Aside from death and taxes, there’s one fait accompli that binds us all: heartbreak. Thanks to rom-coms and reality TV, however, there’s a false narrative surrounding what the “typical” breakup looks like. On-screen couples part ways over a simple misunderstanding—and it’s nothing that can’t be solved with an airport declaration of love. Yet, breaking up in the real world is more like driving on black ice; the issues quietly take root under the banality of everyday life, and the damage is often too deep to repair when it comes to the surface. (Read: the most common reason for divorce).
That said, it doesn’t help that 20-somethings are living in a world that’s plagued by the paradox of choice. Are they the one? has turned into, Am I settling? The challenge now has become finding security among an infinite sea of dating apps—and quelling the looming anxiety that you could be happier in another relationship. Plus, how do you really know when to call it quits when one TikTok relationship expert says, “Make it work with someone who's emotionally avoidant,” and another says, “You’re being emotionally blackmailed”? So in an effort to bring some clarity to those who are on the fence—and catharsis to anyone who’s afraid to move on—we asked eight women in their 20s what ended their last relationship, and how they’re doing today.