Love Better

Every Break-Up You’ll Go Through Before You’re 30

And what to expect when you do. 
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Unless you’re sensationally uninvested in your own life, most people barrelling towards 30 have a bucket-list of sorts they hope to tick off before their 20’s ends. Maybe you want to move to Egypt, get a Husky or finally tell your boss where they can stick it. 

Alongside this list of aspirational antics, there are all the bits you’re likely to go through whether you want them or not: Moving out, losing people you loved, having a job you don’t care for, mental health struggles. It’s a long list of undesirable, but important, experiences. 


And if you’re dating – alongside various stages of commitment, casual dating, falling in love and fucking around – there’s one thing you’re almost guaranteed to go through: A break-up. 

There are many types of break-ups, but most can be categorised into one of three groups: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. 


Of course, a break-up is a break-up, and even though they’re most often for the best, they never feel that flash. And so The Good is a category not overflowing with options. Ultimately, these are the amicable, mostly mutual and/or healthy break-ups. The ones that, while they still might sting, won’t leave you crying on the sticky floors of Bar 101. 

The Mutual Break-Up:

This is the God-tier break-up. Put simply, for whatever reason everyone involved wants the relationship to end. 

Amicable (Staying Friends): 

This is the break-up everyone hopes for, provided the time you were together was actually decent, or even better, actively good. It’s a choice everyone involved needs to make and be sure of, but if you still have a lot of love for the person/people outside of your sexual and romantic desires, it is possible to build a friendship on the buried remains of your relationship. Just make sure you’re not crossing those tempting boundaries of comfort-banging or cockblocking each other. 

Amicable (Clean Break): 

A similar status, with one significant difference: you don’t stay friends. In fact, you don’t stay anything, but instead choose to part ways without making contact again in the future. Not because things ended terribly, but because you know for your own sake that one, or both of you, won’t move on without space. 

Depending on how you met the person and how much overlap there was in your lives, a clean break can be dead simple or a more complicated arrangement. But for a lot of people the space is necessary – even if you’re able to be friends again in the future – to really get over each other.  


Growing Apart: 

Sometimes in a relationship, you just become different people over time. Especially if you started dating in your teens or early 20s. 

We do huge amounts of growth in this period of our lives and it’s not a shock that your anime-loving teen selves, who contentedly chugged smirnoff ice’s in your aunties garage for hours on end, might have some different interests from each other in your adulthood. And it’s not always hobbies and lifestyle choices. Sometimes growing apart is just a feeling – it’s the inside not the outside that’s changing. 

Self Discovery: 

Rather than spending years longingly watching gay porn wishing you could partake, perhaps it’s time to be single so you can explore parts of yourself you may have been unable to do in your relationship. It can be hard to express to someone that you have exploration that needs to be done alone, but it’s a totally healthy reason to end things if your relationship is restricting you from discovering your own ideals, sexuality, gender, partnership styles.. the list is quite long.. 

The self-discovery break-up can still be incredibly hard, especially if you still love the person/people you’re parting with, but your future self will be grateful you took the time to figure out who you are and where your needs lie. Especially if you realise you're a lesbian. Because lesbians are the best. 



These are not the worst of the worst, but they’re not exactly what you hope for, either. The Bad break-ups are often messy, careless or come down to greater forces than thou. 

One-sided Break-Up: 

The polar opposite of the mutual break-up. It may be a necessary evil, but this is gonna suck really hard for one of you. If you’re on the receiving end, just make sure you’re open to the other person's reasons. You might totally disagree with what they have to say, but there could be some good learning in there, too. No one likes to admit when they’re being a dick, but sometimes you are, and it’s better to face it than fight it. 

On Again / Off Again: 

Anyone that’s done this before knows the absolute shitstorm that is an on again / off again situationship. Most of the time you’ve broken-up for a reason, and 90% of the time you only do yourself dirty by deciding to give it another go. Once, sure – but don’t put yourself through the nightmare of parting ways and getting back together over and over again. It’s a pretty surefire sign that if you didn’t make it work the first time,  it’s not gonna work out in the end. 

