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So you're single...

By Alaina Burris
On November 8, 2019

Screenshot courtesy of Alaina Burris

Getting out of a relationship is never fun: you have to get used to not having that one person be a constant in your life, you’re no longer a social unit and things are just plain weird now. Whether you were the one who ended the relationship or not, it’s still pretty upsetting. 

When you’re upset, you go through the seven stages of grief. For each stage, there is a song or two (maybe even three or four) that can help you get through each stage. Essentially, here’s a playlist that can get you through your break-up and help get you back on your feet. 

  1. Stage one: Shock
    Shock is the first thing that comes with grief; you aren’t really sure what to do and everything is hitting you like a ton of bricks. The first song that comes to mind when you’re in shock would be Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” The song came out in 2014 and was nominated for a Grammy Award Song of the Year.

    A big song for the shock stage is Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” which came out in 2010; you still need each other, but you’re not good for each other anymore. Lady Antebellum knows how to get you to feel different emotions with all of their songs, and this song knows how to get you down, even more than you already are.

    The next song that comes to mind when in shock is Five Seconds of Summer’s (5SOS) “Heartache on the Big Screen.” Another 2014 hit brought to us by an Australian boy band; it references heartbreak as a movie, reliving the same scene over and over.

    The last song on the stage of shock is One Direction’s “Summer Love.” This song came out in 2012 and captures what it’s like to love someone for a short period of time and not know what to do when it’s over. 

  2. Stage two: Denial
    Denial is when you can’t seem to get rid of your feelings and you’re hoping that one of the two of you will realize you made a mistake (even if it wasn’t a mistake). A top song for the denial stage is “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by The Script, where the man in reference is waiting for his ex to come find him because of the feelings he has for her. The song came out in 2008. 

    Another song in the denial stage is also by The Script; it’s “For the First Time,” which came out in 2010, and it talks about the hardships of not being able to make a relationship work out, even when we want it to.  

    The last song for the denial stage is Gavin DeGraw’s “Not Over You.” It’s hard to get over someone fast, but sometimes, you’ll have to pretend you are, even when you’re not. You have to put on a mask to save face and in 2011, DeGraw gave us a song that helped us do just that. 

  3. Stage three: Guilt
    After getting out of a relationship and you’ve dealt with the denial, you enter the guilt stage, wondering what you should have done or what you should have said. When you’re in the guilt stage, you’re having regrets. 5SOS captures the guilt stage perfectly in their 2014 hit, “Everything I Didn’t Say.” You want to go back to the relationship, but you feel that it’s your fault, so you can’t, so you live with regrets.

    Another song that puts your guilt into words is Timbaland and OneRepublic’s “Apologize.” It came out in 2007 and puts into words what we’re all thinking in the guilt stage: is it too late to apologize? 

    The last song in the guilt stage is Taylor Swift’s “Back to December,” which came out in 2010 on her Speak Now album. It makes you think back to when the relationship ended and what happened to get it to that point, and honestly, it hits you right in the feels. 

  4. Stage four: Anger
    Stage four is inevitable in the break-up process. You are going to be angry about the relationship being over, whether it’s because of the actual relationship ending or the person it was with. Carrie Underwood understands how angry you can get when a relationship is over, and in 2005, she gave people all over the world their anger anthem, “Before He Cheats.” Personally, just listening to the song gets me heated.

    CeeLo Green followed suit and in 2010, gave us “Forget You” in which we realized that person we’re angry with isn’t even worth it; besides, Atari is way better than Xbox anyway.

    Finally, when you’re just so done with someone, to the point where you don’t even know if you’re angry anymore, but you know you’re done, Taylor Swift has just the song for you. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” came out in 2012 and reiterates just how exhausting it is to get out of a relationship.   

  5. Stage five: Depression
    After anger, you tend to get sad, which is why depression comes next. Depression is different than any of the other stages, because you’re not regretting anything and you’re not wishing for anything to come back, you’re just overall sad. “Amnesia” by 5SOS takes you down memory lane with your ex and makes you miss them; it’s another song that hits you where it hurts, which is what 2014 5SOS wanted to do, apparently.

    However, back in 2010, Katy Perry gave us “The One That Got Away,” which also takes us down memory lane with our exes, just in a little bit of a different way. She reminds us that maybe somewhere else, it would have worked out, but here, it just didn’t, and that’s fine.  

  6. Stage six: Reconstruction
    Reconstruction is one of the hardest parts following a break-up; you have to build yourself back up as an individual, which is quite the adventure. In 2009, Miley Cyrus graced the world with her hit, “The Climb,” after premiering it in “Hannah Montana: the Movie.” It’s the perfect song for going through the adventure of becoming yourself again.  

    Kelsea Ballerini also knows what it’s like to build yourself back up again and in 2017, she let everyone else know what it’s like, too, with her song “Miss Me More.” You really change in a relationship and it’s hard to remember what you were like beforehand, but when you figure it out, you’ll miss yourself, too. 

  7. Stage seven: Acceptance
    Once you’re finally over them and you’re yourself again, you’ve accepted it, you’re in the final stage of grief. Hands down, one of the best songs when you’re accepting your break-up is Jason Derulo’s “Ridin’ Solo.” The song came out in 2010 and was almost immediately a hit. If you haven’t heard it, the basis is that he’s finally off doing himself, and feeling great while doing it.

    Sometimes, you and your ex reach the stages at different times. Right now, while you’re in the acceptance stage, your ex could be in the denial stage, and this next song is perfect for that scenario. Walker Hayes gave us “You Broke Up With Me” in 2017 and it’s for when you know you’re over it, no matter what they say.

    Lastly, Little Mix gave us a power anthem for getting through a break-up in 2017 called “Shout Out To My Ex.” The song came out following band member Perrie Edwards’ break-up from One Direction’s Zayn Malik, and the song is basically calling him out, but it works for everyone.


Break-ups are hard; we’ve all been there. Everyone goes through the stages differently and everyone has different interests, but these are the songs that have helped me out; I hope they can help you, too. 


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