10 Breakup Songs for Crying and Moving on

Photo by Kleigh Balugo

By Madison Kleinrock-Andrews

Listen to the playlist here

With February comes Valentine’s Day, which makes us reflect on the highs and lows of our love lives. Even if you’re currently in a relationship, you still might’ve experienced a breakup in the past. The universality of this experience is why there’s no shortage of breakup songs and listening to them can be just what you need to feel your emotions and then let go.

I put together a list of ten breakup songs to listen to this February, especially if the month didn’t turn out as romantic as you had hoped—or if you just enjoy a good breakup song. The list is divided into two parts: “Songs to Cry to” and “Songs About Moving On”. These songs helped me through the healing process when I went through a breakup this past year and I hope they can do the same for you!

Songs to Cry to

First, there’s “Songs to Cry to.” These are songs to listen to in your room with a box of tissues when you want to feel your way through your emotions and know that you are not alone in them. Sometimes a good cry is just what you need.

1. “Because I Had You” by Shawn Mendes

In this vulnerable song, Shawn Mendes wishes that he could undo the mistakes he made in his past relationship and win them back. However, he sees that they have moved on with someone new. He realizes that he must move on as well, but he doesn’t think he can. After a breakup, moving on can sometimes feel impossible. Even though it will inevitably happen with time.

2. “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” by Taylor Swift

This tear-jerking song from Taylor Swift’s album, Midnights (3am Edition), holds special significance to me because it was released the day after I went through a breakup. In it, Taylor Swift mourns the loss of her lover and the future she pictured for them. It is unclear if her lover broke up with her or died, with lines that can be interpreted either way such as, “I’m never gonna meet / what could’ve been, / would’ve been, / what should’ve been you.” Even though a split is more likely, the ambiguity highlights the deep pain that accompanies a breakup.

3. “Death By a Thousand Cuts” by Taylor Swift

The deeply sad lyrics of this song are contrasted by its upbeat pop sound. In it, Taylor Swift compares the immense pain of heartbreak to death by a thousand cuts. In the moment captured by this song, the loss of her relationship feels like death. She cannot see a happy future, as seen by the line, “I take the long way home. / I ask the traffic lights / if it’ll be alright. / They say, / ‘I don’t know.’”

4. “Enough for You” by Olivia Rodrigo

“Enough for You” might not have gotten the fame of “Driver’s License,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your listen. In this heartbreaking song, Olivia Rodrigo expresses sorrow and frustration over not being enough for her lover despite her best efforts to please them, including: “[wearing] makeup when [they] dated,” “[knowing] how [they] took [their] coffee,” and “[reading] all of [their] self-help books so [they’d] think that [she] was smart.”

5. “Go Away” by Tate McRae

This song details Tate McRae’s difficulty moving on from a past relationship. The feelings and memories from her past relationship “never go away.” She is still in love with someone that no longer loves her (and maybe never truly did), as expressed by the lyrics, “Oh, ‘cause every time / you look at me, / it’s never enough / for you. / It can’t be fair to me, / ‘cause , boy, you know / I’m so damn in love / with you.” Unfortunately, love doesn’t just magically disappear when it is not reciprocated.

Songs for Moving On

I’ve also prepared some more upbeat, hopeful songs about healing and moving on. You will move on eventually, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. These songs will either help you get there or help you celebrate if you’re already there!

6. “Begin Again (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift

In this uplifting song, Taylor Swift describes going on a date for the first time since the end of her previous relationship. Although it’s too soon to know if this date will lead to a serious relationship, it still marks a new beginning—looking for love with someone other than her ex-boyfriend. This is the perfect song to listen to if you are starting over with someone new or could use some hope that you’ll reach that point eventually.

7. “I Forgot That You Existed” by Taylor Swift

This upbeat pop song describes the realization that you forgot that the person you used to be in a relationship with even exists. Now that some time has passed, how you feel towards them “isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference.” Listen to this song if you need a reminder that you will eventually move on from the person that’s currently causing you heartache.

8. “Rare” by Selena Gomez

This song is about being in a relationship and questioning whether or not you’re being treated right. It hints at wanting to break up with a partner, as evidenced by the line, “I’ll bet there’s somebody else / out there / to tell me I’m rare, / to make me feel rare.” This song might be about a failing relationship, but it is perfect to listen to if you are going through a breakup and need a little bit of help to feel rare again.

9. “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande expresses a very mature and healed view of her past relationships in this hit song. She is grateful for the memories and lessons that she has gained from her past relationships, but she has moved on and is ready to meet someone new. When going through a breakup, “thank you, next” is a great mantra.

10. “Trust My Lonely” by Alessia Cara

In this song, Alessia Cara writes about feeling “good as gold” on her own and not needing a relationship. She realizes that it is better to be alone than with the wrong person. So let it be a reminder that being single is perfectly okay.


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