Clean Break

Breakups can present some of the biggest emotional challenges in someone's life. The daily politics of texting the ex and breakup sex only add to the stress. Label shares one single piece of advice on how to make it through a breakup cleanly. 


It is my firm belief that a breakup is one of the highest forms of grief. Losing the person who has been completely integrated into your day to day life has a devastating impact, which can often be undermined by the attraction of the ‘single life’ regularly exalted on media platforms to empower others. The resulting loneliness can overpower rational thinking which led to the idea that the relationship was imperfect and not causing absolute happiness on both sides. There is therefore one solitary piece of advice that is required for the kind of breakup everyone in an unhappy relationship needs: cut communication, and have a clean break. 

Perhaps the heartbroken reader hearing this advice would ask, what qualifies you to decide that this is what should be done? So let me divulge that I have had two terribly sad breakups, one on each end of the breaking up scale, and neither time did I take this advice. When I was 18 I broke up with a long term boyfriend; younger and more immature, I did what I thought was best and kindest and begged that we could stay friends - starting immediately. I was desperate not to lose our friendship despite the fact that he had made me so unhappy in our relationship, and bounded up to him daily to walk to class, texted him frequently, and frankly did not leave him alone. Of course, this led to very severe difficulties for him in terms of moving on, and we had frequent arguments about how best to manage a friendship. Two years later, I was broken up with by someone who I was more in love with than I had ever thought possible. In an attempt to be nice and take care of me, I frequently received texts from him to check on me, say congratulations if he heard of something I had achieved, or once even came over when a friend told him that I had spent the morning crying. Moving on from him was impossible when I had constant reminders of how kind he was. 

Finally on the grassy green other side of these breakups, I have learned an invaluable lesson. Attempting to retain an immediate friendship after a breakup is incredibly unhealthy. On the side of the ‘heartbreaker’, it leaves feelings of guilt. Constantly remaining within texting distance only leaves a decision on your conscience which was essentially a decision made in the interest of your own happiness and wellbeing. Furthermore, keeping in contact is often (at least in my case) done for selfish reasons. It is unfair to pick and choose elements of a relationship with someone by discarding the romance and attempting to keep the friendship without considering the grief process of the other. 

On the side of the ‘heartbroken’, I understand. It is nigh impossible not to reach for your phone when you are crying alone at 3am to just tell them you miss them. It is incredibly hard to refuse an invitation to coffee a couple of weeks after the breakup to ‘catch up’ - (note to reader and self: this will only lead to breakup sex which seems fantastic until your orgasm is over). However, I promise that giving yourself time to heal is the best way to go forward. Going through a breakup is about learning to be happy with yourself and for yourself again, and keeping in contact with the ex will only leave a space in your heart that constantly reminds you about what used to make you happy. Cutting off contact means that they will no longer occupy a physical space in your day. Eventually, one day, they will stop occupying that space in your mind, too. At this point, reach back out for that friendship.