Why We Broke Up…

ANNA SHEINMAN asks Tab readers why their relationships at Cambridge ended. Here's what they told her...

The Why We Broke Up Project, created by Daniel Handler, (better known to us as Lemony Snicket) to accompany his new book of the same name is a space for anyone and everyone to explain, anonymously, why it all went tits up.

From mother’s birthday parties to silver lamé bikinis (there’s a great selection on the Guardian here), and from heartfelt to deeply cutting – they are varied and totally compelling.

I wondered if at Cambridge the answers would be any different, have a certain flavour perhaps. And so I asked: why did you break up? And here’s what you told me:


Your first came first, your feelings for your ex-girlfriend second, the fact that I had fallen for you really, really hard, didn’t even get a look in.

We broke up because you put your work schedule before me.

You were charming, erudite, gorgeous, caring, my parents loved you, but the sex was… well, my friends refer to you as ‘30-second-Sam’.

We broke up because you joked that you’d send your mother with me to buy your engagement ring to make sure it was expensive enough. It wasn’t funny.

You were at LSE, I was here, my work load made seeing each other difficult, and since we were both in first year, that wasn’t going to change any time soon. I guess you were the one that got away, but you have a new girlfriend, who is not just lovely but beautiful (I take that as a personal compliment!) and you and I are friends, so I guess I’m happy for you.

You were not a Cantab. This wasn’t the problem. The problem was you didn’t really grasp the concept of cliché. It was excruciating.

It was too difficult keeping it a secret and I wasn’t willing to share what was going on with the rest of college.

I couldn’t fix you.

You were a bit chubs, and I don’t do fatties.

We worked better as friends. I found you attractive when we talked but not when we kissed and I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual.

We broke up because I thought I’d found someone better. I was wrong. I’ll always be sorry.

We broke up because it turned out you had simply memorised three interesting topics of conversation.

We were just sleeping together, and you found a nice girl who took you seriously. Good for you.

We broke up because you got with someone in front of me in Life.

We broke up because I was going to Cambridge, and you were going to Oxford. Given that on our ensuing gap years I went backpacking, and your Daddy paid for you to go skiing, I think the distance was more philosophical than geographical.

We broke up because you slept with your flatmate.

We broke up because you told me you didn’t believe in marrying for love and in today’s world marrying for money was the only realistic option.

I compromised who I was for you – I loved you too much and you didn’t deserve it.

We broke up because you told me that your mother “worked hard for her money” so didn’t deserve to be paying the amount of tax that she did.

We broke up because I couldn’t go for five minutes without receiving countless texts and missed calls asking if I was with other girls.

We broke up because you loved your mother more than me.

The sex just didn’t work. We got on well, albeit drunkenly. In hindsight, this was probably the issue.

We broke up because I was waiting for hidden depth. Then I realised you were just as empty as the first 7 months suggested. So I stopped waiting.

You look too much like a child. You’re a lovely boy, you just look like you’re 12 years old.

We broke up because of so many reasons. Too many to list.

We broke up because you were a bit too… how can I put this… racist?


Feeling inspired? Share your break-up reasons in the comment box below.

  • Jonjo Jones

    Photos would make this more interesting!

  • Researcher

    Surely the most basic wikipedia search would show that Lemony Snicket's real name is Daniel HANDLER?

    Nice job Anna.

    • derp?

      i don't see the problem?

      • Stalin

        The mistake has been made to… disappear.

    • Not to mention

      The MASSIVE FUCKING PICTURE in the article with author's name on it…

  • Selwyn Engling

    Daniel Handler is truly exceptional.

    Unlike some of these respondents…

  • Imperial Anonymous

    wow. cause thats just soo cool. wow, there is like, no description at ALL. so glad i came to this ghetto place for information on this book. never gonna come here again. THANKS FOR NOTHING!

  • confused

    "You were not a Cantab. This wasn’t the problem. The problem was you didn’t really grasp the concept of cliché. It was excruciating."

    um what?

    • Playingthfield

      I suppose they mean maybe there is more to romance that roses on valentines day and soppy cards that make you wanna vom? Sometimes doing the washing up without being asked is more romantic than champagne and rose petals.

      • Field

        I assumed the second statement was linked to the first. Something along the lines of wanting to talk about life at Cambridge but with the other person constantly taking the piss and talking about libraries and lack of social life etc

        • UndercoverLad

          Or she didn't see the 'irony' of downing VKs in Life.

