Forget Arguing—This Is the #1 Sign Your Relationship Is About to End

Kelsey Clark
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Breakups are painful enough—never mind the fact that they occur in five separate stages. That's right; a study from The Journal of College Counseling found that breakups from intimate relationships unfold over the course of five heart-wrenching stages, the first of which is pre-contemplation, or the point before you even start thinking about breaking up.

The second, called contemplation, is the first warning sign that you and your significant other are headed for splitsville. This is when you start having thoughts like "this relationship isn't for me," or "there's something off in my relationship." 

From there comes the preparation stage, which is when you're certain you want to break up, but you don't know how to instigate it. Cue the pit in your stomach. What's worse, people can linger in this stage for months as they weigh the pros and cons of their relationship and work up the courage to carry out the act.

Once you reach the fourth stage, action, you've finally taken concrete steps to end the relationship, or you've broken up altogether. People in this stage may speak to their partner less and less, or cut ties once and for all. As if initiating heartbreak isn't enough, the fifth and final stage, maintenance, involves the painful exchanging of former love tokens, including sweatshirts, movies, books, you name it. If you manage to stay separated during these last interactions, it's likely you'll go your separate ways for good.

Have you experienced the five stages of breaking up? If so, share your experience with us below! 

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