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Written by Alejandro Adrian LeMon, PhD
A relationship break-up or divorce can be completely devastating. The feeling of loss, rejection, and loneliness can be so overwhelming that most people fear they will never love or be loved again. You might feel that you might never be able to trust again, or feel that same spark.
The emotional pain of a break-up or divorce is similar to what we experience with the death of a loved one.
The difference is that physically everyone is OK, but both partners, particularly the one that is rejected, go through tremendous mixed emotions that range from wanting to reconcile and moving on.
The stages of a break-up or divorce might include:
Shock/Denial: This is a stage where you are still in desbelief. It almost seems like you are waiting to wake up from a nightmare. If your partner left you, you are still hoping that he might change his mind. You might even expect him to walk through the door and say, "It was just a dream."
Anger: Reality is starting to set in, and the feelings of shock/denial start to turn into anger. You might feel anger towards the other person for leaving you and for causing you emotional pain.
Bargaining: This is the stage of a break-up where you will plead to reverse the situation. If you've lost a family member, you might ask God to bring him back in exchange for an offer in return. If your partner wants to end the relationship, you might try to bargain with him, "If you stay, It will be better. I promise."
Depression: Finally you realize that it is really over. She is not coming back. The anxiety is now gone. Enter depression. You feel alone, down and withdrawn. It feels like there is no end in sight. This stage, like the ones before it, is also temporary but it can last up to 6 months or more, depending on how serious the relationship was.
Acceptance: This is the final stage, and the best one for obvious reasons. You haven't forgotten what happened, but you are able to look at it with a fresh new perspective. The memories of the relationship might come back every now and then, but rarely last.
This article was originally published for PsychologyOne. It was republished on PsyWeb with permission.
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