No matter which stage of a breakup you’re in, we can all agree that breakups suck. Especially when you’ve been with someone for so long that they’re all you know.
You spend so much time with them, thinking they could be the one, and then one day, you wake up and they’re gone. Now you have to rearrange your world to fill the space they left. You feel like you’re no longer in control. [Read: Female behavior and 21 things girls do after a breakup to feel better]
Loneliness always hits the hardest after a breakup. No excessive amount of cat pics or empty buckets of ice cream can make you feel better. And when you put it like that, it just seems crazy that this is how finding your soulmate works.
Most of the time, we feel like we won’t make it out alive. But we will. And the only way to do so is to get through these stages of a breakup. [Read: The right way to survive the first 168 hours after a break up]
There are many stages of a breakup. None is easy, but there are ways to get through them all, and you will move on and be happier if you know the secrets to get through each stage quickly and effectively.
The stages of a breakup are quite similar to those of grieving after a death or another kind of loss.
In the model developed by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Her expanded model includes seven stages: shock, denial, guilt, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
With a breakup, there are 10 stages in total. It’s important to keep in mind that these are not definitive. You may experience them in a different order, undergo some stages more than once, or skip some entirely. It’s very hard to lose someone you love, and these stages of a breakup come and go. So try to allow yourself whatever feelings you have or don’t have, and mourn for as long as you need.
[Read: How to get over a breakup and pick up the pieces of your heart]
Shock is the first stage of a breakup that you may go through. Even if it was a mutual breakup or you saw it coming, some of you would still be in shock. Maybe because you’ve been with this person for so long and never thought this day would ever come. You might be the one who called it quits, but the moment the decision is final, you’ll still be surprised.
Just like that, one Wednesday afternoon, the person you thought you would spend the rest of your life with becomes your past. It’s definitely not easy.
If the feelings are too overwhelming, do not go through this alone. Call a friend and ask them to come to you. They can hold you as you cry. Even though their words of comfort won’t heal the wound, they’ll help soften the blow. [Read: Breakup advice: The best advice you need & the ones that harm you]
In this stage, you refuse to believe the breakup is real. There’s no way it’s over.
Reality can feel like a nightmare, so you don’t want to accept it. After all, you’ve given your everything to this person, so them walking out of your life feels impossible. You may even remain hopeful that you and your ex may get back together, even though it’s unrealistic.
You shouldn’t be by yourself during this breakup stage as you may be tempted to text them and ask them to come back. When you’ve gotten used to routines and patterns, they’re hardwired in your brains, so it’s natural that you want to resume them.
Your head is no longer in charge now. Your heart has taken control. But your heart is also wounded, so it can’t differentiate between your needs and wants.
Talk to your friends and let them remind you why your relationship had to end. They’ll try to stop you from doing something you’ll regret. [Read: 8 most common post-breakup mistakes you should never do]
This is probably the scariest stage of a breakup that almost everyone has to go through.
They say the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference. So if you’re feeling a burning hatred for this person, you’re not over them yet. During this stage, you may find yourself writing hate letters to your ex, wishing the worst upon them, loathing yourself even, and blaming others.
As terrifying as this may sound, anger is an important step in healing. It gives way to reclaiming self-worth, so you’re on the right path if you don’t let that anger consume you.
When you’re feeling angry, don’t put it out on yourself or someone else. Don’t get physical and risk harming yourself and others. To deal with rage, you should surround yourself with people who love, support you, and understand what you’re going through. Don’t be with those who will judge you and invalidate your feelings.
And instead of calling your ex to scream at them or sending them ten pages of f*** you, you can write down everything you wish you could say to them, then burn it. Or you can type it onto your phone and never send them. It’s important to find an outlet that’s healthy and non-destructive.
You can also find something to occupy your time—specifically something that can alleviate some of your anger. Hit the gym, pick up a new hobby, or go see a new movie with friends. All of those activities are great ways to ease your anger and help you get through this stage of a breakup. [Read: Why it’s easier to get over someone when you start hating them]
The third stage of a breakup is a confusing one, during which you’ll experience intense feelings of regret or guilt. This is when you seek distraction by doing some really crazy things like hooking up with other people or finding a rebound.
