It’s Not You, It’s Me: How to Deal with a College Break-Up

December 8, 2022
Break-Up over text

In 1960, probably even before most of our clients’ parents were born, Neil Sedaka, a well-known singer crooned, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” It’s true, breaking up has never been easy. Indeed, before cell phones and texting, young loves would have the break-up telephone call, where the soon-to-be heart breaker would say corny lines like:

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

“We’re better off as friends.”

“I like (or respect) you too much”

“I’m not ready for a serious relationship.”

None of these lines softened the blow, and at the time, what could be worse than listening to these dull, insipid lies…yes lies, not lines. As we all know, these phrases were in all likelihood hackneyed sayings.

The Break-Up Text

Fast forwarding a few decades, cellphones and social media have changed the nature of the classic break-up. Long gone are the days of the awkward phone conversations. Now, there is the break-up text. Or worse, the break-up by ghosting. A break-up is even more painful when there isn’t closure or any ability to communicate about what might have gone wrong in the relationship.

There are many resources written for college students on what not to do after a break-up. Perhaps you might think that as attorneys we would have absolutely nothing relevant to contribute to this topic. Ironically, as attorneys representing students in Title IX and student misconduct proceedings, we have A LOT to contribute on how both sides of the romantic equation should respond when break-ups occur.

5 Tips for Dealing with a Break-Up

Here we go! We’ve compiled a list of things not to do after a break-up and some helpful tips for dealing with the heartbreak:

  1. No Stalking! No matter how hurt you are, don’t stalk the other person. If you share your location on your phone, stop sharing your location and stop looking up the other person’s location. Also, stop following your ex on social media and, as hard as it is, resist that temptation to text your ex to try to engage in a conversation with them.
  2. No Harassment. Don’t get into any further conversation with your ex. When you’re hurt, it’s hard to keep emotions in check. What starts out civil can easily escalate and turn into an ugly fight. When that occurs, your ex could accuse you of harassing them. We’ve even worked on cases where arguments have become physical and led to assault charges. Again, as hard as it is, just move on with your life.
  3. No Bad Mouthing or Gossiping. Bad mouthing someone you loved or dated is never a good idea. Inviting a chorus of friends to weigh in on a relationship often leads to friend groups polarizing and splitting up after friends feel the need to pick a side.
  4. Don’t Flaunt Your New Relationship. Moving on is healthy unless you plunge into a rebound relationship. Keep in mind, however, that flaunting a new relationship invites trouble. Be classy and low-key when dating another person, and that means don’t try to date a friend of your ex – it’s not nice and never ends well.
  5. Assume Any and All Post Break-Up Conversations Are Recorded. Most break-ups just don’t end tied up in a bow. If your ex calls you to discuss your relationship, assume you are being recorded. We know this sounds kind of paranoid but trust us! Be mindful that if any dirty laundry is being discussed, what you say during this conversation could be used against you later. Be kind, be respectful, and use discretion with your words.

Some Advice…

Now, with some final motherly advice. If you find yourself struggling after a break-up, don’t turn to drugs or alcohol for help. Also, while your friends can be a great source of support, peers don’t always have the tools to navigate serious emotional pain. If you are depressed, turn to counseling for support by a trained professional. And, finally, remember, as difficult as this moment may seem, and it can be excruciating, no one died of a broken heart. You will move on and find a better love.

For additional questions or to speak with an attorney about issues related to bullying, please reach out to Student & Athlete Defense Partners Susan Stone (; 216.736.7220) and Kristina Supler (; 216.736.7217).