Breakups suck no matter what. Objectively, it sucks to get your heart broken and it sucks to break someone’s heart. And a lot of the suckiness comes from these weird, unspoken rules of breaking up that we all have to follow even if they kind of make it worse in some cases. Certain behaviors are seen as desperate, mean, or immature, so you can’t do them even if they feel right because these ways of behaving have somehow become rules over time. Why can’t you handle each break up on a case-by-case basis? Isn’t it weird that dumping the person who cheated on you played out in relatively the same way as that time that someone broke up with you because they just “weren’t ready”? You’re right, it’s totally strange! No one said these rules made any sense, just that they were unspoken and we all follow them without question.
You don’t even need to have gone through a breakup to know these rules are real because they play out in movies and TV all the time, and you’ve also probably had friends who’ve walked this path before you. Anyway, breakups are the worst! They’re one of the more tragic experiences you’ll go through and you also feel totally restricted by these rules you’re supposed to obey. If you haven’t been debriefed on this code of conduct trial-by-fire style, let me clue you in. These are the unspoken rules of breaking up we all follow (even if some of them are ridiculous).
1) Unless something went terribly wrong, you have to include the phrase “we can still be friends.”
Even if that’s wildly impractical, this somehow has become the catch phrase of every break up. It’s like the crap-tastic consolation prize you’re supposed to offer to make everything “feel better.” No, you just broke my heart, I don’t want your garbage friendship!
2) The dumper needs a good excuse for not wanting to be in the relationship other than “I’m just not into you anymore” even if that phrase is true.
You know this is the real reason when bae has to invent some wild and strange excuse about why you two just can’t be together. Ever get broken up by somebody who says they just not ready to be in a relationship… only to discover that person is definitely in a relationship with someone else three weeks later? Yeah, that sucks.
3) You are to immediately stop texting each other.
Yeah, so the person you text the most is now going to cut off communication cold turkey. It’s weird and unfair, but I don’t make the rules. Unless it’s coordinating to get your stuff back or other practicalities, most contact is off limits. This includes break-up booty calls. Sorry!
4) Speaking of texting, whoever texts first post-breakup loses.
Rude. Even if you were was just checking to see if they were also going to this party so you know NOT TO GO, the other person will consider that a sign that you want to get back together, which is narcissistic and gross. Even if you do just want things to go back to the way they are, hold off on texting. Stay strong, you can do this.
5) The dumper must pretend they aren’t hurting even if their heart is completely broken.
I feel so bad for the people who initiate breakups because they get treated like they shouldn’t have feelings about it. Yeah, I know if you want to be technical they literally asked for this, so any brokenhearted-ness is seen as petty, but it’s normal to still feel sad when you’re apart from someone you used to date, even if you know it was the right decision.
6) The one who initiated the break up can’t be having an amazing time on social media because that’s just rude.
I know I just said that person can’t be hurt, but they also can’t be having an amazing time either. No one said these rules were fair, just that they’re unspoken. If you’re being honest, you aren’t trying to rub it in your ex’s face that you’re having a good time, you just had a vacation planned the week after you broke up. This wasn’t a calculated attempt to hurt anyone! Ugh.
7) The dump-ee must have an actively amazing time, at least on social media, so the world – especially their ex – knows that they’re doing just fine.
Even if you’re crying in the bathroom during a party, you must present yourself for a big smiling group shot so you can filter it to death and let everybody know that you’re doing okay if not better than you were with bae.
8) You’re both to go on a mandatory months long hiatus from liking each other’s posts.
This includes opening Snapchat stories. This whole cold turkey communication cutoff is harsh and unfair. But, everybody does it because no one wants to be seen as the desperate one pining for their ex.
9) While we’re talking about social media, no one is to post multiple paragraphs about how it all went down, like you’re giving a statement to the press.
Just remove your relationship status without any hype or notifications (you can do it–this is a good guide on how to get it done). You aren’t Brad and Angelina. No one’s that invested in your relationship where they need a debriefing for their own peace of mind.
10) No vague emotional lyrics posts either.
Vaguebooking for the win! I know it’s insufferable to go through a big life event and then pretend that nothing happened on social media, but bet on it that this behavior is the expected “mature” response everyone is supposed to have. Still – chill out, Adele.
11) Mutual friends are off limits when it comes to rebound hook ups.
This should be obvious. You might need to get it out of your system with a rebound, but don’t double dip in the same pool you found bae in in the first place.
12) Nothing is going to make your ex seem more perfect than no longer being with them.
These fantastical daydreams about how perfect they are now that they are no longer with you are going to be the worst part of dealing with a broken heart. Of course they seem cool and perfect now – you don’t have to deal with how much of a jerk they anymore!
13) Everything will remind you of your ex, therefore, everything is going to suck for a few months.
You know how you were in love and every song on the radio reminded you of them? Well, now instead of butterflies, it’s like knives in your heart, and instead of every song on the radio, it’s now turned into you remembering how they sat on that couch, how you watched that show together so now it’s a trigger for you, and that stranger who vaguely smells like them sending you into a tail-spin depression. This is is ROUGH, but it happens to everybody.
14) Your broken heart will make you funnier, even if you don’t feel like laughing.
It’s totally unfair, I know. Release all the sick burns, you are no longer concerned about this person’s feelings!
15) In order to get over them, you go through a bucket list of “things I could never do with bae that I can do now that I’m single.”
Quit shaving, watch all the horror movies you want because they hate scary movies, and eat the food they’re allergic to! This is what freedom tastes like!
16) In the end, you reinvent yourself physically or by self-discovery.
This is where all revenge bodies come from and the main reason the stereotype exists of girls getting tattoos, piercings, or drastic haircuts after a break up. Basically, it’s all in the name of creating a version of you that your ex had absolutely nothing to do with. It’s your way of getting rid of the old and welcoming the new.
17) “We’re going on a break” is code for “we’re breaking up.”
I’M SORRY, BUT IT HAD TO BE SAID.
Which of these rules do you follow, even if you hate them? Which ones do you think are ridiculous? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.