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Moving On Songs for Every Stage of Your Breakup

A woman listening to moving on songs after a breakup.

Moving on songs are necessary, sometimes. Once, while having a hard time with a particularly painful breakup, I stood at the edge of a party gripping my beer and talking with a friend. “I’m just not getting over this,” I said to him. “When will I get over this?” (My friend was older than me and had been through a few legendary breakups of his own.) And I’ll never forget his response. “Never,” he said. “You never get over it.”

Needless to say, that wasn’t the answer I was looking for. But sometimes, when you’re in the middle of something painful and hard, it can feel like it will last forever. I was simply at that stage where it felt like I would never move past the end of this thing that had become such a huge part of my life and who I was. Luckily, I had a friend who could relate. And even though his answer was colossally disheartening, it helped to know that I wasn’t the only person who had ever felt that way.

It’s this same idea that makes moving on songs so completely necessary. No matter how you happen to be feeling at the time—sad, lonely, rage-filled, conflicted, or only somewhat melancholy—it helps to know that you’re not alone, that your pain is both personal and universal. And, ya, I think it’s safe to admit, that sometimes you just need to live (and wallow) in the painful moment you’re in too.

So to help you get through your breakup, I’ve compiled the ultimate list of moving on songs (with a little help from friends, the internet, and personal experience) for every stage of your breakup. From the early shock and denial, to the inevitable anger and the eventual acceptance, there are songs about moving on to help you get through each stage of your breakup and onto the next one.

Moving On Songs: The Full Playlist

Stage 1: Initial Pain and Suffering

  1. Bye Bye Love, Everly Brothers
  2. I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, The White Stripes
  3. How to Disappear Completely, Radiohead
  4. I Can’t Make You Love Me, Bonnie Raitt
  5. Fucked Me Right Up, Sean Hayes
  6. I’d Rather Go Blind, Etta James
  7. Where Does the Good Go, Tegan and Sara
  8. These Four Words, The Maine
  9. Un-break My Heart, Tony Braxton
  10. You Were Mine, Dixie Chicks
  11. Come Pick Me Up, Ryan Adams
  12. Your Love Is Killing Me, Sharon Van Etten
  13. Crown of Love, Arcade Fire
  14. There Stands the Glass, Ted Hawkins
  15. Please Bleed, Ben Harper
  16. Forever Blue, Chris Issak

Stage 2: Loneliness 

  1. (I Don’t Have) Anymore Love Songs, Hank Williams, Jr.
  2. The World Has Turned and Left Me Here, Weezer
  3. I Aint Got Nobody, Bessie Smith
  4. Dancing On My Own, Robyn
  5. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Hank Williams
  6. Broken Down, Eric Clapton
  7. Empty Hearts, Alison Kraus
  8. Terrible Love, The National
  9. I Eat Dinner (When the Hunger’s Gone), Rufus Wainwright
  10. Me and My Shadow, Peggy Lee
  11. Deep Inside of You, Third Eye Blind
  12. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, The Postal Service
  13. Empty Chairs, Don McLean
  14. Katy Song, Red House Painters
  15. Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah
  16. To Build A Home, The Cinematic Orchestra

Stage 3: Remorse and Nostalgia

  1. Hope She’ll Be Happier, Bill Withers
  2. Shiver, Lucy Rose
  3. Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O’Connor
  4. It Must Have Been Love, Roxette
  5. Pictures of You, The Cure
  6. Used to Love You, Gwen Stefani
  7. A Case Of You,  Joni Mitchell
  8. Song Cry, Jay Z
  9. Walk Away, Ben Harper
  10. I Wonder Do You Think of Me, Keith Whitley
  11. Who’s Loving You, The Jackson Five
  12. I Was Gonna Marry You, Tristan Prettyman
  13. Blue Valentines, Tom Waits
  14. Goodbye My Lover, James Blunt
  15. Dust in the Wind, Kansas
  16. Samson, Regina Spektor

Stage 5: Simply Missing the Other Person

  1. Sometime Around Midnight, The Airborne Toxic Event
  2. Small Hands, Keaton Henson
  3. I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston
  4. Good Woman, Cat Power
  5. Pain In My Heart, Otis Redding
  6. Another Lonesome Morning, Emmylou Harris
  7. Kiss, Korn
  8. Can’t Stand Losing You, The Police
  9. Stick In the Mud, The Jayhawks
  10. Maps, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  11. Useless Desires, Patty Griffin
  12. Hello, Adele
  13. Unchained Melody, The Righteous Brothers
  14. Something I Can Never Have, Nine Inch Nails
  15. Fire and Rain, James Taylor
  16. I Want You, Bob Dylan

