People On TikTok Are Documenting Their Breakups And It's Refreshingly Real

Breakups have never been easy to cope with, but there always seemed to be a standard protocol for grieving: turn on a playlist of sad songs, eat pints of ice cream, and keep the news on the down-low, only sharing it with the close friends you know will support you. Eventually, people might notice your ex is no longer in your social media posts, or they may casually learn about the split from a mutual friend, allowing you to move on without a barrage of questions and attention.

These days, however, people aren't mourning their relationships in private. Instead, they're turning on their front-facing cameras and documenting their breakups for anyone on TikTok to see. User Danielle Burrows went viral when she shared footage of her first-day post-breakup. The video shows her crying, shaking, and struggling to function. She followed it up with 53 additional videos showing what it's really like to deal with heartache.

Other TikTokers have shared their rawest breakup moments too, including @rumsbirken, who filmed herself crying in her car while mouthing the words to SZA's "Open Arms." At times, the breakup content on the social media platform is gut-wrenching and hard to watch — just how most splits really are.

Creators say sharing their pain helps

Parting ways with a significant other is hard, and letting strangers in on that experience might seem like a risky move. However, many TikTokers who have posted their own #breakup videos believe it helped them get through their darkest days. "[T]his helped with my loneliness, and it kick-started a lot of stuff for me. I'm not even crying anymore," a content creator named Amber Anderson told Refinery29. "In the past, I've hidden away, and that didn't help me heal. But this did, and now I've got new people to reach out to who are going through something big too — who I can reach out to without [judgment] or opinion." A TikTok user who goes by the pseudonym Rhi also told Vice that her viral video ultimately helped her see the silver lining in her split. "The video was a good release for me to know that this break up was good for me in the long run," she revealed.

For some, posting a public announcement of their breakup can also provide a sense of accountability and a distraction from negative coping strategies (like cyberstalking an ex or relationship hopping). As one user named Nora told i-D after gaining fame for her breakup video, "It was either make a TikTok, or text him."

Can TikTok really help mend a broken heart?

Creators on TikTok may find comfort in sharing their breakups online, but is the content actually helpful for viewers — and should you follow in their footsteps if you experience your own relationship rupture? First, if you find yourself consuming breakup vids, remember that the short clips often don't tell the whole story. "We need to be aware that what we're seeing is just a fraction of their day-to-day life," psychologist Dr. Veronica Lamarche told Refinery29. Resist the urge to compare your struggles to their experience, especially if it only makes you feel worse. "Individuals need to be mindful of how what they're consuming could be affecting them: is it holding them stuck in a psychological pattern of distress because they're not letting themselves move on? Or is it giving them something to work towards?" Dr. Lamarche added.

As for the perks of posting breakup content, some experts do find some benefits in pressing the record button during moments of heartache. "Documenting heartbreak may help the creator to make sense of the breakup. It could allow them to develop a narrative that gives a sense of closure, allows inferences to be made about why things happened the way they did, and to release emotions," social psychologist Tara Marshall explained to i-D. However, prepare yourself for negative feedback. If you're not in the right headspace to receive judgmental comments from strangers online, consider keeping your video diaries private.