How to Throw a Breakup Party

 

The first question that I would usually get from people when I initially started telling them about Exile Lifestyle was “When will you be coming back?” The second question was invariably “Is your girlfriend going along with you?”

Needless to say, when the inquirers found out that my girlfriend and I would not only be breaking up but also be throwing a wild and crazy breakup party in our empty townhouse before going our separate ways, the reactions were priceless.

Many people applauded our ‘mature approach’ to dating, while others lightly tssked and said it was a shame and that we probably wouldn’t go through with it. All but a few on both sides said that they wouldn’t be able to do it. Too strange. Too much drama.

But though the idea started out as a joke, after discussing it for a while we embraced the idea and decided to really go crazy with it. And you can too.

Before I get in to the logistics that go into planning and hosting a successful breakup party, however, I want to go over the reasons you might want to throw one to begin with. It’s not your typical fare – in fact, I’ve never known anyone else who has hosted one, nor even heard of one that’s taken place – but that’s part of the fun. There are no traditions to break, no expectations to meet. A breakup party is about as tabula rasa as you can get with an event (in more ways than one, I suppose).

REASONS TO THROW A BREAKUP PARTY

  1. Different paths: sometimes two people who have a wonderful relationship feel that their lives are headed in different directions, and that by being in the relationship they are both being held back and holding the other person back. In this instance, it may make more sense for you to break up rather than keeping each other from doing what you want to do.
  2. Relationship creep: It should be no secret to anyone who has dated for any amount of time that, over the weeks and months and years, the relationship changes. This is the result of many different things (hopefully it also means that both parties are continuing to grow) and can be a very positive thing, but sometimes the relationship changes in such a way that the people involved in it don’t want to be involved in it anymore. If this is the case, the mature and rational thing to do is end it before one person ends up killing the other (sounds like an exaggeration, but this actually does happen from time to time).
  3. Reestablishment of independence: Another feature of lengthy relationships is that the people involved tend to lose a bit of their individuality due to the sacrifices that each person makes for the other, the fact that they are almost always together, etc. For some people, this can eventually be too much, and being able to be JUST you again (instead of just one half of a whole) may seem like something you need to do.
  4. Antiestablishment: This is probably the least rational reason to throw a breakup party, but to each their own. The idea of most relationships can be a bit abhorrent to some people (you date to find someone to marry, get married and have kids, white picket fences are built, credit cards are used to buy an SUV, trampolines, big-screen TVs, suburbs, 18 or more years of child-rearing, divorce, repeat). In this case, it may seem like a good choice to avoid the traditional relationship path and instead put limitations in place, such as a time-limit (wherein the relationship would end with a party at the end of x number of months or some such). I’ve never heard of something like that happening, but I’m sure it does.

Think about it, and if you find the idea of a breakup party appealing, then you probably have a good reason to want to have one. Discuss it with your partner (which will likely result in a lot more discussions about related things) and if you DO decide that a breakup party is the way to go, be sure to keep the following things in mind.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN THROWING A BREAKUP PARTY

  1. It’s a party: The last thing your friends and family want to do is attend a cryfest that’s more wake than bar mitzfa. Keep things lively, have fun music playing and have all the trappings you’d usually have at a party (food, drinks, etc).
  2. Make sure everyone is in on it: It sucks to be the one person at a costume party who shows up in street clothing (or vice-versa), and it would suck just as much for someone to show up thinking it’s a normal party, only to find out that there is more significance to it than that. Explain what’s going on clearly within the invite, on your Facebook Events page, and when you are telling people about it. The more your invitees are able to prepare, the less likely it is there will be a cringe-worthy scene at some point during the festivities.
  3. Be innovative: This is a new kind of party, so there’s no reason you should do everything ‘the way it’s supposed to be done.’ For example, my girlfriend and I printed off pictures of the both of us and tore them down the middle (with some really funny results) and taped them to the walls. We also had artwork on display…a guy we met pretty randomly at a gallery opening loved the idea of the party and wanted to show his work at the event. We also set up a Twister board and had a contest called ‘Text Your Ex,’ where the funniest text message exchange between a partygoer and one of their exes won a prize. Because both myself and my girlfriend are moving at the same time, we both had a LOT of stuff we’d yet to sell, so we also had a ‘garage sale’ room of sorts that was a big hit.
  4. Make it official: People are going to want to see some drama, but if everything goes well there won’t be much of that. So how do you keep to the theme? You break up during the party. My girlfriend Kristin and I chose to break up at midnight, and we made it official by changing our Facebook relationship statuses (I know, I know) to ‘Single.’ Not only did we make a statement about the role social networks play in the lives of Gen-Y folk, but we also got one possibly awkward part of breaking up out of the way while among a great, supportive group of friends. Perfect!

