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The five stages of breaking up with your ex

  • Trading in the tunnel of love for the tunnel of grief? You've got a few stops along the way
  • How to keep your heart safe and your online rep clean
The five stages of breaking up with your ex

There seem to be only two responses to Valentine's Day: You're either all "Weee! Hearts, stars and rainbows, possibly a ring! BUY ME ALL THE CANDY!" or you're posting sad tweets about the date you have with a pair of yoga pants and "The Notebook." There is a middle ground (not caring or buying into the expectation of expectation because after all, we all know it's a product of marketing, so why give any attention at all past your own desires, right?), but for those of us still trying to get over a breakup, Valentine's Day isn't just a nuisance, it's a pain. A chocolate knife right through the conversation heart.

This Valentine's Day, if you're trying to exorcise a love ghost, you're going to have to be honest with yourself. You're going to experience the following:


You know how after celebs break up, they immediately appear on the cover of People magazine or wherever over a giant headline like "Single and Better Than Ever!"? These people are lying. They are dying inside. The sooner you admit to yourself that you are not, at the moment, a strong vibrant figure loosed from the chains of love, the sooner you can find a path back to being that person. Give yourself time to just feel feelings. Super bad feelings. It's healthy.

E-how: There's nothing wrong with tweeting inspiring things and expressing how genuinely happy you are. But your friends can all see through those 100 too-happy Instagram pics and veiled pot shots at your ex. They've all been there before, and they sort of feel bad for you.

Read more: 7 celebs who need to break up with their 'type'


Oh, this is when the fun starts! You've stopped crying, and now you're mad. Really, really mad. Thinking about everything that went wrong with the relationship is common, and now you're wondering how you ever let that vile demon-spawn of an ex under your skin. The passive-aggression may be kicked up a notch. You may be tempted to send some unscrupulous late night texts. Your Facebook feed is making people uncomfortable.

E-how: We all have that one friend who posts vague, angry status updates on Facebook. Don't be that friend. That friend is, like, 15 years old. You may be humiliated after a breakup, but trust, falling victim to social media anger is like getting extremely drunk: You do loud, stupid things you regret, and you're even more humiliated than before. Ranting to a friend in person will give you the support you need without the public hangover.


"Maybe I could just text them once. Looking at their Twitter feed six times a day isn't weird; it's right there, in public!" If the breakup is really bad, you may find yourself putting together an imaginary set of rules. Maybe they're all the things you could do to get the person back in your life. Maybe it's a system for keeping tabs on their life without feeling like a full-blown stalker. This is the point at which you feel the past really beginning to slip away from you. Embrace it. Well, don't embrace it, let it slip away. Embrace the feeling. But let it go. Let the past feeling away, embrace the go. Whatever.

E-how: You gotta stop checking his or her online activity. It's gotta happen. It may be right there, and you're not breaking any rules or anything, but it's still not good for you. People spend months, or years keeping tabs on exes. What if your ex gets a new significant other? Are you going to start looking at their stuff, too? Pretty soon, you're informing yourself on a life that isn't even yours anymore. Sadness! If you have to de-friend or un-follow, do it! It's not about being bitter, it's about being good to yourself.

Read more: The 6 guys you gotta break up with


Yup, the classic Valentine's Day emotion. See, here's the thing about Valentine's Day. It's not just about people who are in love, it's about the possibility of love. It's about love over all obstacles (and a guy who got his head chopped off, so there's that). So if you're fresh off a breakup, try looking at Valentine's Day as a day of optimism: Buy yourself some flowers, or send some to a friend who has gotten you through this tough time. Reconnect with the love you have in your life, even if your heart is still hurting.

E-how: Lamenting about being single on Valentine's Day is the most cliché thing to ever happen ever. Get mad if you want, but you know it's true.


This is your life. You have gone through a terrible, sad, lonely time and have come out the other end. People should take pictures of you dancing in a field of daisies with your arms up and tag it in the Wikipedia definition of "acceptance." You're not held down by bitterness, you're not secretly checking your ex's Facebook while telling all your friends you're OK. You actually are OK.

E-how: Dang, do whatever you want. Shout it from the Twitter rooftops! You're back, and better than ever. Maybe you should get a People magazine cover of your own.

What sort of habits have gotten you through a bad breakup? Tell us at!

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