In order to avoid actions that you’ll later regret, keep yourself busy with work and hobbies like sports, painting, or reading books. Get your friends to do fun activities with you like going to the gym, planning a vacation, learning a new instrument, or anything that challenges you and requires your full attention. [Read: How to feel better after a breakup – 22 steps to find your happiness]
This breakup stage involves you debating whether you should get them back or at least make them regret breaking up with you. Maybe you want to change how you look or try to become more submissive to make them happy. You may even suggest being friends so that you can have them back in your life.
You’re basically blaming yourself for the breakup and think you need to do something differently. It’s wrong, and yet you’re more than willing to do anything to get them back.
It’s normal during this stage that you torment yourself with all the what-ifs. So it’s important to remember that there’s a reason your relationship ended the way it did. And even if you two get back together, things will never be the same again.
The damage has been done, and you must learn from it and grow individually. [Read: How to look for subtle signs your ex misses you after the breakup]
At this stage, you’ll feel intense sadness. You may cry from morning to night, and your self-esteem is destroyed. You may not have the energy to complete your daily tasks. It feels like a sickness that medicine cannot cure.
You’ll think about all those good memories and precious moments you once shared with them. Maybe you’ll find yourself going through their old texts or stalking them on social media.
It’s healthy that you can express sadness. Just make sure that you won’t let yourself be buried in it. If you feel trapped, you should immediately get professional help.
Breakups can trigger our past trauma that we cannot deal with on our own. Therapy will help you get through it to find hope and joy again.
[Read: 42 rules to forget someone you love & cared for as fast as possible]
In this stage, you decide that you want to be independent. You realize that rebounds are not worth your time, so you’re determined to pursue a self-discovery journey. The problem is that you may be faking this stage as a front.
This is actually a good stage to be in for some time. The truth is, you don’t need anybody to be happy. But if you’re only faking being happy alone, and you’re really dying inside, get through this stage by talking to someone. Express your feelings and get the opinion of someone who really is happy about being alone.
[Read: How to be emotionally independent & stop using others for happiness]
You don’t just want to be alone now. You want to rub it in your ex’s face that you’re doing fine *when obviously you’re not, because they’re still living rent-free in your mind*. This is by far the most annoying stage. To everyone else, at least.
This stage is an attempt to show off your “single and loving it” attitude. You’ll do something embarrassing like posting deliberate “over them” memes and quotes on your social media, even though you, and probably everybody around you, can see that you’re not over them.
During this stage, it’s best that you just ignore social media and really try to get over your ex. Distract yourself with friends, breakup songs, fun times, and maybe even that cute person at the bar that bought you a drink. If you really want to be “so over” them, start by doing things for yourself.
[Read: All the quotes you need while going through a breakup]
This breakup stage is when you realize that you’re not over them. Usually, you just happen to send them a late-night text to let them know that you miss them. You may re-experience some of the previous stages during this, but ten times worse. And it’s completely normal.
To get through this, you should just delete their number, unfollow them on Instagram, and block them if you must. Get rid of all their photos, too, so you don’t have anything to look back and mourn. It’s the best way to steer clear of them during this difficult breakup stage.
[Read: 19 things you MUST remember when you bump into your ex to let them know YDGAF]
After that crazy rollercoaster of emotion, you will see that maybe the breakup was for the best. You’ll accept this, get over your ex, and be on your way to a happier you in no time.
Acceptance doesn’t come overnight. You’ll feel it gradually seep in, until you’re on a night out with your friends and your mind is clear. You’ve stopped thinking about them. Then you’re on a few new dates and finally have one you enjoy. [Read: Unpopular opinion – Why not to seek closure after a breakup]
One day, you’ll see a social media post by your ex, and you don’t feel anything. That’s indifference, the sign that you’ve officially moved on.
One day, you’ll be waking up next to the love of your life, and you’ll be glad that the relationship with your ex didn’t work out. Everything happens for a reason. Just believe that the universe has to remove some people from your life to make room for better ones.
[Read: The clear signs you’re finally ready for a real new relationship]
Breakups are, without exception, messy and painful. Nobody will tell you that a breakup is easy. Although there are many complex stages of a breakup, the guide above will help you not only identify each of the breakup stages, but also get you through each of the stages with your dignity intact.
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