The 7 Stages of Breakup Grief

The 7 stages of relationship grief

Getting dumped by friends, family, and lovers sucks.  There’s no denying that.  When we’re not ready for a relationship to end – even if we know it should – we go through a whirlwind of emotions in a short amount of time that can make us feel like we’re going a little crazy.  But fear not, for I have been there. And I’ve experienced it alongside friends too.  What I found most interesting, is that the emotions and thought processes were shockingly similar.  So here you have it: The 7 stages of relationship loss.  If you’re experiencing all of some variation of these, relax.  You’re perfectly normal. And you’ll be perfectly fine.

 Insecurity

Getting dumped is a rejection.  And when we feel rejected, we naturally criticize ourselves.  We wonder what we did wrong, how we could have done something differently, how could we have been better? Rarely, do we ever rationally say to ourselves, “It just wasn’t the right fit“…at least not right away. Yes, getting dumped can bring up insecurities you didn’t even know you had.  Which could be a good thing!  For me, I realized that even though insecurities were normal, I wanted to work on becoming a more confident person and focus on loving myself even more.  I never again wanted to feel like I couldn’t do better.  Because the reality was, I didn’t know that to be true and I needed to learn not default to that mindset.

Numbness

This is pretty self-explanatory.  You don’t feel as horribly as you thought you would, because you don’t really feel anything at all.  Things you once enjoyed have lost their appeal.  You’re just going through the motions for now and are processing the sensory and emotion overload that has just taken place.

Mourning

God, breakups really do a number on our egos, don’t they?  Not only do you feel terribly insecure but you’re also feeling terribly alone.  You mourn the person almost as if they’ve died. Except it’s arguably worse because they are alive and well…they just aren’t alive and well with you.  Someone whom you shared so much of yourself with is now nothing more than a figment of your imagination. Don’t be ashamed of that. Go ahead and mourn what you have indeed lost.  And, coupled with the insecurities mentioned already, feel a little sorry for yourself.  You’re not any less of a person – or woman – for having your moments of weakness.

Revenge-seeking

This is arguably the most entertaining stage.  Mostly, because it can manifest in so many ways.  What’s great about it is that it gives you a new-found drive and focus. You feel horrible, but you also feel invincible.  The world is your oyster again and not only are you going to take full advantage of it, but you’re going to make sure that your ex knows you’re a new and improved version of yourself.  The other plus?  Despite whatever the motivation is, you really are working on becoming a better you.  So it’s a win-win!  That being said, before doing, posting, or saying anything rooted in revenge, take a couple of hours to pause and think about it.  There’s a tactful way to brag about your new and improved self, and a desperate way that everyone will see right through.  You want to be strategic and go with the first.

Anger and contempt

After the initial shock of rejected has worn off and you’re feeling a little less sorry for yourself and a little more confident…it’s common for anger to start sprouting up.  Why did you take so much responsibility for the end of the relationship?  Why did you stay so long with someone who clearly didn’t value you?  Doesn’t that person realize they have just as many problems as they said you did?  It might feel odd to suddenly have so much animosity towards someone you once thought the world of.  But guess what?  Your love-goggles are finally off.  You can see the person for who they are, and maybe you don’t like what you see as much as you thought you did.

There’s a few reasons why this is actually a positive stage. For one, that anger and contempt might make you realize what you don’t want in a relationship the next time.  It also might help you establish what your personal boundaries are.  I spent weeks trying to salvage a relationship even though my partner wasn’t trying and it had been clear for a long time that he didn’t appreciate me or value what we had.  Now? Unless I’m married to someone, I don’t foresee myself spending weeks to salvage anything.  

Forgiveness

This is a really challenging stage, and it might even revert you a little bit back to your mourning.  It could mean forgiving yourself for the mistakes you made. Or, it might mean forgiving your ex for the mistakes they made and how much they’ve hurt you. This stage is not completed overnight.  After all, it’s been six months after my break-up, and I still work on forgiveness constantly. Not because they deserve it, but because I do. It sucks to feel angry or sad at random moments.  While these moments are inevitable, working on having compassion for yourself and the people involved in the situation will eventually bring you peace.

Clarity

You see the relationship for what it was.  Two people on separate journeys whose paths crossed for a time.  Those two journeys are no longer intersecting, and your time in each other’s lives has some to a close.  Perhaps you were brought together to learn a lesson, or perhaps just to enjoy each other’s company for a short time.  Whatever the reasons, that person’s purpose in your life has ended.  And that’s okay.

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