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I asked 8 Fashion Journal readers to share their awkward breakup stories

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“A young couple next to us kissed, touched and stared at us while we cried into our untouched dinners.”

A breakup is, at the best of times, an awkward experience. Could it be devastating? Absolutely. But when you strip back the raw emotion that comes with tearing a heart in two, the actual act of breaking up is pretty cumbersome – particularly when the relationship didn’t last all that long.


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There’s no perfect ‘breakup how-to manual’ (despite one of our readers trying to find it), and the logistics can be difficult. Where and when is most appropriate? What if your roommate walks in? And most importantly, what if you’re stuck on a 40-minute Ferris wheel ride together after the deed is done? Below, Eight FJ readers* share their stories.

Meg, 20

At 19, I invited my boyfriend of one month (we’d been seeing each other casually for about a year before making it official) on a camping trip with MY friends. The two of us did a tab of acid and he told me he didn’t think the relationship “was going well”. I stormed out of the tent.

We were doing the dishes and trying to talk it out when my friends left for a hike. They asked us if we wanted to go. I said no and he said yes, leaving me to finish the dishes.  He then enjoyed the rest of the trip with my friends before we officially broke up on the last night. My friend then drove him home.

He came over the day after we got back from the camping trip to get some of his stuff. He said he was “sorry” that he essentially broke up with me halfway through the trip, but he wanted to “be honest”. Like babe, there’s a time and place to “be honest” – and this was not one of them. Good riddance to him and good luck to his future partners.

Rashida, 28

We were both muddling toward the Big Breakup in our own ways, mutually aware we needed to end the relationship. On Invasion Day, January 26, we both woke up exhausted from multiple discussions about ‘our future’. We went to the pub down the road.

A young couple next to us kissed and touched and stared at us while we cried into our untouched dinners. He packed his bag to go and stay at a friend’s house to “have some space for a few days”. I made a list of what I needed to do to completely change my life. He came back a week later to all my stuff in the hallway. It finally hit him and he cried immediately.

“This isn’t it though,” he said. “We’ll see each other again, right?” I replied, lying. “Of course.” A few months post, he liked me on a dating app. I saw his face, the face I used to lovingly touch and hold and kiss and whisper promises to. I threw up immediately.

After the Big Breakup, you’ll feel like you’re floating above your own body for a while. Get under someone else and then get under many, many more people. Find out what you like. I promise you, you’ll be on your own. But you’ll be your own, and that’s all you need.

Juliette, 22

I was dumped by a boy right before he departed for a family holiday, only I wasn’t. We’d been seeing each other casually but also pretty regularly, with sleepovers most nights. He (or maybe I?) suggested we catch up for coffee the day before his departure.

It felt kind of awkward but nothing too alarming, and we said our goodbyes with parting words along the lines of “enjoy your trip! can’t wait to hear how it goes!” Only while he was away, a friend informed me that his family ski trip was actually a joint holiday with his long-term ex-girlfriend and her family, a fact that he’d alarmingly failed to mention.

Apparently, he was meant to break up with me on our coffee date, but never quite had the guts. Realising he was a bit of an ass, I cut off communication and didn’t even bother seeking an explanation. Meanwhile, his younger brother – thinking all was dandy – kept messaging me with family updates throughout the trip. It was truly bizarre, but a bullet firmly dodged.

Sade, 25

I was 16 when I started dating a guy who was four years my senior. The age gap was a little alarming to my parents (which in retrospect, I now understand), but he was very charming and a more ‘reassuring choice’ than most 20-year-olds we knew. I really liked him at first and remember being elated when he drove me to a local waterfall and asked me to be his girlfriend. He even bought me Maccas afterwards!

But as the weeks went on, I could feel myself pulling back. I was a virgin (and after this, remained a virgin for another three years) and a late bloomer. Despite him obviously wanting to, I really didn’t feel ready to have sex. He was nice about it, but I was already freaked out. The relationship felt like too much too quickly and I hated that I couldn’t just lean into it like the other girls I knew. It felt like there was something wrong with me.

All of this accumulated into a kind of panic (I’ve always been an anxious girlie) and I decided I needed to break up with him. My mum and I have always been really close, which makes this next part less weird. When I thought about it, I realised I had no idea how to break up with someone. I called my mum into my room and explained the dilemma, to which she jokingly said “Just Google it!”.

