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Getting Through the Phases of a Separation

Updated on May 28, 2020
Danyelcarinzia profile image

Some advice from many relationships, good and bad. I reflect on my own experiences, no names mentioned.

A Tumultuous Time For Feelings

Maybe it has been lingering for a long time, or perhaps it came as a complete surprise.

No matter how a separation happens, it always plunges those involved into a turmoil of emotions. You experience shock, pain, disappointment, anger, hope, self-doubt, jealousy.

In the beginning, we experience alternating waves of feelings, which first have to be sorted out so that we can deal with the new situation. That can take a while and usually takes place over several phases in which we adjust emotionally to the changes.

The 5 Phases Of Separation

Everyone experiences a separation differently, and everyone deals differently with the pain of separation. But in general, we go through five phases of separation, each of which is of different lengths and different degrees. They can be compared to the 5 stages of grief.


In phase 1, we don’t want to admit the separation. It is painful for us to accept that suddenly everything should be over. We try to ignore the fact, distract ourselves or keep looking for contact with the ex-partner. Friends and family will not be informed about the separation, as we secretly hope that it is only a short relationship crisis and that everything will return to normal again soon.

Inner Chaos

In phase 2 we, have gradually realized that the separation is real; we usually experience a wave of anger and sadness.

Anger at the ex-partner for inflicting this pain on us. Anger at us because we blame ourselves for the separation. Sadness that we’ve been with this person for so long.

It is not unusual for us to seek revenge, to let the ex share our pain and to punish him or her for the separation

But feelings of revenge don’t get us anywhere. In retrospect, we feel even worse when we realize what we have done. Hence, let your anger out, react, but leave your ex be.

Rescue Attempt

After the inner chaos, phase 3, a spark of hope arises in some. Maybe the relationship can still be saved? Perhaps if I change? We try to negotiate with the ex and make promises to try harder.

Emotional Low

When phase 3 has been unsuccessful, we often plunge into an emotional low, phase 4, a kind of depression. That can even manifest itself in physical discomforts, such as loss of appetite, difficulties sleeping, lack of stimulation and a lack of motivation to do everyday things.

We mourn past love, only remember the pleasant moments we spent together, and we firmly believe that we will never find a partner again.

The depressive phase is healthy and helps us to overcome the separation.

However, it shouldn’t last too long or become a permanent low

After a while, you should venture back into the crowd and do something with friends. If you can no longer get out of the valley of emotions on your own, you can use the help of a therapist. In technical terms, that’s called an adjustment disorder.

Acceptance And New Beginnings

No matter how long you have lived through the other phases of the separation, in the end, it’s phase 5, you can accept the separation and look back positively.

Some people process a separation reasonably quick; others take longer to do so.

But eventually, you can close that door and open another, which hold entirely new perspectives for your life.

You can finally assume that the relationship was not meant to last forever and maybe gradually develop a friendly relationship with your ex. Or at least one that is not characterized by anger and resentment.

How Can I Process And Overcome The Separation?

Lovesickness can be very painful and can also put us physically under strain. It is good not to suppress and allow this pain. That’s the only way you can process the separation emotionally.

However, that phase should soon be over so that you can find your way back to life. Here are some suggestions to help you process the heartache easier.

Talk About It

Talk about the pain of separation from the soul, ideally soon after the separation. The more openly you talk to friends or relatives about it, the easier it will be for you to accept it as a fact. You also don’t have to keep the pain inside yourself, which can be a great relief.

Allow Your Feelings

Do you feel like crying? Then let the tears run free. Are you outraged? Then scream the frustration from your soul, look for a punching bag or do contact sports. Repressing the feelings only causes the grief to last longer. So let it out.

Write The Separation Off Your Mind

Take a journal and a pen and write down unfiltered anything you would like to say to your ex. It’s always better than sending an angry message that you may regret shortly afterwards.

Take a step back and read the note with all your thoughts

You will see that you would delete a lot or add for that matter. And the best thing about it, once you put it on paper, it’s no longer on your soul.

See The Separation As Positive

Maybe it’s good that you broke up? Maybe your partner had unpopular qualities that you no longer wanted to deal with anyway. Perhaps you missed your freedom and can now do what you want. The new situation as a single is, of course, unusual for the first moment, but almost everything in life also has advantages.

Reshape Your Life

Do you feel that you are lost without your partner, you don’t know where to in life? Then, for example, coaching could open up new perspectives and help you find your strengths and appreciate yourself again.

Because sometimes separation is also a turning point to realize your dreams and desires, now you finally have the freedom to take your life into your own hands.

New hobbies, a trip, things to do with friends — find things that are fun and give you new energy

Free Yourself From Memories

Are gifts from your ex and loving memories of happier days scattered all over your place? Then put everything in a box so that the items don’t always remind you of the past. If you’re brave, you throw everything away. If you can’t part with it right away, hide the box somewhere.

Be Open To New Things

Maybe your ex wasn’t the love of your life; you are finally free for an even sweeter romantic adventure? With your eyes open, go out and let yourself be flirted with again after all the heartache.

The next flirt is probably not the right one, but confirmation alone is the balm for your soul

Separations are normal and can happen to anyone. When children are involved, however, it is particularly important to process the separation properly and to find rational ways of dealing with the ex again at some point.

That, of course, may seem impossible at first and maybe a long way, but for the sake of the children, you shouldn’t focus too much on your anger and disappointment and try to see the positive in the new beginnings.


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