The absolute most-important thing to keep in mind through all of this is that everyone looks at relationships differently, and this model will not work for everyone. In fact, I would hazard to say that it won’t work for the vast majority of people.

Even if you are the kind of person who this kind of thing appeals to, make sure that you have some long, intensive discussions ahead of time. If you’re even considering a breakup party it means that you want to stay friends with the person you are breaking up with, and if this event is in any way not mutual, the likelihood of that happening is greatly decreased.

What do you think? Are breakup parties a mature approach to a difficult situation or a cop-out for those who are afraid of conventional relationships? Have you had an unconventional relationship or breakup? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!

60 comments

  1. This is fascinating. Wish I was there to celebrate! Way to be unconventional and make this work between you both.

  2. This is fascinating. Wish I was there to celebrate! Way to be unconventional and make this work between you both.

  3. From this relationship forward, I hereby demand that all my relationships will be celebrated to the end in acknowledgment that good relationships never really end, they just transform into something better and more fitting for the current circumstances.

    Why hold onto something in the face of change and the opportunity for growth just for the sake of comfort. This relationship has changed me as a person and I am proud of the person I have become because of it. Here’s to always moving forward!

  4. From this relationship forward, I hereby demand that all my relationships will be celebrated to the end in acknowledgment that good relationships never really end, they just transform into something better and more fitting for the current circumstances.

    Why hold onto something in the face of change and the opportunity for growth just for the sake of comfort. This relationship has changed me as a person and I am proud of the person I have become because of it. Here’s to always moving forward!

  5. I think this is a fantastic idea, in theory. In fact, in theory, most relationships between mature people could conceivably end this way and this would be for the better.

    Therein lies the problem, and the reason this would most likely NOT work for the vast majority of people. Firstly, most people are not mature, and secondly, even if they are, they are not in mature relationships. This is probably one of the main reasons they are breaking up.

    If most people made proper choices in life and had the maturity level to pull something like this off, there would probably be less break-ups in the first place :)

  6. I think this is a fantastic idea, in theory. In fact, in theory, most relationships between mature people could conceivably end this way and this would be for the better.

    Therein lies the problem, and the reason this would most likely NOT work for the vast majority of people. Firstly, most people are not mature, and secondly, even if they are, they are not in mature relationships. This is probably one of the main reasons they are breaking up.

    If most people made proper choices in life and had the maturity level to pull something like this off, there would probably be less break-ups in the first place :)

  7. “Text Your Ex” is simply the most brilliant breakup party game ever. That’s fantastic beyond words.

  8. “Text Your Ex” is simply the most brilliant breakup party game ever. That’s fantastic beyond words.

  9. That’s so courageous of you! I’m not sure yet I’ll be able to do that – breaking up in good terms is a thing, but breaking up “per se” is another one. Sigh.

    Looks like it was a success for you, and I wish you both an exciting new life :)

  10. That’s so courageous of you! I’m not sure yet I’ll be able to do that – breaking up in good terms is a thing, but breaking up “per se” is another one. Sigh.

    Looks like it was a success for you, and I wish you both an exciting new life :)

  11. @Alan: Thanks! We had a great time with it, and felt it the was only fitting tribute to the great relationship we had.

    @the ex: Well hey there, lady! I feel like dating you has made me reconsider how relationships should be handled, too (in the best way, of course), and I’m proud that you’re proud and can’t wait to see how much you flourish in Seattle!

    @Phil: Couldn’t agree more. And I really like your last statement…lots of depth there. If more people worked hard on their emotional and inter-relational maturity levels, then we’d all likely be able to continue growing as individuals under any circumstances and the relationship would never become a hindrance. Any ideas on how to make that happen? I’m at a loss.

    @Will: Haha, thanks! I don’t remember which of us came up with that, but we had some funny results.

    @Corinne: Thanks for the well-wishes! Breaking up is definitely much easier in theory, and it us took both a while to get used to the idea, even though we knew it was the smart choice for us and our situation. I doubt this is something that will become a major trend because of the difficulty involved, and the fact that most people want something stable over having constant change.

  12. @Alan: Thanks! We had a great time with it, and felt it the was only fitting tribute to the great relationship we had.

