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Break Up to Make Up

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The protagonist pines for the unrequited love of their significant other, only to later have a breakthrough and realize their own self-worth. Sometimes he/she manages to Take A Level In Badass or Grow a Spine.

Can be related to Leaving You to Find Myself. Not to be confused with Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario or Make Up or Break Up.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Film — Animation 
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, Susan spends half the movie trying to get back to her fiance Derek, but when they're reunited he makes it clear he no longer wants to be with her on account of, giant problem. Susan is initially devastated but then comes to realize that Derek was actually "a selfish jerk" who never put her first and that she doesn't need him, especially as she's done incredible things like fighting aliens by herself.
  • Happens to Marianne early in Strange Magic. She catches her fiance Roland cheating on her the day of their wedding and is heartbroken, calling the whole thing off. She copes with it by taking up sword-fighting and becomes a more assertive, mature person; she also comes to realize she didn't truly know Roland and that he only wanted her because she's a princess. The downside is that she becomes overly cynical about love and doesn't ever let herself be vulnerable, although she resolves this when she falls in mutual love with the Bog King.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Teen Wolf, in which Scott pines after Alpha Bitch Pamela and has sex with her after his wolf-form makes him popular, but after learning the Be Yourself aesop, he realises that Girl Next Door Boof had always accepted him the way he was.
  • The French film Naissance des pieuvres (Water Lilies). Dumpy, uncool Anne spends most of the movie longing for star swimmer François, who barely deigns to notice her. However, after he comes to her flat in a fit of sexual frustration and uses her for sex she decides he's not worth it and emphatically tells him so by spitting in his mouth when he wants to kiss her. Anne's best friend Marie pines for star synchronised swimmer Floriane, but after a good many things have happened gives up on her as well and returns to her friendship with Anne.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in Spaced; Tim spends most of the first season pathetically moping about his transparently unfaithful and unworthy girlfriend Sarah. When she wants to get back with him at the end of the season, he's initially elated, but comes to his senses and breaks it off with her for good, and is much happier in the second season as a result.
  • On My Name Is Earl, After a misunderstanding, Billie dumped her then-boyfriend, Frank, who was Earl's friend and cellmate. Frank becomes depressed, to the point of attempting suicide, and Earl tries to help him. Eventually, Billie decides to give it another chance after seeing all the stuff Frank was willing to do for her (including posting a nude photo of himself on a billboard), but Earl has found out that Billie basically gave up her dreams and her good self when she started dating Frank (not to mention, Earl has feelings for Billie), so Earl convinces Frank to gently break up with Billie, for both his own sake and for hers.
  • In Houseof Anubis, Alfie spent the entire first season pining over Amber. When they finally get together, he realizes how much of a control freak she is and attempts to break up with her, only for her to tell him he cannot. She later breaks up with him instead. Subverted when they reconcile in the season two finale, only to break up again when Amber is sent to fashion school.

  • "Lose You to Love Me" by Selena Gomez describes this in a nutshell. The song details a relationship in which Gomez always put her significant other first but it wasn't reciprocated, which she initially turned a blind eye to out of love despite the fact it was wearing her down. In the end, she had to break off the relationship for her own wellbeing and thus learned to love herself.
  • "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson describes the singer's relief at her relationship being over, even stating "I can breathe for the first time", due to her ex manipulating her into believing they fully returned her feelings and making little effort to reciprocate. It's implied the ex tries to win Clarkson back but she's already moved on and is happier for it.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In Pacific Mythology, there is a "Just So" Story about why there is a leeward and windward side to (specifically) the Big Island. Pele fell in love with a trickster demigod named Kamapua'a. Sometimes their relationship was happy; other times not so much. In one incident, they got into a terrible domestic dispute. Pele sent her lava out, and Kamapua'a covered Hale'u'mau'mau Crater (her official home) with large fern leaves to suffocate her with her own smoke. When the two lovers realized that their Belligerent Sexual Tension would likely destroy both of them, they called a truce. They called off the relationship for good, and divided the island of Hawai'i in half, with Kamapua'a getting the rainy (but fertile) windward side, and Pele getting the drier and sunnier leeward side.