3 Phases You Must Go Through To Fully Get Over Your Divorce

Get through it on a timeline unique to you.

Last updated on Apr 17, 2024

Woman on a roller coaster of post divorce emotions RDNE Stock project, Pixland, Jr Korpa | Canva 

The pain and confusion of divorce are so intense you might wonder if you’ve lost your mind. At other times, you worry this agony is how life will be from now on. In less torturous moments, you are stable and know life will get better. But then, you wonder when because you're not sure how much more of the misery you can take.

There are plenty of people who will willingly tell you exactly how long it will take you to get over divorce. What you need to know is that they’re all wrong. They are all wrong because they base their guidance on averages, observation, personal experience, and personal bias. There’s no way any of that will be able to predict how long it will take you to get over your divorce.


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Here are the 3 phases you must go through to fully get over your divorce:

1. The "make the pain stop" phase

This is the most challenging part of divorce recovery. Living in pain and confusion is the only constant amid the chaos of your divorce.

You struggle to figure out a way to stop hurting so much as you go through all the phases of grief. You are greatly tempted to medicate the pain away in this phase. You might ask your doctor for a prescription, or you might self-medicate with food, alcohol, other mood-altering substances, or unhealthy intimacy.


The biggest challenge here is to not over-medicate yourself so you avoid feeling what you need to experience to heal so you can move on to the next phase as you fight to move on with your life after divorce.

You look for guidance from just about anyone to make the pain stop. The challenge is that not everyone you’ll be tempted to ask for help will be able to help you. They’ll each have their reasons for offering help, which may or may not have your best interests as reason number 1.



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2. The "focus on others" phase

As the pain starts to subside, you’ll feel numb compared to the tumultuous emotions that were besieging you in the previous phase. You’ll look outside of yourself to keep moving on.

You might start to focus on your kids, work, pets, or friends. This external focus allows you to re-establish and redefine the relationships and responsibilities that suffered the most as you were dealing with your pain.

Looking at life through this lens of connection and contribution can be extremely motivating. The challenge is that it can also lead to burnout because you’re not necessarily taking care of yourself.

drinking tea and relaxedPhoto: ViDI Studio via Shutterstock


3. The "creating the life you want" phase

Eventually, you’ll get your relationships and responsibilities stabilized. You may not have everything the way you want it, but you’ll accept how things are with the important people and activities in your life. This is when you start becoming motivated by what you want. You’ll find it easy to take the steps necessary to make your life great.

This shift in focus doesn’t mean that you start ignoring what you’ve built up in the last phase, but you are now motivated to make your life work for you. The goal is to feel fulfilled and happy.

And when you reach this phase, you’re over the bulk of your divorce recovery work. You may still have a few triggers that hurl you back to the first phase of pain and confusion (like when you find out your ex is in a serious relationship or when your anniversary rolls around), but you won’t stay there for long.

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You know what lies ahead of you is much more motivating and appealing than what happened in the past.



As much as knowing these phases will help you get a feel for how much longer you’ll be dealing with getting over your divorce, they can also make it more challenging if you’re one of those people who like to push to accomplish things.

Super-achievers will be tempted to focus on what they want to create in their life now instead of thoroughly working through each of the phases.


If this is you, remember that completely recovering from a divorce is a process. You can accelerate the process by focusing on the best ways to get through each phase, but not by short-circuiting or skipping any portion of one.

You’ll get through it on a timeline unique to you — not according to someone else’s. Instead of looking for an exact time when you’ll be over your divorce, it makes more sense to look at other indications you’re over your divorce.

Allow yourself to progress through each with intention. As you do, you’ll find that you’ll have dealt with the pain, confusion, and outward focus to the point you’re able to create an amazing life for yourself post-divorce.

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Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.