AskG3S #2: Mending a Broken Heart

AskG3S, a.k.a. our G3S Writer’s Roundtable, is a discussion forum and advice column gathering the wisdom of some of Tumblr’s best API LGBT writers. If you have any questions about relationships, dating, sex, coming out, family issues, or anything you would like some advice on, send an ask to the G3S Writer’s Roundtable tab on our home page. We also welcome any suggestions for discussion topics. This month on AskG3S, the topic is heartbreak.

Q: If it takes ‘x’ amount of weeks to heal from a broken bone, how long does it take to heal from a broken heart and conversely, how long do you think the average is to fall in love? How fast is too fast? Granted, this will vary depending on the person and situation, but can these ideas even be quantified?

A: By @ox-85,

Falling in love can never been too quick or too slow, all it can be is right for both of you. I didn’t know when I fell in love with my boyfriend, but now that I look back at the 3+ years, I can tell you that I started loving him from day one. That love grew stronger as our relationship grew closer, and that I still am falling in love with him to this day. I think the subquestion being asked is: at what point in time do you know that this is the love that will last? There’s a component to the answer that relies on the complete and open trust you have between each other. Can the both of you truthfully answer each other’s love without questioning if the other person isn’t being honest? I think there’s a clearer answer when you ask and answer with full honesty (which may be unrealistic). As we plan our future together, I am now more open to voicing my concerns and insecurities. This has helped us work through our problems and create a more loving relationship.

According to a quick google search, research has found it takes 11 weeks to mend a broken heart. That’s basically 3 months of taking the time to begin mending a broken heart. If there exists a set time for a broken heart to mend, then I think it truly depends on the depth and level of the relationship you had with the other person. Truthfully, I don’t think we ever are free of our past relationships. They remain in your subconscious, reminding you of your past mistakes and successes – allowing you to grow and mature. A broken heart never mends, rather, it becomes a pain that becomes more distant over time. Even as the one who broke my ex’s heart, I too struggled with my actions, words, and our eventual demise. Some part of me fell out of love with him early on, but I persisted because I thought we could fix things. His tears and words will forever be with me, reminding me of my own broken heart, my regrets, and how cruel I could be.

Basically, these things are both quantifiable and not quantifiable. It could be that only with time and reflection are you able to figure it all out.

By @tritaniumwhite,

I’ve fallen in love with someone I’ve met in one day.  I’ve fallen in love with someone I’ve known for one month. I’ve fallen in love with someone I’ve been with for year. It depends on what you believe is “love” and what you hold dear. It is your definition and do not let anyone tell you otherwise or impose their rigid qualifications to that word. Your definition of love will grow as you explore and develop your emotional maturity. Do what you think and believe is right, but also attend to the wisdom of others because they offer a perspective that you might be missing.

It takes 6 weeks for a bone fracture to heal. It varies with age, conditions and general health, of course, but 6 weeks after my surgery, my arm was finally off its medical probation. But just because I was off the sling doesn’t mean that healing was over. In the biology of fracture healing, it actually takes many months and years before it’s good as new again, in a process called remodeling. For me, that’s akin to the healing after a heartbreak. It may take you up to 6 weeks before you feel ready again, but it could take you much longer to fully assess and process the consequences and side effects of a lost relationship. Just like your body’s ability to heal from physical trauma, the same thing is true for emotional heartache; it varies, and it’s okay to takes a few weeks to grief and it’s okay to takes longer.

By @medicasian,

A typical mid-shaft humeral fracture takes between 8 to 14 weeks to heal. What this entails is the activity of cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts breaking down and re-building bone in a painful process that results in bone that is less sturdy than its predecessor. Depending on the way the bone is fractured – whether it is comminuted into many pieces, rotated and displaced from its attaching piece – the fracture can take longer to heal, and in some cases never heal: non-union. If you destabilize the bone too early and remove it from its cast, bone healing also gets disrupted. The body must be optimized to allow for good bone healing – and even then, there is no guarantee that the bone will return to its former glory.

Nevertheless, some people defy the confines of their physiology. Some play through the sports season with a broken bone, only to find out months to years later that something was broken in the first place. Others have severe pain that limits all activity, and take anywhere from months to long term disability away from work. Why do I elaborate so much on bones? I feel that the situation of a broken heart is parallel: unpredictable outcomes with even less objective data. Depending on how the heart is broken, some people will never heal and others never even realize that there was damage at all.

I have been in a handful of relationships, and each time that my heart was broken, the time to recovery has been different. My longest relationship, which ended with my partner’s infidelity, shattered my heart into an uncountable number of pieces. Still, to this day over two years later, I come upon pieces that I achingly stitch back together. On other occasions, I have had some relationships, which washed over me like rain water – soaked and damp for a few hours, and then soon forgotten,  with the anticipation of the next sunny day. In order to come back to the question originally posed, I do not think I can give a discrete number for other people; for myself, on average, I would quote similar statistics to a broken bone: 8 to 14 weeks from standard heart break with considerable variability.

As for the question about falling in love, this is an equally challenging question to answer. What is love? If I define love as an irrational feeling that puts the needs of others over the needs of the self, I would say that it takes a long time – on the spectrum of months to years. Infatuation is quick, lust is quick, passion is quick – but the selflessness of putting someone else’s needs and thoughts above one’s own takes time to develop and incubate. It cannot be achieved quickly, even if one desires it to. Love itself lays on a spectrum, and makes it even more challenging to quantify. Speaking to my own experience, I think I have only really fallen in love once, and it was something I did not recognize until about two years into my relationship, and was something that may have been latently present for one year.

To those who look for numbers to soothe their anxieties of heart break or of falling in love too quickly, know that there are no clinical prediction tools to know what your outcome will be. There is no way to say what is too quick or too slow, but you should listen to your body and what your heart tells you. Like bone healing, heart break does take energy, mental fortitude, and nutrition. We can try to make wise choices to mitigate our risks, but when love is found, it acts irrationally with frequent ups and downs. Do not fear love or heartbreak, but embrace it and use it to grow.


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