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What are the Stages of a Breakup and How to Deal with Them?

What are the Stages of a Breakup and How to Deal with Them?

Updated on Jul 13, 2022 | Published on Jan 14, 2020

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Stages of a Breakup and How to Deal With Them

So, you want to know about the stages of a breakup. Then there are high chances you’re going through one.

Honestly, I’m extremely heartbroken that you’re experiencing this. This discussion probably hurts you even more, but it’s important to heal you.

Whether you want to make up with your ex or move on with your life, you’ll have me by your side in this think-piece. You’ll know why you behave the way before, during, and after a breakup and what you must actually do.

So, for a speedy emotional recovery, grab my hand, and let me educate you about it.

Stages of a Breakup Infographic

7 Stages of a Breakup and How to Deal With Them
7 Stages of a Breakup and How to Deal With Them

What are the stages of a breakup?

A breakup isn’t that easy to cope with. Ever wondered why that’s the case? You take so long to forget all the happy memories you spend with that person or perhaps you still believe that they will come back.

Don’t worry. I will tell you exactly why it happens and what you can do to cope with it. Let’s go!

Stage 1: Ambivalence

Summary
In the ambivalence stage, you are unsure about your partner’s feelings. You find it difficult to decide whether you must stay with them or quit the relationship.

During the ambivalence stage, you face both negative and positive issues in your relationship. Due to the constant ups and downs, you feel uncertain about your connection and you fail to understand your partner’s feelings for you.

Why do we go through this stage?

You go through this stage as your partner doesn’t know that you are experiencing these doubts silently. Your partner is always busy somewhere else and leaves you alone to cope with the situation.

Your questions stay unanswered and it worries you further. When their actions do not fall in sync with their words, you still wonder if you must continue the relationship.

What should we do at this stage?

During such times, discuss your relationship with your friends and family members to know in which direction your relationship moves. Does the relationship benefit you or is it toxic? Did your partner show signs of ambivalence during romance?

Analyze your relationship from the start. Did they change their behavior? Note this because some people are inherently ambivalent. In that case, don’t hold uncertain thoughts about your partner.

But, if you observe the changes are only recent, communicate with them to know if they’re troubled with anything. Openly and honestly resolve the problems to maintain a successful relationship.

Stage 2: Euphoric Recall

Summary
After the breakup, memories from your relationship keep flashing by. You wonder if the breakup was a mistake and desire to reconcile and focus on the positive aspects of your ex.

Once you break up, you feel nostalgic and miss your bond with them. Thoughts like “Oh, how everything seemed so perfect with them” and “I had reasons to live and everything seemed so beautiful” haunt you.

You miss how you laughed uncontrollably with them. So, after the breakup, you reflect on the positive aspects of your relationship.

Why do we go through this stage?

You experience this stage to understand where your relationship failed. If everything seemed so perfect and rosy, what were the issues in the relationship? Which factors led to your relationship’s demise?

All these thoughts make you feel guilty and you regret your wrong actions in the relationship.

What should we do at this stage?

It is not wrong to reflect on the good things about your relationship. Obviously, you must appreciate the good aspects as it helps you fight your anger. But, it doesn’t mean you must return to them.

Along with the positive aspects, track down the reasons behind quitting the relationship.

What were the intolerable negative factors in your relationship? What caused you pain? Did your partner prioritize you? Did your partner disrespect you? Why do you both keep fighting?

Think about these to stay strong and remember why you called it quits in the first place and mustn’t return to them.

Stage 3: Making sense of it all

Summary
You try to understand why you broke up and seek closure because you feel restless thinking about your broken relationship.

The memories of the breakup will not easily move out of your head. You replay the same scene over and over. You fight with the same demons every now and then. You try to come to terms with the end of your relationship because you haven’t yet accepted the “end”.

Why do we go through this stage?

You go through this stage because you need closure. You want to know why things ended the way they did and if there were any misunderstandings or assumptions that led to problems in your relationships.

For this, you will continuously revisit different times in your relationship and analyze how things started to end. You feel confused and overanalyze things because you need answers. Until and unless you get a proper closure, you’ll stay in this headspace.

