5 Stages of a Break-Up

Everyone who’s ever taken Psychology 101 because they were a freshman and decided for a minute they were going to get all deep and care about the mind now that they were a mature college student (or realized it was a pretty easy gen ed fulfillment), which is everyone, has heard of the 5 stages of grief/mourning, but in case you haven’t it’s suggested that after a loss you go through feelings of denial, followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance. I’ve always compared a break-up to a death…probably because I’m over-dramatic. But I feel like you really are losing a big part of your life if your relationship was worth anything, and getting over it takes time. I feel like you go through all the same emotions, except I’m pretty confident when I say the order is totally messed up. Since I have a minor in Psychology, I’m practically the same as the experts in the field who have accepted this theory, and am qualified to make the claim that the 5 stages actually come in the following order (at least for a break-up):

Stage 1: Depression

During the first stage of a break-up, you cry. A lot. A whole fucking lot. Whether you are the dumper, or the dumpee, you’re going to do pretty much nothing but lay in the middle of your apartment, while your roommates are trying to watch E! News and cry. Actually, maybe that’s not true. You might get fro-yo to tell a sister about it and cry. Go to the gym and “your song” comes on and cry. Go to the bar, get really drunk, and cry. Or just be walking down the street and remember that your whole life just changed and start crying (thank God your diva sunglasses cover half of your face). And you need to detox. You need to become single on facebook and change your profile picture to one without him in it, which is honestly harder than it sounds. You need to tell everyone what happened. You need to take off the ring he got you that you wear every day. And I feel especially awful for those “I want all my stuff back” people. Rounding up everything he ever gave you and putting it in a box is miserable, especially when you realize twice that you need a bigger box. My ex didn’t ask me to return anything, but he dropped off a box with EVERYTHING I’d ever given him on my doorstep…of my parents’ house (we were long-distance). I had to sort through birthday cards, crafts I’d made him, pictures…I gave him those things. What was I supposed to do with them? Oh, I know, cry some fucking more. You know what wasn’t in there though…the two watches, iPod, and the Salvatore Ferragamo wallet I’d bought him. Curious. The plus side of this stage? You probably won’t do a whole lot of eating. Score. Unless you’re the kind of person who does a shit-ton of eating…then good luck.

Stage 2: Denial

Denial comes next in my book. This is when all the weirdness finally sets in, and you have no one to fucking text all the time. You really didn’t realize how glued you were to your phone. I mean you knew…but literally you’re just aching to text him…or anyone every second. You are checking compulsively for someone to be contacting you, and turns out the ratio of your messages from him vs. ANYONE who isn’t him was approximately 324:1. Your Big stands in to send you the “goodnight baby, I love you” text every night that it turns out, you literally can’t sleep without. Omg, is your phone vibrating??? Ugh. Mom…again. Buzz off, Mom. Not to mention, the gut-wrenching phrase “girls have needs too” has finally started to have meaning. Remember sex? Yeah, that was fun. So what do you do, well…you get a rebound to absolutely forget that your boyfriend had any sort of significance in your life. You really didn’t need him for anything. Deny, deny, deny…get that void that we’re pretending doesn’t exist (and yourself) filled. During the denial phase, you’re going to be really loving being single. Which is good. You might love it a little toooo much in fact as some sort of over-compensation slash attempt to pretend you didn’t care about your relationship anyway. If you’re not looking for love in the form of random men, you might be very “I just want to celebrate me” ish. Either way, denial feels good, temporarily. It happens.

