Healing after a breakup is neither swift nor linear. The pain, angst, anger, and ultimately, the acceptance and will to move on all come in phases. To be able to fully heal from heartbreak, you have to brace yourself to go through the wringer of the 7 stages of a breakup – shock, denial, negotiation, isolation, anger, acceptance and hope.
The feeling of being consumed in a relationship doesn’t let you accept the heartbreak that easily. Especially when you were serious about your ex, each phase brings torment on you with its share of guilt, grief, blame-game, and mourning. The science behind breakups also reveals that humans cannot handle rejections that easily, especially in romance. The breakup healing process is slow, painful and overwhelming.
To be able to cope with the loss of a relationship, you must prepare to embrace the stages of going through a breakup. Allow yourself to feel the full extent of your emotions, so that you can progress from one phase to the next. We’re here to help you process the different stages of heartbreak.
7 Stages Of A Breakup And How To Channel Your Emotional Responses
If you are dumped in a bitter breakup, failure and self-blame encapsulate you to the extreme, leaving you depressed. This is one of the first stages of healing from a breakup. In this phase, overcoming a breakup feels like pushing a boulder up an unconquerable mountain.
Breathing becomes difficult with every step and you are in self-denial and fearful of never being able to overcome these post-breakup feelings. Each step toward moving on seems like a battle already lost. With ex-issues weighing you down, moving on can seem like an unachievable feat.
Even if you could foresee this breakup for weeks or even months, yet the reality of loss can hit you brutally. So, if you are going through a bad breakup, then a proper understanding of the 7 stages of a breakup will help you deal with the painful rejection, mourning, and struggles in a much healthier way.
These stages after break up may occur all at once or strike you one after the other. Either way, there is no escaping them, and so, your best recourse is to embrace these difficult emotions and begin the process of healing.
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1. Shock over a breakup – How can he/she break up with me?
Shock is the first of the many stages of grief after a breakup, especially if you didn’t foresee the relationship coming to an end. If your partner pulls the plug, your immediate reaction often stems from a place of shock. From your perspective, everything was going well and you were so committed to your now-ex-partner.
You are still in shock over how the relationship came to a dead halt. Since your ex has conveyed their intentions, you feel lonely, vulnerable and insecure. You want to confront your ex on what led to the breakup. This first of the 7 stages of a breakup is marked by a sense of loss and confusion. Your mind is clouded with questions, and you keep searching for answers. ‘I need closure‘ becomes an all-consuming feeling.
Confusion and a state of disbelief eclipse your thought process. You lose sleep, pining for your lost love and figuring out how to handle the split. This gloomy phase could probably last for days, weeks, and even months, depending on how committed and invested you were in the relationship.
You can’t just sleep over this. Rather, you are not ready to face this hard reality. You might end up calling your ex constantly, seeking explanations. Well, don’t do that, as it is going to inflict more pain on you. While it is OK to think over and talk about what went wrong in a relationship, don’t let it choke your sensibilities.
At this point in time, our experts suggest you should not freak out. Life might look like a messed-up puzzle at this juncture but all will fall into place. Trust us, and give it some time. You will soon make sense of this decision. Probably, you were not meant to be. Or he/she needs to space out the relationship.
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2. Denial of a breakup – It can’t happen to me
Are you checking your phone, waiting for your ex to call and reconcile? Or are you writing emails and sending texts professing your love all over again? Or trying to keep tabs on them through your common friends? Is a better part of your night spent stalking your ex on social media? All these behaviors reflect one common thing – your denial of a breakup.
Psychologically, you are not ready to accept the reality of your breakup and are flooded with bottled-up emotions. This is a denial response: if you don’t accept the painful heartbreak, you can hope to get your ex back. “This can’t happen to us. We were meant to be.”
If you were too emotionally invested in the relationship, accepting that it is over can be hard. The mere prospect of letting your ex go is scary because life seems meaningless without them. You just hope they will call once and you’d find a way to reconcile your differences with each other.
Alas! That denial of grief is what’s making you hold on to the pieces of a relationship that has no future. This is often one of the most pronounced stages of a breakup for a man. Unable to deal with the stages of grief after a breakup, they often find solace in denial. Keeping the hope alive in their minds seems like the easier alternative.
