Deal breaker: The Easter term exam-fuelled breakup phenomenon

What on earth is going on with couples in Cam…

Anyone who’s been active on Camfess or has been at the university for a few years has probably realised a slightly alarming trend of relationship issues occurring in Easter term. Every year, without fail, a barrage of Camfesses flood in from students seeking to break up with their partners, or who have been dumped just before the most important term of the year.

In a Camfess from Wednesday 3rd April, one student writes “a reminder to not break things off with the person you’re seeing/dating over text especially during Easter break” while another writes “[b]reaking up with your multi year partner right before exam season is the absolute worst”.

These cheery Camfessions have been cropping up for almost a month, with the first mention of breaking up occurring on Friday 29th March – during Easter break. This isn’t a new phenomenon, and a quick Google search yields a 2018 Varsity article, titled “Surviving exam-term heartbreak”. Similarly, another Camfess tells the other side of the story, offering advice for those seeking to end a relationship – the trend is clearly established, and has been with Camfesses dating back to summer two years ago.

There could even be a long history of summer singles, since these posts were made the year that the new Camfess or 2Cam2Fess was created; the previous rendition has been taken down by Facebook so the majority of the Camfessions are no longer available. There may have been historical Camfessions concerning Easter being the third wheel in declining relationships, but unfortunately the archive does not record the month they were posted.

The most obvious culprit for this mass couple separation is exam stress ; the mental health advisor at my college told me she was surprised at those who can maintain relationships in Cambridge, making me feel very optimistic about my love life while at Cam. Unfortunately, she’s right – given the workload, sleuth of opportunities and the time drain of some extracurriculars (theatre, JCR, society committees, anyone?) it’s pretty challenging for partners to carve out time for each other.

The Easter term grind is so Light Academia Aesthetic Hogwarts Studygram Tumblr Cottagecore right guys???

Not only are students stressed, but you’e a hell of a lot less likely to be able to summon cute date ideas when you’re sleep deprived, exhausted and thinking solely in Old French, Latin or C++ (arguably worse than both) . Different subjects also have exams at different times, so good luck spending time together somewhere that doesn’t have a plug socket, Eduroam, student discount and no anti-laptop policy).

Camfesses mention lots of different reasons for the flood of breakups, including: graduating and moving on, the logistics of long-distance relationships during the exam period and, in one Camfess from Monday 10th April 2023, “the rigours of the Cambridge term […] somehow conspiring against my happiness”. This suggests there isn’t one root cause but perhaps a combination of Cambridge-specific factors, Easter term exams and the interesting world of uni dating in general. Basically it’s not you, it’s just Easter.

Screenshot: TEDGlobal

However, there could possibly be more than this at play. At a TED talk journalist David McCandless tracked people’s Facebook statuses to reveal that March has the highest amount of breakups – significantly more than any other times of the year – perhaps as a result of people wanting to feel more free over the summer.

Going on holiday can also make or break newer relationships, however students don’t tend to be doing this during Easter term – I hope – unless you’re a first year English student with only one exam (I do not condone this).

The environment of Cambridge definitely influences the post-March breakup slump; the intensity of the short terms means that there physically isn’t time to be depressed, certainly when exams are impending, meaning many students try to postpone the inevitable: “I’m unsure what to do, especially so close to our final exams…”. This can push back the responsibility of leaving their partner further into term. One poor student found themselves single just before May week.

Most importantly: Camfess, unsurprisingly, isn’t representative of the entire student body. As an anonymous confessions page it’s pretty heavily skewed towards negativity and ranting – it’s a lot less likely for someone to get off their chest that they’re in a healthy relationship with no issues.

P.S. I don’t think the love of your life would break up with you on an anonymous Facebook page. Just saying.

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