 1.5 years (per your equation) to get over it. On the contrary, it took me three days. Maybe people just have phenomenally awful methods of getting over breakups. I find that the following rationale and method are most effective:
Breakups cause immense cognitive dissonance. In your mind, you had planend out months, or even years/decades of time together. You may have even envisioned marriage and a happy life with beautiful children. When these long-term-relationship assumptions suddenly come crashing down thanks to the breakup, your mind is sent spinning. All those connections you had established in your brain, all the future plans, the intended memories — they all must be forcibly rewritten. You now have to make sense of of your entire reality, given this new set of conditions. This typically takes a LOT of time, because people don’t know how to manage their responses to novel stimuli.
My method is extremely effective, and it’s worked on my last 5 breakups without fail. Just 3 steps:
1. Solitude — Go off alone and contemplate deeply, acknowledging your every feeling, desire, and memory regarding the relationship; in doing so, allow yourself a really good, long cry. Don’t hide anything from yourself. If you felt like this person was the one and only for you and there could never be any other, acknowledge this feeling, and own it. Look through your shared possessions, your past love letters, your texts, and cherish all of it. Your goal here is to picture your life as a timeline, and bundle this relationship as a journey along your life’s timeline that will subsequently serve as a positive learning experience for you for the rest of your life.
2. Reality Check — Once you’ve owned up to all of your feelings, desires, etc., it’s time for a reality check. You exist in a world of 7+ billion people, and any of them could turn out to be your next perfectly matched lover. Probability is on your side, especially given your ability to effect positive change in your own life. Your former lover is but one of many lovers you may have in your lifetime. Love is not a feeling that can run out. The beauty of life is that you can experience love time and time again, and you can get better at loving over time. You will certainly get better at managing your relationships over time, now that you’re explicitly learning from each previous one. This entire step is meant to imbue you with the confidence you need to pick up the pieces and start over. Give yourself a pat on the back. You survived one more relationship, and for a time, it added genuine happiness to your life. Put any bad feelings behind you. Negativity will only burden you. Whatever you can’t learn from, discard.
3. Planning — Now that you’re at peace with yourself and confident about moving forward, it’s time to plan your new future. This will ensure that you don’t get mired in old feelings, past bad habits, and complacency. Think of all those original plans you had with your former significant other. Your planned walks on the beach next to your future beach house, your wedding, your kids. Now, imagine five or ten other ideal significant others (out of 7 billion people, this shouldn’t be too hard), and acknowledge that any of them could enter your future plans and make them every bit as wonderful as you had always dreamed. Now it’s only a matter of moving on and meeting them. You’ve got a few options here. Maybe you want to take a year or two to stay single and focus on yourself. Build up your own confidence, career, etc. and wait for these romances to come to you. Alternatively, if you are the type who cherishes being in relationships, then take a few days to take stock of what you have to offer in a relationship. You should know from your last relationships what you need to work on, so do it. Your friends can also provide invaluable advice for getting better at relationships. If your previous relationship just ended, chances are your friends will be more than willing to reach out and support you. I’ve got this process down to three days. I challenge others to try it out for themselves. Know how your mind and body work, and challenge yourself to do better. Don’t indulge in self-hatred or myopia. Realize the potential that this world has to offer; realize the potential you have to offer; rejoice in both.