What Are the 7 Stages of Grieving a Breakup? Explained By a Breakup Coach
As a breakup coach, I work with people at all stages of a breakup; whether they’re thinking of ending a relationship, or have just ended one, they all kind of have one thing in common: they want to rationalize their way out of feeling their grief.
I get it—and I’ve been there myself; I used to pride myself on how well I could conceptualize what was happening when my relationship fell apart back in 2016. In fact, I was the one who ended it, so I felt even more pressure to be okay with things…not being okay.
Whether or not you’ve been blindsided, or knew the breakup was coming, you’re still going to grieve. It may not look the same as your best friend or brother grieving, but as humans, we are all working on our thoughts and feelings that make up our experience.
Using my personal and professional experience coaching incredible people throughout their breakup journeys, I figured it would be helpful to share what the 7 Stages of Grieving a Breakup look like. This will give you a better sense of connection and understanding as you work through your personal journey.
Stage One: Answer Seeking
You’re completely consumed in every single detail that happened over the course of the relationship. You’ve managed to drain every friend and stranger of their energy (and empathy) as you share with them every detail you know. You find yourself in deep confusion as you try and make sense of the things that led to the downfall. You find yourself just wanting to be “certain” about the events that possibly led to the end. All the while, your ex is giving you minimal answers, and even if they were trying to help you understand, you still can’t see their words for what they are. You seem to think you might never get out of this rabbit-hole of thought.
Stage Two: Let’s Just Deny-It-All
Maybe you thought you’d be with this person forever; you can’t imagine what life is like without them. You’ve thrown rationale out of the window, and refuse to believe that you two are actually over. You’re convinced that even though your ex has moved out and asked to take a break from speaking, that they’re just hurting too badly and still love you. (Yes, that could be true, but you’re holding onto this like your life depends on it.) You can’t see the “truth” which you desperately need. You want to figure out how to get back together.
Stage Three: It’s Time to Bargain
After a trillion questions and many conversations with friends and family, you think you’re finally thinking clearly—you were the problem. At least, that’s what you’re made to believe in this turning-point stage.
You “realize” you should have listened more, or been interested in their quirks. Of course, at the time, you were just taking them for granted, but you know you’re going to be a more attentive, understanding partner. You’ve decided to magically flip a switch in your brain that will accept all their flaws.
You decide to write long emails (after you haven’t received text replies) about your side of the relationship, all all the things you can do to really be there for your ex if you guys got back together.
You decide innocently that all the issues in the relationship were because of you, and you take on 200% of what happened in the downfall. You think, of course, if this is the case—all can be fixed by you. But the truth is, you’re both equally involved in what happened, and this stage is here to trick you into thinking this is your fault.
Stage Four: The Setback
You have convinced your ex to “talk” to you in person, which is followed by great sex. You think you’re both getting back together, but then you see your ex pull away and confirm the initial diagnosis of, “we are still broken up.” Maybe your ex recited to you that they think you’re amazing and still love you, but they are still sharing the idea that a breakup is the right decision. You’re starting to feel a new kind of way.
Stage Five: Anger
After trying to understand the breakup, ask questions, get answers, and even try to convince your ex to get back together with you, you start to become pissed to learn that they still don’t want to be together.
You’ve graduated from confusion and consumption, to complete anger. You finally see YOU in the equation. All this time, you realize you were so focused on them, that you completely forgot about YOU.
You start saying things like, “how DARE you not want to be with me? I was a great freaking partner to you!”
“I did everything for you!”
“Good luck finding someone like me!”
As uncomfortable as anger can be, it’s a very healthy step in the process. Anger means that you finally see that you are deserving of a relationship that makes you feel good, and secure (and whatever else you didn’t get in this relationship).
This stage is followed by episodes of fierce ager, to the point of feeling livid. It might be time to join some kickboxing or bootcamp classes to put that anger into a constructive “you” activity.
Stage Six: Surrendering
You realize after all of this hard work to get your ex back and to make sense of things, you don’t want to fight this anymore. You decide to surrender to the breakup. This isn’t always something you want to do, but something you’re choosing to do because you don’t see another way. Fortunately, this is part of the grieving process’s finale. You’re one step closer to really accepting what happened here, and you know you have already done everything you could. You let go of the fact they’ll call you, or answer your texts. The idea to text them starts to fade.
Stage Seven: Finding Hope Again
In the beginning of the breakup, you can’t imagine your life without your ex; luckily, in this stage, you realize there is this sense of hope for the future. You realize you can see a life without your ex, and that you’ll be more than okay. You find yourself experiencing moments of peace, contentment, and joy again.
We all grieve differently, and there’s no straight forward road in this breakup journey. Sometimes we experience multiple feelings at once, or stay in one stage longer than the other. This is all completely normal. Please know that in every stage, you are healthy and whole, and there is nothing wrong with you. All of us are okay, no matter what happens to us, and finding that voice inside our heads to reaffirm that will remind us that we are so much stronger than we think.
If you’re going through a tough breakup and ready to start your self-discovery process, Check out my online Masterclass and Coaching Programs designed specifically with you in mind