    @the ex: Well hey there, lady! I feel like dating you has made me reconsider how relationships should be handled, too (in the best way, of course), and I’m proud that you’re proud and can’t wait to see how much you flourish in Seattle!

    @Phil: Couldn’t agree more. And I really like your last statement…lots of depth there. If more people worked hard on their emotional and inter-relational maturity levels, then we’d all likely be able to continue growing as individuals under any circumstances and the relationship would never become a hindrance. Any ideas on how to make that happen? I’m at a loss.

    @Will: Haha, thanks! I don’t remember which of us came up with that, but we had some funny results.

    @Corinne: Thanks for the well-wishes! Breaking up is definitely much easier in theory, and it us took both a while to get used to the idea, even though we knew it was the smart choice for us and our situation. I doubt this is something that will become a major trend because of the difficulty involved, and the fact that most people want something stable over having constant change.

  13. This is the definition of unconventional, therefore I love it. What a great idea, and a really mature way to handle the situation.

  14. This is the definition of unconventional, therefore I love it. What a great idea, and a really mature way to handle the situation.

  15. Colin, congratulations!!! A good ending is never really the end, merely a new door opening and a fabulous fresh beginning! I too recently experienced a mature break-up, it’s phenomenally refreshing! And, one can only hope that the trend will spread to being the norm!

  16. Colin, congratulations!!! A good ending is never really the end, merely a new door opening and a fabulous fresh beginning! I too recently experienced a mature break-up, it’s phenomenally refreshing! And, one can only hope that the trend will spread to being the norm!

  17. It has been pretty amazing to see everything unfold for you over the last couple of months. The breakup party actually happening (drama free no less), selling all your stuff, and getting ready to actually move to Argentina. Very inspiring for sure. Really looking forward to future updates from your new locale.

  18. It has been pretty amazing to see everything unfold for you over the last couple of months. The breakup party actually happening (drama free no less), selling all your stuff, and getting ready to actually move to Argentina. Very inspiring for sure. Really looking forward to future updates from your new locale.

  19. “Text Your Ex” sounds like what I do at every party when I’m bored. He’s the only person that keeps me laughing with questions like, “Would you be interested in pistachio flavored condoms?”

    Like several people have mentioned, I’m not sure many people have the clarity and frame of mind to be able to handle a break up party without it dissolving into tears. Most people, when they break up, are breaking up because one party has initiated it, rather than a mutual agreement to end the relationship.

    But gosh, it sounds so utterly lovely and ideal! Imagine if every relationship ended with a break up party, rather than the post-break-up hell so many relationships inevitably surrender to.

  20. “Text Your Ex” sounds like what I do at every party when I’m bored. He’s the only person that keeps me laughing with questions like, “Would you be interested in pistachio flavored condoms?”

    Like several people have mentioned, I’m not sure many people have the clarity and frame of mind to be able to handle a break up party without it dissolving into tears. Most people, when they break up, are breaking up because one party has initiated it, rather than a mutual agreement to end the relationship.

    But gosh, it sounds so utterly lovely and ideal! Imagine if every relationship ended with a break up party, rather than the post-break-up hell so many relationships inevitably surrender to.

  21. I love an idea that both promotes honesty and defies the rigid social norms of what a relationship “should” be like. Way to go!

  22. I love an idea that both promotes honesty and defies the rigid social norms of what a relationship “should” be like. Way to go!

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  24. What a fantastic idea Colin. My boyfriend and I have come to the realization that we are in two different places in our lives and staying together is hindering us from growing as you said. As hard as it was to admit to one another, we both agreed a break up was the best thing for us. And so I’m leaving the country to travel and write like you. I’ll have to talk to him about having one of these, then I figure I’d move out officially that day too. Ha, did one of you leave the party after midnight?!

  25. What a fantastic idea Colin. My boyfriend and I have come to the realization that we are in two different places in our lives and staying together is hindering us from growing as you said. As hard as it was to admit to one another, we both agreed a break up was the best thing for us. And so I’m leaving the country to travel and write like you. I’ll have to talk to him about having one of these, then I figure I’d move out officially that day too. Ha, did one of you leave the party after midnight?!

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  27. Oh my god, this is brilliant. I found your blog through 20sb and am really enjoying it so far. Big props to you and your ex. Unfortunately, in my experience, a lot of relationships tend to end when one person really wants out and the other person not so much. This concept obviously only works if the feeling is mutual…but I say, what better way to go than a party?

