What’s your relationship recovery time?

“Recovery time” is however long it takes one to return to normal after an event. Whether it’s the time it takes an athlete’s body to return to normal heart rate or hydration after a grueling event, or someone’s return to health after a setback. Or how long it takes for someone to recover after a relationship’s ending.

When I was first divorced I was told it would take 25% of the time I was married to recover and be ready for a serious relationship. I was married for nearly 20 years, so that meant it would take 5 years! I was incredulous. I didn’t want to wait five years to find my next LTR. But here it is at the five year mark and I feel I’m truly ready. I had too much healing and growing to do.

I don’t know if the 25% rule of thumb applies to short term relationships as well, but my experience is the more emotionally attached you were, it takes some time to get over. If you find you are grieving the loss longer than the relationship lasted, something else is going on. I posit you’re not just grieving that relationship, but perhaps the hopes and dreams you had for a future with someone you thought was a great match. And now the daunting task of finding someone else to help fulfill your dreams is heartbreaking.

Just like a champion athlete’s body, I think the mark of an emotionally healthy person is how quickly one can recover from a breakup and get back to normal. That is not to say you shouldn’t grieve — I think it’s healthy to go through the stages of loss and feel what you feel fully, without trying to say you’re fine when you’re really not. But if you linger too long in denial, anger, bitterness or pain, you are not doing yourself any good.

How long should one grieve the loss of a promising relationship? It will vary with each person. But I think you should be conscious of if the time you’re spending being resentful, angry, etc. is more than 25% of the relationship’s length, you need to shift and let it go. If you need help from a counselor to do so, get it. The longer you wallow the less time and energy you’ll have to focus on what you want next. And frankly, you’re not any fun to be around in this state so no one new will be drawn to you.

If you are still holding on to anger about a breakup — recent or past — how can you let it go to complete your recovery?

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