Six months ago my girlfriend Dani broke up with me. It hurt so badly, I thought I’d never recover.
I went through some nasty stuff, to say the least. I’ve broken it down into the stages I went through.
There is no strict guide for how long each stage will take, but sooner or later most of us who get dumped go through these.
Here’s a list of the 7 stages of a breakup for dumpees and what you can do to cope with the suffering you’re going through.
1) This didn’t happen
The stages that a dumpee goes through are actually similar to what you go through after someone dies.
Stage one is to just plain not accept it.
This didn’t happen. Or at least it’s not as bad as it looks. They’ll be back.
The pain of being told goodbye by someone you love is immense, like getting caught in a landslide and not having any firm ground under your feet.
With Dani I felt like everything we’d built over the past 18 months was basically invalidated.
I almost felt like how you would if you get scammed by someone in a fake email or over the phone.
I felt like an idiot that this was happening to me, but I also kind of couldn’t believe it.
I must have misunderstood. She wouldn’t actually be cutting things off with me now after everything we’ve been through.
I went to sleep with some anxiety in my heart for sure but I still clung to the idea that she’d come back soon the day after Dani broke up with me.
This is the first of the stages of a breakup for dumpees: denial.
2) Feeling nothing at all
After a few days of realizing she wouldn’t be back, I felt numb.
The next of the stages of a breakup for dumpees is that after denying this is even happening or thinking you get a do-over, you feel numb.
You feel nothing at all.
I remember passing a comb through my hair, turning on the news, showing up to work, even saying hi to coworkers.
But I wasn’t home.
I guess I was in what psychologists would call a state of shock.
I was hurt, stunned, flabbergasted, all of that, but if you’d asked me at the time I couldn’t have told you what I was.
I have no idea how I even tied my shoes.
I was a walking zombie, emotionally and physically numb. I started taking melatonin tablets before bed hoping to just disappear.
I’m not saying I was suicidal, but I was basically just going through the motions and unable to face what had happened.
It was like I had a giant callus on my soul.
3) This is bullshit
After denial and numbness, we get to stage three of the stages of a breakup for dumpees: anger.
In my case more like rage.
I woke up one day from my numb stupor, poured some milk on my cereal and suddenly pushed the bowl off the table while cursing way louder than I’d expected.
I was honestly kind of scared of myself for a second there.
The numbness was gone and in its place was extreme anger at what had happened.
We broke up for a variety of reasons and I do have to say that Dani was communicative about what had been going in her life and led to her decision.
Knowing that a lot of the breakup was due to her own priorities and issues and not me just made me even more pissed off; couldn’t she at least have waited and seen more how things would go?
It’s at this point I got online and started talking to someone. Not a therapist, but a love coach at Relationship Hero.
These guys definitely got an earful, but I found my coach patient and understanding.
She understood the pain of what I was going through and assured me that it was normal to be feeling so angry right now.
Knowing I wasn’t some kind of freak was the start of a road back to being my real self, and I really recommend the love coaches at Relationship Hero if you’re looking for a similar coach in your corner.
4) Maybe she’ll take me back…
So I’ve covered denial, shock, anger and how that affected me and will affect many dumpees.
The next stage is like the grief process, and it’s bargaining.
After my anger and talking to the love coach at Relationship Hero I was starting to feel like I’d rounded the corner on our breakup.
I still missed Dani like hell basically every minute, but I was walking and talking and starting to spend more time at the gym where I felt more in my body and able to face the day.
But what came next isn’t what I expected.
It wasn’t denial, shock, or anger, it was over-analysis and bargaining.
I basically started treating the breakup like it had been some kind of a temporary offer and it could be negotiated and discussed in various ways.
I started trying to talk more to Dani and message her, trying to find closure and answers about what had happened.
However in retrospect, I can see that I wasn’t really looking for answers or closure, I was basically just running in circles. She’d already let me know why it wasn’t a good time for her, and she’d already let me know that my own behavior had become over-needy.
It sucked, but I realized that by not accepting it I was actually just making things harder on myself.
Sadly, I realized too late, and one morning I woke up to find she’d blocked me everywhere.
So much for getting back together (or so I thought), much less remaining in contact of any kind…
This is when I went into real sadness.
