Though wallowing endlessly in your own crapulence (and tub of frosting) post-breakup is always an attractive option, psychologists at Northwestern have found that breaking up isn't as hard as you think it will be. Researcher Paul Eastwick discovered that people overestimate the amount of time it will take for their lives to go back to "pre-breakup mode" by double; i.e., if you think a break-up will take you a month to get over, it will actually only take you two weeks. The study followed a group of 70 Northwestern freshman over the course of 9 months, according to Live Science. Every week the students would answer a survey asking them about their relationship status, if they were in love, and if they could imagine themselves being with someone else. "If participants reported a breakup, they indicated their level of distress and happiness," says Live Science and also forecasted how long they thought they would take to recover.
It took these teens an average of 10 weeks to get over their relationship angst, and, according to Eastwick, "It would've taken about double that amount if you'd gone by their predictions." At first I wanted to call bullshit on this study, because most college freshman relationships are completely transient; you're not talking five years living together with a mortgage and a dog. But then I remembered being 18 and how goddamn melodramatic I was. I thought I was in the be-all, end-all of relationships my freshman year, and was completely and utterly devastated for almost a semester after that four month relationship ended.
Anyway! Eastman attributes the reasonably short recovery period for most breakups to the emotional resiliency of people and to the unpredictable nature of life. "Life goes on in the wake of a breakup," Eastwick told Live Science. "And when you're making your predictions, you aren't thinking about all the things that could be positive that might happen in the next week or two." He added, "[People] often don't realize the kinds of psychological defense mechanisms they'll use at the drop of a hat."
Breaking Up Not So Hard, Study Finds [Live Science]