Anatomy of a Breakup: The Breakup Was Clean. The Clean Break Wasn’t 


May 27, 2023


Image credit: Istock/Denise D'souza for The Swaddle

In Anatomy of a Breakup, we dissect a ruined relationship to find out where it all fell apart.  

S: He and I were in college together, in the same batch and social circles. When we met, I was in a long-distance relationship, and he was dating one of my friends. Once my relationship ended, he helped me through the breakup. I think he broke up with his girlfriend around the same time, and was being my shoulder to cry on so he could woo me into dating him. But when we began dating, I realized that he was very possessive, and wanted me around all the time. In the beginning, I loved spending all my time with him, but it soon reached a stage where I didn’t have anything else in my life outside of him, his circle, and his hobbies and lifestyle; I didn’t have an identity of my own anymore, and most people only knew me as his girlfriend. And if I tried to meet others, he’d begin asking me all sorts of questions. Then, for certain personal reasons, he had to skip a year and stay at home. During this time, he cheated on me. Still, he’d always imply that I’m the one who can’t be trusted. What made me realize I needed to move on was the fact that I’d lost myself. 

Then, one warm afternoon, he came up to me and said, “Dude, I think this is done!” To date, I’ve no idea what triggered this conversation on that specific day and at that specfic moment, but I agreed that it was over. I was in my final year of college, and frankly, was relieved that I could use that one year to do something for myself. 

But the drama continued. Around the time we graduated, we were kind of pretending to be together — probably because we were both really lonely and also felt guilty about abandoning the other person. After being in each other’s lives for so many years, and even living together, it wasn’t easy to just cut them off completely. But, in my heart, I knew it was over. So, I was seeing other people. Somehow, in the middle of all this, we decided to go on a holiday together with a few of his friends. He was drinking a lot. So as I. And, in this moment, I really wanted to get with one of his friends — I’m not sure if it was simply the attraction that triggered it, or if I just wanted to be a douche. Irrespective, I ended up cheating on him with his friend, and in front of his best friend. Irrespective, I’m not sure if I intended to really hurt him.

Still, he found out later from his best friend, who was also present there, that I’d cheated on him with the other friend I was attracted to. Following this, for three months, he guilted me about it. Then, he made the decision to never talk to me again. And we actually didn’t talk for two years after that. This was around a decade ago. We’re friends now, but this relationship has significantly informed the way I’ve been in my future relationships.  

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K: At the time when I got to know her, she was in a toxic relationship. I was too. We began sharing our woes, and over time, she became a friend and confidante. I began to like her and realized I’d never been attracted to anyone in nearly the same way before. Once we got together, though, it was like we were drowning in a sea of hurdles. To begin with, she hadn’t fully let go of her previous relationship when we started dating, and that tussle lasted for a while. Neither of us was very trusting either. Then, there was also the mismatch of me being an extremely emotionally-driven person when she was not. We did overcome most of our hurdles, but it was either by brushing them under the rug, or because we pressured each other to stay because we felt that we really needed the other person in our lives, and weren’t prepared to let go. Soon, it became more toxic than the relationships we were running away from initially — there was a point where I realized we were using the relationship to isolate each other from experiencing our individual lives.

While we were together, we broke up many, many times. I was the one who initiated the final one — it went surprisingly well, and she agreed that we should end the relationship. I guess, we both knew it was already over. But a couple of days later, we had the heavy, teary, emotional version of this same conversation. We had already done the break-up-and-get-back-together exercise multiple times during the three years we were together, but this time, it felt permanent. We tried to be adults about it, in the beginning, lending emotional support to each other. But soon, the rebound relationships began.   

That was followed by another phase where we wanted to get back together again. We got intimate again. But it wasn’t sustainable, of course. The same issues crept up again — especially the ones pertaining to trust. Eventually, things got so bad that the friendship we had tried to maintain, even after breaking up, was fractured. We decided never to speak to each other, and we didn’t — for the next couple of years. 

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Devrupa Rakshit.


Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an Associate Editor at The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, a painter by shaukh, and autistic by birth. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.


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