Overcoming The Breakup Stages

A Therapist's Guide

     While most of us have gone through breakups, few of us know how to do so successfully. In this article, we will discuss the breakup stages and share a therapist’s perspective on how to overcome them.

Overcoming The Breakup Stages

You may of seen the stages of grief used when discussing breakup stages. This is because of the similarities felt between losing someone in a relationship to losing someone in life. If you want to successfully overcome the break up stages, have a good understanding of the stages of grief will help tremendously. You should first understand denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Then you should work to be aware of where you currently are and encourage yourself along this journey.

Denial: The First Stage

Overcoming The Breakup Stages

Photography By: Pablo Merchán Montes

     The most common first stage for many. Denial is the inability to accept what has happened. Denial in the breakup stages may manifest in the belief that an ex made a mistake, is playing a joke on you, or will attempt to get back with you.

  • Use A Friend

        It’s difficult to see things clearly when it is happening to you. It’s also difficult to think clearly when are anxious or depressed. Talk to a friend to get their opinion on what may of happened.

  • Look At It Logical

         Denial prioritizes emotions over logic. Emotions tell you that this person couldn’t of broken up with you since you feel so strongly about them. Although, sometimes people do leave people that they care about. Try to look at the relationship logistically to determine what has truly happened. 

  • Believe Them

        If someone has told you they are breaking up with you, believe them. It’s nothing to joke about or play around with. Having respect for yourself is not allowing yourself to be toyed with. 


Anger: A Secondary Emotion

     Anger is a secondary emotion. That means it is a response to another feeling we are having. Anger during the breakup stages may be seen in thoughts of getting revenge, doing something destructive, or being filled with resentment. Anger causes us to question, “how dare they do this to me”?

Overcoming The Breakup Stages

Photography By: Pablo Merchán Montes

  • Breathing Exercises

         The body uses short and shallow breaths when angry. This is a part of our fight or flight response. By taking deep and long breaths, we are telling the body everything is ok and the mind that we want to find peace.

  • Let It Pass

        Anger like all emotions serves a purpose. It is unhealthy and unuseful to remain in this state however. Allow yourself to be angry but also encourage yourself to move on.

  • Empathy

         Empathy is a great way to combat anger and resentment. By seeking to understand the thoughts and share the feelings of others, we decrease the anger that we once felt for them.

Bargaining: Attempt To Change Reality

Overcoming The Breakup Stages

Photography By: Pablo Merchán Montes

      This is the “what if” of the breakup stages. Bargaining is our attempt to think of ways to get that person back or change the situation that we are in. Bargaining looks for ways to change reality, rather than accept it.


  • It’s not up to you

         The problem with bargaining is that it feeds the fantasy that you are in control of others. People make their own decisions. Honor other’s wishes as you would want the same for yours.

  • Reality Check

        What you should of, could of, and would of are not what you did. Rather than thinking of ways to alter reality, learn from this experience to equip yourself in the future.

  • Embrace

         Embracing is the step required to move into acceptance. Embracing is the process of us becoming aware and honest of reality.


Depression: The Progress Killer

      Depression looks different for many and for that reason, many deny being depressed. Think of depression as a flat tire. As we feel less full of life, depression makes moving forward more difficult. After going through all of these breakup stages, it is easy to feel depressed.


Overcoming The Breakup Stages

Photography By: Pablo Merchán Montes

  • This is not who you are

         Depression may tell you that this is now who you are. Remember this is happening to you, it is not you. This perspective will help you return to who you are.

  • Just do it

        Don’t let your feelings determine what you do for the day. By doing things despite our feelings wanting to do so, we are actively pushing ourselves out of our depression. Do what you need to do, not what you feel like doing.

  • Find Your Joy

         What has made you feel better in the past? What makes you happy? Do the things that you know you make you feel better so that you may once again find your joy.


Acceptance: The End Of Breakup Stages

Overcoming The Breakup Stages

Photography By: Pablo Merchán Montes

Acceptance is the final stage because after accepting the situation, there is nothing left to do. Acceptance gives us permission to heal and move on. At first, we may view acceptance as saddening but the reality is that acceptance is our key to happiness.

  • It is what it is

        While it’s not my favorite saying, the principle radically encourages acceptance. Acceptance is seeing something for exactly what it is and not attempting to manipulate or obsess over it.

  • Let it go

        If you are still holding onto an idea, plan, or even a hope, you aren’t practicing acceptance. Acceptance is letting go of any attempt to hold onto a previous relationship. Letting gives us the freedom to handle what comes next.

  • Wish them well

         Forgiveness gives us freedom and empathy replaces resentment. By wishing others well, we push ourselves into the stage of acceptance and provide healing to our broken heart. If we loved that person, we want what was best for them. Even if that may of been us, what is now best for them is for them to complete this journey of discovering what they want. If this person has wronged us, wish them well so that they may learn and no not continue to do this to others.


Important Tips To Remember

  • Use friends to help you see
  • Do what you need to do, not what you feel like doing
  • Acceptance gives us permission to heal and move on
  • Forgiveness gives us freedom and empathy replaces resentment

We’d love to hear from you. Comment your thoughts or feelings below on Overcoming The Breakup Stages. Be a part of our community. If you’re too uncomfortable for that at the moment but would still like to talk, reach out to us at

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By: Jordan Joachim

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