The 5 stages of accepting a breakup – explain thoroughly

How to get over a breakup: 5 stages of the relationship breakup

Author: Zhanna Mulishina Practitioner psychologist consultant on problematic family relationships, personal dissatisfaction, etc.

The main stages that people go through after a relationship breakup, and how to alleviate their psychological state at each of them. How to shorten the period of discord and return to normal life? Tips from psychologists, useful ideas.

Breakup is a painful process, which everyone experiences in their own way. And yet, almost all of us, once again saying goodbye to the man, we do not rush at full speed to the release and healing, and consistently go through five stages, undergoing a psychological change in each. If the relationship was short-lived, there is a chance to overcome all the stages in the shortest possible time almost by leaps and bounds. If you have been dating for more than one year, the progress from stage to stage will be long and difficult. But one day it will be over, and we will try to make it happen as soon as possible.


The first days and even weeks after the breakup you may be in a state of shock, refusing to believe that it’s over. How could it be, you were such a wonderful couple! You were having a great time together, planning a joint vacation next June, and speculating about what color to paint the kitchen during the repair.

Even the quarrels that have flared up more and more often over time and have been running fiercer and fiercer, in the period of denial seem to be just a cute spat between lovers. Of course, it’s just a bad dream! Beloved is about to burst through the door with a bouquet of daisies, grabbed you in an rip, whirl around the room … Brain with such a fierce stubbornness refuses to believe in the reality of what is happening, that some girls after parting company become a real Sherlock Holmes, a female version and take step by step tracking life “ex,” everywhere looking for traces of unchilled passion.

Here in the crowd flashed a familiar face – of course, it’s HE circles around to once again cast a glance at his beloved!

There was a rustle on the stairs – it was HE stomping in the stairwell, not daring to knock, and runs away in confusion when she opens the door!

And would her friends have seen HOW her “ex” looked at her when they accidentally bumped into each other at the cash register….

Note to self! Not knowing how to get over a breakup with a loved one, a woman can take the situation to the point of absurdity. There are cases where a man manages to build a strong relationship with another and have three children, and an ex-girlfriend is waiting that one day he will come to his senses, “admit my feelings” and will go to correct the mistake.

At the shock stage, the experience of separation is often manifested by physical symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing;
  • throat cramps;
  • fatigue;
  • feeling of a tight knot or emptiness in the chest and abdomen;
  • weight loss or weight gain due to stress and eating disorders.

Psychological symptoms, on the other hand, can vary considerably. To the fact that some in the first period after separation feel almost nothing, being as if in a stupor, while others are experiencing real mental anguish.

How to reduce the stay at the stage of denial:

  1. You’re bound to want to lock yourself away from the world and shed tears in a teddy bear, looking at old photographs to the sound of “your” song and reflecting on how much you’ve lost. Allow yourself this period of weakness, but don’t prolong it. Go through a day or two or three and drag yourself out of the house. Put your makeup on, comb your hair, and dress nicely.
  2. Go out with friends, go to public places – exhibitions, movies, clubs. Socialize through “can not” and make acquaintances, but do not start novels. Give yourself time to come to your senses after the parting with his beloved.
  3. Plan a notorious repair, dig dacha meadows for orchid plantations and learn to rebuild the carburetor. All means are good – from crochet courses to shark diving, as long as you do not allow yourself to sit in a corner as a crying lump.

After suffering and crying, you finally ask yourself, “Who am I doing all this for? For the man who did not appreciate you, your trembling love, your willingness to sacrifice a lot for his comfort and peace? How dare he?!

