Five Stages of the Modern-Day Break Up

Love and Sex

Five Stages of the Modern-Day Break Up

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

There are good ways to get dumped, bad ways to get dumped, and then there’s Whatsapp. When your girlfriend of five years (with whom you have got to the slightly schmaltzy stage of naming babies) breaks up you without as much as a voice note, and an emoji-less text message that says, “I’m just not feeling it anymore”, you have only two options left. Feed it into some brilliantly creative jokes or just surrender and enter the five stages of break-up grief.

For my fellow sorry saps who have received or are awaiting those six deadly little words on WhatsApp, but don’t have the option of masking the pain with humour, here is a primer of the stages that you will soon be going through.

Stage 1: Denial, aka “Arre kuch nahi, patch up ho jaayega.”

In the initial few days of being dumped, your first instinct will be to take up an expensive gym membership in the mistaken belief that a revenge bod will win back your ex. It won’t. It will just make you very sore all the time. In this stage, you might also experience delusions of still having a shot at being with them. This will likely be fuelled by your partner’s insistence that you “remain friends and be there for each other”. The break up sex won’t help either. Break-up sex is always, always a terrible idea.

These delusions won’t stop until your most savage friend snaps you out of your pathetic Stockholm Syndrome by sending you a screenshot of your ex’s brand-spanking new Tinder profile. Adding insult to injury, their DP is a picture of them sitting in your living room that you had clicked. When you confront them about why they didn’t tell you they were seeing other people, they may say something along the lines of, “I think it’s time we make the most of being single in our 20s. I’ve begun exploring my options; you should too.” You will feel a lump in your throat. Then realize Tinder is there for you too. This segues you into phase two.

Stage 2: Anger, aka “Chalo, let’s bang everything?”

In this blissful time of blind rage and resentment for your ex, you will turn to Tinder or Hinge, and they will save you. You will plough through numerous “sapiosexuals”, some of whom can’t even pronounce lingerie correctly. Here you will scare away perfectly nice people because you are so visibly damaged and you will accidentally call a partner by your ex’s name. Multiple times. The rebounds will come and go, quite literally. The one thing that will not come, however, is closure. You will realize that you’ve become an angry, bitter, and pessimistic person, and you will not like this version of you. Pro-tip: This is the best time to start binging on shows like BoJack Horseman or rewatch 500 Days of Summer. Leading you into the very tricky phase three.

Stage 4 is when Lana Del Rey music will really begin speaking to you and your playlist will be marred by Atif Aslam and Adele.

Stage 3: Bargaining, aka “It’s cool! We are totes over each other.”

By the time the new year rolls around, you and your ex have not spoken for a few months. Well, not spoken sober, at least. You are both still in love with each other but won’t admit this because of your ego. You decide to meet one fine day, six months after your breakup. You both swear that everything is “super chill” and that you are ready to be friends again. You meet at this little coffee shop close to campus that you both frequented when bunking lectures. After half an hour of half-assed nostalgia interrupted by awkward interjections of “remember when…” and sips of cappuccino, you both decide that coffee is “like so 2011”. And like responsible twenty four-year-olds, you decide to go to Bar Stock Exchange till you both get hammered enough to admit how truly miserable you both are. High on this cocktail of two parts bitter nostalgia mixed with one part low self-esteem, chased down with the icy appeal of your ex’s embrace, you will backslide. This will last for another pathetic couple of months till you finally grow a spine and cut away from this profoundly toxic relationship. It will lead you into the darkest stage of them all, stage four.

Stage 4: Depression, aka “Adele hi meri dulhan hai”

This is when Lana Del Rey music will really begin speaking to you and your playlist will be marred by Atif Aslam and Adele. Your Whatsapp DPs will mostly be various existential memes. You will swear off dating. Your room will perhaps contain a shrine of all the material belongings your ex left behind, ranging from their hair clips and junk jewellery to pictures from your vacations together and a BIC lighter they left in your car. You will drink. A lot. At one point, you will spend so much time staring at their Whatsapp chat that they will be compelled to message you asking, “hey, what were you typing?”, leading you to block them.

Sometimes, you might even type their name on a blank document just to see how deep into the depths of turmoil you can dive by simply staring at this combination of letters, which at one point, seemingly encapsulated your entire existence. You will drink some more. You will check their Instagram fifteen times a day from different people’s profiles and, while scrolling down, you will inadvertently come across pictures of them with some person that looks so much happier than you are right now. You will want to punch that person in their stupid, happy face for not knowing just how lucky they are to be in that moment. Which is when your friends will begin to worry that you’ve gone senile. Because the picture you’re staring at is from 2015 and the happy person with your ex, is you. You will pass out.

Stage 5: Acceptance, aka “Sadda Haq”

After many, many months of drunkenly moping to everyone and their uncle about how heartbroken you are, you will make peace with the fact that you can’t force someone to love you back. You will find solace in something cathartic like bleeding your heart’s anguish onto a page, or becoming the kind of workaholic that conveniently has “no time for dating”, or do something more therapeutic like spending extra time with your cat. Also, you will realize that “haha” reacting on your Facebook Memories together is just petty. Simply untag yourself and move on. In spite of all the resentment you’re harbouring, you will conclude deep inside that your ex is a good person. And they deserve to be happy, even if it isn’t with you.

I’m not sure about what stage comes next, mainly because I haven’t got there yet. Though something tells me it’s a phase where you do something drastic, like deleting all dating apps from your phone and deciding to anonymously pen down your account of lost love, in a desperate attempt for closure.

And it still won’t come.