How Long Does it Take to Get Over Someone?

Ah, heartbreak, you ol’ gal, who haven’t you touched? If we were to form a society of people whose hearts have been broken, I think we would have most of the world’s population in it, leaving out only toddlers. I would say pre-teens wouldn’t be in this but the kids these days are just so much more forward than we millenials ever were, it’s outrageous; they’ll be a part of this society too, with their ‘first loves’ (can you imagine me rolling my eyes in a super empathetic fashion?).

Following every heart break of mine I have always asked myself the same question- ‘when will this misery end?’ And there has never been one answer. For me, personally, there’s a process, and within the process there are so many highs and lows of misery. Some days you feel like you’re getting better, and then on some other days you have a dream about your heart breaker (let’s call our heart breakers and exes ‘Man-Bitches’ for the purpose of this post, it’s just easier) kissing another woman and then yelling at you because you were secretly scheming to get him back. That sets you up for a bad, bad day indeed. Some days you go out with your friends and think, ‘hey, I did have a life before Man-Bitch, I’m fine’, and then some other days a song comes on the radio that he once hummed in front of you and you climb back into the blackhole of misery. Some days all you want to do is down a bottle of wine and listen to ‘God Only Knows’ by the Beach Boys (no? just me?) and some other days, they show up on your social media and you roll your eyes and continue to scroll because ain’t nobody got time for that negativity.

I know people say ‘time heals a broken heart’. It’s annoying how vague that is. How much time?

It once took me two years to get over someone I never actually dated. It took me a few months to understand that I was starting to feel for this man, and then one drunken mistake later he told me he didn’t feel the same way. My mind was in a frenzy of conversation with itself- ‘wait, what? That can’t be. Why would he tell my friends he likes me and then tell me he doesn’t like me?’ ‘Because your friends said they would break his legs.’ The next day I was all kinds of depressed and confused. I spent the next year trying to see if he had changed his mind at all and I spent the year after that trying to see if there was a way I could move on from him. That’s when I discovered online dating. That’s also when I discovered that online dating is really hard.

It also took me a week to get over someone I dated for a month. It was mostly thinking how it was a shame that things didn’t work out, and that life moves on, and that I wish I didn’t have to see that picture of his dong that he sent me so that I wouldn’t be scarred for life.

It took me 67 days to get over another one I dated on and off for seven months. Day 1, I spent all day crying and then chatting to my only friend who has had any success in romance. Day 2, I got my annual haircut of regrets. The hairdresser refused to give me bangs, which I’m grateful for. Then I wouldn’t shut up about wanting to cut my hair really short. She finally conceded and I ended up looking like Bobby Deol from the movie Soldier. Day 3, my sister invited me for a pizza and alcohol soiree to make me feel better, followed by a movie of my choosing. I chose the movie that my previous Man-Bitch had made me watch recently and I spent the next two hours sobbing silently, turning my face away so that nobody in the room realised what was happening. Day 5, I took my best friend’s advice and jumped on the rebound wagon. It did not help. Day 23, I went on a date with a man who looked nice in his pictures and much like a shrivelled up mango in reality. Day 40, I felt less nauseous than I had done in ages. I went out for dinner and drinks with my friends and had a laugh. Day 60, I realised it had been 60 days and that I was doing so much better. Day 62, I heard a song on the radio that reminded me of Man-Bitch in his less bitchy days and I promptly burst into tears. Day 67 was the first day in forever that I didn’t think about Man Bitch at all. And when his name popped up on my social media, my brain went ‘meh’. And that’s how I knew I was done with that.

It took me nearly a month to get over the idea of a man I went on one date with- all because he was the most ridiculously gorgeous man I had ever gone out with and he never asked me out again. I was so bummed. It’s not like I had started thinking about what kind of dog we would get together (we both each have our own dogs so getting another one would be excessive). But I was still really bummed because it is so hard to find a nice guy who looks that gorgeous.

I can’t solve the mystery of how long it takes to get over someone but I can share my process of jumping in and out of the blackhole of misery.

My mind pretty much follows the Five Stages of Grief model described by Kubler-Ross. When she was formulating the model, she may as well have been studying me and called it the Ahuja Model. Although that would make it seem like it’s my model.