Stage 3: Bargaining

During stage 3, you’re bargaining. And what does this mean…maybe you’re getting a little tired of making out with strange men in an attempt to forget about your boyfriend, or if you didn’t get slutty, you’re starting to feel lonely, or if you have one consistent rebound, you realize he’s not really all you thought. He’s kind of a douchebag, might be (almost definitely is) just in it for the sex, and he NEVER wants to lend you his AMEX for retail therapy, which was your ex’s favorite activity. Well, it was your favorite activity anyway. And then he like…gets mad and uses words like “crazy” when you throw unnecessary bitchfits at him. Doesn’t he know he’s just supposed to do whatever you want him to do when you get like that? Your boyfriend might have been better than you thought…so you start texting him, telling him you still love him, that you miss him. You might even end up back in his bed a few times. You go on a few dates…but as friends…but he still pays…and you still hold hands and he gives you those little boyfriend kisses on your forehead, and those lingering lip kisses that don’t lead to a make out and feel like love. But, you don’t want to really be with him. Or do you? I don’t know. This stage is super confusing, and is where many couples get back together, but, it’s equally likely that one of you will decide that as much as you may love each other, and you’re enjoying being back in each other’s arms, it’s still not right, and after a month or so of doing…whatever this is…you two call it quits for real, which leads to…

Stage 4: Anger

This is the longest stage in a break-up, because it’s over for real now. You got all your feel-goodiness out of the way, and there’s no use crying about him any more. No use being sad. You are never going to be together again, so now is just a time to focus on alllll the negative things about him and your relationship and realize how much you fucking hate him. You hate his smile. You hate the way he literally bowed down to everything you said. Or the way you did to him. You hate his voice. You hate his beliefs. And you HATE his MOTHER — how any person so absolutely evil is capable of bringing a life into this world, you’ll never know. Good God, she’s even the fucking type to put her name before her husband’s on their holiday card. BITCH. (I’d like to take this opportunity to say FUCK YOU MRS. K. Congrats! You won your son from me. I hope you enjoy having him back up your ass where he belongs. Don’t sit down.) The mere sight or mention of him drives you batty. ALSDFJAS;LKDJ;FA!!!! But the very worst thing, is you spend an awful lot of time stalking the shit out of him. Which you did before, and it made you miss him. Now, you realize he’s having fun…without you. Eff that noise. You didn’t think he was capable of that. Who does he think he is? He’s just gonna show up to mixers now and take pictures with girls? He’s a fucking loser. Hey slut 1 and slut 2 from the Famous Duos social…that guy you’re with? Yeah he’s a MORON! Hahahahahaha. Idiots. He’s stupid! So are you! You know what? Whatever, you don’t even care. (Hint: If you have to say “I don’t care” it’s because you do. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. Cliche, but true.)

Stage 5: Acceptance

The final stage, of course, is actually being over it. And not just saying you’re over it. Being over it. How long does it take to get here? Some say half the time you were together, some say twice as long. I say, until you find someone you care about as much as you cared about him, you won’t be 100% over it. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe as soon as you get to this point is when you’ll be able to really find someone new. I don’t know. But when you get here, it just feels…like nothing. You won’t even realize that his name hasn’t been in your mouth in forever, until you one day run into him at the library and your heart doesn’t sink to your stomach, or when you see him out with his girlfriend and you’re able to talk to both of them, and still have a good night. He drops to number 6 when you type his initial into FB. He texts you and you don’t feel the need to call everyone you know. And it’s weird for a minute. You’re utterly perplexed by the lack of emotion you’re experiencing. You think you’ll get to this point and be quoting something ridiculous like “now you’re just someone I used to know” but that’s for crybabies who are still sad. He’s your ex, you had a good run, you can look back at your relationship fondly and realize how young and silly you were then, and now you are genuinely okay with him not getting hit by a bus. You might even be okay with him being happy. Strange.

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Veronica Ruckh

Veronica (@VeronicaRuckh) is the Director of Total Sorority Move for Grandex, Inc. After having spent her undergraduate years drinking $4 double LITs on a patio and drunk texting away potential suitors, she managed to graduate with an impressive GPA and an unimpressive engagement ring -- so unimpressive, in fact, some might say it's not there at all. Veronica has since been fulfilling her duties as "America's big," a title she gave to herself with the help of her giant ego. She has recently switched from vodka to wine on weekdays. Email her at

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