6 Phases You Go Through After Being Dumped — and How to Get Through Them

Breaking up is hard to do, especially if you’re the one being dumped. You’ve dedicated the past few months, years, or even decades to another person, and suddenly (or not so suddenly), you find yourself alone. Regardless of the circumstances, you’ve lost your partner in crime, and adjusting to a different lifestyle sans significant other can be tough.

Grieving the loss of your relationship is an important process in healing, so let’s take an in-depth look. Here are six phases you go through after being dumped, and how to move on.

1. Denial

man looking off thoughtfully

You may be in a state of denial if you were just dumped. | iStock.com

Even if the breakup didn’t come out of left field, a sense of denial is oftentimes the immediate reaction. You’re not even close to being able to process the impact of the bomb that’s just been dropped, and you’re in a state of shock.

In Psychology Today, Jennifer Kunst, Ph.D., explains denial “is probably essential for psychological survival. If we were aware of everything, the mind couldn’t process it all.” So, maybe this is a crucial step in the entire process — your mind’s way of protecting you before you’re mentally prepared to face the storm head-on.

Remember: It just wasn’t meant to be

woman rejecting a geek boy offering flowers

It just wasn’t meant to be, so move on. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

Preachy as it may sound, everything happens for a reason. Or, at least that’s what we tell ourselves when we need to find comfort in a bad situation. But in the case of relationships and love lost, if it didn’t work out, it really wasn’t meant to be. According to RelationshipPsychology.com, “The goal is to achieve healing from heartaches. You will have to accept that it was simply not meant to be. Only then can you begin the healing process.” Remind yourself the breakup happened for a good reason, and you’ll eventually be able to see it.

2. Anger

Couple arguing

Don’t let your anger cause a fight to break out. | iStock.com/oneinchpunch

Feeling ticked off, or even enraged, right after being dumped is a pretty common emotion. You’re mad the person you trusted most has left you heartbroken. You’re not sure of the immediate steps you need to be taking, and mounting frustrations can be spurred at the drop of a hat — everything from realizing you’re going to have to show up to your friend’s wedding sans date to figuring out who stays at your joint apartment and who goes. You’re angry about a lot of things, and there’s no telling what will set you off next.

Remember: Surround yourself with positivity

Two happy affectionate young woman hugging each other in a close embrace

Surround yourself with positive friends. | iStock.com/UberImages

Anger will likely hit sooner rather than later following a breakup. “To deal with your anger, it’s important to surround yourself with friends who are empathetic,” sex and relationship therapist Ian Kerner told YourTango. “Someone who will judge you for being angry is the wrong person.” There’s no shame in seeking the company of close friends when all you’d rather do is make a voodoo doll of your ex.

3. Despair

Sad girl is holding heart symbol

Try not to let sadness take over your life. | iStock.com/andrej_k

In the initial days following a breakup, it’s not uncommon to feel utterly hopeless. After all, your world did just get turned upside down. Anyone who’s suffered a heartbreaking split knows the feeling: You don’t want to get out of bed, you’re in disbelief, and you’re overwhelmingly sad. It seems there aren’t quite enough tissues in the world to handle your misery.

Of course, everyone’s experience is different, and as Annelia Alex writes in The Huffington Post, “The wallowing phase is dramatic and pathetic, but it only lasts a day or two. All-consuming self-pity is neither sustainable nor attractive.” A state of despair is likely unavoidable; the amount of time you spend in it, though, is up to you.

Remember: You have the power to overcome sadness

Young woman sitting in a coffee shop and working on laptop

Do what makes you happy. | iStock.com/jacoblund

Get yourself out of bed, take a shower, and take on the world. Well, maybe you’ll have to start with a simple cup of coffee first, but you get the idea. The period of time right after a breakup can be an opportunity to really make things happen. Remind yourself that you have power over your emotions, and no one else. If you’re able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, there’s hope yet.

4. Questioning

Thinking young woman looking up at many question marks

Questioning what went wrong is natural. | iStock.com/SIphotography

You’re desperately searching for answers. Why did this happen? What did you do wrong? In your eyes, the relationship was right on track. When it derailed, you were left with unanswered questions and are now second-guessing everything that happened in the relationship. Humans are an inquisitive species, but sometimes, it can get the best of you. So, try not to drown in your own line of questioning.

Remember: Ask yourself constructive questions

Young woman playing with dog

Self-reflection is an important step in getting over a breakup. | iStock.com/MilicaStankovic

Turn your negative thinking into constructive self-reflection. Rather than reflecting on the breakup with the intention of getting back together, ask yourself honest questions that will help you make improvements for the future. For example, YourTango suggests thinking about what your role was in the breakup, and what you can do differently for the next time around. Taking the time to self-reflect will serve you well.

5. Bargaining

hopeful woman crossing her fingers

Bargaining to get your ex back is never a good sign. | iStock.com/SIphotography

You’re not ready, or willing, to accept the fact that it’s over. In Psychology Today, psychologist Suzanne Lachmann explains, “You cling on to any hope you can, to prevent yourself from losing what you have come to depend on, for better or worse. However, during this phase, when you promise to fix all the problems between you, you are placing the entire burden of repairing, maintaining, and sustaining a relationship onto yourself.” It’s never healthy to allow yourself to sacrifice everything you have, or who you are, just to accommodate someone else.

Remember: Don’t compromise your true self

young woman with long blowing blonde hair in neon yellow tank top

Stay true to yourself. | iStock.com/Halfpoint

You can’t change the past, and in reality, both you and your ex contributed to the end of the relationship. While you do have control of the future, leave the past where it belongs. Remember the split happened for a reason, and you obviously weren’t meant to be together forever. Don’t compromise your true self in the hopes of winning back your ex. That, undoubtedly, will never work out in your favor.

6. Acceptance

young woman sitting on floor at home with cell phone

You’ve finally reached a happy point in the breakup-recovery process. | iStock.com/m-imagephotography

The time has come when you’re finally able to fully accept the reality of the situation. Your once beloved partner is now your ex, and you’re learning to deal with it. Getting over a loved one is no easy feat, but it’s a very real part of life. And when you’re ready to totally accept your status apart from your ex, you’ve entered the acceptance phase.

Remember: You’re ready to move on

woman in black sport clothes walking with backpack and shoes in the hand

Do what makes you happy, and everything else will fall into place. | iStock.com/RossHelen

You’ve done the difficult task of working through the phases of the post-breakup period. Keep in mind, though, you still need to take care of yourself over the next few months. And because you know it’s time to move on, you also know it’s important to find healthy ways to do so. You may have accepted what’s happened, but you’re still on the tail end of the final healing process, so tread lightly and treat yourself well.