“Breakin’ up is hard to do.” Neil Sedaka certainly knew what he was talking about. But really, it’s more than hard – breakups are one of the most difficult things to process.
Regardless of whether you were dating for just a few months or were married for twenty+ years, the person you’ve been in a relationship with is someone that you place your hope and trust in, and when that fails, it can hurt.
This situation is made even more difficult when that breakup seems to come out of nowhere.
“I thought we were happy,” you’re likely thinking. “Where did things go wrong? What were the signs that things were going south? And how did I miss those signs?” These are all questions that are probably flooding through your head, and trying to find the answers is stirring up all kinds of emotions.
If you do find yourself facing a breakup, unexpected or otherwise, it’s good to know the different emotions you will feel and how you can move through each of them and come out on the other side a stronger person.
Even if you saw it coming, the actual breakup can still put you in shock.
This shock can manifest itself in a way that makes you feel like you are dreaming. You may find that you wake up in the morning thinking that the breakup was a bad dream, but then you remember it’s reality, and the shock hits all over again.
Chances are also good that, at this first stage, you think about all the good times you had and how you cannot believe that all those memories mean nothing and that the relationship is over.
With an unexpected breakup like yours, you will probably find yourself waiting for your ex to reach out and say that they made a mistake. You will probably be in denial and not even be able to call him/her your ex quite yet. Rather, you’ll convince yourself that you are taking a break.
Your breakup will consume your life for a while. It will feel like it’s all you can think and talk about.
You will play your relationship over and over again in your head.
As you start to replay your relationship, you will begin to formulate questions: why did they just give up? What could I have done differently? Why am I not good enough?
This is a very tough stage because the only way to find the answers to these questions is by doing the work on yourself. You should not reach out to your ex to ask them these questions. And because you can’t contact them, you will want to fixate on different things your ex said and did to try and justify why the breakup happened. Something like, “they broke up with me because I did _____ wrong. I should have done _____ instead. They probably would have stayed with me if I was a better partner and did _____. “
Not being good enough is normal to feel, and you have to trust that it is just a phase in the breakup. Time will help you get through this stage of emotions, and onto the next.
At this point, you’ve probably realized that your ex isn’t going to reach out, that you are no longer on a break, and that you are truly broken up.
And this is when the loneliness starts to set in, which is natural. This person is someone you spent your time with so there will be a hole where they once were. You may have slept next to your partner every night for more years than you can count, and now you find yourself sleeping alone.
So, you’ll likely find yourself staying in bed, running through all your memories, looking at photos of the two of you, listening to all the music that makes you think of him/her.
It feels almost like you’re torturing yourself as you relive the pain over and over, crying a seemingly endless amount of tears.
This is part of the grieving process, so allow yourself to feel these feelings, but know to reach out for help if you ever have thoughts about self-harm.
Once you’ve finished grieving, you may find yourself with this newfound determination, but not the kind we want you to have. The determination you’re probably feeling drives you to believe you will do whatever it takes to get back together with your ex.
This emotion can manifest itself in several ways. You may find yourself texting and calling your ex, asking him or her to get back together. You may make promises that things will be different this time and that they should give you another chance.
While this may work, and you and your ex may relapse, chances are good within a short period, you’ll be right back where you started with stage one of the breakup emotions.
Once you’ve gone through steps 1-5 at least one time, you’ll reach this stage of emotion: anger. And that’s good because it means you’re making progress! Though, that doesn’t mean that this stage will feel good.
You will get angry every time you think about how good of a partner you were, how they will never find anyone that treats them as well as you did, and more.
The big pivot at this point is that you have shifted the blame of the breakup from you to your partner, which is progress. This means you are healing and gaining confidence back again.
However angry you may be, you must never do or say anything that you will regret.
You probably never thought you’d make it here, but here you are.
You have accepted the breakup and why it happened, and are taking the knowledge you gained from this hard-learned lesson with you.
This stage looks like you getting back to a normal life, hanging out with friends again, feeling happy, feeling confident, and being empowered about the fact that you can be happy without your ex.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final stage.
This stage takes the longest to get to. You may find it takes years before you can forgive your ex for breaking your heart and putting you through all the above emotions.
But when you do reach this point, you will feel relieved. No longer will you have this dark cloud hanging over your head when you think of your ex; you will be able to release the pain and move on with your life.
You are finally free, so get out there and live your life to its fullest!
Going through an unexpected breakup is one of the toughest things you will experience. However, know that you will make it through, and you will love again.
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