The Effects and Stages of Breakups

Breakups can be a really traumatic experience for anyone. To overcome the pain, it's important to accept the situation and allow yourself to go through each stage. If you're going through a breakup right now, you'll want to read today's article.
The Effects and Stages of Breakups

Last update: 13 March, 2019

One of the most traumatic situations that a human being can go through is a breakup. Numerous studies have demonstrated how the brain behaves in different stages of breakups.

According to their findings, we experience elevated stress levels and even, on occasion, physical pain. It should come as no surprise that breakups deeply impact our lives.

Why does breaking up with a partner affect us so much?

When we form a family, we’re creating the most intimate type of relationship there is. Among the members of a family, we transmit values, customs, and beliefs, and we build our identities .

In our families, we lay the foundation of our self-esteem, our codes of conduct and the way we related to others. Families provide us with a framework of physical and emotional security in the face of life’s changes.

When we go through a breakup, it affects us in very profound ways. Every member of the affected family feels the earth shake below them.

Each family member may experience the situation differently, and each experience is valid. For example:

  1. Some people feel a sense of hopelessness upon realizing that they were unable to obtain what they had proposed.
  2. Others interpret breakups as a failure.
  3. Low self-esteem is a common result. We may experience feelings of guilt and question many things in our lives.
  4. Sometimes a breakup gives us a new sense of freedom. Just the same, we may very well experience symptoms of mourning because of the changes that occur in our family.

The different stages of breakups

Psychologists agree that when a couple breaks up, individuals go through mourning.  Mourning consists of various stages and, depending on the tools that each individual has, the different stages of breakups may be longer or shorter.

Below we’ll take a closer look at the different mourning stages of breakups.

The Effects and Stages of Breakups


As the name indicates, this stage consists of denying reality. Here, we think that things will go back to normal, or even get better. The impact of the breakup is so strong that we feel the need to protect ourselves rather than accept the facts.

It’s important to recognize this stage for what it is, go through it and move on. It’s also important not to dwell in this stage or judge ourselves for these feelings.


After denial comes anger, rage projected towards the other party. We go from not wanting to see reality to blaming our ex for everything that went wrong. Some individuals also come to blame themselves. It’s common to experience a desire for revenge.


During this stage, we try to understand the other side, accept what has happened, and approach the other party. If we don’t handle this stage correctly, we run the risk of believing in a possible reconciliation, only making things worse.


While it may not seem like it, this is when the true work begins. Here, we understand that there’s no going back, and true sadness sets in. You may feel worse than before. But, you’re finally understanding that the relationship is over and, sooner or later, this will allow you to move on.


Little by little, the sadness fades away and the sensation that there is a future beyond this breakup starts to feel more real. We regain our desire to live, to meet new people and even to get romantically involved with someone new.

The Effects and Stages of Breakups

Some of the scars that breakups can leave behind

As you can see, breakups have an enormous effect on our mental, emotion and even physical health. This can lead to certain consequences:

  • Depression: Of course, this is a natural part of the mourning process. However, many people remain stuck there and don’t know how to get out of the cycle of sadness. They isolate themselves more and more, falling into chronic depression.
  • Anxiety: The fear of an uncertain future can produce anxiety, often with an inability to sleep.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): When breakups are in any way violent, they may lead to this type of disorder. This is especially true in cases of mistreatment.
  • Low self-esteem: Loss can bring us to feel hopeless and guilt sets in. The loss of self-esteem is just a step away.

There’s no denying that breakups are difficult situations to face. However, it’s not impossible, especially if we have the right tools and support.

If you realize that you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and stages of breakups, reach out to a specialist who can help you get out of the rut and rebuild your life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.