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Love and Relationships

The Best Breakup Songs and Why

Music therapy for healing a broken heart!


Kenneth Erickson


Feb 25, 2023

Disclosure: This article was not written by a medical professional, unless specifically stated otherwise. Advice or support content is not intended to be either professional medical or mental health advice or recommendations. All support and advice is from direct and/or anecdotal contributor/author experiences and topic research. If you are experiencing a physical or mental health emergency or mental or physical abuse, please seek professional support. Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us, at no cost to you when you decide to purchase a reviewed product.

13 Great Breakup Songs - for all the moods!

Record player and scattered albums

These are my personal picks for the best breakup songs, why they’re helpful, and how they helped in the moments I needed them!

Music was such an important part of my breakup recovery, but finding the right song that puts you in the right state of mind, at the right time, and that HELPS, is what we’re looking for.

You know, kind of like your own musical best friend or therapist.

I’ve had three big breakups in my life, one each in my 20’s,30’s, and 40’s, and music was always there to help.

Of course, there are thousands upon thousands of songs, each with different reasons why they may be perfect for you, but these were my songs, a little of my breakup and recovery story, and why they helped me.

Some of these I’m sure you’ll recognize, but hopefully there are a few that are new to you and will help you as well.

In the early days of each breakup, that time just after shock and anger, and the reality that the relationship was actually over was just kicking in , I needed music that would let me feel the pain and accept that I was still in love, regardless of whether or not my ex or our relationship deserved it anymore.

These were my go-to, cry it out, get lost in the grief, and safely spiral out of control songs:


1. "The Night We Met" by Lord Huron

Love this song and still listen to it from time to time.

This was from my last breakup and it always brought me back to our epic first date.

Both versions of this song are amazing (he did a version featuring Phoebe Bridges).

This song has a chilling feel and the lyrics take me from the beginning to the end of my relationship in an instant,

Then right back to the beginning all over again :)

Lyrics I connected with:
I had all and then, most of you, some and now, none of you, take me back to the night we met
This song is perfect for – Getting lost in the pain, getting it all out, anger and loss


2. "All Cried Out" by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

This was the O.G. breakup song from my first big breakup back in the day.

I’m dipping into the archives with this one, but I’ll never forget listening to this one over and over.

As far as I’m concerned, breakup songs never get old.

As long as the music soothes and lets you release the sadness, that's all that matters.

Lyrics I connected with:
I gave you my love in vain, my body never new such pleasure, my heart never knew such pain
This song is perfect for – Cheated on, cheaters regret, crying it out, focusing on moving on


3. "Un-Break My Heart" by Toni Braxton

This was for my second breakup and is a truly “immerse yourself in the pain” kind of song.

But, sometimes this is just what you want and need in the moment when you want to let it all out.

I found that once you let out the pain, you’re able to come out the other side ready to make better decisions.

Lyrics I connected with:
Bring back those nights when I held you beside me, un-break my heart, say you love me again
This song is good for – Crying it out, when things are still feeling out of control, getting lost in the pain

4. "The Heart Wants What It Wants" by Selena Gomez

In my opinion, Selena nails a couple of the key breakup music stage songs.

There is no doubt she shared exactly what you’re going through now and certainly she helped me when I just wanted to feel sad.

I played this one so many times during my second breakup.

I distinctly remember thinking how hard it was for me.

I could only imagine what it would've been like to have millions of people with an opinion about how I was feeling

and what they think I should do.

Nice one Selena! Way to stay strong.

Lyrics I connected with:
Save you advice ‘cause I won’t hear, you might be right, but I don’t care, there’s a million reasons why I should give you up, but the heart wants what it wants
This song is perfect for – Crying it out, forgiving yourself for feeling this way


5. "Glyercine" by Bush

Like any song, our connection to it is as much the things going on in our lives at the time, as it is the melody and the lyrics.

This song was a part of my first big breakup because it was a part of my relationship before it ended.

I love the edginess combined with the violin.

I needed something I could sink into that wasn’t always soft and gushy.

Lyrics I connected with:
I needed you more, you wanted us less, could not kiss, just regress
This song is perfect for – Crying it out, anger, blame, loss of control


This next group of songs is where it starts getting interesting.

If the first breakup music “stage” is all about the crying,

then this second stage is when we start to balance the tears with some inner strengthening!

Time to gain a clearer understanding, that the perfect relationship we thought we had -

really wasn't so perfect after-all.


6. "Recovery" by LP

I can still picture myself laying in bed listening to this song,

trying to push myself through the sadness and just make it to the other side.

During this time, LP came to D.C. for a concert, and though I was miserable and didn’t want to leave my apartment,

I forced myself to go to her show "alone", to prove I could do it.

It was a great move for me and remembering I was able to do this helped keep me moving in the right direction – forward.

As we ebb and flow, this is the type of song that will cover you for all the difficult feelings you’ll be hit with.

