The Clean Break (Up)


I’m a self-confessed hoarder. Whether it’s antique tupperware, vintage dresses, worn out running shoes or ex-boyfriends. I’m a collector of stuff (and people). In my mind, something/someone has to be really really repulsive before I’m willing to part ways because you never know when old things might come in handy. Maybe in a few decades time your future kids might have a fancy dress event which requires them to wear some vulgar outfit from the early 1990s. Or you never know when you might just need one of those ex-Tinder guys to fix your bike, some heavy lifting or chauffeur you to the airport.

Things are pretty simple when it comes to hoarding material objects – all you end up with is a spare room full of junk from the past that continues to gather dust everyday till perhaps the time comes for you to move house. Then in a rage you decide to discard it all because the physical and financial implications of transporting this junk to another place are just too much. Plus, there is something poetic about starting afresh with minimal reminders of the past to clutter your new chapter. However, when it comes to human relationships, be it romantic encounters or platonic friendships, is it always best of have a clean break (up) or are the ways to downgrade things and keep them in the picture despite your history?

There is this amazing breed of people, that admittedly I am a little envious of but honestly can’t relate to. As soon as they break up with someone they pack up that person’s stuff, hand over the box, remove all traces of them from their facebook profile (sometimes going back years and year and years!) and deleting/blocking their number thereby reducing the chance of any future contact/relapse. Obviously, simply burning all the pictures of an ex doesn’t mean you’ll automatically forget them. You’ll find triggers in the strangest of places and no matter what lengths you go to make a clear break from an ex (even try hypnosis or moving overseas if you must) you’ll likely see mirages of them all over the place for a few months post-break up. But still, making those somewhat dramatic but necessary attempts to cut all ties with the past are probably a step in the right direction when it comes to moving on.

Then there is the other type of person (and yes, I fall into this category). As proficient as I am in the art of swiping and moving on quickly when a potential suitor doesn’t quite make the mark, there are those rare occasions where you meet someone that gets under your skin and it’s when those encounters don’t quite work out that it becomes difficult to simply cut ties. Well, maybe it’s the historian in me that appreciates old things and believes that no matter how far away you run you can never travel back in time and rewrite history (yes, this is what I tell myself to feel better about my bad behaviour). The relationship/friendship happened. Destroying your Facebook account or even chucking your computer out of the window won’t change that. So with this logic in mind this second type of person attempts to do the ‘mature’ thing when it comes to their fellow humans. Even a few years after the fact, you’ll still find them bantering with the one that got away. In fact, they are probably Facebook friends with most of the past Tinder guys. Ugh and while we are it, why don’t we keep them around for sleepovers too. Hmmm….so much for moving on, hey?

On reflection, obviously when a relationship or a friendship no longer serves you in any sort of positive way the best thing to do would be to create some space but cutting all ties is easier said than done. Most long-term relationships/friendships were good once upon a time and even when things do turn sour at the end, it’s not always easy to forget the good times and that person’s good quality. I mean even when someone goes all SWF, you can’t forget all the good LOLs you had once. The geezer you were once in a crew with who since discarded you for his ‘happily ever after’, it’s hard to forget he was there to put things into perspective when some douche screwed you over. I’m certainly not one to talk but I guess if you can’t do the whole black/white, chuck all their shit out of the window approach to breaks ups, then I suggest perhaps the best thing to do is try to wean yourself off the person and work on downgrading rather than going cold turkey. Because as I’ve said before there is always room for the odd ‘coffee friend’.

Rinsers. It’s your turn. Is a clean break (up) always best? Or are there more ‘mature’ ways to handle things? What is modus operandi when it comes to dealing with break ups or friendships that come to an end? Do you let things go easily or try to downgrade? How successful has this mean when it comes to moving on? Share your views in comments below. 


  1. I think it depends on the circumstances …if children or grandchildren are involved then there is no clean break up because someone is bound to remind you of something. if it is the case where neither are involved and you and that person just have a relationship then the break up can be clean. But one thing you said made all of this clearer…there are triggers …and no matter if you burn all the pictures or get rid of things or clothes …there are triggers songs, tv shows, jokes or just sights sounds or even where you went on vacation there are triggers that no one else will know but you will that bring back memories of that person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been both types in my life. When I was younger I used to “disengage” till I was okay with letting go. This process took me two years with my first fiancé. I kept doing it later on in my life and then I realized that if I still try to have pieces of them in my life it means I’m not truly over the person. Then I became a serial “clean breaker” – trying to get rid of all the signs of the persons former presence in my life. Sure, the relationships were real but it was my way to make it easier to move on not to have to look to a couplet pictures with my ex on my timeline. As you said, there are places and other ways you’ll be reminded of your ex anyway? Why not to minimalize them? Downgrading to friends may be an option but often there was not much left once the attraction was gone and some of my exes were just dumb. To spend time with someone like that once the positive feelings were gone just seemed like a waste of time. I think people not making clear breaks should ask themselves what do they think they’re getting out of it. It may turn out it’s just a lingering hope of rekindling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When my relationship with my ex ended, we agreed to stay friends, then he blocked me on facebook and cut all ties without warning. I was initially shocked, but I think it was the best decision for both of us. We were together for 8 years, so it would have been difficult to stay just friends after such a long romantic relationship. Plus, he turned into a complete asshole and started spreading rumors about me, so….

    In regards of friends; if a friendship is going to end, a clean break would be the best way to go in my opinion, but that’s only if both parties are in agreeance. As in the situation with me and my ex bestie, she stopped talking to me cold turkey (so to speak), which left me hurt and confused. I’m not a pining-type person, so even though our friendship is no longer, I still ask myself ‘why.’


  4. Reading this reminded me of something I posted a while back

    There are so many factors to considering when leaving a relationship, some already mentioned above, kids, grandkids, I’ve always just made a clean break because none of the guys I’ve had relationships with would settle for being downgraded. Sore losers. LOL! LOL! But seriously, if a former partner can’t handle a downgrade or the relationship was abusive in some way then it’s not an option, a clean break is the only option. Deleting all memories, Facebook photos, tangible photos, voice notes, belongings, the whole shebang!

    As far as friendship goes, when someone shows me their true colours. I make a quick and clean break up. Why hang onto someone who has shown you they mean you no good. This doesn’t mean bad mouthing them, it simply means packing up your stakes and moving on.


  5. All for the clean break! Maybe somewhere down the line when the dust has settled people can be friends but not from the get go!


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