Partners to Lovers: 

Most of us love sex, and getting regular rub-downs is one the biggest differences between domestic bliss and the single-life. So why throw that away? It might seem like a doable and beneficial scenario to continue being horny together once the love has died. The logic is there: you likely feel safe with the person, trust them intimately, and hopefully know how to please each other. But the switch from partners to lovers is a messy, messy game.  Emotions, STDs and self-esteem are all at stake, especially once one of you loses interest or new partners are introduced.

The Location / Time Limit Break-Up:

Leaning more sad than sour, sometimes a break-up comes down to practical reasons. Maybe you met on holiday, or while one of you was on an exchange programme. Perhaps you’re at highschool together and going to different unis, or only one of you is staying in your hometown. When you started this relationship, you both knew it had to come to an end, which isn’t to say you shouldn’t bother. Three months of excitement might be worth it for the right person/people, but if you remove yourself from the reality of the situation too much it’ll be a hard kick in the nuts when the predestined parting comes around. 


And now come the real ass-lickers. You can hope you escape the trials of adultery, scandal and humiliation and you should absolutely hope you’re not the one doing the deed, but sadly many of us will go through one of the ugly break-ups in our dating lives. 

The Rug Pull: 

Being blindsided in any situation is shit, but when it’s by the person you love and trust and have supported? And when they’re ending a relationship you’ve put your time into, nurtured and even made sacrifices for? Yikes. 

The rug pull doesn’t always come with an incriminating reason – it might be linked to a person choosing to move away, or they might just not feel happy – but the suddenness of this break-up is what lands it in the Ugly category. 


Having autonomy yanked away from you is something none of us are equipped to deal with well. Like a kid ready to chow down on a delicious looking electrical plug, we yearn for what has been taken away from us. It’s not surprising that a sudden and definitive break-up can leave you confused, frustrated and miserable. You just have to remember, they made their choice, and it’s better off for you in the long run to be with someone who’s completely sure they want to be there. 

Ideally, if you find yourself doing this to someone else, be understanding of the fact that they’re probably not gonna take it well.  

Over text/call:

There are situations in which a text or a call can be okay. Maybe you’ve only gone on 2-3 dates. Maybe you’re long distance and an awkward Zoom is the only way. Maybe you’ve established previously that everyone involved would be okay with it. But outside of that, being broken-up with over text or call is undeniably savage. 

Often, it comes from cowardice or carelessness rather than malice, but the outcome is the same. Rather like the rug pull, it leaves people confused and annoyed at the least and raging if the text was intended to round out a long-term relationship. In today's world you’re pretty much guaranteed to experience this kind of break-up. 


The big C. Well, the other big C…. While cheating is often considered one of the most criminal offences in a relationship, it's important to remember every situation has nuance. The dismal reality is that often people cheat for a reason – even if that reason is that they don’t give a shit about you. 

Whatever the cause, and whichever player you are in the game, cheating often results in the ugliest of endings to a relationship, as broken trust leaves people feeling angry, embarrassed and betrayed. This is one situation that’s rarely smoothed over successfully, though it is possible with the right support and intentions. 


And if you’re the one who did the deed, being branded an asshole is par for the course, so don’t be shocked when it happens. Sort your shit out for the future. 


Although not the most dramatic of endings if you’ve only hung out a couple of times, if you’ve been in a serious or long-term relationship that ended because one person ghosted, you’ll know that this is the ultimate headfuck. 

There’s almost no excuse for a ghoster, it’s a fucked up thing to do to just disappear, and it might send the person left behind into a genuinely serious spiral. The ghosted person is left wondering what happened, if you’re safe, or angry, or have fallen off a cliff. But dangerously you may leave them considering what they may have done that was so bad that you couldn’t just step up and explain yourself. Messing with someone’s head like that is some genuinely spineless shit. 

Own the Feels is brought to you by #LoveBetter, a campaign funded by the Ministry for Social Development.

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Rachel Barker is a writer / producer at VICE NZ in Aotearoa.