What should we do at this stage?

To overcome this stage, talk to your ex and ask for answers. However, be prepared to not get satisfying answers. Further, you can’t expect much from them since they are no longer answerable to you. But, at least, you can express that you feel vulnerable.

But if you are not comfortable talking to your ex after a breakup, then write a letter. No, don’t post this letter, but at least vent out all your emotions in it. You’ll feel a lot lighter by writing away whatever is in your heart.

Stage 4: Numbness

Summary
You feel so dejected that you cannot accept your present life without your ex-partner. You feel numb because something wrong is happening and you have no control over it.

Everyone doesn’t experience this numbness. But some people cannot accept their present situations and don’t know how to deal with them. They enter this numb stage where their mind stops responding to the surrounding situations.

Why do we go through this stage?

You experience numbness because you still didn’t recover from your breakup. So, in your mind, you still live in your relationship and do not accept your reality.

This phase can last for a few weeks until you finally accept that the person is not by your side, and neither will ever return.

What should we do at this stage?

To come out of numbness, you must accept that your relationship has finally ended. You now have to live for yourself on your own.

Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Shout, journal, cry, stay in bed, talk to your near ones, but express your feelings. If you suppress them, you’ll never be out of the relationship. So, express them in whichever form you feel comfortable with.

To heal, respect your emotions and let them flow as they want to be. So, if you want to punch your pillow, there’s nothing wrong.

Stage 5: Grief

Summary
When you feel grief, you slowly move out of a pathetic situation. But if you suppress your emotions, you’ll grieve for a lifetime. Allow your emotions to flow and experience grief.

People may advise you to move on and stop thinking about your relationship. But even if you know that, you can’t work on it as you need time to grieve. You feel the extreme pain with your shattered heart as you just lost your beloved. The grief here can be equivalent to the death of a beloved for some.

Why do we go through this stage?

You go through this stage because all your dreams got shattered. You imagined spending the rest of your life with someone and now you will not ever talk to that person.

Along with the partnership, your desires for the future are also ruptured. You cannot imagine how life will take turns now.

Moreover, you fear moving out of your comfort zone. The person that made you feel the best is no longer with you, and you don’t know how to manage your life now.

What should we do at this stage?

Stay away from rumination as it will only drain your mental energy. Instead, invest this time in a bubble bath or self-care activities to feel special.

Watch your favorite series while having your favorite pizza or invite your gang and enjoy the chill vibes.

Don’t waste time on ‘What if nobody ever chooses me again?’ or ‘How can I make this up?’ Practice mindfulness to move ahead in life with the flow and not let the negativity affect you.

Always stay by your near ones and talk to them about it. If you do not want to reveal your relationship secrets to anyone else, how about a therapist?

Stage 6: Denial

Summary
In this phase, you deny that your relationship is over. You still believe you have a chance to make the relationship work and your partner will return.

In the denial stage of a breakup, you cannot accept that your relationship is over. You deny the reality because you were in a comfortable position in the relationship.

You try to defend your bond and live in false hopes that things may return to normalcy or your partner also misses you and will soon want you back.

You try everything to get back to your relationship, but it hardly works.

Why do we go through this stage?

You enter the phase of denial when you feel you lack identity. You were so involved with the other person, you believe only their presence validates your worth, which is not true.

You are an individual with your dreams, so focus on them.

The pain is acceptable, but losing your self-esteem for someone is absolutely not worth it. You feel like you lost the direction of your life.

What should we do at this stage?

Avoid drugs and alcohol if you think they act as pain-relievers and instead binge on your favorite web series. Indulge in self-care activities like exercise, reading books, painting, and more.

With time, you’ll see you can enjoy life by yourself and you don’t need others’ validation to be happy and satisfied.

Stage 7: Changes in social media

Summary
When your partner doesn’t return, you experience so many emotions at once. You now decide to flaunt that you’re happy without them. You delete their pictures from your social media to prove it.

This stage often comes into the picture with a rush of emotions. When you really have no clue about what to do, you pretend to move on. You make changes to your social media accounts.

