The Stages of a Breakup and How to Get Over a Breakup?
Like just about everyone, I’ve been through a difficult breakup before. I know what it’s like to wonder what went wrong, why it didn’t work out, and if you’re ever going to find someone you care about again. Breaking up is hard and sometimes, recovering from a breakup is even harder.
Breakups are difficult, no matter the circumstances. Whether you’ve been together for months or years, deciding to part can leave you feeling alone, helpless, and sad. But if you’ve ever gone through a breakup before, you know that with time you will find yourself and return to happiness, even without your partner.
Sometimes, you want to speed up the recovery process and move on as soon as you can. But choosing to ignore the recovery process can only prolong the pain and push the grieving time further and further away.
Wanting to get over a breakup is natural. It is a painful time for everyone involved, especially depending on the circumstances surrounding the split. If you’re wondering how to get over a breakup, here are a few steps you can take to getting back to happiness as a single person.
The Breakup Stages
It may seem like there is just one stage to a breakup and that is the physical act of breaking up. But the emotions that we go through after separating from our significant other actually seem to go through a variety of different stages before we’re ready to really move on.
Some of these stages may be longer for some individuals and the length of these stages usually depends on how long the relationship lasted. However, having an understanding of what the stages look like, what they mean, and how you may act during that stage can help you see where you are in the recovery process.
If you’ve ever gone through a breakup before, these stages are probably pretty easy to recognize. Here are five of the main stages of breakup grief that you may experience:
Phase 1: Denial
- When You Have a Hard Time Believing Its True
After you spend so much time with another individual, you may find it hard to believe that your time together is coming to an end. During the denial stage, which is the first stage of breakup grief, you may have a hard time believing that you’re not really together anymore.
While in denial, you may find yourself thinking about things you and your significant other will do in the future, like what restaurants you may visit or where you will go on vacation. Whether it was your decision to end the relationship or your partner’s, it will take some time to disconnect and remember that you’re no longer together.
It is important to get out of the denial stage as soon as possible. While it may be comforting to think that the separation is only temporary, you’re only prolonging the healing process.
Phase 2: Insanity
- When Things May Get a Little Crazy
Once you’ve taken a moment to recognize that yes, this really is happening, your mind may spiral out of control, causing you to do some things you maybe wouldn’t have done in the past. During the insanity stage, you may find yourself driving past your ex’s house, texting your ex about something “important” that you actually made up, or stalking their social media accounts for hours on end.
The insanity period is a time that many of us make choices that we later regret, so it is important to try and not let your irrational thoughts take control. While we may feel like these behaviors will give us closure or make our ex realize they made a mistake in suggesting a breakup, it really just hurts us even more.
While you’re in the insanity stage, it is important to surround yourself with a supportive group of people who understand what you’re going through. Whether it is a friend willing to snatch your phone every time you want to send your ex a text or a family member who will love you no matter what crazy thoughts you have, having a clear-minded individual with you can stop things from getting too out of control.
Phase 3: Unhappiness -
When You Just Want to Sulk in Your Misery
When your insanity wears you out, you’ll move into the unhappiness phase. You may find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and you may just want to stay home and cry. You’ll find yourself wondering what you did wrong and if you could have done something different to save the relationship.
During the unhappiness stage, it’s normal to feel like you’re not completely whole. A breakup is a loss, and grieving over that loss is only natural.
Many people may try and push through the unhappiness phase, but the tears and the sadness almost always comes out at some point. If you feel yourself in the unhappiness phase, don’t try to cover it up. Spend a weekend allowing yourself to be sad and to grieve over the breakup. When it is all out of you’re system, you’ll be ready to move on.
Phase 4: Confidence
– When You Realize There is Something Better
Eventually, you learn to use your pain as a source of strength. While the wounds from the breakup are still there, you’ve made it to the other side. They didn’t kill you and you’re stronger for going through that pain.
After you wallow in your sadness, you’re ready to leave those feelings behind and get on with your life. You realize that no one should have the power to hurt you the way your ex did and you’re prepared to prove you’re capable of being single.
