Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

How to break up with grace

Four tips to help you move on
Don Graham/flickr

After nearly three years in a happy, loving and deeply complicated relationship, I have recently become single. I use this phrase, becoming single, because I have quickly learned that the specifics are a bit too much for me to share. Actually, I’ve learned a lot of things very quickly, some positive and some positively gut-wrenching. So, despite no one asking for them, here are my best tips for dealing with a break-up.


  1. Only share what you want to share.

When you’re in a relationship, you’re the only one who really knows it. You discovered your weaknesses, your strengths, your joys and your pains, as well as your partner’s. You may have shared details of fights with friends or plastered happy moments on your Instagram, but no matter how open you were, you were the only ones who really gotit.

Now that you’ve broken up, all those people who didn’tget it are asking you what happened, who broke up with who, blah blah blah. Most – and I say “most” lightly – are probably reaching out with sympathy, concern and care. They want to make sure you’re okay or show that they’re there for you. Some, however, just want to know the dirty details: who wronged whom and who “won” the relationship, so they can have things to share with their bored friends. While I’m generally not one to judge gossip, you – the person they’re poking and prodding – should be.

Your relationship’s end, just like its beginning and middle, is personal. It may be enraging, depressing or revitalizing; It may have been straightforward or confusing, hateful or warm, a long time coming or the result of a random fight, but no one can really know but you. So when people come – and trust that they will come – begging for details, share only what you’re confidently comfortable with sharing. It’s your break-up, after all.


  1. Get off your phone.

This one probably sounds impossible and, in some ways, it is. It’s 2019. If you’re not texting someone or scrolling something on your walk to class, before bed or when your professor is being especially boring, you’re either lying or dead.

There’s no harm in texting your pals when you’re feeling low, calling your mom when you need encouragement or scrolling twitter when you need a laugh, but in the aftermath of a break-up, some things should be limited.

Instagram:You’re either looking at your own posts, wishing you didn’t feel like you do post-break up, your ex’s posts, wishing you never met them or never left them, or your friends’ posts, wishing you were as happy as they are. If you can’t bring yourself to take a break from the app, remind yourself that behind every hand-selected, VSCO-edited photo you see are millions of unedited, unshared and unlikable moments.

Your Camera Roll: Now, I’m not recommending you delete the photos of you and your ex – at least, not yet. In five, 10 or 20 years, you may want to look back on them. Hell, they might even bring you joy. But right now, they won’t. You can’t go back to the way it was, you can’t bring back that moment and you probably can’t bring them back, so waste no time or tears scanning over what you lost.

Snapchat:For some of you, this really is impossible. You may have year-stretching streaks that you’ve labored over. If that’s the case, promise yourself you’re not going to snap your ex a sad pic or sexy selfie and move on to number three. The rest of you, who, like myself, either don’t keep streaks or don’t care enough to keep them now, listen up. It is far too easy to drunk-snap an ex, accidentally click them if they’re still on your best friends list or peak into your snap memories, especially right after a break-up. Just take a break.


  1. Take space.

No matter how long your relationship lasted or how sweetly it ended, it’s best to separate yourself from your ex after a break-up. Even if you want to be friends, even if you’re in the same friend group, you must give yourself time to feel, readjust and heal. It can be strange and painful to shift from knowing someone as your boyfriend or girlfriend to knowing them as your ex or friend. It requires the shutdown of all the romantic and sexual feelings, the acceptance of new boundaries and the changing of then-normal behaviors. They can’t console you when you miss them or satisfy you when you crave them, which is probably what you want most when you look to them.

If the relationship ended poorly, this rule is even stricter. No matter if it was a dumb fight, a drunken mistake or a complete collapse of your love and trust, you need to take space. Right now, no matter how needy you feel, no matter how many questions you have, no matter how much you miss them, you can only depend on yourself. What do youthink went wrong? How do youfeel? What do youneed?

So, give it time, give it space. Don’t reach out to them and don’t let them reach out to you. Feel the pain, anger or confusion. Learn how to think, act and speak without them as a part of you. Take note of moments when you feel joy or experience growth. Build on them. Then, when you’re strong, when you’ve learned from and accepted your feelings, you can decide if you want to talk to them.


  1. Accept being alone.

One of the most difficult parts of a break-up is learning how to be alone again. For some time, be it weeks, months or years, you were one half of a pair. You willingly shaped your thoughts, actions and decisions, no matter how small or large, around another person; you were used to talking to, texting with or seeing them regularly.

Now, you’re starting from scratch, but it can feel like you’ve lost something more. Your bed, though yours alone, may feel too big. Your favorite song, though once special to you alone, may sound off without them humming along. Even simple things, like choosing where to get take-out, can feel taxing.

This, and I can think of no better way to say it, sucks. It sucks to be alone once you’ve known the joy of being with someone else. However, being newly single also provides ample opportunities for growth and experience. For some this may include hooking up with whoever you want, whenever you want to. While I have nothing negative to say about that, assuming you’re ready and wanting to do so, it’s not where I focus my attention.

Despite how similar you and your ex may have been, there were bound to be differences in what you liked or wanted to do. Take this time to indulge in those differences. Look to a hobby you’d shoved away, a skill you’d let dwindle or even an assignment you’d been putting off. Text friends you haven’t seen in a while, look into trips you’ve wanted to take and let your mind wander in the possibilities ahead of you. Sure, you may have done these things while in a relationship but allow yourself to enjoy the freedom of doing it only for yourself. If all else fails, reach out to close friends who will remind you that you’re never reallyalone. You’re just without a plus one.


Carly Pierce can be reached at [email protected].

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