Stages of a Breakup

by | Feb 15, 2012

The breakup of a relationship is similar to the loss experienced after the death of a loved one. Many of the same feelings occur, and the stages one goes through following such a loss are comparable.

Early on, the warning signs may not be as obvious as one would think. Many are subtle and, until taken as a whole, are seemingly inconsequential. These may include your partner losing interest in your thoughts, feelings, and ideas; your partner experiencing a marked decline in the intensity of their emotions; feeling that your partner is newly uncomfortable with public displays of affection; your partner not wanting to spend time together, or getting the feeling that you interrupt your partner\’s time. Any of these may be early signs that a relationship is headed toward a breakup.

So, now you find yourself on the brink of a breakup. What can you expect?

  1. Denial: First, you may not understand why the relationship can’t be saved. You may even wonder why the relationship ended. If you are hanging on to memories of good times and pictures of the two of you hoping they\’ve changed their mind, you\’re in denial. You might even call your ex many times asking if the relationship is really over or if there is still a chance that it can be saved.
  2. Anger: Soon, all the feelings you still have for your ex will morph into crazy hatred. You’ll be feeling resentful toward them for being selfish enough to leave you. You\’ll get cynical and narcissistic. Feelings of unhappiness and bitterness will creep in, and you may lash out with the purpose of disparaging them and making them less important in order to diminish the pain of their rejection.
  3. Bargaining: This is when your actions may become a little humiliating. You might start to panic. You might make desperate attempts to convince the other person you need them and won\’t ever be happy without them. Usually, these attempts are the subject of jokes with all of their friends, soon after your call.
  4. Depression: You\’ve realized that you\’re definitely not getting back together. Not even stupid movies and doing previously-off-limits things with friends helps you feel better. Try to turn negative feelings into positive by doing more of the activities you love to bring back a sense of stability and pleasure in your life. Take a break, but don\’t withdraw completely from life. Many people try to repair their fragile egos by dating again too soon after a breakup. Don\’t! This may result in further damage to yourself, as well as the person you are dating. Stay away from people who might take advantage of or prey on you. Take time off and get involved in things you wanted to do but never had time for. Get together with friends you haven\’t seen much during your relationship and try to reconnect with them. I always tell people: do no harm to yourself, be good to yourself, and invest in yourself.
  5. Acceptance: Without even realizing it, you find yourself feeling better. You finally see the “old you” peeking through the gray clouds. Life is fun again. Congratulations, you\’ve lived to try again!


No matter what stage of breaking up you find yourself in, it is never easy, especially if you\’re the one being broken up with. Take a moment or as long as it takes to nurse your wounds and get back in the game. It\’s a cliche, but time is the great healer. When you are ready to move on you\’ll begin meeting new people and trying to find a new, better partner. Don’t bring the baggage of your past relationships. It\’s time to embark on a new one, so let the past be the past. Remember the lessons you have learned and build on them.


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