From Shock
To Acceptance

Breaking up is hard to do. Much like the passing away of a loved one, breakups have stages of grief. Here's an outline of the breakup process -- and how to get through it.

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4Anger: "I hate you for breaking my heart!"

In this stage, your heart goes from sad to raging mad. It becomes fueled with anger towards your ex for whatever his part in the breakup was, and/or toward yourself for your part. During this stage of breakup, you may find yourself burning pictures of him, holding his stuff hostage, slandering him to his friends or worse. If you are angry with yourself, you may do a lot of self-talk -- regretful thoughts and angry conversation with yourself. The deeper desire here is often to place blame.

Do/Do not:

  • Do feel, write or talk about your anger.
  • Do not act on it.

5Bargaining: "What will it take to get him back?"

Sometimes involving prayers, this stage is often about getting your ex back, but other times, it is about absolving your own guilt if you did something wrong that caused the breakup. Desperate to negotiate with yourself or your ex, you may go to extreme measures to make deals or become something else (thinner, less jealous, etc.) to make amends -- when in truth, it is just about making the current pain go away.

Do/Do not:

  • Do create a self-love list complete with what makes you happy and things you want for your future.
  • Do not include wanting your ex back in the above list!

6Depression: "I will never get over him."

You realize the magnitude of your loss in this stage of grief, and it can feel all too overwhelming. You may wind up in a state of deep sadness that can even resemble mild depression. At this point, recalling what your life was like prior to your relationship or what it could be like now can be hard. Just getting out of bed feels difficult, and you may even feel physical aches and pains perpetuated by deep feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and sadness.

Do/Do not:

  • Do surround yourself with positive people and lots of sunshine.
  • Do not fall victim to unhealthy behaviors such as binge eating or drinking.

7Acceptance: "I understand why I was with him, why I'm not now, and that I will be better than just OK."

The acceptance stage of a breakup makes all the other really tough ones worth it. This is the one that finally gives you that welcome sense of exhalation. You come to realize what the past meant and what the future can hold. The sun begins to shine, and you begin to feel like yourself again, ready to move onward and upward.

Do/Do not:

  • Do celebrate getting through your breakup.
  • Do not be surprised if you still feel moments of sadness from time to time; it's normal. Just keep on your positive path!

Dealing with divorce

Before-divorce advice with Judge Lynn Toler

Judge Lynn Toler of Divorce Court gives some advice for couples before they end up in court -- and some encouragement if it still doesn't work out.

More breakup tips:

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Comments on "7 Stages of a breakup"

crayva April 04, 2014 | 2:26 PM

I have a different kind of story. When I was young and stupid I cheated on the greatest love of my life because I was bored, and left him for this other man, who I thought I was deeply in love with. It turned out I wasnt in love with this man at all, my ex was actuallu the best thing that ever happened to me, and I threw it all away for a bit of fun and passion. My new relationship eventually fell a part because duh, we were totally wrong together, it was nothing but ual chemistry. Even though I was young to this day I cant believe i gave up such a long lasting, beautiful connection for a guy like that. But we learn from those experiences so we dont make the same mistakes. My point is, If you've been cheated on or left for someone else by a person youve had a great relationship with for a long time, let the jerk go-- theyre either superficial and not who you thought,, or theyre too silly to understand what they already have. Theyll probably realize what an idiot they are and obsess over you long after youve moved on to a new life. You deserve better.

Ratt March 17, 2014 | 1:33 PM

I have been married 3 times and have had several live-in gals. I screwed the 1st marriage up, in the 2nd got stabbed in the back, been married 25 years on the 3rd one. Live goes on kiddies, it does, pick up the pieces, be glad you are still alive and can make decisions. Take life slow, just slow down. If it was meant to be you will know it. If not and they want to go, then By George, let them. You can't force someone to love you, only makes them want to leave sooner. And please remember, you ain't gona find the right one in the wrong places. Think about it.

agale58 March 13, 2014 | 5:27 AM

I have known this man for almost 20 yrs. He lives in another town and I went to see him yesterday but, I couldn't find him. I suspect he may have been with this other woman who is after him. I felt like my heart was broken in half and I cried while I drove back home. Just the thought of him being with this other woman was more than I can handle. All I can do now is sit around grieving over him and I don't think I am ready to go back to work yet. It is like a death to me because I am so sad and jealous of this other woman, but I know deep down he is just a heartless man who has hurt alot of woman.

