TikTokers Post GRWMs To Break Up With Boyfriends

  • People on TikTok are filming themselves preparing to reunite with their breakup partner.
  • They wear makeup and try on outfits, sometimes discussing the reasons for the impending split.
  • Therapists say that on-demand validation of these videos can completely prevent grief from loss.

Rori Thomas, a 19-year-old public relations student in Michigan, applies her favorite lip gloss — glassy, ​​not gooey — and begins the lengthy process of choosing an outfit. She’s about to break up with her boyfriend of three years, and she wants her jeans and top to make her feel beautiful and powerful.

On his phone, Thomas presses “record”. She zips up her cargo-style pants, lifts her leg to get a better view of the viewers, and throws down a flannel she’ll later tell a commentator where to buy (it’s from PrettyLittleThing).

Thomas titled his TikTok “GRWM To Go Breakup With my Boyfriend”, adding the caption “sad gal to bad gal”. The TikTok, which went live on September 14, has been viewed around 24,000 times.

Get Ready With Me, or GRWM, videos are one of TikTok’s house specialties; the #grwm hashtag has over 50 billion views. (For context, there are currently 8 billion people on Earth.) The creators – usually women – offer viewers a stylized reel of a makeover montage: the outfits they tried on before landing on the perfect dress, the step-by-step application of their make-up.

Some of the videos are set to music; others feature “story time” as a designer flexes her eyelash curlers or styles her hair. The story can be mundane (offering career advice or detailing plans) or serious (dealing with a stalker for six years or being “denied” by a religious family). Often she will pause to mention the brand of highlighter or eyeshadow she uses.

For the teens and 20s who make up TikTok’s main user base, this level of openness isn’t new, even when it comes to heartbreak: Several videos of people sobbing into the camera about a breakup went viral.

Mix the two and you get a new genre: GRWM for breakups. A designer shows us the outfit or hairstyle she chose to put on her boyfriend. She will tell millions of viewers what happened (he cheated) and how she found out (a Tinder Plus email). Comments are pouring in: you deserve better, you are beautiful, good for you, it will become easier.

Merging a video centered around clothes and makeup with an impending breakup might seem superficial or even insensitive to some people. Thomas doesn’t see it that way.

She told Insider that getting ready made her feel empowered. Showing up to a breakup “looking bad” wouldn’t be “liberating,” she explained.

“Sometimes your outward appearance can make your inner self feel better,” she said. “You know you look good, so you start acting the way you do.”

Thomas has posted a few GRWMs before – for date nights, trips to an apple orchard, or a night out. When she made her GRWM breakup, she had no plans to tell viewers what she was up to. But while searching the app, she saw a host of related videos. So why not?

“I might as well,” she said, “because I wouldn’t be the only person going through this.”

A culture of immediacy encourages some young people to post their worst moments

Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist who wrote the best-selling ‘Maybe you should talk to someone’, said life online has created a culture of immediacy for young people who nibble at the idea of “sit with” a sentiment before posting.

Thomas said his GRWM was indeed an impulsive decision. “I definitely posted in the moment to get out of the sadness I was in,” she told Insider.

Thomas said that although she had to deal with people “trying to be nosy” and asking for details about the breakup, she still stuck with her choice. “My feelings haven’t changed,” she said. “I loved being able to be transparent and accessible.”

Gottlieb said that in addition to its ability to turn an impulsive moment into a permanent digital record, social media has created a landscape so filled with details about other people’s lives that it can render the line between public and private. not only porous but transparent.

This vulnerability can be positive in some ways, Gottlieb said. But as we’re often reminded, the internet doesn’t forget, and posters can make a decision based on how they feel in a moment of fragility they later regret.

The creators said their partners didn’t know about the videos beforehand, but they didn’t mind either

Tisha Potijaroen, 18, and her boyfriend of a year and a half, Kai Pembo, were amicably parting ways before heading off to college in the fall. After their last date, she spontaneously decided to post a breakup makeup routine and a date montage on TikTok.

In the June 21 clip, which has been viewed 87,000 times, Potijaroen’s boyfriend smiles at the camera as they cheer at dinner.

Potijaroen’s most viral TikToks, with 11.2 million views each, is another GRWM and one of his eyelashes at the airport. For her, the format wasn’t necessarily a tool of liberation – it was a familiar hook.

But she also wanted her GRWM breakup video to represent another side of heartbreak: that “a breakup can be a good and mature thing,” she said. “It can be positive – a super fun last date together.”

While she regularly posts on TikTok, Potijaroen said her ex-boyfriend didn’t initially know she made the video. “He kind of laughed,” she said, adding that when his friends saw him, “he was a little embarrassed at first.” But ultimately, she said, “he doesn’t care” and remains supportive of her TikToks. (Pembo did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.)

Not all creators care what their future ex thinks. For Thomas, her boyfriend’s feelings were not important.

“I knew he was going to see the video, and he saw it, but I didn’t care,” Thomas said. “It was his fault, and he saw the breakup happen anyway.”

Thomas and his boyfriend have since gotten back together. They talked about the TikTok, and “he supported me and wanted me to do whatever I wanted to heal,” she said.

But she doesn’t regret posting the video. “I don’t care about his feelings if he totally ignores mine,” she said of their pre-breakup relationship.

Online vulnerability can be a good thing, but it can also completely inhibit grief

Emma K. Adam, an applied developmental psychobiologist, said it’s a positive thing that TikTokers are willing to share a less than perfect life online: it can normalize grief, mental illness and other issues.

But Adam said she was wary of the superficiality of self-improvement in some videos that advocate “putting on makeup and looking good” as a coping mechanism.

The creators “were ready to show their best side,” Adam said, “but sometimes only as long as they were transformed in the TikTok process.” If people feel they need to make themselves attractive to share their tough times, videos may be less empowering than they appear.

For example, in some GRWM breakup videos, the creators tell about choosing outfits and makeup based on their partner’s preferences. “I know he likes me in really tight clothes,” Christina Page told viewers in a TikTok video posted Aug. 6.

There is also the issue of the online echo chamber. Pauline Boss, an expert loss therapist, described a TikTok as a monologue. When you upload a vetted post and the algorithm passes it on to people whose tastes and worldviews might resemble yours, they might be more likely to validate your opinion unchallenged and en masse.

“These messages, in some ways, are the instant gratification of filling the hole of pain and loss within us,” Gottlieb noted. “But the job of grieving is not to fill that hole immediately.”

“You never know how it might help someone”

Potijaroen said that even though she didn’t post support, she ended up finding it anyway.

“It helped me hear from people who have done this before. It helped me see a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. Commenters who had similar experiences shared that they ended up getting back together with their high school sweethearts.

Potijaroen said she doesn’t want to overlook the importance of her in-person support system, but online validation has always helped her grieve — and for others, it may be the only option.

“Some people aren’t so lucky,” she said. “Some people don’t have strong friends, relatives or siblings they can turn to for help.”

She encourages skeptics of GRWM videos to “keep an open mind.”

“I feel like it’s very easy for the older generation to criticize everything. They’re like, ‘Oh, why are you doing this? Why are you doing this? It’s too much information, no one knows. ‘cares’, and stuff like that.” she said. “But it’s like, well, think about it from this perspective: you never know how it might help someone.”

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