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The Break-Up Guide: We Promise To Get You Through This Stage By Stage

The Break-Up Guide: We Promise To Get You Through This Stage By Stage

I’ve been through some rough breakups, and one in particular left me reeling, the pain overtaking me. I remember driving in the California sun, a brilliant day in the middle of spring, and I couldn’t see the blue sky. To me, everything looked gray. I could barely coax myself out of bed in the morning, let alone see how things could possibly get better.

It didn’t help that I lost my job around the same time as my boyfriend broke up with me. I felt useless, tired, and unwanted. My friends were supportive and invited me out, hoping that I would find some distraction in hooking up with a hot guy. But honestly, the last thing I felt like doing was trying to meet someone new.

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But in time, I did find myself in a much better place, not only over my heartbreak (and with a new job), but stronger and more confident than ever. It took some effort on my part, but step by step, I moved forward.

To get a better handle on what to expect if you’re going through a break-up, here’s a breakdown of the emotional stages, and what to do:

Phase 1: Go Through The Pain and Devastation

You might feel blindsided by a breakup, or you might have felt it coming for months. Regardless, the pain is the same, and it’s okay to grieve for the loss of your relationship. Take some time, gather friends and family around you, listen to music – whatever brings you comfort. Don’t ignore your feelings, accept them so you can process the pain. As I say in my new book The Breakup Guide, Don’t get stuck in your pain by trying to avoid it. Confronting and accepting it is the only way to move forward with your life.

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Phase 2: Wondering What You Did Wrong

There’s no doubt that in the early stages of a breakup we look for ways that we might have alienated our partners. You might think: maybe I wasn’t pretty/smart/successful/talented/ fill-in-the-blank enough. It’s time to stop the self-blame; it not only is faulty thinking, it gets you nowhere fast and it takes your confidence along with it. You are enough, period. The two of you together might not be right for each other, but that doesn’t mean that you are somehow lacking. Let go of self-judgment. Remind yourself of who you are and the wonderful things that you do – and if you need help, ask a friend to remind you!

Phase 3: Denial/ Wanting to Get Back Together

This goes along with self-blame. When you think things like: If only I had done…, then we’d be back together, you are setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. You are also looking back on a skewed version of the relationship with rose-colored goggles. Relationships have amazing moments, but they also have challenges, so don’t reconstruct history. Instead of trying to win him back with some elusive tactic, thinking that things will be perfect this time around, it’s time to seriously ask yourself: What do I really want? What did I not get from this relationship? Chances are, there are reasons to let the relationship go.

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Phase 4: Anger and Play the Blame Game

Not long after you’ve shed your last tear, you might feel anger. Maybe you are keeping a running list of all of the ways you’ve been wronged by your ex. Unfortunately, this blame game isn’t helpful. You might fantasize about calling him and explaining why he’s such a jerk, but you’re really only hurting yourself. The blame game keeps us caught in a vicious cycle of holding onto our pain, exacerbating our wounds, and prevents us from moving on. Instead of looking for justice or even some type of closure you may never get, make a decision to accept who your ex is and what he is and isn’t capable of. His actions don’t have to set the course for your life. By the same token, be realistic about your part in the relationship’s end. Were you holding back emotionally? What could you improve upon in your next relationship? We all have room to grow.

Phase 5: Letting go

Far too often, we become attached to the relationship, so when it ends, we are left with a void. We wander past that bar we used to frequent, or take the dog for a walk in the park as we’d done countless Sundays before. Instead of giving in to nostalgia, try doing something new. Establish your own routine. Get coffee on Fridays with a friend at your local cafe, or join a yoga class on Wednesday nights. It doesn’t matter what the new habit is, or even how long you maintain it. The important thing to note is by establishing your own routine, you are letting go of the reminders of your ex, and it will be much easier to let him/ her go.

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Breakups are painful, but they also shape us. When we take time to process the pain, we emerge stronger and more open to future love. It’s important to take a good, hard look at our own behavior and what we could do differently, but also to let go of expectations of what we could have done differently. When we accept the old relationship for what it is, we can move on to a healthier, happier relationship.

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Kelly Seal

Author, Dating Expert

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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