In the wake of a bad breakup, well-meaning friends may try to cheer you up by telling you that "it was probably meant to be" or "you'll find someone better." But if you've recently been dumped, you aren't interested in being cheered up. And forget moving on from the relationship, because right now you're lucky if you can move on from the couch. That's why the best breakup songs are like the best girlfriends; they understand your need to just wallow in sadness. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. For the First 24 Hours after the Breakup — "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor
If you're in need of a dramatic soundtrack to accompany you as you sob into your Ben and Jerry's, nothing compares to "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor. The song has all the makings of a great breakup song: Wailing vocals, haunting violin solos, and a music video featuring closeups of Sinead O'Connor looking teary-eyed and despondent. The lyrics capture the anguish of those first days post-breakup, when the hours drag and the pain feels unmanageable. You'll relate to lyrics like "It's been seven hours and 15 days since you took your love away" and "It's been so lonely without you here / Like a bird without a song".
2. For When You Don't Want to Get Out of Bed in the Morning — "Skyscaper" by Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato reportedly broke down sobbing several times while recording "Skyscraper," prompting her to check herself into a treatment facility shortly thereafter. The raw pain she was experiencing can be heard when her voice cracks and disappears into a whisper, making the song all the more emotional and powerful. Lyrics like "All my windows, still are broken / But I'm standing on my feet" and the resolute call to arms of "Go on and try to tear me down / I will be rising from the ground / Like a skyscraper" will help you to rally with her against the pain.
3. For When You Find Out Your Ex Has Moved On — "Someone Like You" by Adele
Adele wrote "Someone Like You" shortly after learning her ex-boyfriend had become engaged to another woman. The news was particularly devastating, as her boyfriend of nearly two years had broken up with her only a few months earlier. Adele explained to Q Magazine, "We were so intense I thought we would get married. But that was something he never wanted... So when I found out he does want that with someone else, it was just the horrible-est feeling ever." That sentiment is extremely evident in lyrics like "Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you" and "I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded that for me, it isn't over.
4. For When You Need a Good Cry — "Elastic Heart" by Sia
The beauty of a Sia song is that when she sings, her words aren't just heard, they're felt. In "Elastic Heart," her voice is almost primal and screamlike. If you've gone through a string of recent breakups, you'll relate to lyrics like "And another one bites the dust / But why can I not conquer love?" And when her voice cracks while singing "And I want it and I wanted it bad," you'll find your heart breaking right along with hers. It's a great song to listen to when you need a cathartic cry.
5. For When You Can't Accept It's Over — "Goodbye My Lover" by James Blunt
James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover" has a depressing finality to it that makes it a good song to listen to when you're trying to move past a bad relationship. While you may be feeling "so hollow" inside, you may also find it helps to sing along to the chorus "Goodbye my lover / Goodbye my friend." Embrace it as your breakup mantra.
6. For When a Relationship Ends Before It Even Began — "Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy
Sometimes the hardest goodbyes are the ones you're forced to make early in a relationship. It can be tough to let go of an "almost lover" because there was just so much potential. Instead of moving on, you're trapped with thoughts of "What if...?" and "Why not?" A Fine Frenzy lead singer Alison Sudol captures the frustration these obsessive thought patterns can cause when she sings: "Goodbye, my almost lover / Goodbye, my hopeless dream / I'm trying not to think about you / Can't you just let me be?"
7. For When You Want to Numb the Pain — "Habits" by Tove Lo
While we hope our post-breakup selves will hit the gym instead of the bottle, Tove Lo points out that's not always what happens. The Swedish singer told the BBC her song "Habits" accurately depicts her reaction to a failed relationship. "I can't lie. What I'm singing about is my life. It's the truth. I've had moments where that [drug use] has been a bigger part than it should be. It's hard to admit to." Even if your breakup hasn't led you to "throw up in the tub" and "pick up daddies in the playground," it can be comforting to know you're not the only one having a tough time coping with the pain.
8. For When You Want to Get Back Together with Your Ex — "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri
Christina Perri wrote this song after learning that "the boy with the jar of hearts" wanted to see her while she was home visiting family over the holidays. "My heart wanted to see him," she explained on her blog. "My head knew better. I couldn't take one more break so I wrote the song instead." If you're having a tough time resisting the temptation to call your ex, these lyrics may help: "I hear you're asking all around / If I am anywhere to be found / But I have grown too strong / To ever fall back in your arms."