Breaking Up Though You Were Never Together

How to endure a millennial heartbreak


Twenty-six is going to be a strange birthday because I’m anticipating getting broken up with. It’s not a premonition so much as it as a definitive notion in that my current health insurance doesn’t want to be with me anymore. It thinks we’re at different points in our lives, or something cliché and Owen Wilson-y like that. And yet as my hypochondriacal fears begin to set in (what if I develop tuberculosis or colic before getting new insurance, for example), I’m realizing that it’s been a while since I’ve actually been “dumped” by a person as opposed to a system.

I’m not bragging. My un-dumped track record for the past three years has more to do with the fact that it’s been a while since I’ve been in a “real relationship,” and we’ve skimmed the surface of this before: that in this age of hook ups and hang outs, there’s less breaking and a lot more phasing.

Guys have casually dropped the mic on me, for sure. And I’ve Irish Goodbye’d from men in my rotation as well. But when talking to a friend last night about the breakup she was enduring (to a man who was less than a boyfriend but more than a bedmate) I realized that ending things has gotten significantly more complicated — not just because of technique (again, see: Band-Aids) but because this style of dating adds pressure to play it perennially cool.

She lamented that her feelings were textbook to those of a “traditional” termination (traditional if you consider a relationship to be that which our grandparents once knew): stomach pit, distracted thoughts, and threats of tears when confronted with the endless supply of NYC’s excessive PDA. The problem was, she didn’t know how to “deal” with her emotions. She felt dumb for being sad since they weren’t “technically” a couple.

But so what?

My therapist named Oprah believes that all emotions are relevant; no one can tell you that you can’t feel a certain way. But because my dear friend doesn’t feel like feeling sad about the guy she was sleeping with (but not exactly dating), we came up with a guide for being broken up with in this messy-ass 21st century.

Step 1. Acceptance. Accept that whatever it was, it is now over.

Step 2. Be thankful that because you were not official, there is no awkward post-breakup Facebook protocol to follow: no status to change, no pictures to crop.

Step 3. Don’t get all dramatic and go un-following him or her off Instagram.

Step 4. Feel sad, but maybe don’t tell everyone at the bar how sad you are. Do, however, pretend the juke box and or deejay is your personal iPod and play/request whatever songs you want as often as you like.

Step 5. Meet. New. People. The thing about the world is that it’s technically overpopulated (which I can attest to because of Tinder) so shake hands like you’re the mayor and remind yourself that your prior dalliance is a but a mere blip in a line of great stories you will later tell.

There’s an old song by Peggy Lee where she sounds like a jaded New Yorker, repeatedly asking “is that all there is?” in regards to a circus, a house fire, and finally, love. When she describes having her heart broken, “I thought I’d die,” she says. “But I didn’t.”

And you won’t.

Tuberculosis however…that would be a bitch.

Get more Postmodern Love ?
  • Irene Laura
  • Maria

    Haha, lovely!

  • Jake
  • Quinn Halman

    Amelia, you make me feel ok about what life might throw my way

  • kitty

    I was dumped too, the place where I used to live doesn’t want me anymore, just because I forgot to pay one week or so 🙁 It feels strange because now I have to find some place else somewhere else. Oh I was used to this place

  • Holly-Bella

    Got so much love for this post. I have so been there *sigh*

  • Amelia is my life coach. Your pieces are like heating pads on a period-laden abdominal region, which is to say really, really comforting.

  • Amanda

    This literally happened to me yesterday. A bartender at my favorite bar turned bang buddy who I had accidently started developing feelings for told me “there is just something missing”. I felt dumb for being so sad about it since he wasn’t my boyfriend, glad to know its not just me. Oh and nothing a night on the town and a bottle of wine cant fix! (and a drunk text from him later saying “I think I made a huge mistake” was the icing on the cake)

  • Carolina Ferreira

    Great as always. Listening to peggy lee now

  • s

    haha reminiscing of my situation a while back… these tips are the way to go


  • Erika

    Amazing! Per usual!

  • lisa robb
  • JSchiff

    “…this style of dating adds pressure to play it perennially cool.”

    So true, and so annoying. I’m sick of playing it cool! It’s like a competition of who cares less about the other person, at least outwardly. So, err-relationships [as they should be called] today are more like “let’s not care about each other…together” than anything else. Ugh. Bitter.

  • ashton

    this is good

  • Sarah

    Perfect timing for this article!

  • jonas fit
  • shakti

    “in this age of hook ups and hang outs, there’s less breaking and a lot more phasing.” Do you think this might be more of a NY thing? In London it maybe works a little different.. less structure to the ‘dating game’

    • Amelia Diamond

      Maybe! What’s it like in London?

      • shakti

        Hmmm, well I guess you meet one night, then there’s the walk of shame (or possibly not!) And that’s it! If you click, or like the same drinks/designers/football team/reality TV (as applicable), it could be one night, a few weeks, years.. sometimes you have that puppy for life. Simples.
        NB. Alcohol always required.. It’s Britain, innit?

  • Camila Gálvez
  • maria
  • Marissa

    Oh good, you reminded me to finish my Heath Care application. You’re like a second, funkier mother.

  • leonorjr


  • Fan Club Juventus
  • Ha, yes. This is so good.

  • rachel lynch

    haha this is so good!

  • Noelia

    The story of my life. And I’m from Argentina!

  • Jillian

    Haha,I feel like this article was written for me to be honest

  • Frama Willis

    Without DR DAHIRU a lot of people would have been dead through heart break. My case is not different from heart break, I am married woman with 3 kids and there was a time when i was having problem with my husband because he was having an affair outside our marriage and this was making mee feel bad. So i tried finding solution to my problem by reading a lot of relationship tips on the internet and that was how i came in contact with DR DAHIRU contact details and through the help of DR DAHIRU my husband left the girl he was having affair with and he came back to me and our kids. After a job well done by DR DAHIRU i felt that it will be unfair if i keep this secret to myself and that is why i am going to drop the contact details of DR DAHIRU right now, They are: or add him on facebook (Arewa Dahiru) To enable you have a taste of his nice work

  • I’ve definitely given similar advice to a few girlfriends. You shouldn’t have to apologize for your feelings, they’re yours to do with what you want. And you’re allowed to be sad over something that didn’t work out, even if it wasn’t a relationship in the conventional sense. Feelings are important. And Amelia is very comforting and wise.

  • Maria TGD

    It hurts like a bitch though!! And what I learned from that experience: go with your gutts, don’t let anybody get in your head (telling you he definitely likes you when you know thats not the case for example) and don’t let it go on for too long. You either fall for each other or you don’t, he will not come around later if he doesn’t from the beginning.