BREAKING UP WITH THE STARS: Celebs spill on their splits

How would Desmond Tan, Benjamin Kheng, Carrie Wong and more deal with the demise of a relationship?

Benjamin Kheng and Elliot Tan in 'The Breakup List'
Benjamin Kheng and Elliot Tan in 'The Breakup List'
14 Feb 2017

Benjamin Kheng and Elliot Tan in 'The Breakup List'

Breaking up is hard to do, but life still must go on.

In brand new Toggle Originals series The Breakup List, which premiered on Monday (Feb 13), we follow the adventures of Luke (Benjamin Kheng) and Joe (Elliot Tan), two freshly-dumped guys attempting to mend their broken hearts with the help of a bucket list to pursue now that they’re free and single.

As it turns out, as many as five to six members of the eight-episode drama’s cast and crew went through real-life separations not long before production started, as Benjamin shared during our visit to the set last September, so “it was all really, very real for” them.

But the 26-year-old, who is part of four-piece local band The Sam Willows, would come up with far less dramatic methods of healing compared to his onscreen counterpart.

“On my ‘Breakup List’ would be to work,” he said. “Some people like to travel, but I think that’s just going to remind you of your ex, so you should busy yourself and not think about it.”

On the other hand, YouTube star and Tree Potatoes co-founder Elliot, also 26, would totally recommend some globe-trotting healing, which is exactly what he did after his self-proclaimed worst breakup about two years ago.

“I went to South Korea by myself, where I spent one whole week crying in bed, binge-eating kimchi, watching Korean dramas and going to theme parks,” he recalled. “This breakup was particularly bad because the girl left me for someone else.”

As for up-and-coming singer and actress Jannassa Neo, who plays the female lead and Luke’s love interest Sarah, her method of getting over a nasty split involves taking all her girlfriends out for a night at the club. “The first thing on my ‘Breakup List’ would be to get drunk and dance until we drop,” said the 26-year-old.

Even Channel 8 stars like Desmond Tan, Romeo Tan and Rebecca Lim have not been spared the pain of having loved and lost. Read on as they tell us how they reacted to their worst breakups, as well as what they would recommend for getting over someone:

Benjamin Kheng
Benjamin Kheng
14 Feb 2017

Benjamin Kheng

What’s the worst breakup you’ve ever been through?
Actually, all the times that I’ve broken up – which isn’t a lot – have been quite okay, with the exception of a bit of cheating (not on my part).

How do you usually help a heartbroken friend?
I’d say that I’m a pretty good counsellor when it comes to helping others get over breakups. I just distract people, because I think the more you go “Are you okay?” the worse you make it.

A friend of mine got divorced, that was pretty rough, so I just took him out to sing karaoke (which is weird because I’m usually paid to sing), but it was the greatest thing ever.

What do you think is the “best” and worst way to break up?
For “best”, I think it’s possible to be objective, just take a month off and remain friends. The worst is obviously if there’s (a third party) involved.

What would make you break up with someone immediately?
(Deadpans) If they were a terrorist, that would be a pretty big deal, or if they weren’t real. But yeah, I guess cheating (would be a big dealbreaker) for me, or if you can’t make up your mind (about our relationship) and play around with the word “breakup”.

What’s the most ridiculous reason you’ve ever heard for a breakup?
That they had a quarrel or argument, which I think is stupid because I’ve been in a long-term relationship before, and things can always be worked out. People who quit halfway are just quitters lah, which is terrible. Stick it out and keep going!

Carrie Wong
Carrie Wong
14 Feb 2017

Carrie Wong

What’s the worst breakup you’ve ever been through?
I couldn’t eat and couldn’t sleep, I cried and drank every day, and I lost a lot of weight. I was in such a pathetic state that my parents were so worried about me. I just couldn’t accept it.

Did you turn to any friends for advice and comfort?
I confided in Jayley (Woo). She basically told me the same things over and over again, like “What’s yours is yours” and “You’re still young, what makes you think you can’t find someone better?” but I was so down and in my own world that nothing got through to me. I think at that time, my friends suffered a lot as well.

How did you eventually get over the breakup?
I realised that I was the only one who could help myself. I suddenly felt the need to step out of this vicious cycle and ask, “Why am I torturing myself and my loved ones over someone who doesn’t love me?”

How do you usually help a heartbroken friend?
I think the best thing I can offer is my company, and tell them, “If you need someone to talk to, I’m here, and I will walk through this together with you until you are better.”

What would be on your personal “Breakup List”?
Travel to nice places, eat good food, make new friends, sing karaoke. (laughs) It won’t always be easy, but you’ll get through and once you’re over that period, you’ll realise that you’re so much stronger than who you were before. I’ve been there, done that.

Desmond Tan
Desmond Tan
14 Feb 2017

Desmond Tan

What’s the worst breakup you’ve ever been through?
Most of my breakups were bad in general, but I think the worst one was one I initiated – I broke up with one of my ex-girlfriends on her birthday. I think I was so young that I didn’t know better, and if I could go back again, I would wait another day.

How did the both of you cope with it?
I felt like I should be shot dead. (laughs) It was quite bad lah, because we still saw each other in school and it was really awkward. I think she was scarred for quite a while but we got through it and we’re friends again!