I thought I’d gotten over her, I’d make huge progress in acceptance and self-love with my love coach, yet she’d still cut me down right at the moment I thought things could become a bit better?
Fuck it…I went into stage five: depression.
5) Closing the curtains
Stage five is really tough because it seems to last forever and it really feels like it will.
I closed the curtains on myself and my hope for the future and gave up on just about everything.
My family was worried, my friends started messaging a lot and I even gained weight from eating so poorly and junk food and such.
I was down. Maybe more down than I’d ever been.
I had a ton of trouble accepting being blocked by somebody I’d loved so much and who had loved me.
I had trouble knowing that I might never see her again in my life.
I didn’t really want to start again and felt like part of me had been ripped out and I was being asked to run a marathon without legs.
Like I said: fuck it.
This stage must have lasted at least two months. It was bad and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
When it ended I’m not sure, because the truth is it didn’t really end, it actually just morphed into a kind of sweet sadness, aka nostalgia.
Which brings us to stage six.
6) Getting caught up in nostalgia
Phase six of the stages of a breakup for dumpees is nostalgia and missing the best moments of the past.
I remember that I wallowed in a sweet kind of sadness for weeks, listening to songs the two of us had loved and drinking wine while remembering our trip to France.
Wine country had surpassed both of our expectations and this one bed and breakfast we’d stayed at had been like something out of a Hallmark movie.
Fuck it had been perfect.
I lay there on my sofa sometimes with a kind of cross between a smile and tears, staring at the wall and replaying those movies in my head.
I felt sure I’d never meet another partner like her again in my life, but it no longer just hurt…
I also felt this crazy joy and appreciation that even if it was over I was so fortunate to have experienced this amazing adventure with a woman I cared about so much.
Who knows what the future might hold…
But the past with Dani had been so special. I began to start my daily life again and put in more effort at work as well as coming back from the supposed sick days I’d been using in excess.
7) Accepting and moving on
By this time about five months later I’d been through it all:
Denial, numbness, anger, bargaining, sadness and nostalgia.
I was back working a lot more, talking to friends once again, and feeling a bit more like myself.
I still got this feeling sometimes like my heart had been ripped out and had to sit and hide my face for a minute.
But I was back to knowing that I would survive. I was back to preparing and eating meals which weren’t just fries and junk.
I was back to reassuring my family I’d be OK and actually almost believing it.
Somewhere deep inside something shifted like one of those big gears in a bank vault and the door clicked open.
I would be OK. I would accept this. I couldn’t control Dani’s decision to part ways and all I could do now was choose to make the best of it.
How to cope with being dumped
1) Take care of yourself
I’ve talked about this in other articles but it’s so important to emphasize the importance of caring for your body and mind.
When you get dumped you feel like crap and doubt your worth.
Even if you feel fine, you’re going to be so sad that you tend to not eat well, not exercise and not respect your need for space and being compassionate to your pain.
This can cause a really rapid and steep decline in mental health.
In my case, it took a while to start eating well and looking after myself, and going regularly to the gym.
I also used Selena Gomez’s Wondermind program, which I found really helpful, in addition to continuing to talk to my love coach at Relationship Hero.
She kept guiding me into a better path forward and was kind of an accountability coach as well for my new and healthier habits around my life.
2) Get your life revved up
The next step for how to cope here is to get your life revved up.
Start taking care of yourself like I said, and also start focusing on your mission and what you want to accomplish in life.
Not on what you think you should want or what you wanted to do with your ex and your dreams together.
Focus on what you want.
What moves you?
What makes you happy, angry, sad and inspired in the world and in work?
Find a spiritual path and the ancient secrets that can unlock your potential.
Remember the Navy SEAL motto, because it’s true:
The only easy day was yesterday.
Don’t wish for life to get easier and meet the love of your life. Wish for yourself to get stronger and squeeze more joy out of the days you have, even if it’s all by your lonesome.
At the same time, when you’re feeling good with yourself and loving your life and finding your mission, it can be the perfect time to do a U-turn and go back to refinding your love.
What I’m talking about is trying to get back together with your ex. So, let’s go there and talk about it.
3) Get your ex back
If you feel like this story isn’t really at an end, you could be stuck in stage one of denial or stage three of bargaining.
