The Stages of Breaking Up

What’s funny to me is that this is supposed to be “cuffing” season, yet a lot of people who I have conversations with say that they are on the verge of or already have broken up with their significant other. That got me to thinking- how difficult is it to break up with someone, and what are the steps? Don’t ask why my brain functions this way- it just does. These are MY interpretations of the breaking-up process:

1- Frustration: in this stage, you’ve probably noticed an issue and have had several conversations about it, trying to fix it. Maybe the person made a little change, maybe they ignored it. Whatever the issue, now you’re frustrated because your concerns are not being rectified and you’re not happy.

2- Indifference: you ever get to a point with someone where you just don’t care anymore? That’s this stage. You’ve talked and talked and talked (or in most cases the female yells and screams and you men just sit there and say you understand) and now you’re talked out. Nothing has changed, and you’re just over the situation. *Keep in mind that I am a female so all of my views are from a woman’s perspective, thanks* No one has spoken the words of breaking up yet, but you both know that you guys have reached that point.

3- The actual break up. This is pretty self-explanatory. An easy break up is when you don’t live together so you can just go your separate ways. A difficult break up is when you live together so now someone has to move out, and you have to seperate things, bills, responsibilities, etc. It can get pretty messy. Equally so if child(ren) are involved. Co-parenting now comes into play, who the child(ren) will stay with, when the child(ren) will go with either parent, and so on.

4- Anger/Bitterness: maybe one of you didn’t want to break up. Maybe you thought that’s what you wanted, but after it actually happened you realized that you should’ve done more to fight for the relationship. This place (being angry or bitter) is where people tend to stay for entirely too long. It’s okay to feel some type of way about the breakup, but holding on to that feeling for an extended period of time is dangerous; more so for yourself. Being angry or bitter will only cause you to have negative interactions with new people, or will cause you to jeopardize future relationships for the other person. Sorting through these feelings is the healthiest thing that you can do for yourself.

5- Acceptance: accepting that you and that person are not together and will not get back together, and that THAT fact doesn’t make you any less of a man/woman. Acknowledging that sometimes relationships fail, you process those emotions, and you move on. Being able to see the other person and not want to lash out at them, and being able to date other people without bringing those past feelings into a new situation.

While there is no particular time frame for breaking up and sorting through those feelings/emotions, it should not be 5 years after the fact and you’re still having a hard time accepting the reality of it. My most significant relationship (and break up) was with my children’s father. We went through the first 3 stages pretty easily, but I stayed in the angry stage for a while. I blamed him for our relationship failing, I blamed him for my circumstances at the time, I blamed him for anything that I could think of. And when I had the opportunity to mess with this new relationship after me, I did. I’ll admit- that was fun, but it didn’t get me anywhere. And it surely didn’t help with us co-parenting. It took a long time for me to actually let go of that failed relationship. From being together, to him proposing, to us signing marriage papers, to us having 2 kids…. It was a lot to process and a lot to let go of. And, if I am being honest, I definitely could’ve handled a lot of situations within that break-up-get-back-together-then-break-up-again differently. I think I was over it when I KNEW that I did everything that I was supposed to do and it still didn’t work out. I was okay with the fact that it wasn’t my fault that the relationship failed. That helped me to move on.

Now, my ex-fiance from Georgia, that’s a different story….. I internalized that anger and it turned into depression. And I was in that state for almost 2 years. So, a little back story on him and I. I met him when I first moved down south, maybe in 2006. I think I was 19 at the time. He was living with the mother of his children, and I wasn’t looking for anything serious. It was fun. That turned into him loving me, which turned into me loving him. Fast forward 3-4 years and he’s leaving his home and moving to Philadelphia with me. *I can admit now that I had major daddy issues back then*. I state that fact to say that my ex filled a void for me. He was the first man ever to pay attention to me, learn my likes and dislikes, and be a genuine friend to me. He was more than a mate, he was my everything at the time. So, we’re in Philadelphia, and things are more difficult than we both anticipated. Money wasn’t coming in the way that we planned, and it just wasn’t easy. One day, I am looking for my dear old fiance (because by then he told me he wanted to marry me and we were fake planning a wedding), and he is nowhere to be found. He’s not at work, not home, not with his sister- he’s missing. Finally, later that evening, he calls me and tells me that he went back to Georgia to go work at his old barbershop for a little while to make some money. Red flag, right? Well, 2 days later I am on Facebook and somehow I end up on his page which links me to the page of the mother of his children, and her profile picture is of her in a wedding dress and my fiance in a tuxedo with the caption “Just Married” across the bottom. Two days after that, after calling and calling his phone, he finally answers and tells me that he couldn’t leave her. For me, the hardest part about that, and why it took me so long to get over it, was the lies that led up to it. I think I would’ve fanned better if he just told me the truth. It still would’ve hurt, but the shock factor of their marriage wouldn’t have been such a major blow. Easily 7-8 years after the fact, he still manages to find a way to contact me and tell me that he should’ve married me, and that leaving me was the biggest mistake he’s ever made. I guess he’s still in his “bitter” stage.

Processing is different for everyone. Grieving time is different for everyone. Managing emotions is a learned ability- many people walk through life not knowing how to manage their feelings and are just hurt. Walking around hurting other people. A majority of people stay in that bitterness/angry stage for so long that they don’t realize that they are bitter or angry. BUT!!! Letting go is definitely possible. You just have to want to. Breaking up is hard, and moving on can be even more difficult. The only way I was able to was to first forgive myself, then to trust that God would forgive me and help me to forgive the person that I broke up with (or who broke up with me).

We all get dumped, but it’s not the end of the world. Heal Queen. Heal King. And move on!





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