No one ever really says "breakups are easy." They're hard, man -- and that is exactly why there are so many songs about it. I'd say there are even more songs about heartbreak than there are about love. They're what makes us feel the most feelings, ask the most questions, and go through the most weird and personal phases. There's a song to listen to for when the breakup is about to happen, when the breakup actually happens, and for everything you're feeling after what's done is done.
That's what these songs are here for -- when you have the final conversation with your ex, but then later on, when you're on your own, you think of everything you forgot to say. We've all suffered through that moment, and it is truly the worst. But what if you could put together a hypothetical playlist to hypothetically send to your ex? That might just help the way you're feeling. They won't ever hear it, but at least you can listen to it. Here are 36 songs to send to your ex.
1. "Tears" - Charli XCX ft. Caroline Polachek
This is probably one of my favorite breakup songs, which is also probably why I subconsciously made this number one on the list. It perfectly encapsulates the moment of the actual, physical breakup. "Tears run down my face, now you gotta go… Now we're in a different place… I can feel my body ache." I mean, does that not perfectly describe the gut-punching moment? We even hear Polachek screaming in the background -- which is what everyone wants to do during a breakup. It sounds like one big, perfect tantrum.
2. "Out Of My Head" - Charli XCX, Tove Lo, ALMA
Also off of Charli XCX's Pop2
mixtape, "Out Of My Head" is a little less sad and a little more upbeat, however it's still all about -- you guessed it -- breakups. This time she's begging this guy to get out of her head. However what makes it so good is hearing three awesome, strong ladies sing it together. Talk about empowering.
3. "Lucky" - Charli XCX
This song is guaranteed to give you a good cry -- and you should never deny yourself a good cry. It's all about feeling more hurt than the other person -- there's always someone who's more hurt than the other. Charli asks, "do you ever feel guilt for what you've done?" Sometimes people can get away with bad stuff. It sucks, but it happens.
4. "I Don't Want U Back" - BØRNS
This song is more for when you're feeling cheeky, walkin' around town saying "f*** that person!" You're over it, you've moved on, and you don't want ‘em back. You are strong and you will not be played.
5. "Better" - Kelela
Kelela's 2017 album Take Me Apart
is a breakup-concept album, so I highly recommend giving the album in its entirety a spin if you're going through a hard time. This song specifically though would be great to send to your ex. It's all about how it takes breaking up, spending time apart, and then getting back together to realize that it's just not meant to be… But you've grown from it and it has made you a better person.
6. "Turn To Dust" - Kelela
This is the moment right before the breakup… When you realize that you're in a completely different place and it hurts. A lot. And this person has a lot of power and control over you, for reasons unknown.
7. "9th of October" - Tove Lo
This song is for when you're reminiscing about the relationship you once had. It was a great relationship - but somewhere along the way everything it changed. "9th of October, can't think of it sober, 'cause all of it fuckin' hurts," Tove sings. Ugh.
8. "Bad Days" - Tove Lo
Our girl Tove Lo is just queen of the breakup jams… This song is for when you had some bumps in the relationship but that person would still stay. Now though, you're realizing you may have taken it for granted because now it's finally gone. "You used to love me on my bad days, when the sun wouldn't come out. When I was called to make a statement, I'd wait for you to figure out." It's also about how taunting the idea of finding someone new is: "If it was easy I'd forget about you baby, but I never really understood how people move on from a heart to love another, if I could I would."
9. "Hey you go drugs?" - Tove Lo
This is the song to listen to when you're feeling like the cliché girl at the club. You know, crying on the dance floor type of shit. "Hey, you got drugs? / Just need a pick-me-up only for tonight, don't tell anyone I was with ya / Yeah it's good stuff but I'm resisting now, take it if you want / Think I've fallen out of my feelings." The last line in that verse is important -- Tove is saying that she's basically numb at this point. It's when you've felt so much and now, even if just for a moment, you're just kind of... floating.
10. "Wait" - Maroon 5
Maroon 5 isn't very "cool" these days but screw it, I'm including them because this song is just spot on for the people who are being dumped, not doing the dumping. This is for when you're in denial and willing to beg to get back together. "Just wait, can you come here please? 'Cause I want to be with you…"
11. "Drew Barrymore" - SZA
Of course we need to get some SZA power on this list! This is for all the girls who are jealous, insecure, and in need of a little validation. SZA's got you.
12. "Somebody Else" - The 1975
An oldie but a goodie -- this might just be one of the most emotionally-stirring heartbreak tunes. Send this if you're heartbroken after watching the other person drift away.
13. "Phase Me Out" - VÉRITÉ
This one is packed with a lot of power. It's when you feel like you're being phased out and rejected and you need to scream at your ex for a second.
14. "Just Do It" - Julia Michaels
No, it's not a Nike ad. If you're in one of those on-and-off-again relationships that just keeps going around in circles, then you might be thinking at some point "you know what, just do it. Just break up with me." If that explains your situation at all, then this song was pretty much written for you.
