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Real Talk: A Lesson from Chris Brown on How NOT to Break Up

Amid rumors that Brown and Rihanna are back together, Brown issued a statement confirming the end of his relationship with Karrueche Tran.

So it seems Rihanna and Chris Brown are reuniting, if they haven’t already. I write “seems” because there’s no definitive word, just lots of speculation and a plethora of “coincidences” that seem to point the compass in that direction. If true, it’s no surprise. After Rihanna was interviewed by Oprah in August, I wrote: “Anyone who watched this interview should have concluded that her romantic relationship with Brown hasn’t run its course. I’m now convinced they’ll be back together any day now. (Sorry, Karrueche.) “

It took less than two months for that to come to pass.

Last Monday, the pair partied together at New York City’s Griffin nightclub, where a witness spotted them “hugging and kissing.” On Tuesday, Brown was spotted leaving the hotel where Rihanna was staying. On Wednesday, the pair showed up to enjoy Jay-Z’s concert, where a photograph showed Brown’s arm comfortably draped around the back of Rihanna’s seat. And on Thursday, Brown bafflingly released a statement, informing anyone interested that he had broken up with his girlfriend. “I love Karrueche [Tran] very much,” Brown said of his significant other of two years. “But I don’t want to see her hurt over my friendship with Rihanna,”

The press release wasn’t necessary. They were dating, not divorcing, and — with no disrespect to Tran whatsoever — she isn’t a celebrity, so it wasn’t like this was a celeb breakup. Add to that, it was highly insensitive to tell the whole world they had parted ways, thus inviting commentary on his and her personal life. He might want the attention, but surely she did not.

But Brown wasn’t done yet. On Friday, he posted a link on Twitter to a carefully edited video — it has b-roll footage, which meant there was time between taping and releasing to think about how insensitive it was, but he did it anyway — where, in an inebriated post-club state, he contemplates great complexities such as, “Is there such thing as loving two people?” He added that he doesn’t want to “hurt either” and that he’s “not trying to be a player” and isn’t “a dog.”

Umm… I think canoodling with your ex while still in a relationship, then putting your breakup on blast twice, might fulfill both of those definitions. Brown’s girlfriend of two years, model Tran, might agree. After the video was posted, she weighed in via Twitter with perhaps the question that was on the minds of everyone remotely interested in or even mildly entertained by Brown’s social media spectacle: “WTF is going on?”  

I believe this is the part of the story where I’m supposed to say what a bad idea a reunion between Rihanna and Chris Brown will be. Surely, via the press release and accompanying video, Brown has invited the commentary. But I’m not going to do that. It’s not like either one of them cares what the public thinks, and it’s clear that they will do what they want anyway. I’m not wasting my stockpiled reserves of care on this one.

I’ll take Oprah’s road. When asked by Extra what she thought of the alleged reunion, Oprah — because really, that’s how high this story reaches — said she was “not surprised,” then added, “I think that if she is prepared to deal with that and is prepared to help him help himself then so be it. I have no judgment about it.”
That said, I totally will judge Brown’s terrible and horrific breakup technique. He certainly isn’t the first, nor will be the last, to begin a new “friendship” before his relationship has ended. He’s also not the only person to ever feel torn between two people. But let us at least take away something applicable and relevant from his sloppy behavior here: Do the opposite.

Actually break up with your partner before you start dating someone else, especially if you’re going to flaunt it openly. And in the event of said breakup, be mindful that your business is best kept private, between you, your ex and, if necessary, whatever sensible, no-blabbing confidante whose shoulder you lean on to get by. Your “friends” on Facebook, “followers” on Twitter and viewers on YouTube don’t need to know the messy details of your personal life or that of your ex’s. Unlike Brown, you should show some respect for the relationship you had in better times.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk