Breakups suck. They make you feel sad, angry, and bitter all at the same time. Learning how to cope with the pain after a breakup is vital to your mental health because there's nothing worse than going off the deep end and letting your priorities slip. The best way to deal? Cry it out, mope around for a few days, and then get back to kicking ass like you're supposed to. But first, you need to let all of those emotions out — and what better way to do that than with music?
Here are ten breakup songs for every Stage of the breakup process.
1. "Cold War" by Cautious Clay
Stage 1: Denial
Key lyrics: "But if we just spoke, like we meant it
Would you reference
This open part of me"
The first part of the breakup process is characterized by shock and a hollow, unsettling feeling of sadness. This makes for a good recipe for denial. In the moment, you know that it's over, but at the same time, there's a little part of you that still thinks things could work out. During this stage you're highly likely to be reminiscent of all the good times you've had with your partner, wishing and hoping that things could somehow repair themselves.
Cautious Clay's "Cold War" is a hypnotic, romantic-feeling song that speaks to our frustrations after a breakup. The song gives off an easy-going, yet melancholy vibe — perfect for a less-depressing breakup song — and offers great commentary about relationships in the 21st century.
2. "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star
Stage 1: Denial
Key lyrics: "I want to hold the hand inside you
I want to take the breath that's true
I look to you and I see nothing
I look to you to see the truth"
Not only is this song deeply romantic, but it's also a 90s classic. Hope Sandoval's soulful voice and haunting lyrics are just the panacea we all need during a breakup. If you were having a hard time expressing your emotions honestly during the aftermath of a breakup, then look no further. This song will surely open up the waterworks.
This song is perfect for stage 1 since it speaks to how much we (even though it hurts to admit it) love and miss our ex.
3. "Sorry" by Beyoncé
Stage 2: Anger
Key lyrics: "middle fingers up, put them hands high
way it in his face, tell him, boy, bye"
The second phase of the breakup process is best described as the "fu*k you" stage. This stage is probably the least painful and the most fun. Instead of sleeping in and crying underneath our blankets, we have the intense urge to pick ourselves up and show our ex what he or she is missing. During this stage, it's highly likely that we'll be partying a lot (along with a few possible hook-ups).
Beyoncé's "Sorry" is the perfect "fu*k you" song. The catchy beat and high energy of the song, along with her biting and relatable lyrics, reminds us that we are the prize in a relationship and that we don't have time to be worrying about someone who doesn't appreciate us.
4. "Bankrupt" by Cuban Doll
Stage 2: Anger
Key lyrics: "F*ck all them niggas we gon' f*ck up this cash
I hopped out my feelings then I hopped in my bag"
Cuban Doll's "Bankrupt" is exactly the song you need to feel empowered, motivated, and focused after a breakup. Oftentimes we get sucked into our sadness and completely forget to take care of ourselves and focus on our goals. "Bankrupt" reminds us to forget about our ex and focus on our bread.
5. "Poppin" by Rico Nasty
Stage 2: Anger
Key lyrics: "I'm a poppin' ass bi**h, let me remind ya"
After a breakup, our self-esteem tends to take a hit. No matter how confident we are, there's always a part of us that wonders what's wrong with us that caused our relationship not to work out. (Unless your partner was a complete asshole and you initiated the breakup.) Rico Nasty's "Poppin," however, is a self-love anthem. Her strong voice, cocky demeanor, and aggressive lyrics will make you feel just as confident and energized, perfect for stage 2 since you'll already have the urge to flex on your ex.
6. "You Know What I Mean" by Cults
Stage 3: Bargaining
Key lyrics: "I try so hard to be happy
But something goes wrong once again
Please, please come and save me
Tell me what's wrong with my brain
'Cause I seem to have lost it"
The high during stage 2 feels great, but the comedown is absolutely horrible. After your anger has subsided and you realize that you do, in fact, still love your ex, you'll pretty much be back where you started — except more desperate to be with your partner. During this stage, we'll probably contemplate contacting our ex (or already drunk-dialed them) and will just wish that things could go back to the way they used to be (conveniently forgetting all of the reasons we broke up in the first place). I call this the "crazy stage," since you'll probably be thinking about your ex a lot (and even doing some social media stalking).
Cults' "You Know What I Mean" is the perfect song for this stage. The song has an old-timey feel, a great fit for the nostalgia we'll probably be feeling about our ex, and the lyrics speak exactly to how this stage of the breakup process feels. It feels hard to move on, and all we want to do is have our partner by our side.
7. "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John
Stage 3: Bargaining
Key lyrics: "I would go along with someone like you
It doesn't matter what you did, who you were hanging with
We could stick around and see this night through"
"Young Folks" is the perfect song to listen to when you're pining over your ex. During the bargaining stage, we are so focused on being with our ex that we tend to romanticize who they are as people (meaning we ignore all the shitty things about them that led to the breakup). "Young Folks" is romantic, upbeat, and dreamy, and speaks to our feelings of missing our ex and wanting to spend time with them.
8. "Thinkin Bout You" Frank Ocean
Stage 4: Depression
Key lyrics: "My eyes don't shed tears, but, boy, they bawl
When I'm thinkin' 'bout you (Ooh, no, no, no)
I've been thinkin' 'bout you (You know, know, know)
I've been thinkin' 'bout you
Do you think about me still? Do ya, do ya?"
This is by far the worst stage of the breakup process. Unlike the previous three stages, you can no longer shield your emotions behind hope and faux-cockiness. Instead, the realization that the relationship actually is over hits you, and it hurts like hell. During this stage, all we want to do is mourn the loss of our partnership. And Frank Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You" is a perfect song to help you do that.
"Thinkin Bout You" is probably one of the most depressing love songs in the history of love songs. With a slow, sorrowful melody and powerful lyrics, Ocean does a great job of accurately conveying our feelings during this stage. With our ex on our mind and pain in our heart, Ocean's beautiful and powerful voice is like medicine to the soul.
9. "Love is Blind (Remake)" by Sydney Renae
Stage 4: Depression
Sydney Renae puts her own spin on Eve's classic "Love is Blind," with an angelic and passionate voice that conveys the deeply intense pain of a breakup. Her lyrics also hit close to home for a lot of us, who often find ourselves in disappointing and one-sided relationships. Renae speaks to the soul and reminds us that we're never alone in our breakup struggle because, at the end of the day, we all go through it.
10. "thank u, next" by Ariana Grande
Stage 5: Acceptance
Key lyrics: "One taught me love
One taught me patience
And one taught me pain
Now I'm so amazing"
It takes a long time to get to this stage (unless you're an Aquarius), but boy is it fulfilling. Long gone are the days of crying, eating nothing but ice cream, and walking around with a constant cloud of sadness. In their place is a feeling of peace and acceptance. You've realized that there was nothing you can do to repair the relationship and that, unfortunately, you'll just have to let your ex go. And that's OK.
Ariana Grande's "thank u, next," is a great breakup anthem that reminds us that no matter how painful a relationship was, it taught us something important and helped us grow as people. It also shows us to forgive our ex and let go of any bitter feelings. At one point, we really did love them, and we should be grateful we got to experience that, even for a short while.
While the benefits of a breakup may be few, we can all agree that they make great inspiration for amazing songs. By listening to these ten songs, you'll be out of your breakup funk in no time.