If you think back to your most recent breakup (sorry, I know that’s a huge bummer), there's likely one moment that stands out as "the moment" of that breakup. What I'm talking about is the mental picture that sums up the whole experience for you — the one that meant your relationship was well and truly over. While that may be the sharpest and clearest memory of the experience, the fact is that breakups are made up of many moments that when combined, comprise the brutally honest phases of breaking up — things that, in some instances, happen so quickly they can all blur together and feel like one long breakup battle.
While thinking back to the end of past romances can be painful, there is something cathartic about knowing you aren't alone; that just about every person you have ever known or will ever know can identify with your experience because they've likely been through all those phases too. Sure, every breakup is unique (like the worst snowflake ever), but there are some common patterns, and they tend to all follow a similar path. (In my case, that path leads directly toward the nearest chocolate and booze source.) Don't be surprised if this is about to sound painfully familiar.
1The Unhappiness Phase
Breakups rarely come out of nowhere. There's usually some kind of vibe that precedes it. Usually, either you, your partner, or both of you are unhappy. There's a growing distance or tension between you that may be hard to pinpoint, but it's there. It's just a matter of time until something sets one of you off — again.
2The Inflection Phase
The breakup has officially begun — whether the two of you realize it or not. Something has happened and the breakup dominos are starting to fall. Maybe it’s over something petty and the resentment is boiling over. Maybe you’ve caught one or the other of you being unfaithful. Maybe one of you has been thinking about this for a long time, and the time has finally come to let the other person know it's over.
3The Final Talk (Fight) Phase
When you think back on breakup, this is the phase you are likely to remember. It’s the moment when the conversation turns. It’s stopped being a discussion or a regular argument and has elevated to the level of relationship ending. You may be furious, or shocked, or hurt, or relieved, but in your gut you know this is different. This is the breakup fight.
4The Point Of No Return Phase
At some point during the final talk, you will reach the point of no return. One of you will either say it’s over or one of you will say something that will make it impossible to stay together. Either way, it’s a wrap. It’s time to go to your separate corners and just try to deal with the immediate emotional aftermath. (This is where the chocolate and booze come in, if you’re me.)
5The Uncoupling Your Lives Phase
At some point, emotions will have to give way to logistics. This can mean something as small as returning a box of the junk they left at your house (that narrowly avoided being set ablaze), or it could be much more complicated, with one or both of you having to move, the division of finances, pets, and all the appliances you bought because you really thought they would be handy but you never actually used. (Just me?) At this point, it really is over, and I highly suggest you uncouple from social media as well. Clean break. Get that distance so you can head in to the final phase of your breakup.
6The Mourning, Healing, and Moving On Phase
Once it's over and you’ve split everything up and tied up any loose threads of your former life, there's nothing left but the crying, the Netflix binging, and the healing. This is by far the longest of all the phases, but don't rush it, because this is also the phase where you do all of your healing and growing. This is where you do your reset, reevaluate what you want from your future and your future partners, and figure out what will truly make you happy. This phase sucks, but it's also amazing. Just be kind to yourself and let your friends and loved ones be there for you. You will get through it, and trust me: It's better on the other side.
Breakups aren't easy, but they are survivable, and you will survive and thrive and even love again before you know it. So hang in there. You got this.
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