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Parallax - Advice            May 22, 2000

   Recovering from relationships

Dear Conversely, Ask us a Question!

How long does it take a guy to get over a relationship?

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Her view:

Dear Hopeful,

One hour. Just kidding of course. I'd say it depends on who broke up with whom. If it is the guy who initiated the break up, then it should take him a few short weeks to get used to not having his girlie around, and he will then promptly move on. Now, if he is the dumpee, that delays the recovery significantly. In this case he will not be over his lost love until he starts dating someone new. At that point, he'll slide on into his new routine, forgetting the past like a good little hedonist.

Unless... If he is not happy with his new-found love, he may continue to pine away - relentlessly sulking and calling the lost love (to her utter chagrin, most likely). Moreover, if he has been left for another he could be bitter for years to come.

But, if reasonably content, our bachelor will choose the route that minimizes suffering - he will tell himself 'thank goodness my prior relationship didn't work out because I am sooooo happy in this one' - and he'll be just fine.

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His view:

Dear Hopeful,

Never give a former consultant an open-ended question like this one: he'll turn it into a complex equation in no time.

Here then my fail-safe mathematical formula. To find out the number of days until full recovery, divide the length of time they dated (in days) by a number between 1 and 10 (use 1 for a very intense relationship were he was deeply in love, and 10 for a weak relationship based mostly on sex), then divide again by a number from 1 to 5 (use 1 if she broke it off for no good reason and tore his heart out in the process, and 5 if he did the same to her), then round down to the nearest whole day and add anywhere from zero to six weeks (use zero if he's the stereotypical male devoid of any true emotions, and six if he's your extreme case of sensitive guy).

As you'll see, this formula involves a whole set of variables that are usually needed to provide a useful response, such as: what kind of relationship did they have, how long did it last, who broke it off and why and how, what is the guy like, etc. Without these facts, most responses would be very general, full of 'it depends' clauses, and generally useless. And I do dislike giving useless responses - even if I occasionally indulge.

P.S. There is also a short answer: it will only take him as long to get over the relationship as it takes him to find the next one.

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