3. Negotiation – To save the relationship and win your ex back
What are the stages of a breakup for a girl or a guy? The negotiation phase is one of the stages after a breakup that both men and women find themselves trapped in at some point or the other. When dealing with the stages of grief after a breakup or the pain of a heartbreak gets too much, you want to seek refuge in the familiarity of the old relationship.
You want your ex back in your life and are willing to work on any differences. You commit to being a better partner, attentive to their needs. You are ready to take the onus of making things work in a relationship. But why are you doing all this? Is all the effort you are investing in resurrecting a relationship worth it?
Aren’t you being overoptimistic? Relationships are a two-way street and you alone cannot fix everything, repair and sustain it. Taking full responsibility not only makes you feel vulnerable but also puts the entire burden of the relationship on you. Even if you manage to get your ex back, in all likelihood, it will be a one-sided relationship if they have already checked out emotionally. Being caught in this cycle will only inflict more pain on you.
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4. Isolation – I want to retreat from life
Among the different stages of going through a breakup, this one is where you wallow in your pain. You are consumed by feelings of emptiness after the breakup and want to be alone in your room, curled up in your bed, not ready to face the world. You may replay the relationship memories in your mind, again and again, trying to find faults and how they could have been avoided and the relationship saved.
Also, you are stalking your ex on Facebook, trying to figure out whether they too are hurting like you or have moved on. Out of the 7 stages of a breakup, this is the one where you feel as if you have hit rock bottom. Your life seems to have no meaning at this moment and your withdrawal symptoms are at an all-time peak.
At times, you may even feel suicidal. But hey, we would like to ask you one thing: “Is lamenting over the breakup helping you in any way?” No, right? So, it is better to see the silver lining and try to keep yourself productively engaged to regain the purpose and perspective of life. Don’t pity yourself.
5. Anger – To express dissent against breakup suffering
Anger is among the stages of grief after a breakup. You are feeling derailed after the split and mad at your ex for making you go through this ordeal. Perhaps, they cheated upon you and that drove you apart. If that’s the case, the anger phase of a breakup can become long drawn out and overbearing.
The anger holds validity and makes sense as well. You are feeling betrayed and bitter due to the infidelity. After being cheated on¸ your trust in the opposite sex and romantic relationships may have taken a big jolt. During the breakup anger stage, it is natural for you to want to lash out at your ex. But a better and more dignified way to channelize this anger is to take it out on the souvenirs of the relationship you’re holding on to.
Want to tear up his/her photographs, burning their gifts or possessions? Want to scream into a pillow? Allow yourself to do whatever it takes to resolve these emotions. Don’t bottle up the anger because it is your psyche’s way to empower you. Confronting these uncomfortable feelings is a good sign of overcoming the breakup grief. This means you’re progressing toward stages of moving on after a breakup.
6.Acceptance – Reality is here to stay
Only when you arrive at the 5th of the 7 stages of a breakup, do things begin to look up. After all those sleepless nights, tear-stained pillows, weekends spent in PJs and tubs of ice-creams polished, you’ve finally begun to turn over a new leaf. This is where you transition from stages of going through a breakup to stages of moving on after a breakup.
You have developed enough awareness and control to recognize that the relationship is over. You now realize that all the efforts to revive this relationship again are not working. This acceptance is the first step to post-split recovery. You have put all the hopelessness, dependency and sadness aside and are committed to winning this breakup battle.
Instead of trying to get back together with your ex-boyfriend or woo your ex-girlfriend, you are focusing on becoming a better version of yourself. Perhaps, you are trying to be fitter and healthier, devoting your time and passion to your hobbies or volunteering for a social cause.
Life has given you a new perspective, and you understand that you need to cherish all the good things in life and romantic relationships are a part of it. Isn’t that realization great? Well, a moment to rejoice, as you are just one stage away from moving on to a better life.
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7. Hope – Of new life and beginnings
Congratulations, you survived the 7 stages of a breakup, and in all likelihood, emerged stronger. You have overcome the perils of a breakup. Now you can breathe in peace as life is coming back to normal. This stage might take some time, but when it comes, make sure you celebrate getting through your breakup. Treat yourself. Feel better and don’t forget to learn from the takeaways of a split and use the past experiences for a better life ahead.
Sometimes pain makes you stronger and after overcoming this breakup battle, you will be rewarded with newfound wisdom and awareness levels. If you are suffering from relationship abuse and are finding it difficult to overcome this gruesome phase, you can reach out to our counselors for help.