15. "I Miss You" - Julia Michaels and Clean Bandit
Julia Michaels coming in clutch with the breakup anthems, this time in collaboration with Clean Bandit. It feels dancey, but really it's about ending a very committed relationship -- the parents will be sad, the partner will be missed, and you guys shouldn't be talking but… You really want to. Send this song to your ex if you want to reopen a conversation, or just to let them know that you are thinking of them. (Or be strong and realize that you broke up for the best and keep it to yourself. But also do whatever you need to do. I'm not a love guru, I just have good taste in music.)
16. "Always" - Tor Miller
Send this powerful anthem to your ex if you guys left off on a good note and if you know that they will forever hold a special place in your heart.
17. "Bb" - MØ
Once again, this is for the ex that you'll always have a soft spot for. "Some things are better left behind, but BB, I will always love you… Even if you don't want me to."
18. "Slow Disco" - St. Vincent
For a more painful, drawn out, melancholic ending… "I'm so glad I came but I can't wait to leave," Annie Clark sings with brooding honesty. This one will absolutely haunt you. #Wrecked.
19. "Wanted You" - Twin Peaks
This one is for the indie rock lovers who are just feeling a little sad, lonely, and let down. "I wanted you but you didn't want me." Sometimes it's as simple as that.
20. "Green Light" - Lorde
Man, what an instant classic breakup song. Send this to your lover when you're still not quite over it yet, but you want to be. "Honey I'll come get my things, but I can't let go / I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it."
21. "Hard Feelings/Loveless" - Lorde
This is the song to send to your ex mid-breakup. Lorde, who is once again killing it with the heartbreak anthems, describes the emotion you feel in the literal moment of it all, "Please could you be tender? / And I will sit close to you / Let's give it a minute before we admit that we're through."
22. "Dying To Know" - Tegan and Sara
This is the song to send to your ex when you're in need of some closure. You're just "dying to know" where it all went wrong. Ha! See what I did there?
23. "Say You Do" - Tei Shi
This song is for when you're doing the dumping, and maybe it's because the relationship was never that genuine. You both say you love each other but… Do you really?
24. "Dream" - Bishop Briggs
This track is for when you're feeling ALL of the emotions. It's when you have a lot on your mind and there's a lot to say to the other person, but for some reason it's just "buried down inside."
25. "Friends" - Justin Bieber, Bloodpop
People have a tendency to completely cut exes out of their lives after a breakup, but I never really understood why. I mean, if they were abusive or the relationship was just really horrible, obviously by all means, get out. However, in a lot of situations, that person meant something to you. You want to look back at those memories with fondness. Maybe don't become friends immediately after, but wait until you are really, truly over that person and then send them this song. Just because you're over them doesn't mean you don't care about them.
26. "Stay" - Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko
This one is an oldie but a goodie. It's a classic. Send this to your lover if you want them to stay. You're not ready to lose them.
27. "Fever" - Carly Rae Jepsen
Send this to your ex-lover who you can't help but stalk a little bit. Like, they dumped you, but you're still super into them. You wanna break my heart? Alright, I'm still going to drive past your house every night though because I love you so much!
28. "IDGAF" - Dua Lipa
Send this song to your ex when you're in that "SCREW YOU, I DON'T NEED YOU"
phase. They dumped you but then came back and decided to change their mind. That's nice, but IDGAF.
"I cut you off, I don't need your love ‘cause I've already cried enough…"
29. "I Wish I Didn't Miss You" - Feist
The title says it all… You don't want to miss the person, but you can't help it. That, paired with the intimate, acoustic production will absolutely have you crying those sentimental tears.
30. "Radio Silence" - James Blake
Send this to your partner when you feel like you're about to get dumped, but you're also in denial. It was a long relationship, and you simply don't understand how it could be coming to an end.
31. "Nerve" - Jordan Rakei
Send this to your ex if you're the one who did the dumping. You didn't dump them because they did anything wrong, but because you're going through a weird phase by yourself. You know how the saying goes, "you must love yourself before you love someone else."
32. "The Breakup" - LANY
Send this to your ex when you have a tendency to jump from relationship to relationship. It's not them, it's you (I know, cliché), but you just can't stand to be alone.
33. "Once More To See You" - Mitski
Send this to your ex when you want one more night with them… You've said goodbye but you're not ready yet. Everyone's watching and judging, but you don't care. Get that one last hook up in!
34. "Sorry" - Beyoncé
You think Beyonce wouldn't make it on this list? Ha! BOI BYEEEEE.
Know your self-worth! Middle fingers up -- I ain't thinking ‘bout you!
35. "The Good Side" - Troye Sivan
Send this song to your ex if you broke up with them and then ended up having a really good time afterwards -- i.e. jumping into another relationship or getting a good job opportunity. They probably saw that and it made them feel shitty, so send them this song if you truly are sorry about that.
36. "Top Of The World" - Kimbra
This isn't really a song about love, but I thought it was a strong and positive note to leave off on. No matter what happened, no matter how you're feeling right now, know that you are on top of the world. And you can let your ex know that, too. You rock.