If you've ever been through a bad breakup, you know that the struggle is real. For the weeks (or possibly months, if it was a really bad one) that follow, life can be rough, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Don't believe me? Just look around. Most people you see have all gone through the pain of a breakup at least once before. They survived it and moved on with their lives, so you can too. Because once you make it through these
brutally honest phases of life after a breakup, not only will you feel better, but you'll be stronger, too.
That all sounds great, but when you're still very much in your heartbreak, it's not really that helpful. However, having an idea of what to expect can shine the light on where you are in the mourning process and how soon you'll be ready to rebound. And while, admittedly, every post-relationship experience is a bit different and on its own timeline, there are common paths that we all go on, so you don't have to go through this experience totally blind. Here are the post-breakup phases that we pretty much all go through.
Oh man, this is a rough phase. It happens immediately after the split, when everything feels like darkness and despair. This phase is the "stay on the couch and shove foodstuffs into your foodstuffs hole and Netflix into your eyeholes" phase. There will be a lot of crying and a lot of imagining your life spent alone surrounded by cats. (Full disclosure, that's pretty much my dream scenario, so ya know, different strokes for different folks. Anyway... ) All you can think about about is everything you will miss about your ex, but also, everything that makes them basically the devil incarnate. It’s a complicated phase. While the pain in the black hole may feel like it will swallow you up forever, it won't. Just give it time, and be compassionate with yourself. It's normal to mourn.
The "Friendtervention" Phase
Eventually, your friends are going to have enough of this black hole phase and step in — because, for one thing, they can’t stand to see you hurt, but also they kind of always thought your ex wasn't good enough for you, and it’s time that you realize that. They will come pry you off the sofa and reintroduce you to your long lost friends: soap and clean clothes. It's time to see the sun again and get some vitamin D (literally and possibly figuratively, if know what I am sayin'...).
While every part of you just wants to go back home and become one with the sofa again while finishing your
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend marathon (you didn't love it the first time you tried to watch it, but now you realize it’s freakin' genius), there is a part of you that is really grateful to your friends for getting you out of the house again.
After the black cloud finally lifts, you realize that, yes, you are going to get through this. This breakup isn't going to break you. Yeah, you're still sad, but you're up and moving and ready to start engaging in life again. But also, you're
so bored. The days are so long! Where did all these extra hours come from? You begin to realize how much time just being in a relationship filled. Being single is full of possibility and freedom, but being new to singledom can make you think it's pretty boring! So you enter....
Well, you can’t just sit around bored all the time, right? So, it’s time to do all the things you never had time to do before and make a new routine for yourself! One thing humans are generally good at is filling up our time. Before you know it, your new routine has filled your schedule and you're back to being stressed about never having a moment to just relax. So that's progress, I guess.
The Lingering Mourning And Relapse Phase
By keeping busy, you've actually started to feel a lot better. Being productive works! So maybe it’s time to go ahead and get productive about getting closure from the relationship. Time to purge social media and give your ex all their stuff back. You're moving on and moving up! What started as a purge turns into a spiral, and instead of just hitting
block you deep-dived on their Insta and followed those tags into deeper and darker water.
Suddenly, you hear the siren song of the sofa calling to you for another good cry. Go ahead and indulge in it. Part of recovery is relapse. But next time, just hit
block and keep it moving. 06
The Moving On, For Real This Time Phase
Eventually, those emotional relapses get shorter, less intense, and best of all, less frequent. In their place is a feeling of acceptance (and even some eagerness) to get back out there see what possibilities await. That’s the sign you’ve been waiting for, it's finally happening — you are officially healing, and you are stronger than you ever knew. Congratulations, you’ve made it to the light at the end of the breakup tunnel!
Remember, it's easy to give up hope after a bad breakup, when it feels like love is dead forever, but just give it time.... and ice cream. (And maybe a little bourbon).
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