Illustration of a giant broken heart on the heart on the right, held by someone crying with people reaching out on the left but not touching.
Illustration: Mathilde Bindervoet
Life

What's It's Like to Be Dumped During a Pandemic

Heartbreak isn't easy when it's illegal for a friend to give you a hug.
04 June 2020, 8:15am

This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.

A friend of mine was dumped a few weeks ago. Her girlfriend had spent a lot of time thinking about their relationship during lockdown and had decided she wanted to be alone. My friend called me crying – she just wanted to go to a club and make out with someone to forget her new ex. But this is the new normal, so she had to stay in her room, staring blankly at the wall with no one physically there to comfort her.

From China to the UK, journalists and lawyers have reported spiking divorce rates due to lockdown. As people spent more time alone with their thoughts and sharing a space with their partner 24/7, simmering tensions could reach the surface and become amplified by pandemic-related stress and anxiety. But how do you deal with a broken heart without having friends to give you a hug or help you drink your feelings away at the pub? I asked five people whose hearts were broken during lockdown to open up about their experience.

MUUS, 19

This is the first heartbreak of my life and it’s absolutely horrible. My ex-boyfriend and I were together for three years. When he decided to end things, the corona crisis was just beginning – I was still allowed to go to school or to see my friends. That helped. The corona restrictions had a profound impact on me. All I wanted to do was go see a friend to have some wine, eat ice cream and cry. Instead, I have been locked in my room alone for a few weeks now. It’s very hard to come to terms with my living situation, because this is where we spent so much time together. Everything reminds me of him.

After the breakup, we talked a bit on the phone. He told me he was also having a hard time with the relationship ending in this period. That made me feel better. Luckily, he won’t go around kissing other girls. But that means I have the same problem, too. I often get sad when I’m outside. I would have loved to spend the quarantine with him, staying in bed all day, watching movies. Now I want to move on, but time just seems to have stopped. I’m afraid I’ll only be able to work through this once the world goes back to normal.

MATTY, 27

I went to see my dad at the end of March, even though my girlfriend was against it. My girlfriend works at a hospital and was scared I’d infect her or that she’d spread the virus to vulnerable people. We were supposed to spend the weekend together after my visit, but she told me we should wait five days before meeting up and check we showed any symptoms.

A few days later, she called me to say that she couldn’t do this, it wasn’t the right timing for our relationship and that she was really stressed about COVID-19. I was shattered, I couldn’t stop thinking that maybe, if I hadn’t gone to see my dad, we’d still be together.

I didn’t want to be alone, so I called some of my friends over and we quarantined together. It’s helped me a lot. If things were normal, I’d be spending much more time thinking about what she’s doing right now and constantly checking her Instagram. Now, I’m with my friends, skateboarding, playing guitar and reading books. Still, it’s been horrible not being able to really go out, go to the gym or to a bar. I haven’t heard from her since that phone call. I’m curious to know how she and her family are doing.

HENRIETTE, 21

When social distancing was introduced, I felt lucky I had a boyfriend. At least I wouldn’t be lonely. Then he broke up with me. I went to see a friend, she comforted me and we drank a lot of wine together. My mum said he must have been stressed out because the industry he works in was hit hard by the corona crisis. But I think our relationship would have ended regardless; he had been having doubts for some time. Corona didn’t cause our break-up, but I do think it made it quicker because he had more time to think things through.

In the beginning I was mostly angry. Couldn’t he have dumped me after the pandemic? But I quickly realised he would have been lying to both of us. I spent my first weekend after the break up lying in my hammock, crying and reading poetry. On the one hand, it sucks to be dumped during this time – I feel extra lonely. Then again, I have all the time in the world to deal with my sadness. I can’t go out and distract myself now, I’m forced to really go through my emotions.

BJARNE, 22

My girlfriend recently ended things. I live in northern Belgium, she lives in the south. Even before the breakup, We hadn’t seen each other for two months because of the lockdown. That was pretty hard. Then one day, I was talking to her on FaceTime when she suddenly ended things. It came as a total surprise. She said that corona had nothing to do with it, but I have my doubts.

We’ve been very much in love for a year and a half, and the last time we saw each other, things were great. I think maybe her feelings started to gradually fade because of the distance, and she thought it’d be better to break up now. This period was already bad enough. We have to stay home all day, but now I’m at home with a broken heart. It really hurts that I wasn’t able to properly say goodbye to her.