On the one hand, appeared angry, angry and even hateful are good that they mark the end of the first phase of the parting with a man. You are already on the right track and ready to regain your independence, your freedom from this man. You feel alive again, and the feelings in your previously numb soul are boiling. You are clearly moving in the right direction…

On the other hand, anger is the same passion, only painted in dark colors. Under its influence we are able to do the wildest stupid things: to write angry messages new girlfriend “ex”, to leave a furious and tearful messages on his answering machine, scratch a nail in the car … But there is little that comes to mind an angry woman, especially if it strengthens his determination a glass or two of wine? And the result of all this will be at best a shame and guilt, when the chad will come off his head, and at worst – too close acquaintance to the police, who are hardly convinced of the explanation that you are now at this stage of separation and you are not quite controlling yourself.

How not to let your anger get out of control:

  1. Share your feelings with someone close to you who will understand and not judge you.
  2. Take up sports. But not chess or checkers, but something where you have to run, jump and hit either a punching bag or a ball.
  3. Let your anger out, but in a safe direction. Tear up paper photos of you with the man, and remove electronic images, smash souvenirs given by the “ex”, get rid of all the things that remind you of him. Not a bad idea – to call his girlfriends to the vacant lot and celebrate with fireworks parting with ex, burn all his gifts to the joyful cries, dances and toasts about future happiness!

Pay attention! In recent years, not only in cities, but also in medium-sized cities are opening “anti-stress room”, where on the doorstep you will be handed a bat or hammer and allow you to break into pieces all that catches your eye – from china set to the set of old appliances.

Anger and hatred slowly release your soul from its clinging embrace, and the insidious thoughts crawl into your head. How to get over the parting with loved one, if he still causes such a storm of emotions in your soul? And whether you were in a hurry, giving up? And what if everything can still be returned, if you lose 5 pounds, repaint in a blonde or learn to skate on skates loved by your boyfriend?

This stage differs from the denial stage in that you are no longer sitting under the door like Hachiko, waiting for your beloved, but are actively going over ideas for his return. You will find yourself poring over the relevant literature, ardently self-improvement, calling and writing to a man, offering various compromises. It was at this stage of the breakup with a guy particularly keen characters begin to watch the “ex” outside the door, faithfully to stand at night under the window and hand out promises, compared to which the election program deputies seem childish nonsense.

It’s like you’re bargaining: I’ll give you this, and this, and this, and you’ll love me for it again. But no one enters the same river twice. Even if you were able to convince the man to start all over again, the old problems would soon make themselves felt again, because the breakup did not happen by one man. No matter how much you tried to change yourself, the partner is the same! And your personality, frankly, is unlikely to radically transform. There are character traits over which we have no control. So, no matter how much you would want to think of a way to get loved, much wiser still think about how to survive the parting with a man, saving the rest of the peace and pride.

Note: Very often women are pushed to the bargain by fears in the form of “What if no one else will love me? In this case, the partner is no longer seen as the only worthy man, but simply as the only option. You have to agree, it’s frustrating.

What good can come out of the bargaining stage:

  1. Analyze your relationship after the breakup and try to draw conclusions for the future. Maybe you really need to work on yourself, but not to adjust to this particular man, but to become a better, wiser, more patient and find your happiness in a future relationship, with a more suitable partner for you.
  2. Try to go somewhere for as long as possible. Take a vacation or at least a couple of days off and spend them by the sea, in a noisy exotic town or ski resort. The main thing that you had something to do, and the “ex” was at a distance of two or three thousand miles. If you are able to successfully forget his phone number at home, even better.


Our psyche reacts with depression to the failure of a bargain. We sink into ourselves and again try to make sense of what happened, without the previously interfering feelings of stunned or anger. Even if the reason for the breakup was the boyfriend’s infidelity or his ugly relationship to his partner, at this stage he begins to be idealized by the woman. The bad is smoothed out, while the happy moments are presented by our psyche in the most favorable light, until it begins to seem as if there is no other such man on earth, and the emptiness of his absence can no longer be filled!