  28. Oh my god, this is brilliant. I found your blog through 20sb and am really enjoying it so far. Big props to you and your ex. Unfortunately, in my experience, a lot of relationships tend to end when one person really wants out and the other person not so much. This concept obviously only works if the feeling is mutual…but I say, what better way to go than a party?

  29. What a fascinating concept. And I think if two adults have come to an amicable/mutual breakup then you might as well HAVE FUN. I think its an awesome concept.

    And I think it probably works best when the two realize they are separating onto different paths. But I can’t see if happening if one gets tired of the other. Then its onesided.

  30. What a fascinating concept. And I think if two adults have come to an amicable/mutual breakup then you might as well HAVE FUN. I think its an awesome concept.

    And I think it probably works best when the two realize they are separating onto different paths. But I can’t see if happening if one gets tired of the other. Then its onesided.

  31. Howdy!
    I’ve heard of you via the amazing Mark Powers… (You and I are both submitting for his e-book on ultralight travel.)

    This concept is awesome.

    Mark and I broke up when I moved to Ecuador, and I SO wish we would have had a party like yours. We got along great as a couple, and split for reasons similar to yours – and we are still great friends all considering!

    Cheers, and blessings on your path (and to your new e-book launch) –

    Miss Rose
    rosebark.blogspot.com

  32. Howdy!
    I’ve heard of you via the amazing Mark Powers… (You and I are both submitting for his e-book on ultralight travel.)

    This concept is awesome.

    Mark and I broke up when I moved to Ecuador, and I SO wish we would have had a party like yours. We got along great as a couple, and split for reasons similar to yours – and we are still great friends all considering!

    Cheers, and blessings on your path (and to your new e-book launch) –

    Miss Rose
    rosebark.blogspot.com

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  34. Just found you thru Hulbert’s site. Love this story!! *Smiling* I mean :) :)

    When I left New Zealand for Canada in 2008, my ex and I split up the day he drove me to the airport, 1.5 months after I decided to leave. We had a farewell party too, it was slightly strange to be partying with the guy I loved & all our friends knowing I was leaving, and yet, tres cool. while it wasn’t a break up party as such, it was a break up month!

    Not to say we didn’t cry at the aiport and for a few days after. It wasn’t as smooth as you guys but we pulled it off & are good friends now – I even went “home” to his folks place in NZ for Chrissie last year!

    Sweet as.

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  36. Wow, this rings very close to my heart mate. I do think I respect the way you and your (ex) girlfriend handled the situation you were both facing – though I’m not sure I could follow suit. I’ve recently lost a girlfriend of 2.5 years because of, well I’m not exactly sure.

    Actually, it’s probably reasons 1, 2, and 3 of why you’d throw a relationship part – unfortunately, I didn’t agree with any of the reasons!

    Excited to follow your blog, and I bet I’ll see you around at the Flightster blog a bit more often.

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  38. Just found you through the Art of Manliness, and I can’t stop reading your article. Amazing site!!! Someday I hope that I can do something half this cool…

  39. Rereading this a year later…we sure did this party right. I’m still ecstatic about where we both are and where we’re going separately and as friends.
    – the ex :)

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  43. Wow! That’s so ingenuous. I think it’s a fantastic and inspired idea. Sounds like you two care(d) about each other, and your friends and family. That it was probably difficult on some level, but in the end sounds like the party spoke for itself – that it was an exciting new journey. Admire the way you included your loved ones.

    I would venture a guess that the guests who attended found this inspiring. That you can have a relationship, break-up, and celebrate that life change. Instead of being in some kind of intense mourning of the death of a part of you, you’re honoring the new half.

  44. now that’s a great idea!!! to say iv’e been with my ex for more than a year and more. . .throwing out a break up party wouldn’t be that bad at all. .

  45. I came to UK to study and build up my experiance but thought I’ll be deffinately going back home after my studies and will build my carrier back there. So I had no doubts that I am staying in this amazing 5year relationship. I didn’t even care about all that long way distance bullshit that everyone was worried about.. But now when I’m in this new world, Ive met loads of new people and changed the way I see my life. Sadly relationship I’m in right now doesn’t quite go with my future plans.. But I still care about and love the person I’m with..

    So I wanted to thank you for this amazing idea, coz it might be a great solution for the situation I have in here. I’ll try to introduce my boyfirend to this after (hopefully) he’ll be used to the idea of us breaking up for the sake of both of our futures..We have had an amazing time together, but sometimes there are bigger things that impact your life. Thanks again for this post! Meant a lot to me ;)

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