Vincentia February 11, 2014 | 6:30 AM

We had been together for almost a year when he broke up with me. Long distance wasn't working and he didn't communicate his problems to me. In under a month and a half, he found someone else. We talked when I visited home and we've agreed to give each other time and space, and so I suppose it's a good thing I'm teaching abraod again now, despite hating it. I see him and I'm scared to enter the room. It hurts that he's already moved on, and apparently he still cares for me but I can't help but doubt it, because he's hurt me a lot and my self-worth is non-existent right now - how easily replaced I must be for him to move on so quickly! I'm starting to get over the anger and one of my friends who I kinda dated for a few weeks made a move on me, and I'm relieved that I acted sensibly and explained I couldn't handle anything like that right now. I'm accepting things more - I understand that it was for the best we broke up because it wasn't working for him, and he admits he didn't communicate his problems to me (I always did to him) and I felt like a burden to him, feeling guilty I couldn't make him happy, and we had to compromise. There's no way I could ever return to him. However, I'm worried that I'll nveer get over it, because for another ex, I still think of him every day because it ended on bad terms - not with anger or sadness or anything, just 'I wonder how he is.'

Sanele February 03, 2014 | 10:09 AM

Where do I even begin explaining what I feel? Funny thing is I heard of this 7 stages of loss from my ex-fiance' maybe a year ago. It never really struck me what she was referring to and I went on to think that "oh, its just one of those things she "googles" over the internet" But having dumped me (my girlfriend of 10 years), I started feeling feelings I've never felt in my life. At first I thought it was just a joke just something she will get over, she has attempted breaking up with me before but to no avail. I guess, after approx. 3 years she finally reached the stage of acceptance and got over me totally. The thing that fustrates me the most out of this is the fact that she has been planning this all along while she smiled at my face like everything was 'hunky dory'. This fustration I'm aware could be the 'anger' stage of loss that I am going through. i do have a long way to get to the final stage of acceptance since we... no, stratch that...since she dumped me 2 weeks ago over what seems to me as no apparent reason. I hate feelings, before her I've never really dedicated my heart to anything at the fear of becoming to attached and then having to separate myself from it. I've seen how people take small problems and turn them into the biggest life threatning situations, never thought that I'd be one day rowing the same boat. So where I am right now is a place I never thought I would be in, the only reason I committed to the relationship is because I was really convinced that it was permanent. I then proceeded to give my all to the relationship. Not for one second after that did I think that the relationship would ever end (boy was I wrong). I gave all that I had and when I say all, I mean all. I made sure she was taken of, whatever she needed I was sure to provide. Be it a piggy ride, me tying her shoelaces in the middle of the mall while all the guys passing by looked at me shamefully (I could here the "what an idiot?" that they were thinking as if it was echoing in the grand canyon) but I was in love and not only that this was the love of my life that I would share the rest of my life with so I couldn't care less what anybody thought. I won't beat myself too much about that because at the time it felt really great and afforded the opportunity to do it again I would. I didn't just do those trivial things, you know. All her expenses were mine to share, I practically clothed her for the duration of her years of study at university. Sure other guys were going to look at her and ask her out but what we had was 'forever' remember? So all of this was of little consequence. Me - Neo, she - Trinity, I was ready to take on Mr. Smith at any given moment. Mr. Smith? I was in the revolutions sequel where I could step outside of the matrix and still be able to conquer the machines. My oh my, what a trip? Its funny. I laugh now but when the peace leaves me and the treaded denial, anger and depression kick in, its no laughing matter. Twenty eight year old man curled up in the featus position is nothing to laugh about....

