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Awkward Break-Up Talk

I wish break-ups weren’t so awkward.

I mean as the one going through it, you’re really going through it, emotions and all. It sucks. You’ve got to figure out this new “relationship” – will you be friends, foes, not talk, talk every day, get back together, never see each other again?

Once you come out of that experience, you "have to" start telling people the news. And it’s not like you can just post a break-up photo on Facebook or Instagram (I mean you technically could, but who does that?). So, what’s the proper post-break-up etiquette?

As someone who not-so-recently went through a break-up of my own, here are my major takeaways to make the entire exit-strategy as smooth as possible:

The former couple:

I’m not going to delve into whether you should be breaking up with your partner, I’m going to assume if you’ve read this far that you have come to a resolute decision.

Triage the situation: who’s absolutely needs to know? Anyone who was there for you during your relationship. Your close family and friends. Break the news either in person or by phone. If they were there supporting you during the relationship, then they will continue to help you after the relationship is over. It’s your decision to keep social media images up or not. Deleting pictures and statuses can be enough to subtly let the other people in your life know that you both aren’t together anymore.

You can let the other people know slowly in your own way, in a need-to-know basis. Be strong, open, and ready for unassuming comments. The story is only yours.

Everyone else:

What’s your intent? I ask because what’s the most likely route you’ll hear about a break up is through someone else, someone who wasn’t directly involved. Let me cut to the chase: we gossip, that’s how we get our local social news.

I listen to gossip, heck, I’ve even passed it on. Once I was directly involved, I realized how much gossip hurts.

For me, I didn’t care that people were talking about what happened. I just wished people came to me for clarification and understood not only what had happened, but why. I understood their intent: why bring up something that is awkward and potentially triggering?

But here’s what I want you to know: please come to me. Think about what your intention is when you ask about someone’s relationship while it’s going fine – you’re checking in, seeing what’s up, and what’s next on the horizon. Relationships unfortunately end sometimes, and as much as I wanted to let you know about it when it was good, I want to let you know what happened. Sure, not in as much detail, but if you ask me, I would love to have the conversation.

Think about your intent, what do you want to know? Be respectful and ask, express your condolences, it will mean a lot.

Key points:

Here’s how to make the awkward break-up talk a little less so in a just few steps:

If you’re directly involved:

  1. Let your close family and friends know in person or by phone

  2. Be ready for anyone else who is curious and wants to know

  3. Be strong and know that with some time and distance, you’ll feel so much better

If you’re not:

  1. If you want to know, ask. Think about your intent when you ask.

  2. Be sympathetic and share only what you are given permission to.


By: Aanika Balaji

Aanika enjoys life as a medical student, amateur artist & writer, dog walker, and casual global traveller. Either going solo, with friends, at homestays, or volunteering abroad, travelling has taught her a new way to view and perceive the world. Her goal is to be an oncologist who is lucky enough to spend part of her career working abroad. Keep up with Aanika on her blog Travelling Cactus, Instagram and read more about her adventures on Pink Pangea!

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