This is the most difficult of stages, because it can not be softened by wrecking furniture and walking around museums, and support of girlfriends and loved ones is more likely to annoy you than to ease the emotional pain, because none of them understand what a terrible loss you have suffered! It is also difficult to concentrate on your work and hobbies, as your thoughts revolve around the impossibility of regaining your former happiness…

How to overcome the darkest stage:

  1. Recognize that your sadness is natural. Breakup psychology unequivocally calls sadness, dejection, and the feeling that “life is over, nothing good will come of it anymore” a normal reaction of an individual, indicating that his emotional background is in perfect order.
  2. Give yourself time to mourn, but not too long. Depression drags on, and the further you go, the harder it will be for you to get out of it.
  3. Try after all to find among your acquaintances a close person to whom you can tell about your feelings. You need moral support as never before.
  4. Take up some domestic problem that you won’t be able to give up. Build a greenhouse on your parents’ property, change the meter, apply for a passport. The more hassle, the better.
  5. Sometimes, to overcome depression after breaking up with a loved one, you need the help of a psychologist. Don’t be embarrassed about it, we are all allowed to be weak from time to time and need help.


Sooner or later the most bitter tears come to an end, anger evaporates, sadness gradually descends to “zero”. And one morning you realize that you can breathe with full breath. And the memories of once loved by a man no longer cause you palpitations. All five stages are behind you, and you’re still alive, still able to laugh and feel and even-who would have thought? – ready to love again.

For the first time after the breakup with a guy you sleep well, notice the return of appetite, and can enjoy their favorite hobbies, communication, travel. Sometimes regret about the lost past can still roll over you, but it is no longer the defining emotion of existence.

Instead of a box of dusty memories, your heart begins to resemble a spring garden, where flowers are about to bloom and birds sing, you just need to wait a little while … In a little while, you will realize that the “ex” is not necessarily a prerequisite for your happy life.

How to behave after the breakup:

  1. Take responsibility for your life. A single man, no matter how good he is, can’t make you happy. You are the only one capable of that.
  2. Raise your self-esteem. You are unique, endowed with many virtues and will meet his fate, if you do not lose heart. Treat yourself, take care of yourself, do not skimp on compliments. This is especially important for women who have experienced the separation with her husband, because the loss of several years of marriage is perceived more painful than the gap with the boyfriend.
  3. Take care of your development. Even the purest diamond needs to be cut, so you can become even more perfect. Let your next man squeaks softly with happiness, realizing what a treasure he has received.
  4. Learn to enjoy life whether you have a partner at the moment or not.
  5. Give yourself the installation to become happy, make plans and turn them into reality.

How to get over the parting with his beloved – watch the video:

Many psychologists’ advice about breaking up is built on the “Denial – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance” model created by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross. It is a universal scheme for all cases of profound distress of the soul, from the news of a serious illness to someone’s death. However, it is worth bearing in mind that it is imperfect, its stages do not have clearly marked time limits and do not always go in a strict order. There cannot be one unequivocally correct answer as to what to do after a breakup: psychology can only give directions and hints. Go through the steps in this or that order you will yourself, but once you are on the last of them, breathe a deep breath and say to yourself: “I did it.

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5 stages of parting: the evolution of the human experience

Breakups with loved ones and loved ones, no matter what they are caused by, are always painful.

By recognizing and accepting themselves and their feelings, a person overcomes difficult situations and only then begins to build a new life.

This is a complex psychological process in which it goes through several stages.

Stages of relationship breakup in psychology

Breakup provokes the development of a severe psychological state, the exit from which is accompanied by several stages of destruction. Plunging into depression creates the impression of hopelessness of the situation . However, it is possible to cope with this condition.

Below we will consider all the stages of relationship breakdown, among which psychologists distinguish 5 main stages of sinking into a state of grief and tips to facilitate the exit from it.

It helps to speed up psychological recovery by familiarizing yourself with information about the course of these stages, how they take place, how long they last and how you can help yourself.

The acute experience of breaking up with a loved one is different for all people. However, there are similar symptoms, expressed as:

  • cramps in the throat;
  • rapid breathing;
  • a feeling of emptiness or heaviness in the abdomen.