For some, the confidence phase needs a “fake it until you make it” attitude. But the more you pretend like you’re ready to move on, the more you’ll feel like you’re ready to move on.
Phase 5: Independence – When You’re Ready to Be On Your Own
Independence is the last stage of breakup grief and may take some time to get to, but once you’ve arrived it is like the relationship never happened. While you still may feel a sting when you hear your ex’s name or see pictures of what they’re up to, you know that the breakup was best for both of you. You’ve moved on.
During your independence, you’re free to think about exactly what makes you happy. It could be your work, a sport, a hobby, or just surrounding yourself with friends and family. Eventually, you’ll find the strength to enter a new relationship.
How to Get Over a Breakup
While the phases may be true for most of us when we go through a breakup, it is easy to get trapped in a phase that prevents us from moving on. If we want to go through the five phases of breaking up, there are a few things we need to do to help move the process along.
If you’re struggling with a breakup, here are a few steps you need to take to make your way from denial to independence:
1. Cut Contact
When you first breakup, you may be tempted to call your ex to talk about what happened or if there is something you can do to make things better. In most situations, this only ends in more sadness and fighting, which will dig you deeper into your pit of despair.
To begin moving on, you need to get used to not having your ex at the other end of a call or text message. Instead, cut all contact. If this means blocking their number or cutting them from your social media friends, then that is a step you need to take.
2. Talk it Out
Leaving your feelings bottled up inside will only make it harder to let go. Instead, find someone with a good listening ear and talk about your feelings. This could be a good friend, a family member, or even a therapist if that is something you’re comfortable with.
Getting an outside perspective can help you better understand the situation and sometimes hearing the situation aloud can provide a bit of reality that you need.
3. Stay Busy
When you go through a breakup, it is natural to feel a little lost. After spending so much time with someone, being without them can feel uncomfortable and awkward. But that doesn’t mean you should spend your nights wondering how you’re going to live on your own.
Staying busy is a great way to show yourself that you’re still complete without this person. Whether it is through spending time with your friends or getting involved with a hobby you’ve always wanted to try out, keeping your mind off the breakup and on your life without your ex can help you move forward.
The best medicine for sadness is laughing. While you may feel like you’ll never smile again, surround yourself with things that make you happy. Maybe this means watching all the comedies you can stream online or hanging out with a particularly funny friend, laughter will help boost your mood and pull you out of your sadness.
If you’re feeling bitter, ease into the happiness. First, start with a movie you’ve always liked. Then ease up to things that truly make you laugh. If you try to dive headfirst into watching hours of stand-up comedians, you’re probably just going to feel frustrated and excluded.
5. Get Some Exercise
If you’re still in the insanity phase or you’ve moved on to the confidence phase of grief, you’re probably feeling like you have a lot of extra energy. Rather than using this energy to send angry messages to your ex, use it to get in to fuel a workout. If you feel like you want to punch something, take a kickboxing class. If you just want to get out of your neighborhood, go for a run.
Burning off this extra energy can help you relax and exercising is a great way for us to feel happier. Not to mention, exercising can also keep you looking your best so your ex will know exactly what they’re missing out on.
6. Give it Time, But Continue Living
You may feel like your ex got over the breakup as soon as they said “this isn’t working out,” but that is almost never the case. While they may be posting pictures on social media or you may seem them out laughing, they are probably struggling with the separation just as much as you are.
The difference is that they are still continuing to spend time with friends, get out of the house, and move on with their lives – and you should do the same.
Getting over a breakup will take time. You can’t expect to wake up one morning completely over the situation. You will need to heal, to learn to trust again, and to recognize that you are not at fault for the way things ended. But as you’re figuring out how to put yourself back together after a breakup, your life shouldn’t be put on pause.
Breakups are difficult, there is no doubt about that. But the way you handle your breakup will determine how long it takes for you to get back on your feet. Whether you called the relationship off or your ex was the one to end it, these tips can help you recognize your worth as a single individual.