In the past, I admit I was.
But after acceptance and rounding the corner on moving on from the breakup, I felt ready to look into how to actually get my ex back.
I found a lot of hucksters and high-dollar programs promising some kind of magical spells and bullshit solutions about the “perfect” easy solution.
None of them worked, and I wasted time running in circles.
That was until I found the Ex Factor by relationship coach Brad Browning.
This guy has helped thousands of couples get back together and actually knows what he’s talking about.
He has no frills or gimmicks or silly magic spells and crystals in his program. This is just about practical and actual workable answers for how to get your ex back.
I know it can work because I got back together with Dani about six months after our breakup, in what still seems like a fantasy.
But it didn’t happen by magic. It happened by following Brad’s advice in his free video.
4) Realize you’re not special
Going through these stages of the breakup really humbled me.
Seeing how much I could be devastated by the departure of somebody I loved made me feel weak and pathetic.
But it also got me in touch with my humanity. It also made me realize that the more I did eventually connect with friends, many of them had been through similar pain.
Believing I’d been special had actually isolated me and made my pain so much worse.
Realizing I wasn’t special was like breathing a big sigh of relief.
My pain was real, my trauma had happened, the breakup had been ugly shit. But I wasn’t special in the sense of being unique or uniquely persecuted.
This was happening every day. People are crying everywhere behind the scenes that we think are doing fine.
Knowing I wasn’t special made me feel less alone. It helped me get more in touch with old friends, appreciate the beauty in our common human struggle and temper my own ego and addiction to the cheap wine of tragedy.
5) Control your thumbs
As I worked on getting my ex back, it was crucial for me to learn about one of the things that Brad Browning talks about:
Learning to text in an attractive way.
Previously I’d been out of control, shooting off random and needy and overly-loving texts.
But once I finally was unblocked by Dani, I had new arrows in my quiver. I didn’t misuse my newfound power, I had discipline.
I controlled my thumbs.
I took time to think about what I was texting or responding, and I started to really prioritize in-person meetings instead.
The truth is that texting can be one of your most powerful tools to get your ex back, but it can also be one of your worst enemies if you overuse it or use messaging in the wrong way.
6) Be self-aware of cycles
As I worked on the process of coping with being dumped and the possibility of getting back together with Dani, it wasn’t a simple process.
Whether or not getting back with your ex is possible, you need to be aware of cycles.
Single or in a relationship, we all have cycles of various emotional states, dependencies and habits.
In my case, it was being overly needy and finding that I would start feeling I’d been dumped all over again when she didn’t answer for a few days.
I realized that I was going through cycles that I really needed to break out of in finding my own power.
Realizing I wasn’t special and that another person’s emotions really were fully out of my control was a big part of how I gained more self-awareness and was able to move forward proactively.
7) A lever long enough…
The Greek philosopher Archimedes famously said, “give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”
I used to think it was just a nerdy high school physics lesson thing about fulcrums. But now I love fulcrums and levers.
I love the metaphor of this. It’s about having the right tools and understanding the laws of the world.
If you know how things work and how to interact with and engage with them, you gain power. That simple.
Getting my ex back and coping with being dumped in the first place was all about learning.
Even if I’d remained alone, I would have learned so much from this process about who I am, how I relate to myself, and what I can (and will) do differently next time.
Do I wish I’d never been dumped? Of course.
But do I now see the worth in the awful experience too? Amazingly, yes I do.
Moving on or getting back together?
Earlier I mentioned the Ex Factor by relationship coach Brad Browning and how it helped me get back together with my ex.
I know it can work from firsthand experience and what happened with me, so I recommend it with my full heart and soul.
Getting back together isn’t always an option, however.
If your ex is with someone new or has moved to a completely far away place it can be a lot harder.
You may also meet someone new. The only constant in life is change…
Moving on is sometimes the best option if getting your ex back is out of the cards.
The key thing about moving on is that it doesn’t mean forgetting the relationship.
The love that you shared will always be special, and will always be part of who you are and who you become.
That’s a good thing, and one day the pain will become a diamond.
Being dumped doesn’t lessen your value in any way, nor does it mean that you were not good enough.
Even if your own love story doesn’t have a happy ending, just remember that the closing of this chapter may be the start of a whole new book.