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Dumper’s Regret: A Timeline & Stages of Remorse of Dumping Someone

The relationship is over, for good or bad. But now you’re feeling a sense of dumper’s regret. What should you do? Is it normal to feel this remorse?

dumpers regret remorse

Breaking up with someone you care about, or cared about, isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Even if you’ve arrived at the point where you can’t stand the sight of them, it’s quite normal to struggle when it comes to ending things. Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news, let’s be honest. And sometimes, you could experience a bad case of dumper’s regret.

There are thought to be five stages you go through when you’re the dumper, i.e., when you’re the one ending the relationship.

You might think that it goes from doing the deed to feeling relieved and that’s it, but it turns out that there’s actually more to it than meets the eye. 

The human conscience doesn’t allow us to just leave things be, and, of course, we overthink. [Read: Breakup advice – The best advice you need and the one that harm you]

Breakups are never easy things

Making the decision to end a relationship is rarely easy. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been together three years or three months.

The fact is that you got to know another person. You decide to no longer be around them in a romantic way. You might choose to stay friends. Even if you do end up in each other’s lives in a different capacity in the future, it will never be quite the same. It’s completely normal to develop dumper’s remorse if you end the relationship.

Everyone assumes that it’s far easier for the dumper than the dumpee. That’s not always the case.

Of course, some people find it easy to say “that’s it, it’s over” and walk away for good. But people with a slight amount of conscience find it much harder to do. [Read: 12 of the worst ways to break up with someone who loves you]

But, what is dumper’s regret or dumper’s remorse?

Have you been there before? Perhaps if you’ve broken up with someone in the past, can you identify the different stages you went through, or did you simply try and move on?

The likelihood however is that you experienced one very common milestone – dumper’s regret or remorse.

Dumper’s regret is the point after a breakup where you think “hang on a minute, maybe I didn’t do the right thing” and miss everything that was good about the other person. You have rose-tinted glasses on, because you forget the reason you actually broke up in the first place, and the bad memories are somehow filtered out. 

Dumper’s regret has caused people to go back to poor relationships in the past. Don’t let it happen to you! [Read: The biggest post-breakup mistakes you should never do]

What does dumper’s remorse feel like?

Think back to a time in your past when you ended a relationship, if you’ve been in that position. If you have, did you feel bad about it afterward?

It’s completely normal to feel a little down after you’ve potentially broken someone’s heart. Did you go on to wonder if you’d made the right choice, or wish that things had turned out differently? If you did, that regret right there is what they call dumper’s remorse.

You might also see your ex around a few weeks later, looking happier and lighter, and a delayed form of dumper’s remorse might set in then. You’re wondering if you were wrong to make the decision or not. [Read: 10 questions to ask before leaving someone you love]

The problem with relationships is that nobody knows how they are going to turn out.

A relationship might turn out to be the best thing ever, a union of two people who were literally meant to be. On the other hand, it might turn out to be a huge mistake, two people who clash like drums and drumsticks.

Of course, it might be less dramatic. It might simply be that you don’t make each other as happy as you thought you would. You feel it’s best to part ways. Whether the ending was dramatic or not, the point is that you’re ending something which you had high hopes for at the beginning.

Nobody goes into a relationship with a negative mindset, hoping for it to fail. Of course, you’re disappointed. Again, that’s normal. [Read: Why it’s normal to feel strange when your ex starts dating someone new]

Is dumper’s remorse avoidable?

Can you avoid dumper’s remorse? Not really, but you can be sure of your decision in the first place.

If you’re sure of the reason for ending the relationship and certain it’s the right thing to do, when you experience dumper’s remorse, sit back and reason with yourself. You’re just feeling bad for a relationship that never worked out. But you should know you did the right thing.

From relief to dumper’s remorse: The stages after a breakup that lead to dumper’s regret

Let’s take a look at the five stages that occur after you break up with someone and you’re the person doing the dumping. 

Then, you can work out where dumper’s regret or remorse actually comes from and why. [Read: Broken heart syndrome – Can a heart actually break or is it drama?]

1. “Phew, I’m glad that’s over”

Yes, the first stage is obviously one of relief. You’ve done the deed; you’ve ended the relationship and got what you wanted.

From that moment, everything feels like you’re walking on air. Sure, you might have the odd pang of guilt when you remember their face upon delivering the news or the sting when they said something particularly unpleasant to you.

Regardless, you’re able to push that to one side and feel relieved that the hard part is over. Or is it? [Read: 10 stages of a breakup and how to get through each of them]

2. “Get me out of there, I’m free!”

The second stage is one of happiness. You feel free. You’ve broken the chains of a relationship that wasn’t working for you, for whatever reason, and you’re happy to get out there and enjoy your life. You’re not particularly looking for anyone else to be with, you just want to enjoy your life as it is right now. 

Enjoy this part, as dumper’s regret is just around the corner! [Read: Why you feel so relieved after breaking up with someone]

3. “Hmm, I remember …”

Stage three is when things start to take a turn for the worse. At this point, you remember the good times. You still have a slight grasp on the bad times, and you can definitely remember why you ended it.

But the happy memories you shared are coming back to you thick and fast. Everywhere you turn, something reminds you of your ex and a funny or loving moment you shared.

This is the start of dumper’s regret, and it’s the point when you start to feel remorse and seriously question whether you actually did the right thing ending the relationship or not. [Read: Regret the breakup? 15 signs your ex undeniably still likes you]

4. “Well, this isn’t what I expected”

Stage four is a kind of numb feeling, the stage when you’ve really started to question whether you made the right choice or not, but you don’t feel inclined to dwell on it too much.

It’s always there in the background however, but you know there’s nothing much you can do about it. Instead, you just go about your day, but there’s something that just isn’t quite right. 

Something is missing. 

