Maybe you saw it coming, maybe you didn’t. Either way it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet.
How could this have happened?! You spoke yesterday and things were fine. He’d stopped texting you as much as he normally does and he’d stopped saying I love you first but those are fixable problems. He’s just tired… or maybe he’s stressed. Yes. This is definitely, definitely not happening right now.
Stage one: Denial
Nope, this is not happening. You refuse to believe this is happening and at this stage you are stuck so far into denial that you reach a kind of manic hysteria of willful ignorance. This is when your friends will be on hand to comfort you by telling you that he’s made a huge mistake/something must be going on with him/he won’t last a week without you.
They are lying.
You know it, they know it but at this point it is exactly what you need. You’re probably going to spend a lot of time alternating between staring at your phone and obsessively refreshing Facebook to see if he’s contacted you.
Guess what? He hasn’t.
Stage two: Devastation
Look at you all snuggled up in your bed, waking up so peacefully thinking the world is so lovely an- BAM. It’s like someone has punched through your chest and ripped out your heart. Every time you wake up and remember that he’s gone, it is like being broken up with all over again. The misery is like a crushing wave of awfulness and there is nothing to do but let it crash over you. You didn’t even realise that anything could hurt, physically hurt like this and you are never, ever going to get over this. This is the worst thing that has ever happened to you.
You haven’t showered in days and you can’t do anything other than lie in bed weeping gently to yourself. At this point you’re probably so filthy that you are actually stuck to the bed but it doesn’t matter because you didn’t plan on leaving it anyway.
Stage three: Slightly more productive devastation (but not really)
You’ve managed to drag yourself into a slightly more upright position… kind of. You’re still prone to lying down a lot but you’ve changed up the location slightly, you’ve ventured out into the rest of your house (You’ve not managed to leave the house yet, that would be ridiculous). This is the time to be as dramatic as you want. When the sadness got too much I would just lie face down on the floor, it didn’t matter when or where. Mid conversation, during dinner, when people were visiting. I would just get up and lie on the floor. There’s no point fighting it. Just keep lying there and accept that this is your life now.
Stage four: Anger
You wake up one morning and it is like a cloud has been lifted. You’re not sad anymore, you’re not crying all the time or staring moodily into space while listening to every sad break up song ever recorded on repeat.
… unfortunately the cloud of depression has been replaced by something else: a red cloud of murderous rage.
That BASTARD. How DARE he break your heart. You hate everything about him -his stupid face, his stupid hair, his stupid existence. You hope he gets hit by a car. He is the worst thing that ever happened to you and you wish that you’d never met him.
No embarrassing moment from your relationship is safe at this point, guys. That “cute” pet name for your penis? That time you genuinely used the words “sensual back catalogue” without a hint of irony or embarrassment? Yep, all your mutual friends know about this now… as well as the rest of the world.
Stage five: The Rebound
Single Ladies is your life anthem right now and this break up is the best thing that has ever happened to you. You’ll earnestly tell everyone who will listen that you’re SO happy to be single and they’d probably believe you if you weren’t knocking back wine by the glassful and eyeing up everything with a penis within a five mile radius.
In between necking cheap shots and downing double G&Ts, you are giving “fuck me” eyes to everything with a pulse. People will tell you that the quickest way to get over someone is to get under somebody else and you are taking this as your life’s mission right now. Nobody is safe and you are a hormone driven, heartbroken woman on a quest to get with as many people as it takes to not feel sad anymore.
This stage is characterised by two day hangovers, regret and finding inventive ways to hide your disgusting hungover self from the mistakes you brought back to your flat last night.
Stage six: The relapse
Somewhere between the dirty bars, the unsatisfying hook ups and the perpetual hangover that a solid month of drinking will give you, you begin to feel nostalgic for how things used to be. Sure he was an arsehole but he was your arsehole. He might have forgotten your birthday but he did buy you flowers that one time…and he did bring you coffee when you were too lazy to make it yourself.
This is the part where you start slipping back into the dangerous territory of stage two but without any of the sympathy that you initially garnered because too much time has passed now. Have a bit of a cry, drink a bit more wine but do not under any circumstances contact your ex. I repeat: DO NOT CONTACT YOUR EX. It will end in disaster and embarrassment. Call a friend, watch terrible romcoms so you can cry about how terrible your love life is, write bad poetry about how you will never trust anyone again… whatever, just don’t contact your ex.
Stage seven: Acceptance
Eventually you begin to get bored of feeling sad and your constant mood swings are starting to give you whiplash. You’ve had several drunken hook ups, consumed enough alcohol to sink a small ship and despite the painstaking effort you put into making your Spotify break up playlist, you barely even listen to it anymore. A few months ago you were talking through the break up with anyone who would listen – family, friends, that random guy at the bar – but now you are so over it that you can’t even be bothered to say his name anymore. It’s ancient history and you are ready to move onto bigger and better things.
Congratulations! You’ve made it through your break up and it feels brilliant. The world didn’t fall apart (even if sometimes it felt like it did) and most importantly you didn’t fall apart… or at least not enough that you couldn’t put yourself back together.