5 stages of a breakup and how to survive them
It will get really sucky before it gets good.
Finding a good partner is like finding a four-leaf clover. You don’t know how you got so lucky but you want to hold on to it forever. However, building a relationship is another story. It requires consistency and effort. Not to mention, it’s subject to market risks. From infidelity and disrespect to lack of communication, there are about 10,000 reasons that could lead to a breakup. And even though you fought hard to hold on, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. The moment the words ‘it’s over’ leaves your mouth or theirs, you feel like a void has been created. Even though you might’ve known at the back of your mind that you’ll not make it, you feel blindsided.
You may feel immobilised, overwhelmed and like you want to sit in one corner with a tub of ice cream and never leave your house. You might also be terrified to walk the path ahead alone. After all, you were so used to relying on this person. But you will come out the other side stronger and more resilient. But before you do, you might go through the stages we’ve listed below. Keep in mind, it’s not a linear or an overnight process and you go back and forth but you will find your way out.
Desperately looking for answers
We’ve all felt it. The all-consuming need to decipher the real reason behind the breakup. At this stage, it’s easy to slip into analysis paralysis. You look for answers everywhere sometimes even beyond anyone’s ability to explain it. It’s all you can think and talk about. You fixate on the times your ex talked about your future together and cling to that. However, somewhere amid all the chaos and confusion in your head, you have moments of clarity but since you’re not ready to let go yet, you’re swinging back and forth between disbelief and painful moments of clarity when you know it’s truly over.
Denial and euphoric reminiscing
There comes a point soon after you break up with someone when you’re in utter shock. The magnitude of the loss hasn’t still hit you and you’re using denial to shield yourself from the pain of heartbreak. It feels like you put everything you had into that relationship and it had become your whole world. And now that it’s over, you’re lost. Denial makes you stalk your ex on social media, show up at events or parties where you know they will be and leave those long long text messages that talk about how amazing the relationship was.
It’s at this stage when you’re also only reminiscing about the good aspects of the relationship. Everything about your ex is all unicorns and sunshine. In your eyes, they were the person for you. As you do this, you may be shoving the reason for your relationship’s demise under the carpet. Which restricts you from processing your emotions. It’s okay to look back at all the wonderful times you’ve had with this person but as you do this it’s also important to remember why you’ll have to walk away from each other. Maybe try writing down the negative aspects of the relationship. This way you can always pull yourself back to earth when you feel regret or guilt.
Trying to win them back
You’re drunk calling them, texting them incessantly and hoping you run into them everywhere you go. You’re telling them that whatever went wrong you will fix it and that you’ll make it work. You’re determined to reconcile not only because you love them but also because you’re afraid and they feel as familiar as a childhood soft toy. At this stage, you aren’t thinking logically and you cling to any teeny glimpse of hope to prevent yourself from losing a person you’ve come to depend on. If you’re ever stuck in this phase and feel like a hamster in a wheel, don’t fret. It’s completely normal.
However, the problem arises when you lose sight of the fact that it’s not all on you. Both of you’ll contributed to the end of the relationship. So, you promise to fix everything and finding a way to sustain a relationship that has lost its legs might become a burden at some point if you’ll reconcile. You can’t possibly take responsibility for everything. If the other person isn’t meeting you halfway, pick up the pieces and bid them farewell.
Bouts of anger
The next stage is one we’re all familiar with—turning into an angry bird that is strategising ways to punch the pig that hurt you. It’s at this stage when you should consider buying a punching bag or investing in kickboxing classes. Find cathartic ways to release that anger and stop obsessing over what changes you could’ve made to get them to stay. You might also go into rebound (aka the famed hoe phase) at this stage. However, remember that this burning infuriation that you feel can be empowering. It pulls you out of that deadening numbness of heartbreak and reminds you that you deserve more and better. It’s like eating something spicy over something sweet. It might be a tear-jerker but it leaves you feeling fresh and rejuvenated.
This brings us to the last and final stage— acceptance. You’ve processed your emotions, felt the fury and yes, even relapsed and transported back into the bargaining stage. After all that, you’ve finally accepted that you’ll aren’t meant to be together and are ready to let go of all the anger and sorrow you’ve been holding onto. This means no more sad songs and no more drunken texts. Even if you still love them, you’re going to hold up your end of the breakup and at least try to truly move on. Even if you compare whoever you meet to your ex, it’s the effort that counts. This acceptance doesn’t come in a single moment. It’s a culmination of all the stages that have led you here. Ready and hopeful to close this chapter and start a new one.