How a Couple’s YouTube Breakup Announcement Went from Twee to Beautiful

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When a friend forwarded me a link this morning for a “YouTube song breakup announcement,” I was ready to hate it. The video features musician Jonathan Mann — who has a project where he records a new song every day and posts the product online — announcing that he and his girlfriend of five years, Ivory King, are breaking up. I was expecting something self-indulgent and cheesy. Instead, I found something beautiful, heartbreaking, and all too relatable.

“Jonathan and Ivory have been together for five years,” reads the text at the beginning of the video. “This is their final song as a couple.” Watch it here:

By the end of the video, I was crying. Ivory and Jonathan aren’t breaking up because someone cheated or they got sick of each other or because they couldn’t stop fighting. Ultimately, their breakup had to do with a disagreement about what they wanted from life — Jonathan wants to have kids, but Ivory doesn’t. As they sing at the end of the song, “Despite five long years at each others’ sides/there are just some things that no relationship can survive.” The song’s title is “We’ve Gotta Break Up,” not “I’m Dumping You.”

One of the reasons that I reacted so emotionally is because, well, I’ve been there. A past relationship of mine ended in part because my boyfriend “James” wanted children and I didn’t. Though I’ve known for a very long time that I was childfree, it wasn’t always something that I addressed in relationships. Dating in my 20s was about thinking marriage and kid conversations would happen later, when we got around to it. Dating in my 30s is about telling guys early on in the relationship about my childfree status, knowing that it’s a major dealbreaker for some people. My own Ivory/Jonathan relationship taught me that it’s important to bring up core values earlier rather than later, because no matter how much you love someone you can’t stay together if you don’t agree on the fundamentals. James and I loved each other a lot, but love isn’t enough to overcome major disagreements about what you want out of life. Our breakup gave us the time and opportunity to find new partners who we were more in sync with.

Speaking of being in sync? The part where Ivory and Jonathan dance and then slowly fall out of sync with each other is a tiny, lovely symbol of their relationship’s end. For all the stylistic cool in their video, Gotye and Kimbra couldn’t even touch that level of emotion. Now, if you need me, I’ll be washing that mascara off of my face.