The most vivid expression of the manifestations described by the sufferer is the presence of constant tension or a feeling of mental pain.

Behavioral reactions to separation from a loved one manifest themselves differently in everyone.

Some get stuck in a painful state for months or even years, while others enter into a new relationship, trying to quickly forget about the breakup.

Women, especially young women, turbulent parting. They are not ashamed of their emotions, although they perceive the breakup as something terrible. At a more mature age, emotional manifestations are less expressed, but resentment and mental pain remain for a long time.

Unlike women, men, due to their secretive nature, endure breakups more severely. Grievances and pains don’t subside for a long time, because the parting is not discussed, and emotions don’t find an exit.

The acute period of separation lasts from 4 months to 1 year. At the same time, the stages described below have no clear time limits, depending to a great extent on the psychological features of the person.

The first stage, defined by psychologists as denial of loss of relations, is preceded by a state of shock. At the termination of a relationship, the person’s consciousness refuses to perceive what is happening as reality.

There comes a numbness of the soul, a stunting of the senses. This is manifested by memory lapses and an inability to reproduce events to the fullest extent.

Shock acts as a defense of the human psyche. This stage is accompanied by the following manifestations in behavior and condition :

  • The person sighs frequently and heavily;
  • He complains of fatigue;
  • loses weight due to a lack of appetite;
  • Loss of sense of reality may occur;
  • There may be an emotional distance from others.

In a state of shock, the grieving person does not yet fully feel all the pain of loss, he or she simply does not believe in it. The mind understands that everything is bad, but it is as if the feelings are numb.

Denial of the end of the relationship

After the state of shock, comes the stage of denial.

In this stage, the person does not believe in the reality of the loss of the relationship . Characteristically, he denies not the very fact of the breakup, but its permanence.

That is he tries to convince himself and others, that everything will soon change for the better.

The denial stage is characterized by such behavioral manifestations, as:

  • Inability to concentrate on the realities of the world around him;
  • blurred perception of everything that happens around, as if through a veil;
  • The erroneous vision of a beloved face in the crowd;
  • waiting for her/him to return when the doorbell rings.

Such manifestations, despite their naturalness, are perceived by the grieving person as almost impending madness. In denial, there is a sinking into a bad dream, from which you want to wake up and make sure that everything remains the same.

However, over time, consciousness comprehends the reality of separation, real emotions, feelings and pain of loss awaken.

In order not to get stuck for a long time at this stage, psychologists advise not to immerse themselves in themselves, as much as possible to communicate with other people, to do everyday things.

Expression of feelings

Behind the realization of what happened, feelings awaken. They are quite varied and contradictory. These are feelings of :

  • Pain and anger;
  • anger and resentment;
  • hatred and despair;
  • anxiety and shame;
  • guilt and a ban on aggression.

Psychologists consider the most dangerous of the states to be a ban on aggression. It is not possible to let go of the situation, as the person does not allow himself or herself to become angry and sinks deeper into the negative state.

To successfully overcome this stage, it is not necessary to be ashamed of your feelings, it is better to let them flow. It is desirable to share one’s feelings and emotions with close people and not to harbor resentment within oneself.

Showing anger, rage and, at times, hatred, accompanied by tears, allows the person to let the situation go, due to which relief and then healing come in its place.

Dialogue and bargaining

This stage is characterized by the desire to negotiate with the other party to resume the relationship.

At the same time, the fear of loneliness, the awareness of the impossibility of existing as before, and the panic-stricken terror of life’s problems appear.

This state is akin to a swinging swing, when the most improbable options for reconciliation are born in the head. Deceiving themselves that everything can still be returned, the person makes no attempt to establish a new life.

