Three Stages of the Breakup

February 26, 2017

Breaking up can be sucky but when you break up with someone that you love, it can be the most excruciating pain that you ever feel in your lifetime. To say that it sucks would be completely understating it. Some people are lucky enough in dating to get it right on the first try. Others are not as fortunate. In that case, you are not doomed. I promise. I’ve broken down the different stages that happen after a bad breakup and how to move forward.

1.) Everything

At the initial stage of breaking up there is a fire that consumes you. You can feel it singe in your bones, feel it scorching through your veins and charring in your heart. The smoke fills your lungs and there’s a slight retching with each breath that you take. It follows everywhere you go and you notice it’s presence lingering all around you. You can sense it in your passenger seat, waiting outside of your work, every place you’ve ever gone together, and in your dreams. Sometimes you can hear the crackling of the fire, hear the way they laughed, the way they said your name, the way they disagreed with you. You start to find yourself crying (I mean there’s something in your eye) to sleep or in the shower or if the wrong song starts playing. You begin to wonder if you’ll ever be able to do this again if this is how it ends.

2.) Nothing

There’s also the chance that you don’t feel anything at all. When you’re at work or out with family or friends, you’re not all there upstairs. You are a walking, living, breathing, ghost in a shell. You don’t want to be anywhere else but you don’t want to be where you are now. You don’t want to be alone but you don’t want to be surrounded. You don’t want to miss anything but you don’t want to take part in anything. You feel numb. You are okay, but you feel dead inside. You begin to think that you’ll never be truly happy.

3.) The Brat Stage

You are back in touch with reality. You are starting to show actual signs of humanity. There is a downside. You are obsessed with your ex and it isn’t cute. You often wonder about him or her and you talk about them a little too much. Entirely way too much. Stop. Please. You’re only hurting yourself and there’s a chance he or she finds out that you’ve been asking about them. Not good. Abort mission. You want to know if they’ve moved on, if they’re happy and succeeding, if they’re with somebody new or somebody that you hate and have always felt slightly threatened by, if they are as torn up as you’ve been. In this stage you tend to get greedy. You want with all of your being for yourself to be the first one to move on and be happy. You want for them to be miserable. You really want to run them over with your car. Don’t. Behave yourself! You are being a selfish, spoiled, brat! Yes, I said it. Your friends won’t. You’re welcome.

Disclaimer: Now perhaps this person cheated or for whatever reason it was a terrible breakup. You do have every right to be mad, sad, hurt, to cry, and to grieve the loss. I highly encourage you to speak up about your experience. Talk about how you feel with someone that you trust.

The brat stage occurs when you start to wish ill on others and you act bitter towards the world. You don’t win when you do that. You don’t take back control of your life. You don’t move forward. This type of behavior is ugly.

Once you’ve gotten past the Brat Stage it is time to DO YOU! It is time to take back control of your life. Every minute that you spend torturing yourself with the thought of an ex, they have a hold on you. Take the control back into your hands and don’t ever let it go. Now obviously, it won’t be quick and easy, otherwise it wouldn’t be called “heartbreak.” However, you can do this. I know you can. I did it. I still am and it is the best feeling to know that I have control of my life. Nobody has a hold on me. The best thing you can do after a breakup is … Do You!


Spend time getting to know yourself. What interests you? Pick up some new hobbies, or volunteer. Maybe you’d like to try something outdoorsy like kayaking (I love it and mention this frequently), fishing, camping, attending a concert, going to more community shows and events, or joining a community sports team. You should also try new experiences with family and friends (your support team). Try traveling for a week or a weekend. One of my favorite quotes is “it’s a big country. Go see it.” Go explore, go adventure! Go parasailing, go skydiving, go zip lining, run or walk fast at a 5k, attend a wine and paint class, or learn how to do something that interests you. I picked up baking. I really enjoy it and I’m ecstatic when I dominate a new recipe. I got back into photography, and acting, walked for St. Jude and I participated in a 5K Color Run for charity. I also did a lot of traveling.

Don’t forget to challenge yourself. A friend of mine encouraged me to live a little more and to do things that scared me. So, I went to one of my usual movie theaters and I watched a movie… by myself. It may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was a big accomplishment. It seems silly but I used to refuse to go to the movies by myself. I was a little nervous because it was completely out of character for me, the shy girl, but I tried it. I lived and I’ve done it since then. It really isn’t that bad. It has become a lot easier to do other things by myself too. Now I encourage you to accomplish something that frightens you. Do something just for you. Try something that’s out of your comfort zone. The absolute worst thing you could possibly do is nothing, or wait around for someone to “save you.”

Moving On

Alright, now you’re ready to put yourself back out there. Moving on is so weird. When you finally kiss someone new it’s weird. Not bad weird, just different. You should try to not focus on that. Don’t compare every little thing that this person does to your ex because that either means that you aren’t over your ex and therefore you aren’t ready for this, or you are getting too swept away in the moment. Either way you aren’t focused and you could potentially be causing more harm than good. Take a step back and reevaluate.

Do you usually jump right in to new relationships? Take this one slow. Don’t forget everything you learned from your last relationship or past relationships. You did learn something, right? I hope so. You must go in with an open mind, knowledge from experience and a set list of what you will accept and what you will not put up with. You can compromise so long as you feel that is something that you can live with.

Don’t forget about number one…you. You should never feel like you must do anything or give more than take or put up with anything to keep someone happy or to keep a relationship going. You can’t make somebody change. They will only change if they want to, and you have nothing at all to do with it. Make sure you look out for yourself and that you’re happy. Don’t be the only one giving. Love is not a one-way street. It’s about give and take and compromise from both people.

Something to keep in mind:

When you go through a bad breakup your friends love you and they support you, but they may not understand the weight of the circumstance until they are in the hot seat. They will try to heavily encourage you to “put yourself out there again,” or to go out there and “get laid,” or have a “one night stand.” These are things that ease current pain but they won’t erase it. It is a short-term fix not a long-term fix and it will not heal you. You have mixed up feelings about your ex and now you’re getting yourself all involved with someone that you only see as being attractive and they are probably a great person worth getting to know. You don’t really have intentions of getting to know them because of your own selfish agenda. You’ve now dragged a nice person onto your hot mess express train and have messed up their life. Do you deep down want to really project your pain onto someone else when you can just give yourself the time and space to heal so that when you are ready to jump back into the dating scene you surely meet someone amazing that you are emotionally ready for? Or not? Hey, maybe it does help? Maybe you find the right person that way. Just do what you truly feel is the right next move for you. Don’t allow anybody to cloud your judgement even the people that you love and care about. Make sure you’re ready. Mentally. Emotionally.

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