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Where are you in the Cycle of Heartbreak?

Although there is no definite truth about how long you are going to feel heartbroken or how long it will take doe you to recover there are some stages of heartbreak that the vast majority of people need to go through in order to recover and move on and it helps to know where in the cycle you are so that you can recognise the stages and get to a good place as quickly as possible… so here are the different stages and they can be experienced in various orders even all in a single day… its normal :-


Answers – This is often a part of denial and it’s the part where you try and make sense of what has happened… every conversation you’ve ever had rolls around in your head and you analyse everything to make sense of the situation. It’s the part where you say ‘But yesterday you said you loved me’… its like your brain can’t compute what's going on and seeks explanations. I can tell you right now this is a never ending task and you will NOT find the answers you are looking for… please stop torturing yourself. The endless conversations will friends/family/co workers and even strangers around this time can result in them losing sympathy for your situation and even avoiding you…

Denial – Accepting the truth that your relationship is really over is hard, especially if you aren’t the instigator and if you are married or living together there is a certain amount of organising that needs to be done to make the split happen. So you can come home from work and the other person is there or you can wake up in the morning and forget that it all happened.. the quicker you accept that the relationship has ended the better because if your partner was the one that ended the relationship then they will be have been at this stage some time ago and it will feel like they are being really cold and heartless in the mean time.

Bargaining - You start offering to do anything to keep the relationship because the pain is too unbearable. You offer to change as a person, to fix everything that the person has said is wrong in the relationship and will do anything at all to stop the hurt. This is a no win situation for all concerned because if the person does give it another go you will inevitably be back in this same position in the not too distant future… you are also taking on the responsibility of fixing and

maintaining the relationship all on yourself and that’s too much for anyone to do…relationships are two people and unless both are fully invested it will not work. Bargaining only briefly distracts from the ultimate split and often makes things worse because the next time the person feels they need to be more ruthless… it never ends well.

Anger – This is where all the pain just wants to burst outwards and tends to be directed at the person that you feel has caused the pain… you now ex partner… it can also be directed at ‘the other person’ if the reason you are splitting is a third party. The anger is because your life has suddenly become completely different to everything you know and everything you have planned and envisioned the future as. You may also find yourself directing anger at friends and family, especially if they try and tell you its for the best or that you will be fine… This is a time when it may seem a good idea to burn all your ex’s clothes or contact all their friends and tell them how awful your ex has treated you… Do NOT do any of these things, I know you feel justified right now but it will serve no good purpose and could land you in a great deal of trouble.

Sadness – Oh my, this is THE WORST !!! This is the part where you want to stay in bed all day, drink wine or gin all day and want to eat chocolate all day…. You don’t want to interact with anyone at all because you are so sad and you just don’t want to face the world…this is the wallowing phase and it is horrible. My counselling tutor once described this kind of behaviour as ‘death by duvet’ and it really is…. Listen to your friends, have a shower, get dressed, put some make up on and get moving.. moving is the only way to defeat this sadness.

Initial Acceptance – This can feel more like surrender than acceptance because you don’t want the break up but know there is nothing you can do about it, over time the acceptance gets more real and one or both of you are aware that in order to move forward there have to be boundaries and separation. You finally start to realise that hanging on is not the healthy thing to do.


Hope – This is the best faze of all, you begin to see that maybe things will be ok, maybe this isn’t the end of life completely and you may EVEN get to the stage that you see you might be happy again, because you will! You start socialising with friends and doing things that you might have done as a couple previously.

Recognize that there is a method and a structure of sorts to this chaotic process. Knowing that you are not alone and not the only one going through these emotions and stages helps you to get through it. The process is a natural grieving process for the loss of your relationship and its how, as humans, we get through the many pains and losses that occur in our lives.

As the grieving process progresses, you will begin to see your way through to a point at which you can let go in a more proactive and self-protective way—a way that you may eventually come to understand as a new beginning.




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