Stage 6: Feeling Like You’re Never Going to Get Over This

  1. Back to Black, Amy Winehouse
  2. Nothin’ In the World Can Stop Me From Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl, The Kinks
  3. Immortal, Evanescence
  4. I Fall To Pieces, Patsy Cline
  5. I Don’t Want To Get Over You, The Magnetic Fields
  6. Good Morning Heartache, Billie Holiday
  7. End of the Road, Boys II Men
  8. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, Al Green
  9. Not Over You, Gavin DeGraw
  10. Here Come Those Tears Again, Jackson Browne
  11. The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, The Script
  12. Crying, Roy Orbison
  13. Black, Pearl Jam
  14. Outta My Head, Liz Longley
  15. Before I’m Over You, Loretta Lynn
  16. Another Love, Tom Odell

Stage 7: Conflicted 

  1. Pale Blue Eyes, The Velvet Underground
  2. The Blower’s Daughter, Damien Rice
  3. We Can’t Be Friends, Lorene Scafaria
  4. Ex-Factor, Lauren Hill
  5. Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
  6. Stone Cold, Demi Lavato
  7. I Hate Everything About You, Three Days Grace
  8. Girlfriend in a Comma, The Smiths
  9. Burning House, Cam
  10. Glycerine, Bush
  11. Crying Game, Nicki Minaj (featuring Jessie Ware)
  12. In the Sun, Joseph Arthur
  13. Last Goodbye, Jeff Buckley
  14. Lies, Marina and the Diamonds
  15. It’s All About Us, The American Analog Set
  16. Love Interruption, Jack White

Stage 8: Feeling Foolish and Stupid

  1. So Alone, Johnny Thunders
  2. Biggest Mistake, The Rolling Stones
  3. I’m a Fool to Want You, Billie Holiday
  4. Far From Me, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  5. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, The Smiths
  6. Creep, Radiohead
  7. I Was a Fool, Tegan and Sara
  8. Hurt, Christina Aguilera
  9. Beware the Dog, The Griswolds
  10. On My Own, Samantha Barks (From Les Mis)
  11. Once Is Enough, Lyle Lovett
  12. Little Lion Man, Mumford and Sons
  13. Almost Lover, A Fine Frenzy
  14. Forever Doesn’t Last Too Long, Jazmine Sullivan
  15. Yesterday, The Beatles
  16. Say Something, A Great Big World (featuring Christina Aguilera)

Stage 9: Anger with a Little Crazy Mixed In

  1. Say It to Me Now, Glen Hansard (from Once) 
  2. Song for the Dumped, Ben Folds Five
  3. I Don’t F’ck With You, Big Sean 
  4. Backstreets, Bruce Springsteen
  5. You’re So Vain, Carly Simon
  6. Rolling in the Deep, Adele
  7. Dickhead, Kate Nash
  8. Wish Me Well (You Can Go to Hell), Bouncing Souls
  9. You Oughta Know, Alanis Morissette
  10. F’ck You, Cee-Lo Green
  11. You Suck, Murmurs
  12. Blue Monday, New Order
  13. Unf’cktheworld, Angel Olsen
  14. Mama’s Broken Heart, Miranda Lambert
  15. The Calendar Hung Itself, Bright Eyes
  16. Hurt, Nine Inch Nails

Stage 10: Apathy

  1. Don’t Think Twice, Bob Dylan
  2. Get Gone, Fiona Apple
  3. Ballad of Big Nothing, Elliott Smith
  4. Ex-Girl to the Next Girl, Gang Starr
  5. Your Ex-Lover Is Dead, Stars
  6. Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac
  7. (I Don’t Have) Anymore Love Songs, Hank Williams, Jr.
  8. F’ck It (I Don’t Want You Back), Eamon
  9. Used to Love Her, Guns N’ Roses
  10. Lost Cause, Beck
  11. Cry Me a River, Justin Timberlake
  12. All My Love Is Gone, Lyle Lovett
  13. Gone for Good, The Shins
  14. It’s Not Right But It’s OK, Whitney Houston
  15. Problem, Ariana Grande (Featuring Iggy Azalea)
  16. It Aint Me Babe, Johnny Cash and June Carter

