How happy breakup songs can help you move forward

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Breaking up is hard, even when you know it's the right thing in your life. Difficult as times may be, there's something about driving in a car when a happy breakup song comes on the radio. At first, it may make you feel a bit melancholy, but before you know it, you may find yourself singing along and moving to the beat.

Need help feeling joyful again after a breakup?

Song lyrics speak to various stages of a relationship. They can give us a feeling of nostalgia and take us home. There are more than just sentimental reasons for that. When we listen to music, our brains release dopamine, a feel-good chemical.

Songs can help us get through a breakup and emotionally move past it.

Do you recall any favorite happy breakup songs?

Has a song ever come on, and you find your mind drifting away, reminiscing about a difficult breakup? Before you know it, you're singing or humming along. Why do we enjoy a happy goodbye song? 

There are lots of reasons that songs have meaning for us. They tell us that someone else in the universe can relate to our pain. They solidify our resolve in making that difficult decision. Happy break up songs walk by our sides as we move on to other relationships or resolve that being alone may be the best thing for the present.

Breaking up after a serious, meaningful relationship can make us feel alone. When we hear a happy breakup song, it tells us that there are people out there who have felt the same way. By acknowledging this, you may feel less alone in your own thoughts. Happy breakup songs tend to have an upbeat, singable tempo. That by itself can help your mind move into a different place.

With breakups, there's sometimes a period shortly after the breakup where one or both of you begin to have some doubts about your decision. Happy breakup songs can help to solidify your resolve. For example, take Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." This song reminds us that players are going to play, haters will hate, heartbreakers will break, and fakers will fake. Essentially, we can't control what others say or do, but we always have the choice to shake it off and do our own thing.

Another song, "Turning Tables," by Adele, reminds us that we can fall in love fast, but the tables can turn even faster. When that happens, it can be a hard lesson that gives us stronger resolve. The chorus rings, "Next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior, standing on my own two feet…"

What's not to like about Taylor Swift's bouncy tune, "We're Never Getting Back Together?" It's a song about a couple that gets back together every time they break up—until she has broken up for the last time. Who can resist the lines of her talking to a girlfriend mocking the latest breakup, "…so he calls me up and he's like, I still love you, and I'm like, I just mean this is exhausting…you know, like we are NEVER getting back together, like…EVER!"

Revenge sometimes comes into play in breakup songs. Most people don't actually follow through with their acts of vengeance, but getting revenge vicariously through a song can feel slightly rewarding. Justin Timberlake sang a great revenge song in "Cry Me a River." The girl leaves a guy for another guy just to have karma knocking on her door and be treated the same way by her new guy. Realizing her mistake, she tries to return to her old love, but his message is clear—now you get to cry all the tears that I shed. And do it without me.

Perhaps there's no greater revenge song than Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats." If the passion in the song doesn't get you, the lyrics certainly will. "I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats. I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights. I slashed a hole in all four tires. Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats." Her message is clear. If you can't be faithful, you're messing with the wrong person!

And then, there are those happy breakup songs that speak to your heart about the spirit of moving on. Kelly Clarkson gives us a good song for that in "Since You've Been Gone." Her lyrics clearly show she's over it when she sings, "You had your chance, you blew it. Out of sight, out of mind. Shut your mouth; I just can't take it."

How about Rascal Flatts' song, "I'm Movin' On?" The group talks about moving on emotionally and physically as they sing, "I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't, stopped to fill up on my way out of town. I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't. I had to lose everything to find out."

In Cole Swindell's country song, "Ain't Worth the Whiskey," he takes himself to the local bar to raise his glass to all things that deserve a toast, which is everything but the heartbreak over his girl. It's a bit ironic since the heartbreak brought him to the bar in the first place, but going through the motions of doing cheers to more important things help him move on.

Ed Sheeran also sings of regrets and moving on in his song "Happier." He sings, "'Cause baby you look happier, you do. My friends told me one day I'll feel it too, and until then, I'll smile to hide the truth. But I know I was happier with you." You can't always turn back after a breakup, but you can live, learn, and start on a new path.

How to be happy after a breakup

There's no doubt that breakups can be devastating in the beginning. Whether the breakup was your choice or not, you may be very sad and cry a lot. You might not feel like doing much or even eating. You may feel like your whole world has ended. At times, sorrow may turn to anger. All these feelings are normal.

Don't push yourself. Friends may want you to go out. It's okay to say no if you're not up to it. If you go out with friends before you're ready, you may end up miserable and just want to go home. Give yourself time to adjust. No one moves on overnight, although it might seem that way. It often takes time to process emotions. Give yourself time to feel the feelings.

Need help feeling joyful again after a breakup?

Taking steps to move forward

If you're a social media buff, take the time to get rid of old photos. Hide your relationship status. Don't change it to "it's complicated," "single," or "divorced." Friends often change after a breakup, so clean up your friends list and consider staying off social media for a while.

Since your ex no longer factors into your life, it's time to think about all the things you may have put off for the sake of the relationship. Think about paying off debts, returning to school, buying that new car, or taking a fabulous trip. Get your finances in order. Set some new goals. Create action steps to help you reach your goals. Set a tentative timeframe for getting things on your bucket list checked off. Take some baby steps towards moving in a future direction, but try to be open to being flexible when it makes sense.

Most likely, you spent a lot of time with your ex. Now that this person is out of your life, you need to have a way of dealing with the many hours of free time that you now have. When everything on your "to-do" list is taken care of, listening to music is a good way to discover how to be happy after a breakup. What are your favorite happy breakup songs? It's not a bad idea to create a playlist of happy breakup songs to get you through some of the tough times. The feelings of sadness are likely to diminish with time and healing.

However, be careful not to use happy breakup songs as a continual crutch. Sometimes, depression or other mental health issues can develop as you're processing a breakup. If you find that you're not moving along the road to healing as quickly as you'd like, it may be time to seek professional help through a licensed therapist. A therapist can help you process your emotions and give you solutions to begin putting your life back together. 

Online therapy can be a great alternative if finding the time to see a therapist doesn't seem feasible. With online therapy, you can attend sessions from the comfort of your home (or anywhere you have WiFi), making it easier to attend appointments during that post-breakup slump. 

Additionally, research shows that online therapy is just as effective as traditional, in-person therapy for treating conditions like depression and anxiety – which may arise when dealing with a breakup.    


Happy breakup songs can help you cope and move forward after a breakup. However, if your emotions don't improve after a while, it may be a sign you need a little extra support. Licensed mental health professionals, whether in person or online, can help you get further on the path to whatever may be next.
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