Lyrics I connected with:
I know you wanna say you’re sorry, but I already heard that story, and I don’t wanna be your fool anymore
This song is perfect for – Mental boundaries, moving forward, trying to process and strengthen, allowing yourself to grieve


7. "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart" by Alicia Keys

I remember playing this song during breakup two,

specifically, in the morning after an evening when she came over and spent the night.

Looking back, I should have known the night was going to hurt more than it helped.

The next morning, I was down in the kitchen and played this song, loud enough that I knew she would hear it.

In her defense, sometimes things just don’t work out and it’s no one’s fault.

This was the case for us, but she was the one that ended it recently, and I needed her to know how I was feeling.

This song helped do some of the talking for me.

Lyrics I connected with:
I could still hear inside my head, telling me, touch me, feel me, and all the time you were telling me lies, so, tonight I’m gonna find a way to make it without you
This song is perfect for – Strengthening yourself, crying it out, anger


8. "The Flood" by Katie Melua

I wish I knew about this song when I was going through any of my rough breakup times.

This song absolutely would’ve been part of my playlist on repeat.

An ethereal blend of sadness, understanding, and hope.

The music washes over you, as you would expect,

all the while strengthening you with points to focus on and how to transition

to a place of acceptance and healing.

Lyrics I connected with:
Know in your heart that you can leave your prison, don’t trust your mind, it’s not always listening
This song is perfect for – Getting lost in the pain, hope, forgiveness, understanding, strengthening

9. "The Worst" by Jhené Aiko

Sometimes you need a song that says some of those things you really just want to tell your ex.

This one does a pretty good job helping with that.

Now, it's not all about hating or being angry...

We know those breakup feelings are always a mixed bag,

Jhené Aiko does a great job giving you just enough of that attitude

you need, to embrace your self-worth, and help you remember it's your ex that's losing out.

Lyrics I connected with:

And don't take this personal, but you're the worst, you know what you've done to me
 This song is perfect for - Strengthening, anger, accepting your feelings, moving on/moving forward

10. "My Backwards Walk" by Frightened Rabbit

Seriously, you need to listen to the lyrics of this song.

Whether you want to get back together with your ex or not,

this is the anthem for when you realize you should create a little space for yourself.

You may even realize that drawing that line,

helps you feel ok with still wanting to work on those faults and cracks in the relationship together.

Lyrics I connected with:
And the time rewinds to the end of May, I wish we’d never met, then met today, I’m workin’ on drawin’ a straight line, I’ll draw until I get one right, it’s bold and dark, girl, can’t you see, I’ve done drawn a line between you and me?
This song is perfect for – Strengthening yourself, action, acceptance, self-worth, not perfect, missing


11. "Lose You to love Me" by Selena Gomez

Making her second appearance on the list, because, well, she deserves it...

And again, she's created something that is perfect for this stage of those breakup feelings.

This song builds your strength and you can feel the truth in her words.

Everything makes sense and it will give you chills when everything clicks.

You now see what you need to do, and why,

to get yourself back.

Lyrics I connected with:
I need to lose you to find me, this dance, it was killing me softly, I needed to hate you to love me, yeah
This song is perfect for – Strengthening, understanding, acceptance, healing

12. "Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy

This is the perfect mix of admitting you're feeling broken and

not letting the person that broke your heart continue to do so.

The references to "images" is accurate for so many of us that

continue to run through that highlight reel in our minds.

Lyrics I connected with:
I'm trying not to think about you, can't you just let me be?
This song is perfect for - Forgiveness, strengthening, action, anger, acceptance, moving on/moving forward, putting these feelings in the past

13. "Piece By Piece" by Katie Melua

Katie Melua is the other multi-song artist making a showing on our Best Breakup Song List.

Again, she demonstrates that she is a lyrically gifted.

When it comes to crafting a song you can just listen to over and over, and almost use it as a tool

to get past those feelings you have for someone that chose to leave you, she's amazing.

Lyrics I connected with:
My dreams of you and I, there's no point in holding onto those, and then our ties will break, for your and my own sake, just remember, this is what you chose
This song is perfect for - Strengthening, action, moving on/moving forward, putting those feelings in the past, anger


I wish I could say it was smooth sailing after this second stage of the breakup,

but anyone who’s been there before knows better.

I’m talking about losing that person that was your everything.

But if it helps, remember that each of my breakups that I’ve mentioned

was with someone I considered my everything.

I didn’t know it at the time, but when I healed myself,

there was a new and better everything waiting out there for me.

I certainly got better at handling things as I got older and understood, not just myself, but relationships in general.

No lie, it hurt each time, but after my last breakup,

I was able to use a little of what I learned over the years to, not just recover the relationship (because it was right for me),

but to significantly grow as a person and feel better than ever about myself.

Good luck to all and remember, the future you can’t see yet is so much better than you can imagine.

Related Articles:

The Best Breakup Support Books and Why



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