You change the relationship status or delete pictures of your partner from your profiles, and unfollow them post-breakup.

Why do we go through this stage?

You only want to show your partner, friends, and family that you are happy alone. When you promise yourself and your loved ones that you can live without them, you also want to support them.

When you turn to social media to make some changes, the entire world will notice those changes. But ask yourself is it really worth it? Do you really need to do this? Stop doing things in the rush of emotions.

What should we do at this stage?

Take a break from social media as people now term it as ‘social media detox.’ Come back when you think you can control your emotions. Moreover, you don’t owe anyone an explanation, so why let the world know about your heartbreak?

Create your personal boundaries and respect them because if you make them public, everyone else can easily invade your privacy.

Stage 8: Relapse

Summary
With time, you observe changes in yourself. You become more optimistic and love to enjoy life because you know the only person who will always stay with you is: YOU.

For most people, heartbreaks can do wonders and bring forward an unknown personality in you. Sometimes we fail to realize our potential, but these heartbreaks push us out of our comfort zones and make us realize some of the bitter facts of life.

At times, after heartbreak, you understand how to deal with relationships. This knowledge helps you in future relationships and you make a stable bond with your new partner. You learn how to focus on the positive aspects of things and ignore the negatives.

However, this is not true for everyone. Many people become optimistic after the breakup, but later become pessimistic again and break up with their new partner too.

Why do we go through this stage?

You go through this stage as you know you want to proceed in life. So, be determined to stay optimistic and accept whatever comes your way.

With this ideology, some people move on, whereas some get back to square 1 when they continuously reminisce about the memories of their relationship.

What should we do at this stage?

If at all, you plan to patch up with your ex, ensure that you sort all the differences. Discuss every matter that led to the breakup of the relationship initially.

Only once you mutually decide to work on the relationship and put more effort, must you patch up. Otherwise, you’ll soon return to stage 1 again.

If you don’t return to them, accept life as it is and focus on yourself because you’re enough for yourself.

Stage 9: The Comparison Dating Phase

Summary
After accepting the end of your relationship, you are ready to see other people. However, you keep comparing your date with your ex.

If you’ve successfully sailed through the above 8 stages of your breakup, you’re finally ready to forget your ex and move on. Congratulations! You made it through a long journey. So, now you are ready to seek love again.

However, your heart sometimes pinches thinking about your ex. But hey, if you have come so far, you can still move forward, isn’t it?

In this phase, you may be ready to meet new people, but they might not interest you because you mentally compare them to your ex. You are still fixated on your ex, so everything about your potential partner’s romantic actions may seem dull and mundane to you.

Even if this happens, remember, you mustn’t stop meeting new people. This phase will disappear in a few months or years once you let other people enter your life.

Why do we go through this stage?

While comparing the new person with your ex, you may feel that you can never start fresh. But hey, it happens with everybody. However, everyone slowly moves on, so such emotions are completely normal.

It also happens as you don’t wish to experience the pain of heartbreak again.

You know how difficult it was for you and what being hurt feels like. So, you can’t easily trust other people. Probably with time, when you dare to trust someone else, you’ll think of them romantically.

What should we do at this stage?

Analyze what reminds you of your ex while you are with this new person. Is there any characteristic that matches? Do they share a common habit? Do they have any mutual friends? Do they live in the same area? What is it that you miss about your ex?

If you still don’t get it, seek professional advice and discuss your fears. Vent as much as you can in the safest place to heal from your wounds. Otherwise, you may stay stuck for life.

Stage 10: Forward Motion

Summary
Now, you are ready to take the plunge into a new relationship. You’re no longer attached to your ex. You forgave them for whatever happened and wish to start a new life.

Oh yes! You did it! You finally made it through several heartbreaks. Pat your back because you deserve it. One of the most challenging acts is to forget someone and move forward in life, and look who did it!

In this phase, you realize you went through a lot, but now you are finally ready to start your life afresh. The memories may haunt you or you may feel nostalgic when you visit a place you went together. But, it won’t hurt you any longer.

Why do we go through this stage?