Stage 11: Thinking Of Giving Up On Love Altogether

  1. How Fucking Romantic, The Magnetic Fields
  2. Never Gonna Love Again, Lykke Li
  3. I Am a Rock, Simon & Garfunkel
  4. Never Fall In Love Again, Dionne Warwick
  5. I Never Will Marry, Loretta Lynn
  6. A Single Woman, Nina Simone
  7. Lonely Stranger, Eric Clapton
  8. Mean Old World, Sam Cooke
  9. Better As a Memory, Kenny Chesney
  10. Solitude, Billie Holiday
  11. Keep Yourself Warm, Frightened Rabbit
  12. Cleopatra, The Lumineers
  13. Solitary Man, Neil Diamond
  14. You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory, Johnny Thunders
  15. Anywhere I Lay My Head, Tom Waits
  16. A Man/Me/Then Jim, Rilo Kelly

Stage 12: Feeling Like You’ll Be Better One Day (Just Not Today)

  1. Every Day I Love You Less and Less, Kaiser Chiefs
  2. I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes), Nina Simone
  3. Keep Breathing, Ingrid Michaelson
  4. Windows, Angle Olsen
  5. Gonna Get Over You, Sara Bareilles
  6. Try and Love Again, The Eagles
  7. Trouble, Cat Stevens
  8. Let It Rain, Brendan James
  9. A Little Bit Stronger, Sara Evans
  10. Trouble, The Jayhawks
  11. It’s So Hard, John Lennon
  12. California, Delta Spirit
  13. Broken Heart, Eddie Vedder
  14. Better In Time, Leona Lewis
  15. Let Go, Frou Frou
  16. Red Rubber Ball, The Cyrkle

Stage 13: Growing Stronger

  1. Shut Up and Let Me Go, The Ting Tings
  2. Already Gone, The Eagles
  3. I’ll Slip Away, Sixto Rodriguez
  4. Is That All You Got for Me, The Donnas
  5. Since You Been Gone, Kelly Clarkson
  6. I’m Still Standing, Elton John
  7. Never Going Back Again, Fleetwood Mac
  8. Fighter, Christina Aguilera
  9. Roar, Katy Perry
  10. Dancing With Myself, Billy Idol
  11. I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
  12. You Don’t Send Me, Bell & Sebastian
  13. New Attitude, Patti LaBelle
  14. Fight Song, Rachel Platten
  15. Survivor, Destiny’s Child
  16. Landed, Ben Folds

Stage 14: Bittersweet Reflection 

  1. All Things Must Pass, George Harrison
  2. In the End, Ida Maria
  3. Stubborn Love, The Lumineers
  4. A Kiss, A Thrill and Goodbye, Jackie Wilson
  5. Fountain of Sorrow, Jackson Browne
  6. One Thing, Finger Eleven
  7. Taxi, Harry Chapin
  8. Mr. And Mrs. Used to Be, Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb
  9. Go Places, The New Pornographers
  10. Wonderful, Lianne La Havas
  11. In My Life, The Beatles
  12. What Might Have Been, Little Texas
  13. Graceland, Paul Simon
  14. Poison & Wine, The Civil Wars
  15. Sweet Disposition, The Temper Trap
  16. If You See Her, Say Hello, Bob Dylan

Stage 15: Hopeful About Loving Again 

  1. Blue Skies, Noah and the Whale
  2. Believe, Cher
  3. Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles
  4. Hold On, Wilson Phillips
  5. This Will Be Our Year, The Zombies
  6. Faith, George Michael
  7. Shake It Out, Florence and the Machine
  8. What a Wonderful World, Lois Armstrong
  9. You Can’t Hurry Love, The Supremes
  10. Love Will Come to You, Indigo Girls
  11. Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey
  12. Running on Faith, Eric Clapton
  13. Carry On, Crosby, Stills, and Nash
  14. Lust for Life, Iggy Pop
  15. Feeling Good, Nina Simone
  16. Somebody to Love, Queen

Hopefully, one or several of these moving on songs will have really struck a chord. Good luck! You’re doing great – now keep going.

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