The year of breakups? | Inquirer Opinion

The year of breakups?

/ 05:04 AM January 24, 2020

It spread fast like a contagion. The day was Wednesday, an ordinary day. The first news came as early as lunchtime. It was succeeded by something similar late afternoon. Warnings were felt by several others when the weekend rolled in. Now here we are.

On the third week of January this year, one by one the members of my team either went through a breakup, were on the brink of a breakup, or broke up temporarily. We were all taken aback by the synchronicity of these events.

Who breaks up in January, anyway? Isn’t March the month for that? As if the previous year hadn’t seen enough breakups on its own. Relationships barely scraped through that one.


Then this week unfolded in the most odd way, as if the gods were writing a tabloid story for history to record. Because even the most gossip-averse must have heard that a phenomenal celebrity couple had decided to split up. Even in the midst of what we were going through on both the personal and national levels, this turnaround would set our conversations ablaze.


It feels strange to write about breakups when there are more pressing matters that warrant our attention or should bother our midday thoughts. But could there be any more universal pain such as a failed love? And could there be any stranger ache than a broken heart?

That we find ourselves talking so much and at length about a concluded relationship is telling of our high regard for commitment, even in the age of the noncommittal. That we could be so shocked about the end of one is indicative that, at least on a subconscious level, we still care about the realities and impact of change, especially when the changing occurs in people we love or admire.

It’s still “cuffing season,” by the way—referring to the colder months of October until February or even March. This is the season for single people to suddenly find a partner, what with the shorter days, cooler weather, and easy vibe of the days leading to summer. But plenty of those who do participate in cuffing season (which is plenty of us, to be honest) eventually break up shortly after March, when the “uncuffing season” commences. Hence the widely accepted belief that couples who are together before Christmas would manage to make it past Valentine’s Day at least.

For divorce lawyer Valerie H. Tocci, writing in the Business Insider, January has become the “divorce month.” Lawyers like her prepare for January when “divorce filings are at their peak.” She cited a University of Washington study which found that, statistically, from 2001 until 2015, divorce filings have become higher in January than in December.

It is strange to write about breakups, but it becomes significant when you remember how you battled with one, or helped another person through it; when you held a friend’s hand as he or she heaved in tears, or caught them up as they sprawled on the bathroom floor. Or, in your own case, tried to keep yourself together as you packed your things up to move out and move on.

Maybe it’s high time we stopped buying into the idea of a “happily ever after.” We have become a society so sold into the concept, but it could not possibly exist—at least not in the way we think it happens. Because happily ever after is not a state of bliss the way nirvana is, for example. Instead, it is hard work with no assurance of likable results.


People come and go into our lives the way seasons do. Ironically, they all come with expiration dates, and their bond with us comes with shelf lives. That they should leave one day is a given, the memories they’ve shared with us our only major takeaway. It’s like finding a rare gem from rubbish, one that you can wear like a totem, reminder and lesson around your neck.

The year appears to be shaping up this early as a year of breakups. It’s not you, but it’s not me, either. It’s just the way life is.

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