The 5 Stages of Breaking Up

Loss appears in many forms. Whether you are negotiating the tricky territory of a breakup, the death of a loved one or a major life change in your career, you will need time to process your feelings.

Acceptance of loss rarely happens overnight. Our society has become accustomed to instant solutions. This can lead to unrealistic expectations about the amount of time it takes to get over loss or heartbreak. Friends and family may urge you to be strong. However, every Love Queen knows true strength comes from understanding. That’s why I’ve decided to share with you the 5 stages of break ups.

I got in touch with my friend and grief and self help expert – Adele Vincent – and asked her to share with us her tips for break ups and grief stages, so that you know that what you are going through is normal, and show you the best way to deal with each stage.

Just because you and your ex have agreed to part ways, doesn’t mean you are prepared to move on emotionally. Give yourself time to grieve over the end of your relationship and evaluate your feelings. Over time you will find hope and inspiration within the story of your breakup. Whenever one door closes, a new door opens. As a spiritual person and self-help author, I firmly believe all loss ultimately leads to gain, but the choice is ours. We must take the time to understand our choices and proactively learn from our mistakes.

Break up Stage 1 – Denial

Denial is the often the first reaction to breakups. It is why so many of us get back together with our exes only to repeat the same mistakes and breakup again. We deny the reality of the situation. We rationalize our emotions, avoiding the facts. While you may be convinced your separation is only temporary, recognize this may be a defense mechanism. Understand you are not in a position to think rationally. Avoid making big decisions in the days and weeks following your breakup.

Top Tip: Be kind to yourself and surround yourself with good friends and family.

Break up Stage 2 – Anger

As denial wears off, reality begins to emerge. Instead of confronting the situation, anger becomes a second buffer. Emotions are deflected from the most vulnerable parts of our psyche and become expressed as anger. You may fly off the handle, throw away clothes and old photos or lash out at friends and family. We may play the blame game, especially if our partner was unfaithful or the relationship was not ended by choice. A relationship never ends because of one person’s mistakes. It takes two, thus both partners are responsible.

Top Tip: Again, it’s wise to avoid making big decisions when you are in denial or angry. Find ways to defuse your anger like physical exercise, meditation or yoga.

Break up Stage 3 – Bargaining

Bargaining is the first conscious effort to fight denial and anger. In many ways, it’s an attempt to regain control. “If only I had seen the signs” or “If only I had tried harder” are common reframes during the bargaining stage. We make a promise to ourselves or partner in an effort to delay the inevitable.

Top Tip: If you find yourself bargaining, it may be helpful to seek out a therapist that can help you talk through your feelings. If you want to get back together with your ex, consider individual and couple therapy. Bargaining isn’t helpful, so it’s important you get to the root of the problem, if you want to move forward with your relationship.

Break up Stage 4 – Feeling Blue

It’s normal to feel down just before or after a breakup, especially if you were with the person for many years. You may feel sadness or regret. You might also worry about the cost of finding a new place to live or how to divide belongings. Over time, this type of depression eases as you find solutions. However, there is another kind of grief which may last longer. This is a much more private. It’s preparing to say goodbye to the relationship, the good and bad and laying memories to rest.

Top Tip: Depression is perfectly natural part of grief and heartbreak. However, if your depression is deepening or impacting work, you might want to seek out medical advice or additional support. Consider taking time off or a change of scenery.

Break up Stage 5 – Acceptance

With acceptance comes peace and even what may seem like withdrawal. Withdrawal means retreating from an unattainable situation. In the case of a breakup, it may mean deleting your ex’s number from your mobile or no longer taking his calls (not out of anger but acknowledgement that the relationship cannot continue). Happiness comes later, but acceptance and the peace that comes with it is the first sign of a new chapter. You are making room for a new life and possibly a new person.

Top Tip: Acceptance represents the final stage and is the best time to make decision or start new projects.


Coping with the stages of breaking up is never easy, even for a Love Queen! It takes time and space. It’s normal to mourn a relationship for many months, even years. Some experts say it takes half the time you were with someone to get over the relationship. So, if you were together 12 years, it may take up to six years to truly move on with your life. However, every relationship is different and there is no fast rule.

Above all, allow yourself the time and space to feel the grief and mourn the relationship. This is the strongest thing you can do.

By: Adele Vincent, author of A Circle of Light  

Read Adele’s amazing book on dealing with grief here

You may also like to read How to get over your ex.

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