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Sex + Relationships

The Best Breakup Songs for Each Stage of Heartbreak

September has come and gone, along with an endless amount of college relationships that may or may not have been going strong at the start of the month. Whether people saw the end to their relationships coming or not, breakups are hard. And a difficult breakup typically comes with — to put it plainly — unavoidable waves of grief. Seven waves, to be exact. 

There may be no way to avoid the heartbreak, but there are a few ways to make it slightly easier. 

A killer breakup playlist is one way. There’s a reason why most hit songs today are about breakups or getting back together. In order to move on, you have to come to terms with all your emotions and allow yourself to truly feel them. The right breakup songs are relatable, putting into words the many emotions that come and go with grieving a difficult breakup. 

That’s why I’ve put together a few songs for each stage of breakup grief — the best of the best — perfect for heartbroken college students.

1. Wanting Answers: “Out of Love” by Alessia Cara

You want to know why. It doesn’t matter if you were broken up with or you did the breaking up — there is always this question of why or how it got to this. 

“But let me ask you one thing

Oh, when did you fall out of love?”

Alessia Cara, “Out of Love”

Runner up songs:

“tear myself apart” by Tate McRae

“Selfish” by Madison Beer

2. Denial: “Dusk Till Dawn (feat. Sia)” by ZAYN

Maybe you want to keep in touch with your ex, completely ignoring the fact that you’ve broken up. When your parents ask you where *insert ex’s name* has been lately, you lie and say they’ve just been really busy with work and school. 

Denial is rearing its ugly head, protecting you from the painful truth.

“But you’ll never be alone

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn”

Zayn Malik, “Dusk Till Dawn (feat. Sia)”

Runner up songs:

“Without Me” by Halsey

“Close” by Nick Jonas ft. Tove Lo 

“The Heart Wants It Wants” by Selena Gomez

3. Bargaining: “Stay (feat. Mikky Ekko)” by Rihanna & “Before I Go” by Mimi Webb

At this point, you’ll do anything to go back to the way things were before, even if it means suffering through the bad parts of the relationship all over again. You’re following your heart rather than your head. Despite what everyone around you is saying, your heart wants only one thing, and at this point, you’ll do just about anything to get what it wants.

“I threw my hands in the air, said ‘Show me something’

He said, ‘If you dare, come a little closer’

‘Round and around and around and around we go”

Rihanna, “Stay (feat. Mikky Ekko)”

Runner up songs:

“The Heart Wants What It Wants” by Selena Gomez

“I’ll Break My Heart Again” by Mimi Webb

“Please Don’t Go” by Mike Posner

“Issues” by Julia Michaels 

4. Relapse: “No Goodbyes” by Dua Lipa & “Back To You” by Selena Gomez

You tried the whole staying away thing, maybe for a few days or a few weeks. Maybe even a month! But then you bumped into them at a party and…welcome to the relapse stage.

Maybe it was just a text or a phone call, but either way, you reconnected in a moment of weakness and will have to bounce back from that eventually. 

“For tonight, let’s love like there’s no goodbyes

Just for tonight, pretend that it’s all alright”

Dua Lipa, “No Goodbyes”

Runner up songs:

“Get Back” by Demi Lovato 

“Thinking ‘Bout You” by Dua Lipa

5. Anger: “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish & “i hope ur miserable until ur dead” by Nessa Barrett 

There was a second chance opportunity when you reconnected, and (surprise, surprise) it didn’t work out. You’ve surpassed wanting your ex back and have entered the angry stage. You’re mad at the universe and mad at your friends and family for being right. But mostly, you’re mad at your ex.

“I don’t relate to you, no

’cause I’d never treat me this sh*tty

you made me hate this city”

Billie Eilish, “Happier Than Ever”

Runner up songs:

“good 4 u” by Olivia Rodrigo 

“Ain’t Sh*t” by Doja Cat

6. Acceptance: “Strange (Edit)” by Celeste & “July” by Noah Cyrus

You’ve accepted the breakup and the inevitability of its ending. That means you might be feeling the saddest you’ve felt yet. But it also means that you’re in the home stretch of the seven stages of grief, and it only gets easier from here.

“Isn’t it strange

How people can change

From strangers to friends

Friends into lovers

And strangers again”

Celeste, “Strange (Edit)”

Runner up songs:

“Lose You to Love” Me by Selena Gomez

“Ghost of You” by 5 Seconds of Summer

“Good Without” by Mimi Webb

“Dumb Love” by Mimi Webb

“24/5” by Mimi Webb

“If the World Was Ending” by JP Saxe & Julia Michaels

7. Redirected Hope: “Miss Movin’ On” by Fifth Harmony & “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande

Not only have you come to terms with the end of your relationship, but you’re beginning to feel hope for the future. There’s a newfound sense of independence and freedom, and you might even feel excited to get out there and experience single life. You should be! This is a great time to enjoy yourself without the attachments that come with a relationship.

“It killed me but I survived

And now I’m coming alive”

Fifth Harmony, “Miss Movin’ On”

Runner up songs:

“Someone To You” by BANNERS

Congratulations! You’ve officially made it through all seven stages of grieving a heartbreak, and all you needed was a little musical encouragement. 

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Lauren Saloio

U Mass Amherst '23

Lauren is junior at UMass Amherst and is majoring in English. She loves reading, writing, and spending way too much money in coffee shops and book stores.
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