Hazel January 24, 2014 | 8:21 AM

I have been married now for 43 years, I am disabled with many different health problems, my days are filled with pain, but the pain I felt and still feeling when I found out that my husband was in a relationship with another woman is unreal.. I am housebound, not from choice I can assure you, but he needed someone who could go out and have more fun with.. I hope with all my heart the same happens to him one day....

km754 January 13, 2014 | 10:51 AM

Just ended things with my girlfriend of over 6 years last night. Still in the shock/"why can't I just wake up from this cruel dream?" phase. I'm real scared and not sure how I'm going to live without her. We were engaged at one point, talked about kids, house, all that. It's frightening realizing we won't be together as it's beyond repair at this point. Any words of wisdom or encouragement? Best of luck to everyone else on here -- it sure is harder than it looks in the movies.

Ada January 08, 2014 | 5:18 PM

of course everyone follows a different sequence with these 7 steps frequently occurring. I followed a trend like this 1 Calm, collected (first few hours) 2 shock, pacing round room ect (next 24 hours) 3 sorrow & isolation (first few days) 4 stoicness & talking (next few days) 5 physical pain/emptiness/loneliness/boredom(second week) 6 ignore breakup completely/self distract (next few weeks) 7 sentimental reflection on relationship and imagining future together (next week) 8 attempted bounce back (remodel self, flirting etc) (next week) 9 genuine hope/bargaining for return of relationship (next few weeks) 10 reflection on relationship with anger (next few days) 11 hopelessness/depression (next few weeks) 12 acceptance

Allstarelle December 17, 2013 | 12:49 PM

Anthony i am feeling exactly the way you do. I had been in a 10 year relationship he had finally moved in Feb this year and after 10 months it go too hard for him and he left back to mom and dads. Instead of working things through, because he is the one with the issue. I am 38, so i feel where is the hope for me. I think this was a blessing in disguise and have to learn from this mistake not to waste time on a relationship that has ongoing issue ... you think love conquers all. Only true when both parties feel it. Each day it does get slightly better i am just waiting for this yucky empty feeling to go away. Be strong everyone it suck's but no they are no worth it they were in the wrong not you so your the better person.

Iris December 01, 2013 | 5:14 PM

@ DDK. I had such a heavy heart when I read your post. Hang in there girl. I had also felt my ex and me met and were together for a reason. Both victims of child abuse, I was there for him through his worst. Anyway got dumped after four years. And the break up didn't affect him though I was devastated. I went through these exact same stages this past one year. And I think I am between Stage 6 & 7, been going back and forth. Only time and loving yourself can help along with supportive friends and other diversions like a career and hobbies. I can't wait to end this chapter of my life. Hope we can all move past Stage 7 and live a happy life with the right people around us. But first love yourself and know you are not alone. Cheers.

Jay October 14, 2013 | 11:01 AM

One thing that really helped me through my relationship break up is writing about everything that I hate about my Ex so I believe it will also be helpful to everyone thatd is having a hard time moving on. I've learned that the more brutally honest you are with your words, the better. Don't sugar coat-anything. Every time you feel low, you can come back and reread why you shouldn't be back with him/her and why your better for it. Hope this helps and I wish you all the best :)

DDK September 10, 2013 | 10:49 PM

My bf just ended a six years relationship with me for someone he met for few months. I literally gave my life in loving him. When I first met him his life was a mess, he was a drug and addict with financial problem. I became his support system to get his life back on tract because of the feeling he had for me. I was a good influence to him. He was crazy about me. A month later he was diagnosed HIV pos during our first health check. He was devastated and in fear but I was being with him all the time to go through the painful time. I told him I would never leave him. I decided to be with him wanted to take care of him. I expected the worst when I committed into this relationship and understand the consequences may come. Unfortunately a year later I was sero-converted and became HIV positive too. I was scared but was ok with it because I thought we at least had each other. That is the love and experience God wanted me to have. We would apprecaite each other more than anyone else. Things had been great the next 5 years and we were deeply in love, our relationship had been amazing. We were the modal couple of most friends around us, at least I thought we were. But two months ago he told me he wanted to break up with me because he is seeing someone and had no feelings for me anymore. The sense of betrayal was so strong that I could barely cope with. Everything happened out of the blue with no warning or signs. I didn't see it coming. I am now left alone with the pain and illness alone and he is having a wonderful time with the new love. I still don't understand how could someone not having feelings anymore for somene who has done so much for you?

phindile matshika August 29, 2013 | 4:13 AM

my boyfreind was my best freind and love he mush we be together for 8 years i was suprise when he told me on sunday 24/08/2013 he phindi is over between me and you. i found out he got a new girl freind and i ask him about that he said yes but i love you both please what must i do because i really love him and he left me , he is grazzy aboth the new girlfreind he said to al be strong he feel guilt.

