7 stages of breakup grief

7 Stages Of A Breakup: The Complete Relationship Grief Guide

Editorial Staff Getting over someone Comments

In this post, you will learn about the 7 stages of breakup grief.

And here’s the deal:

If you recently got out of a relationship.

You’re properly going through one of these stages right now.

But don’t worry.

Just find out which stage you’re at and read how to get yourself unstuck.

Keep in mind:   There is no concluded hierarchical order that is the same for everyone. People can go through different stages at different times. The order in which the stages unfold in this list may differ from your experience.

But here’s the kicker:

As you learn the seven stages of grief you develop a higher sense of awareness. This awareness will give you a helicopter perspective, so you can zoom out from the intensity of your emotions and deal with them more consciously.

Knowledge is your best weapon against uncertainty.

So let’s dive into the seven stages of getting over a breakup.


Stage #1: Denial

Hearing your partner utter the words “we need to talk…” and then realize that it meant exactly what you fearfully anticipated is like…

This quote brilliantly puts it:

denial stage

It’s not just the rejection that hurts, it’s the rejection from someone you REALLY care about that makes it so shockingly painful.

Hearing your partner say “I want to break up up” can literally become too much for your mind to cope with.

So you go into denial mode.

You start to believe that your partner is not thinking straight. You think it’s just a phase, and they just need to understand that they are wrong.

In the denial stage you believe that breaking up is somehow a mistake and cling to a preferred, yet false, reality.

Going into denial could be a way for your mind to protect you from breakdown. But that’s only a theory.

Here are some common thoughts that occur in the denial phase:

  • This can’t be happening to me!
  • They are just going through a temporary phase and need to understand that they are wrong.
  • They are just confused, I will fix this.
  • They just need to get reminded why we are good together.

Stage #2: Desperate for Answers

When you eventually realize that your partner is more serious about separating then you initially thought.

You crave a logical explanation.

There needs to be reasoning behind this madness…

Clever as you are, you know that as long as you understand WHY the breakup happened, you have a chance to fix it.

But this also means that if you can NOT comprehend why your ex wants to break up, you might as well be destined to spend the rest of your life alone. Because you know that there is no way you can fix something you don’t understand.

So you obsess even more.

In our book Breakup Transformation, we talk about The Dark Rabbit Hole of Memory Lane.

This refers to when someone goes back in memory lane obsessively looking for the exact moment their partner decided they wanted to break up.

The Dark Rabbit Hole of Memory Lane

This is crazy:

Breakups can be so dramatic that they trick your mind into thinking that the cause behind the breakup must be equally dramatic.

This often leads to conspiracy theories and mysteries built up to justify the dramatic pain with an equally dramatic cause.

So if your ex’s reason for ending the relationship seemed basic, blunt, or even trivial, your mind might refuse this as a final verdict on the relationship, seeking a greater, more complex explanation to justify the dramatic pain you are experiencing.

What’s the bottom line?

Going down memory lane can cause overthinking and endless analysis of events with your ex that could have caused the breakup. This route will push you down a dark rabbit hole that could make any sane person unstable.

Repeatedly going down memory lane and searching for clues can become a way for you to hold on to your relationship like it still exists.

So watch where your mind takes you, as it can be very hard to catch yourself when your mind starts to wander.

Here are some common thoughts that occur in the desperate for answers phase:

  • Explain to me how all this makes sense??
  • But 2 weeks ago you said I was the best thing ever happened to you?!
  • I need to understand why.
  • I can’t get closure without an explanation!
  • Why do I keep haivng dreams about my ex?

Stage #3: Anger

When you realize that no explanation your ex will ever give is going to justify your pain.

You turn to anger.

Anger becomes a way to help you cope with grief.

You will be frustrated, especially at your ex.

anger stage breakup

Depending on your personality and past experiences. Instead of having your anger channeled at your ex, it can also be directed at the situation itself, or even towards yourself.

This is where things get interesting, and for some.


Some people have learned that anger directed towards others never changes things much.

Sure, a rage-outburst can blow off some well-needed steam, but this can also be done at the gym. So instead, they chose to direct their anger towards themselves; because they want to feel responsible.

And you might be wondering:

Why would someone want to take responsibility for a breakup?


Some people choose to direct anger towards themselves because they want to take responsibility, as it makes them feel empowered.

Here is a quote that sums it up pretty well.

Hal elrod quote

A healthy dose of anger directed towards oneself can become the spark that lights up a fire. A fire that turns into a burning desire to grow and transform into a stronger self. Into someone that can handle rejection, have self-love, self-confidence, and passion for life.

It can become the ignition that turns your breakups into something better.

A fresh start.

Where aspirations become goals and dreams become reality.

Do You Want A Fresh Start?

Find out how to transform your breakup into the best thing that could have ever happened to you!

Why Not.. Show Me!

Here are some common thoughts that occur in the anger phase:

  • Why me? It’s not fair!
  • How can you do this to me?
  • It’s all your fault!
  • You’re so selfish!
  • I should have known better.
  • I should have listened to my friends.

Stage #4: Bargaining & Relapse

This stage involves a hope that you can call the quits on grieving.

Usually, this is where you start to seek a compromise with your ex. You might start to give promises of change and/or beg them to take you back.

begging gif

I refer to this stage as the “ex-back stage”.