Finally, you reach this stage when you make peace with reality. You accepted that each of you has a separate life. You both crossed paths because it was destined and if things do not work at the crossroads, moving on separate paths isn’t wrong.

You also understand here that everything happened for the greater good. Rather if you stick together with the problems, it might cause more trouble to the relationship. But now, you both can live peacefully and happily.

After all, if you don’t enjoy your only chance at life, what are you doing anyway?

What should we do at this stage?

Move out, meet new people, make new friends, and enjoy life the way you wanted.

But don’t forget what you learned throughout the 9 stages. Continue journaling, exercising, and indulging yourself in hobbies, and everything that you love. Most importantly, communicate with everyone, and you’ll find a different light in yourself.

However, do you think it only hurts when your partner breaks up with you? Well, let’s see if it’s any different for you and your ex here…


Breaking up with someone vs Getting broken up with

Summary
Breaking up with someone can hurt you less because you ask for a breakup willingly. Getting broken up causes more pain since you have to accept the decision forcefully.

When a relationship ends, it hurts both the partners involved in the relationship. However, the intensity of hurt depends on whether you asked for the breakup or not.

There’s a difference between breaking up with someone and getting broken up with. You may wonder how when eventually it is the end of the relationship.

If your partner asked for a breakup, you will find it difficult to accept the fact because you didn’t see this coming. You stay shocked for a long time.

But if you break up with someone, you probably gave it a lot of thought before declaring your feelings. So, your mind is prepared for the consequences of a breakup and it may hurt a little less.

This way both the partners in the relationship get hurt, but the intensity of pain varies depending on whether you asked for a breakup or just got broken up with.

Still didn’t get over them? Wondering if it’ll take all eternity? Let’s know it here…


How long does it take to get over a breakup?

Summary
The time required to get over a breakup depends on multiple factors like the importance they held in your life and the duration of your relationship.

Nobody can predict how long it may take to get over a breakup. It all depends on the bond you shared, your intimacy, your emotions, and how much the relationship meant to you.

However, if we must put it in a timeline, most people get over a break in a couple of months. But if you had a long-term relationship, it may even take you years. Moreover, how you broke up also matters.

If there were disputes for a long time, then you both expected a breakup, so it may not hurt much. But, if everything is smooth and there’s a sudden breakup, you may take more time to recover from the shock.

Additionally, the factor of dependency matters here. Did you rely on them for every task? Did you seek their permission for everything? Did you need their help with your identity?

If you depend on them for your self-esteem, you may take longer to move on. You thought of them as your soulmate and now the breakup hurts.

But, if you try to deal with this with a general attitude, you will take half the time to heal from a breakup.

Of course, it is natural to question which is going to be the hardest stage of a breakup? Let’s identify it over here…


What is the hardest stage of a breakup?

Summary
The hardest stage of a breakup is to overcome the feeling of loneliness. Keep yourself surrounded by friends and family to feel better.

The hardest stage of a breakup is grief. It is when you feel that nobody else will accept you or you won’t develop similar feelings for someone else. ‘The feeling of being alone’ can actually eat someone from within and overcoming it is the toughest task.

But, remember that millions of people present in the world presently experience the same phase and deal with it strongly.

Moreover, all these people are desperate for love. So, you are not alone in the boat. The boat is only filled with people you do not know yet. Also, if you experienced breakups before, you can do it once more.

Recognize that nothing lasts forever, so even your breakup phase will end. But until this ends, take precautions to not contact your ex to move on. Don’t call, message, meet, or stalk them on social media. Whenever you get an urge to talk to them, call your friend, but do not contact your ex.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Many times, we love someone deeply and hold onto them with dear life. However, the relationship doesn’t work out and you’re shell-shocked.

It’s all because you weren’t a good match or they were destined to be a chapter in your life. They taught you lessons, enlightened you, and proceeded with their own life.

If you feel devastated, remember that those tears won’t bring back your ex. You deserve way better in life. Beyond this chapter, a thrilling life awaits you, so prepare for that.

So darling, wipe those tears, throw that alcohol bottle, dress up, and get ready to meet some new people. Let others see the beauty in you that your ex missed.

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