Overcoming this stage is possible only with the understanding of the impossibility of continuing the relationship. For this it is desirable to change the situation, go on vacation, change, if necessary, a place of work with the purpose of not meeting any more with the person who broke off the relationship. Try not to think about it, filling your free time with exciting activities, meetings with interesting people.

Period of depression

After frantic activity, aimed at ineffective attempts to restore lost relationships, the most difficult period comes – the depression stage.

Having displaced the former painful perception of the breakup, the psyche is unable to fill the void with other feelings. This period is characterized by :

  • withdrawal into oneself;
  • A deep dive into the understanding of the loss;
  • Gradual realization of what has happened and a desire to understand and forgive;
  • idealization of the initiator of the breakup, the desire to find virtues in it and erase the bad qualities and deeds.

Such processes are very painful, through deep suffering, acute mental pain, despair and hopelessness. Sometimes they are accompanied by strange and frightening thoughts about the meaninglessness of their further existence or, on the contrary, about how happy their future life together could be.

At this stage, there is :

  • Coldness in relations with close people;
  • irritability;
  • Inability to concentrate;
  • Immersion in the past events;
  • desire to be alone.

Getting out of a depressive state involves seeking help from a psychologist. It is important to have people close to you to support you and not allow you to be alone with your worries. Psychologists recommend plunging into daily life with its worries and problems.

Acceptance of the inevitable

The peculiarity of this stage is the experience of two stages: acceptance and humility.

There is a gradual acceptance of the separation that has occurred against the background of release from pain and sadness:

  • sleep normalizes;
  • appetite arises;
  • interest in professional activity arises;
  • Thoughts of a breakup appear less and less often;
  • The image of the person who has gone is no longer the center of all life;
  • Experiencing is manifested by bouts of grief, sometimes very acute, but quickly passing.

By duration, the stage can proceed during the year. It comes to an end more often after the anniversary of the date of parting. Gradual adaptation leads to the understanding of the irreversibility of the relationship and the need to move on, freeing oneself from the weight of feelings of separation.

The stage of humility or completion, replacing the acceptance of the breakup situation, is the last phase of the breakup.

There are no definite time limits for the duration of all the stages.

They are too individual and are the result of the individual’s efforts to get out of the state of dependence on the initiator of the breakup. From his desire to find himself in the new world and form a new relationship.

In order to do this, one must :

  • Learn to plan his life;
  • Raise the bar of self-esteem;
  • convince yourself of your own uniqueness;
  • to set yourself up for happiness.

It is important to learn to rejoice that you managed to come out of the sad experience a winner, not to break down, but to rebirth to a happy and full life. This will be the final stage of the breakup – the acceptance of the final breakup.

What to do after a divorce?

To heal from the difficult psychological state caused by the parting with a loved one, psychologists recommend both women and men :

  • Try to let the situation go. Accept what happened and put an end to the relationship. This will get rid of intrusive memories and sad thoughts.
  • Not to keep the pain inside, to share experiences with people close to you.
  • Do not close yourself up, do not indulge in laziness and nurture your wounded soul.
  • Be attentive to your health. Negative symptoms typical of a depressive state can cause serious damage to your health.
  • If you cannot cope with depression on your own, you should visit a psychotherapist. Incomplete stages of a breakup destroy a person, weakening his defenses. A specialist will help to accept what has happened and let it go.
  • After accepting the pain of loss, it is necessary to direct the energy to perform professional and daily tasks.
  • As an auto-trainer, praise and love yourself, not forgetting the need to look good. Devote your free time to shopping, spend it with friends and acquaintances. The day should be filled with a variety of events. These are meetings, trips, walks, communication.
  • Set yourself up for a new life, where Hope, Faith and Love will reign.

Video on the topic

The stages of breaking up are explained in this video:


After going through all the stages of separation, a person comes to the realization that life goes on. That it still has its values. And, having let go of pain and resentment, having accepted the fact of the breakup, he is already able to enter a new happy life, with all the fullness of feeling the strength to rebirth.

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