  • umm

    It's funny how they're nearly all by women

    • Not a sexist…

      It's funny how you assume they're nearly all by women.

      • contributor

        I can confirm that at least four are written by men.

      • bill R

        boo hoo have a wax and reclaim the night

      • Not easily amused…

        actually, 8 of them give some clue solid to gender. if we assume that 30-second-Sam is likely to be a man, that it is generally men who buy engagement rings, that the 'you loved your mother more than me' comment is likely to be directed at a man, and that the numbers are small enough that we can assume that all the relationships are straight, then 6 are written by women and 2 by men. if we also assume that these 8 answers are representative, then nearly all of them are likely to be by women.

        none of these assumptions amuse me

        • Inside 'er

          They're not all straight.

      • umm

        It's not sexist. Just read them – it's not hard to tell what gender they are.

  • Playingthefield

    We broke up because in spite of all the times you said you loved me, you were basically a selfish bastard. Maybe I'm not such a good judge of character after all!

  • TPJ

    We broke up because I spent far too much time training with the U21s. I'm sorry.

  • Mathmo

    We never broke up, because we never technically got together. Unless you include the times I masturbated over your photos on Facebook.

    • same but funnier

      would have been:

      "We broke up because you made your Facebook photos private"

  • sad

    How many of these are somewhat political? It's so sad. Why do people need to take themselves so seriously?

    • I don't really think

      being put off by someone who feels they deserve to not be taxed is political

      • Any Non-Communist

        I can scarcely think of anything more political.

      • J.W.

        Er, yes it is.

    • Yeah but..

      I don't think they are meant as the sole reason these people broke up. Just incidents in, or aspects of, the relationship that are somewhat representative of broader incompatibility.

      • still sad

        Why should politics have any bearing on two people's interpersonal relationship? I'm really uncomfortable with that

        • TheLongHaul

          Well when you think about it, they'd probably be going in completely different directions in life.

  • We broke up

    because you spit.

  • Oh please

    "We broke up because I was going to Cambridge, and you were going to Oxford. Given that on our ensuing gap years I went backpacking, and your Daddy paid for you to go skiing, I think the distance was more philosophical than geographical."

    Yeah, because in my experience only really hard done by people go backpacking on a gap year.

    • down with the people

      but I stayed in hostels!

  • Mike Oxlong

    You just didn't have the depth I need.

  • Thomas Smith

    We broke up because you wouldn't take my unicorn horn.

  • http://aiminglow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/rihanna-punching-bag..jpg Rihanna

    We broke up because he punched me in the face.

    • Chris Brown

      I only caressed your sweet cheeks babe.

      • Rihanna

        What about the bruises hun?

        • J.R. Smith


  • i dont like kids and

    because you waited until the 5th date to tell me you had a 9 month old daughter

  • Scotty

    We broke up cos you banged my best friend.

    • Curious

      Was that aimed at the bucket or cobb?

    • Lustra

      Scotty doesn't know…

  • Howe

    There's space of chickun dippahz in our relationship.

  • #therat

    The cheddar-rigged mouse-trap was the last straw.

  • Thomas Jenkins

    We broke up because you were Mexican and you couldn't afford a lawnmower.

  • True story

    We broke up because I wanted to have sex with you.

  • Butterfield

    We broke up because I was banging my secretary on the side. She was increbidle.

    • true pedant

      think SHE dumped YOU because you're a cambridge student who can't spell "incredible"

    • Is it me

      or does "increbidle" sound like a good word?

  • Good Son

    "We broke up because you loved your mother more than me."

    Damn straight.

  • Guest

    We broke up because you became too obsessed with your own self image, and didn't care about anyone but yourself.

    • Jules?

  • Woolf

    We broke up because you wouldn't finger me

  • Cos

    you grabbed my breasts in front of your mum and asked her what she thought of them.

    • Mother

      I didn't like them…

  • Trenton

    Because I only got into LSE. You are therefore too elitist for me.

  • We broke up because

    You bought me a book called "Why We Broke Up".


    How sad that the majority of these make it oh so obvious that these relationships were just drunken gettings-with – you know what I mean? Cambridge is a vacuous pit relationship-wise. Everyone's too scared or too oppressed to get involved proper deep and instead we just have all these dull, lifeless sordid Cindies drunk-pash routines. I think, anyway.

    • Wut


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