  1. Denial

‘How can he not feel for me when I feel for him so strongly? How can this be one-sided? It’s just not possible. It’s not possible to be as close as we are and not feel anything. How am I the one person he calls whenever there’s the tiniest of issues in his life? I’m sure he feels things too, he’s just scared’.

I don’t know if this is just me, or if others have said this before too. The number of times I have said this in my life in relation to a Man-Bitch is ridiculous.

Firstly, if a man is scared to admit he feels things for you, it’s not a thing. It’s a non-relationship. It’s a non-idea. It’s a red flag. Step away from the red flag. If a man feels things for you, he will say it. He will make it happen. He will make it work. In the words of Jay Sean-

‘Love…love is not a fairytale. But it ain’t supposed to be this hard.’

There is a thin line between Man and Man-Bitch and all the man has to do to stay on the Man side of the line is just say the seven magic words- ‘So, you wanna, like, do this thing?’

Secondly, denial is quite possibly the worst stage to be in. The grief is fresh and you are in that spot where you want it not to be true so you deny it, but the truth remains and it hurts like a bitch. Well, like a Man-Bitch.

2. Anger

You know that feeling in your stomach, like it’s just realised that gravity exists and the contents of your stomach create a whirlpool and everything drowns inside it? That’s what precedes stage 2 of grief. The sudden realisation that it’s true. Sadness is real. Captain Holt (Brooklyn 99) describes it best-

‘Everything is garbage. You find something you care about, and it’s taken from you. Never love anything.’

You are angry that you ever loved anyone, that you were ever vulnerable to anyone, that you wasted all this time on this Man-Bitch and got nothing out of it. You want to pull out his hair, and then your own hair because you were stupid enough to stay up all night one time to help him with his dissertation. You are filled with white, hot rage, that you did nothing but give your heart freely and openly, and all he did was crush it with his bare hands (or maybe you are less dramatic than me and don’t think that). You kind of want to go into the storage room and find your brother’s old cricket bat, sneak out to where Man-Bitch lives and maybe just take a shot at his shins. But then when you think about how much that would hurt him, you decide not to do it and realise that you are very, very sad.

3. Bargaining

‘God, if he calls me today, I promise you I will move on.’

‘God, if you give me a second date with him, I promise you, I am done with f*ck boys. For life. No more messing around.’

‘God, please can he just text me? Let me know he’s alive?’

‘God, I promise this is the last time I take notes for him. I am not his mother, he can take care of himself. Just this one time, though.’

These are just some of the things I have said that I now wish I could take back. Not because I didn’t want them to happen at that point of time, but because I now know that had those things happened, it would have been so wrong for me. Had Man Bitch called me, there was no way I would have moved on. I would have sunk in deeper into the quicksand of my emotions. But I was desperate enough to have turned to religion and brought God into the mess. But thankfully, God has other, more real fires to put out so He didn’t bother with mine.

4. Depression

When the bargaining doesn’t work, it hits you even harder- it’s over, isn’t it? It’s all over. Everything that we had. It’s all gone, just like that. How do I forget about this? How can I? It was such an important part of my life. How did Man-Bitch forget about it so easily? How am I the only one suffering while Man Bitch is out there living his best life? How is this fair? What is the point of any of this? I had a life before Man-Bitch, I could have lived without him. What was the point of bringing him into my life and then taking him away so cruelly? Can I go back into that storage room and get that bat? I shouldn’t, should I? But what if I did? No, that would be too crazy.

5. Acceptance

It could be two years, it could be a week. Could be 67 days, or it could be nearly a month. There eventually comes a time when you can look at your Man-Bitch’s face and honestly say to yourself the one word that represents the most chilled out, drama-free existence- ‘Meh’. It could come with ease, or it could take several tears and one questionable visit to your gynecologist’s office before you can finally say it. ‘Meh.’ It’s so simple and yet so elegant. A shrug and the sound ‘meh’, just clearing up the fog of sadness in your head to create a clearer path to your future.

In conclusion- how long does it take to get over someone? Who can even tell.

Musings of a 20-something old in this big scary world. I use humour as a coping mechanism and it shows.