Renee August 19, 2013 | 12:10 PM

I'm just turning 30 and was set to get married next Nov. We were supposed to move in together next week. As of 2 weeks ago, i am a single woman. We were together 5 years and he threw it all away by cheating. I am sick to my stomach, can't eat. Then i recieved a phone call yesterday saying he's at his house with another woman. He hadn't told his family we are over so his sister-in-law called me to tell me she thinks he's cheating. To say my life is upside down is an understatement. This came out of nowhere. We just celebrated his birthday.......I gave so much of me.

Don August 14, 2013 | 12:35 PM

It hurts a lot. I gave my live away to build her up. She has epilepsy. When we first started, she told me she had twenty or more attacks a day. I put 13 years into the marriage and gave it every thing I had. Now I feel broken.

mary August 11, 2013 | 2:57 PM

never give up hope .get out their and met new people .because all your ex don't no what love is and you all deserve better .that to be treated so badly .my ex is a self-centred heartless man.I hope to god I never see him again .I wish you all the best

Achala August 04, 2013 | 6:24 AM

I met this guy not long ago. We became good friends and soon started hanging out together; watching movies, talking about ourselves, going for nice long walks. Although, for us, it felt right...the people around us think its not. I just got out of a relationship (during the times when we became friends) and I know others may assume that this new boy that I like was a rebound..so I decided to give it some time..giving myself space and time to think about relationships. This guy that I like and I started talking and going out again. And just between our time together laughing, long talks and everything...we feel for each other. But obviously, we can't be together because...well, his parents doesn't support the relationship that we have. And, although it really sucks, we have to part ways. I don't want us to have this fear of walking next to each other and be wary of what others would think about us. So, bottom line is, we're just scared and too proud of what others think about us..which makes us..not ready for this relationship.

lottie July 16, 2013 | 3:47 PM

I was with my x for 3 and a half years, I discovered 2 months ago he has a 3 and a half year old daughter and was still seeing the mother. He also has stayed in contact with another one of his apparent x's that he claimed to be a crazy stalker. When I found out i spoke with the mother of his child for 3 hours putting all the missing pieces together its very sickening he lied about his age he is now 33 instead of 29 so 11 years older. Crazy how many gemini men can live many different life's and not feel anyway about it at all. we confronted him at his work he denied our relationship to his baby mother, after all that time nearly 4 years! My x is very wealthy and had not told his baby mother about all his rich's I've found out the other day he gave her a lump of money and is buying her a house. Im stuck in depression now i've gone through hate and sadness over and over for 2 months and have seen him again did not make anything better now I'm trying to get him to pay up for my uni fees, Its a real struggle he's agreed but the conditions are complicated I dont know what to do im torn apart confused trying to make something out of nothing and depressed I know I can get someone else if i tried im not exactly an ugly duckling. I model for a living but I dont want anyone else this Is the first time ive ever felt so confused and head fu***d in my life. I want to either ruin his life or get paid off to forget him is this a normal felling. I also call and text like a maniac I'm trying to cover up the hurt with gaining something to make myself feel better.

Diane July 05, 2013 | 5:51 AM

My husband and I have been together 25 years, I have been a stay at home mom for 16 years. I am having a really rough time here. You guys talking grieving, try how do I budget when he did it all. I am so flipping scared right now. We still live in the same house and I just don't know where I am head with 2 children......

rose June 29, 2013 | 7:07 AM

My boyfriend or should I say ex was and still is the the love of my life.He was the only guy who made me feel happy just to be me but I guess I never really give him my all,I was always too busy doing god knows what.Our break up was hard,I had to figure it out myself because he stoppted calling and answering my calls,i'm not even sure if its really over.My mom says I should go out with ny friends and stop crying after all i'm only 16 but I cann't i've lost the love of my life and its all because of my selfishnes.

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