We did Google it, opening pages like ‘Wikihow: Breaking Up With Someone’, ‘Embarrassing Breakup Stories’ and ‘Breaking Up With Your Boyfriend 101’. We giggled and chatted and I felt a lot better, closing my laptop with a welcome sense of calm. When he came over the next day, I choked and couldn’t do it. Instead, I told him I “felt a bit sick” as a way to explain my bizarre behaviour. He suggested we watch a movie and promptly opened my laptop to the seven different tabs about how to break up with your partner.

To this day, I’ve never wished the Earth would swallow me up more than that moment. And I do embarrassing things all the time! He was uncomfortable and upset, leaving without saying much. The confusing part is that we stayed together for another week or two (what?!) until I properly broke it off. He told everyone about my terribly awkward breakup mishap and the boys at school laughed at me, which seems like a fair trade-off.

Ev, 25

When I was 15, I dated a guy for about eight months. We’d met through mutual friends and both went to different schools. He had strict parents and a busy social life so we only saw each other once a week. After a while, I realised that the once-a-week deal wasn’t cutting it, and we only ever really hung out on his terms. I was originally going to end things over a phone call, but upon consultation with friends, decided to tell him in person the next time we hung out.

Unfortunately, that next time happened to be at Moomba Festival with our entire friendship group. I took the chance to tell him that things weren’t working on the Ferris wheel. I had planned to tell him in the last few moments before we had to disembark the ride. Sadly, his response was not what I expected and he burst into tears.  Then the Ferris wheel encountered a maintenance issue and we were hanging up there for a full 40 minutes after the breakup… awkward.

Lou, 28

When I was 14, I got into my first ‘relationship’ (not that you can really call it that). After furiously texting back and forth with a guy from the local all-boys high school who I’d never met before in real life – I believe he gave me his number on MSN – the deal was sealed.

I was his girlfriend, and I had an invite to visit him that Saturday at the boarding school where he was living. I spent hours the night before meticulously straightening my hair and choosing my outfit (leopard print flats, faded skinny jeans, a printed Jay Jays tee and a shit tonne of bangles) and was a bundle of nerves and excitement.

My friend and I turned up at the boarding school the next day for what we thought would be something akin to a double date. What we were met with still haunts me to this day: a boarding school foyer and staircase where every conceivable inch of space was filled up with a jeering private school boy. There they were, all leering down at me and sizing me and my friend up. Hoots of laughter and wolf whistles filled the air, as my ‘boyfriend’ whisked me and my friend off to the safety of the computer rooms.

There, a good looking older boy who was typing something out on Microsoft Word took one withering look at me and wrote the word ‘DOG’ on his document, and proceeded to increase its size so all I could see was that word. I knew then and there that I hadn’t passed some type of test. I had bad acne and a poorly straightened fringe and didn’t fit the mould of what these boys perceived as attractive. The guy I was there to see sheepishly saw us off, as untoward comments ricocheted toward me and my friends.

At the door, he kissed me goodbye, much to all the boy’s delight (or disgust?). Walking out of the school grounds with my friend, I felt elated. Who cared what those assholes thought, my boyfriend and I had just shared our first kiss. We boarded the bus home and my Nokia buzzed.

I was sure he’d be messaging to tell me what a great time he’d had, and how he couldn’t wait to see me again. Instead, I stared at the screen in horror. ‘Dont thnk itz gona work btwn us soz. im dumpin u’. It’s pretty funny now but was unbelievably brutal at the time.

Sam, 20

My ex broke up with me over text on New Year’s Day. Keep in mind we’d only been official for two and a half months, having had a ‘situationship’ (online, during lockdown) for another three months prior. The awkward thing was having to force contact (he blocked me immediately) the next week to let him know I’d gotten COVID. Eeek.

He came around and agreed to settle things in person, but we couldn’t meet for another fortnight because someone staying with him was immunocompromised. By the time we met, we’d already given ourselves closure. There was nothing to say, and the silence was alienating.

Aisling, 25

He was technically my first boyfriend in high school. Our friends were dating and were hellbent on matching us up. After a couple of awkward kisses, he asked me out and I said yes, despite not really liking him but not wanting to hurt his feelings (red flag number one). A few weeks later I broke up with him at the local shopping centre bus stop.

It sounds awful, but I remember being physically repulsed by his clunky school shoes and the way he was slurping his Boost juice (the ick). We then had to catch the bus home together in silence. It was a few years later on a night out, where he was drunkenly telling me I was the one that got away, despite dating for three weeks. Haven’t really seen him since.

*Names changed for privacy reasons.

For more awkward breakup stories, head here.

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