7 Stages of a breakup

Tristan Coopersmith

By Tristan Coopersmith

Love & Sex | Aug 04, 2010 5:00 AM

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.

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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