Disclaimer: we aren’t telling you to break up with your boyfriend.
We wish you and the honey could stay together forever in lip-locked bliss. Statistically speaking, however, chances are the guy you’re currently shacking up with is not in fact The Guy. Much like Jay-Z’s retirement, puberty, and Leomania, your relationship will reach its natural end. Upon expiration, you’ll have to figure out what to say (or not to say) to him or, if he’s the one ending things, how to react to the news in a way that lets you walk away with your dignity (if not your boyfriend). Even when the two of you have things sorted out, all your friends will want to know, “Like omigosh what happened?!?”Just when you think you’re in the clear, you’ll bump into him on campus and completely forget how to interact like a normal human being. Damn, Neil Sedaka wasn’t lying. Breakin’ up is hard to do.
But, like the smashed glass at a Jewish wedding, sometimes a break can actually symbolize a beginning—in this case, the beginning of your glorious summer days of singledom. We’re here to ease you through this sometimes tricky process so you can get over your old boy and under a new one, or, perhaps better yet, bask in the glow of independence.
Going through the motions for you in pictures is the greatest couple ever of all time.*
*DO NOT WORRY: Mickey and Minnie didn’t really break up. They are just posing for this article because they are dear friends of the writers of this column.
Mickey never saw it coming.
How to break up with him
A few hard-and-fast rules: Be clear, be honest, don’t be in an extremely public place and don’t be in your room (you need to be able to make a swift, graceful exit). Do your best to avoid bad movie clichés, e.g., “It’s not you, it’s me.” Before you see him, remind yourself why you’re doing this – surely you’ve got your reasons – so you can go into the conversation with conviction. Also try not to cry; you’re the one doing the dumping after all.
Whatever you do, just don’t… suggest downgrading to an “open relationship.” Remember that time you busted your leg on a ski trip and the doctor told you not to worry because “It’s a clean break”? At the time, you wanted to punch her in the face (“If it’s clean, why does it HURT LIKE HELL?”), but that doc had a valid point. Being in an open relationship is like being a cheeseburger-eating-vegan. Pick a team. You’re either on the bus or you're off the bus.
Holy shit, Mickey looks scary when he’s angry.
What to do if he breaks up with you
Hopefully you at least picked a boy with the balls to do the deed in person. Whether he puts it well and sensitively or confesses to some act of Eliot Spitzer magnitude, it’s okay to feel hurt, ask for an explanation and leave the situation without unleashing an immediate reaction. Things that are not as okay: interrupting, hyperventilating, inserting imaginary earplugs, chasing him down the street as he pulls away, instantly texting him something super malicious or melodramatic. He presumably had a reason for doing what he did—and whether it’s what you want to hear or not, keep it clean and sober and listen to his words. You never know, but he might even have something intelligent to say.
Whatever you do, just don't... chuck heavy objects at his head. Deserved or not, it’s bad for the rep.
The best friend.
How to make him wish he never broke up with you in the first place
Sleep with his best friend.
Whatever you do, just don’t… actually follow this advice. Unless you’re heartless. We happen to be a bit vicious but are hoping you’re nicer than we are.
“Here Minnie, just take your flower. I can’t… look at it… anymore.”
How to get your stuff back
A wise group of young men known as 2gether once said, "The hardest part of breaking up is getting back your stuff." At first, you swiped some of his possessions on purpose: that fitted t-shirt, a few choice selections from his stash of DVDs. Maybe in a rush to walk of shame home early on in your dating days, you left your bra behind. You need to put everything he owns in a box (to the left), and he should do the same. Now you’ve got the classic Cardboard Box of His Belongings that is extra-heavy because, in addition to his hoodies and books, it is also filled with emotional significance. If you’re on speaking terms, set up a time for one of you to go to the other one’s place with boxes at the ready so you can swiftly swap and leave. If there is something specific of yours that you know is in the cluttered abyss of his closet, make sure to explicitly tell him you want it back so you’re not stuck lingering while he searches for it.
Whatever you do, just don’t… make a huge deal out of something that’s easy to replace. It will look like you’re only making up excuses to see him, especially if he’s the one who broke up with you. Go to Target and treat yourself to new leggings; it’s not worth the trouble.
Mickey and Minnie actually threw a parade to announce their break-up. They’re pretty famous, though. It would probably be overkill in your case.
How to handle the PR
You may think that the entire world is aware of the details of your personal life and that the lady scooping your mac n’cheese in the dining hall is giving you a weird look because she heard you got dumped last night. Fact: we would care less about what people thought of us if we knew how infrequently they did. So don’t feel like you have to go broadcasting the news by means of Facebook, mass text or megaphone. Tell your close friends who you think can offer supportive words and delicious treats. If anyone else asks, play it down and say you don’t really feel like going into the details.
Whatever you do, just don’t… update your Facebook status with emo song lyrics like "the sun ain't shining no more" and declare your singleness via Facebook mobile seven minutes post-break up. Your friends will “like” it, he will roll his eyes at it and you will regret it.
These guys have to work together every single day. Mickey and Minnie know that they can’t make Donald, Pluto, Goofy, Chip or Dale choose sides.
How to deal with mutual friends
There’s this tendency to think, “Well, I can’t have him, so I’m going to enjoy the presence of and/or interrogate and/or steal all of our shared friends.” While you are entirely entitled to your pre-existing friendships, you know you’d be pissed if your ex started asking your friends exactly what you’d been saying in his absence. Middlemen lead to muddling, misinterpretation and unsolicited ranting, so for the sakes’ of all involved, pull yourself together and proceed as though nothing has really changed.
Whatever you do, just don’t … tell a friend of his anything that you don’t want getting back to him. Pinky promises and streams of tears aside, there is a superbly excellent chance that your/his friend will pass your sentiment along. Follow the wisdom of this awful heavy metal band and “keep your mouth shut.”
Mickey and Minnie demonstrate how to walk right down the middle of Main Street USA like nothing ever happened.
How to act when you bump into each other
It was bound to happen. No campus is big enough, no party so packed, that you could prevent running into him ever again. We ordinarily advocate honesty above all else, but in this instance, keep the uglier truths to yourself. Pretend you’re okay, even if you’re not, and pretend you’re happy to see him, even if you’ve fantasized about his family relocating to Jupiter and bringing him along for the trip. If he’s with a new girl, do not take out any anger on her. Someday you too will be the new girlfriend of someone else’s ex-boyfriend, and you won’t deserve the wrath of whoever came before you. The simpler, the better, and try not to freak out; it’s not like he really knows the right thing to say, either.
Whatever you do, just don’t… use this as an opportunity to get out all the things you “really meant to say” when you broke up in the first place by slipping him an extensive handwritten letter or making a scene. That’s what journals are for.
If you want to write your ex a letter, try to use a pencil that isn’t bigger than you are. Good effort though, Mickey.
How to keep in touch
Taking a little space and time to yourself post break-up will give you some time to think about whether he is someone you still want to be your friend. If the answer is yes, shoot him a friendly text about something you know he had coming up (“Hey, how’d that huge presentation go?”). Even if you don’t feel like hanging out or going out of your way to talk to him, remember that it’s easier and much more pleasant to keep things cordial.
Whatever you do, just don’t … send 2 a.m. drunk texts with words like “baby, I rly miss u.” Or respond to the ones that he may very well send you.
Jess & Katie Call it Quits: The Break-Up Guide
Disclaimer: we aren’t telling you to break up with your boyfriend.