5. “Now I just feel sad”

Stage five is very unexpected, and the ironic thing is that the cycle of a breakup that a dumper goes through is the total opposite of what the dumpee goes through.

The dumpee feels sad at the start and then works backward towards feeling free and relieved after getting dumped.

The dumper starts at the relief stage and somehow ends up feeling sad just as the dumped starts to feel better. Ironic, right? That’s how dumper’s regret works, friends! [Read: How to deal with regret and learn to face your reality for what it is]

How to be sure you’re making the right decision and avoid dumper’s remorse

Ending a relationship is tough. Being the one who gets dumped is equally as tough, but the time leading up to actually ending it, the agonizing over whether or not you’re doing the right thing? That is the hardest part.

Once you’ve made the decision, you’ve settled your mind, and you’re not going to be swayed, provided you’re certain in your choice.

Never attempt to end a relationship that you’re not sure about ending. If you have doubts about whether this is right or not, talk to your partner and work the problem out. Not every issue has to result in an ending.

Sometimes problems might seem like huge mountains to overcome, but they’re actually small hills that just need a different tactic to reach the top. The best way to get over that is to communicate your problems and figure out what the other person thinks about it all.

Only then can you be sure whether you’re making a good choice or a bad one. [Read: Should we break up? 17 signs you’re past the point of no return]

It’s also a good idea to look at things in the cold light of day, and attempt to take your emotions and memories out of it. These will cloud your judgment and get you thinking about better times.

Sometimes, we stay in relationships because things used to be great, and we hold onto some idea that they’ll be great again. Hopefully, that’s the case and what you’re going through is just a blip, but it could also be a sign that your best times are over and it’s a sign to move on. [Read: How to fix a relationship that’s falling apart and rebuild it again]

Sadly, not all relationships last the test of time, but that in itself allows us to learn, grow, and move on to someone who is our perfect match.

So, avoiding a severe case of dumper’s remorse is really about being sure in your choice, and knowing that you made the decision for a set reason.

It’s also a good idea if you cement that idea in your head and write down a list of reasons for the breakup as well. And again, don’t go thinking back over good memories and times you shared together. In that case, you might suddenly struggle to remember why you ended the relationship when you did. [Read: 20 very valid reasons to break up with someone]

How to overcome dumper’s regret

If you find yourself starting to regret ending the relationship, remember you ended it for a reason. Do your best to focus on that reason and remind yourself that it was the right choice.

Of course, that’s all supposing you actually thought it through properly before you ended the relationship and you’re sure that you really did do the right thing. If you jumped and acted without thinking, well, perhaps your regret is valid. 

Even in that case, however, you did what you did because you didn’t feel happy. You wouldn’t have ended it if things were okay. Remember the events leading up to you ending the union and focus on those. [Read: 15 steps you go through after your boyfriend breaks up with you]

Distract yourself and know that dumper’s regret is a common and normal emotion to feel.

Nobody likes to end things, even if they know it’s for the right reasons. No matter how long you were with your ex, you shared moments and memories. They will always be with you. Something will happen at some point in the future and trigger a memory for you, taking you back to an unspecified point in your relationship.

It’s the same for everyone, and it doesn’t mean that you made a mistake. [Read: How to get over a breakup and pick up the pieces of your heart]

The dumper gets a bad name, right? Surely, it’s braver to actually end a relationship that isn’t working than it is to just stay in it because you don’t want to upset the other person, or you’re clinging on to the hope that things will change?

If you made the decision to end it, know that you did the right thing. Put it to the back of your mind.

Remember this, regret is normal, but dwelling on it isn’t. 

Life goes on, but dumper’s regret hits back often

Dumper’s remorse can hit you at any time. It might come straight after the breakup, it might be a delayed reaction and hit you a few days later, it might even come a few weeks later.

Perhaps when you see your ex on the street, or you catch sight of something on social media. It doesn’t matter when it comes, what is important is that you deal with it correctly. [Read: Bumped into your ex? 14 super-cool ways to show the YDGAF!]

You might see your ex at some point and they’re looking great, smiling, and appearing to be happy with life. Rather than wishing that things were good between you again, just be happy for them. Smile and go about your day.

Don’t secretly stalk them on social media or ask your friends how they’re doing. Cut ties completely and let them go about their life, they deserve that. 

The only way to get over a serious case of dumper’s regret is to focus on the positives of the situation you’re in right now and don’t focus on the positives of the relationship you just ended.

Every relationship has at least one positive in it. It’s a surefire bet that when you’re feeling low and rolling around in your own guilt and remorse, you’ll focus on that one positive. But, what about the several other negatives in your relationship that made your life miserable?

Keep it in perspective! [Read: How to stop thinking about your ex before it ruins your future]

Dumper’s regret isn’t a reason to go back

Remember, going back to a relationship, simply because you’re feeling a little sad about ending it, isn’t fair on your ex either. They will have felt pain and confusion when you broke up with them. They’ve probably done a lot of internal work to feel strong again.

Don’t confuse them even more by popping back up in their lives. Let them be. You both deserve to be free. Maybe at some point in the future, you can be friends again. [Read: How to get back with your ex and convince them it’s the right thing to do]

Dumper’s remorse isn’t a reason to go back. It’s simply your emotions replaying the good times in your relationship. It’s also a sign that you have a heart, and you’re missing someone who was once important to you.

Unless you and your ex can 100% fix the issue that caused the breakup in the first place, it’s simply going to keep repeating itself like a stuck record. Why put yourself through the agony of a breakup more than once? It’s simply not necessary.

[Read: The guide to help you decide if you should be friends with your ex]

Dumper’s regret is a completely normal phase or remorse in a breakup. Don’t allow your potential regret to pull you back into a relationship that you were brave enough to end because it wasn’t working for you.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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