This is where some people start to obsessively think about ways they can get back their ex. And the idea of casually reaching out to have sex with your ex might not be far-fetched. Your ex might also frequently show up in your dreams. This might make you wonder if having dreams about your ex is a sign they might be thinking of you.

And before you know it, you find yourself doing this:


The moment you hit enter you will be bombarded with coaches offering manipulative tricks and tactics to find a way back to your ex.

These coaches have made this very common “withdrawal stage” their selling point.

get your ex back coach

Sadly, these people’s grief journey often ends here.

And I say sadly because if you end up spending your time trying to get back your ex rather than moving past them, you are likely going to compromise on your self-respect.

Actively trying to get someone back after they decided they wanted to separate puts you in a submissive position.

And in this position, you will start to question your own self-worth. Which ultimately makes you even more obsessed with getting them back.

It’s a dark path that robs you from growing past your pain by giving you the false idea that you can avoid it by going back.

You might be wondering:

What if I do manage to get back with my ex, is that not worth the effort?

Okay, let’s say you do manage to get back with your ex (at least for a while). You are probably going to get stuck in a breakup cycle.

the break up cycle

This is where you will go back and forth breaking up and getting back together with your ex until one of you one day realizes that an ex is an ex for a reason. And breaks up for good.

Now you’ve gone through hell and back for your ex. Maybe more times than you want to admit. But you’re still left alone.

It gets worse:

When you eventually give up getting your ex back, it might be because you’ve found a new partner. They are everything you wanted your ex to be. You’ve never been happier.


Since you never completed your full grief cycle from your past relationship, this new amazing one is going to suffer the consequences. And it ends up not lasting very long.

Here’s the deal:

Grieving allows you to enter more fully into a new phase of life. It’s like a path we must walk through before we can turn a page and start our new chapter. If we don’t grieve, we miss the opportunity to fully heal and move past an old way of life.

Growing past your pain turns you into a stronger person, going back does not.

Read our post on how to get over a breakup for more help.

Here are some common thoughts that occur in the bargaining phase:

  • Give us a second chance!
  • Trust me, things will change!
  • Don’t you love me anymore?
  • How can I get him/her back?
  • I miss you, don’t you miss me?

Stage #5: Depression

This is where you start to internalize that the breakup is actually happening.

You may become silent, refuse visitors, and spend much of the time mournful and sulky.

This will be your lowest point during your time of grief. You might feel hopeless and too weak to care about anything.

depression stage

What is important at this stage is to be conscious that this won’t last forever and that you shouldn’t feel sad about the fact that you’re feeling sad.

Be okay with feeling sad.

Tell yourself that things will start to get better when you’re ready to make it so. But for now, you will grief.

Here are some common thoughts that occur in the depression phase:

  • I’m so sad, why bother with anything?
  • No one loves me, what’s the point?
  • I miss him (or her), why go on?
  • I just want to be left alone.
  • Nothing matters anymore.

Stage #6: Acceptance

This stage might feel more like a surrender rather than a positive insight.

You accept the breakup as final.

Your search for the great explanation that was going to make perfect sense out of everything is now put at rest. You’ve accepted the one you got and maybe even made some new discoveries about yourself.

There might also be a simplicity around the whole situation that you couldn’t see before.

And the idea that he/she was the one is no longer your gospel.

There is a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds.

But with time you start to recognize that there are lessons to be gained and boundaries to maintain if the breakup is going to stick.

Some part of you feels it has to. You can’t go back now. You come too far.

Here are some common thoughts that occur in the acceptance phase:

  • It’s really over.
  • I can’t fight it, I may as well adjust to it.
  • An ex is an ex for a reason.

Stage #7. Hope

This stage can be like a wake-up call, a splash of cold water in the face, and you get reminded about what really matters in life.

Your focus is set on moving forward.

And this requires redirecting your feelings of hope—from the belief that you could get your ex back to the possibility that you just might be okay, and even better off without your ex.

This makes you feel that having some distance between you and your ex is healthy.


Going through this grief-roller-coaster has properly changed your outlook on life.

Things that before seemed like smoke and mirrors are now crystal clear. Energy is coming back and you’re ready to start making some real positive changes in your life.

You feel the momentum.

hope for fresh start

This is the PERFECT time to ask yourself:

What do I want out of life?

Use the momentum and create your vision for a better future.

A future with more passion, stronger confidence, and new healthy relationships.

Recovery by making your DREAMS come TRUE.

Do You Want A Fresh Start?

Find out how to transform your breakup into the best thing that could have ever happened to you!

Why Not.. Show Me!

Here are some common thoughts that occur in the hope phase:

  • This means a fresh start.
  • I can do this!
  • Things are improving.
  • I’m smiling again.

Get Yourself Unstuck

By now you probably have a pretty good idea what grief stage you’re at.

So it’s time to make sure you have some proper tools to deal with your grief.


The most important thing when dealing with any of the 7 stages of grief is to accept it into your life.

Some people mistakenly try to avoid dealing with their broken hearts by filling their schedules up to the point that there will not be any room for grief. What they fail to notice is that this technique will cause other problems in later stages of life.

Everyone knows someone who has failed to leave a certain part of their life behind them. Take for example a married man who thinks it’s appropriate to stare at other women, even when his wife is present. He has failed to grieve his days as a single guy.

Other posts you might be interested in:

I’d Like To Hear From You

What grief stage are you at right now?

What stage has been the most difficult for you to get past?

Ask any question you might have or share any experience that could be inspirational to others.