When was a time you got your heart broken?
I had something going on with this girl for a long time but we never got together because of timing. I can’t remember exactly what happened but it didn’t work out in the end and we had to “break up”. I was drinking wine from the bottle for days, and my friends saw me crying sometimes.

What would be on your personal “Breakup List”?
A friend and I would print out a list of travel destinations, pick a random one, and fly there. Before we leave the airport, we would buy bottles of alcohol and during the trip, we cannot mention the name of the ex-girlfriend or we would have to take a shot. Then at night, we hit all the parties.

As much as alcohol harms your body, I think it can be a medicine for heartaches. It helps you to let everything out and say everything that’s hidden inside, allowing you to be happy. The worst thing that could happen is, you might have a hangover the next day, but I mean, life goes on.

Rebecca Lim
Rebecca Lim
14 Feb 2017

Rebecca Lim

What’s the worst breakup you’ve ever been through?
(The worst would probably be when) I was dumped through a text message when I was about 21 or 22. Texting is the worst way to break up with someone because there are so many ways to interpret it like, “Are you joking? I can’t see your face so I can’t tell”.

But in hindsight, I’m glad I broke up with a lot of them. (laughs) They are exes for a reason, and should remain exes for life!

What would be on your personal “Breakup List”?
After a breakup, I would usually just be very emotional for like a day, and then the next I’ll be okay. It’s probably because of my personality, because I’m not someone who really dwells on something. Actually, I’ve never really taken that long to get over someone, maybe because I was never really in love.

Romeo Tan
Romeo Tan
14 Feb 2017

Romeo Tan

What’s the worst breakup you’ve ever been through?
It was during my polytechnic days, and I think it was my fault because I wasn’t a very sensitive person, and I was quite self-centred. So what happened was (my ex-girlfriend and I) were supposed to go on a vacation together, but because of some issues we weren’t able to. Because of that, she thought I wasn’t thoughtful enough, and in the end we broke up.

How did you cope with the breakup?
I cried, okay? (laughs) I also went running, because I find that it’s a good way to destress, and I kept asking friends to join me to play games at the arcade.

How have you helped a friend through a breakup?
I lent a listening ear. There was once he came to my void deck to wait for me and we ended up chatting for two hours.

What would be on your personal “Breakup List”?
I think the fastest way to get over a breakup is to find a new girlfriend, so I would keep introducing new girls (to my friend). Once you fall in love and move on, you will forget your ex.

Shane Pow
Shane Pow
14 Feb 2017

Shane Pow

How do you usually deal with a bad breakup?
I think time is the best medicine for everything, not just breakups. You might feel like s*** for two weeks, and one month later you’ll find that you feel less like s***. You should try to keep your mind occupied. You might still feel emotional but you’ll start to realise that those instances will decrease significantly over time.

How do you usually help a heartbroken friend?
I’m not very good with giving advice. I’ll say very “bro” things like, “Go drink lah! Drown your sorrows and cry.” But I don’t go into motivational speaker mode. I mean, I can try, but I don’t do it very often.

What’s the most ridiculous reason you’ve ever heard for a breakup?
One of my friend’s ex-girlfriends broke up with him because he didn’t wash the dishes after eating. He just wanted to watch some TV first before going to wash them, but the girl was like, “You never wash your dishes!” They had a big fight over it and they broke up.

Jayley Woo
Jayley Woo
14 Feb 2017

Jayley Woo

What’s the worst breakup you’ve ever been through?
My very first breakup was pretty painful! I dated a guy for about eight months when I was in secondary 4, but we broke up because of my insecurities.

What happened?
I kept checking his e-mails, and when he got angry I said, “If you have nothing to hide, why are you so afraid?” I was also unhappy when I saw many girls leaving him messages online (Friendster was popular at that time), and I asked if I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t know how to dress up. He eventually got so frustrated that he broke up with me through a text message and said that he never wants to see me again.

To be honest, it’s because of him that I started wearing contacts and putting on makeup. I had this goal of making him regret breaking up with me after I’ve grown up. (laughs)

Elliot Tan
Elliot Tan
14 Feb 2017

Elliot Tan

What would be on your personal “Breakup List”?
I don’t think it would be that different from the actual list on The Breakup List. When you go through a breakup, you need to keep doing things that are out of your comfort zone and change your routine, but what I would add is to take a long vacation to a country where you don’t know the language, so everything will feel foreign to you and you’ll be immersed in something totally different.

How do you usually help a heartbroken friend?
You just want to be available for them 24/7 and tell them, “Hey, my phone’s always on, if you need to talk to someone, I’m right here.” You could also take them out for a good dinner and remind them of better times.

What do you think is the “best” and worst way to break up with someone?
The best place to do it would be somewhere quiet, like Ulu Pandan or Chinese Gardens, because if the girl cries, at least you can calm her down. And do it on a rainy day so you can’t see the tears.

The worst place to break up would be at Orchard Road. Never do it there! Everyone will see you, she’ll make a scene and you’ll look like a complete idiot.

What’s the most ridiculous reason you’ve ever heard for a breakup?
Dude, this is a true story and I heard it just last week: one of my neighbours was so upset that Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift broke up, her boyfriend was laughing at her, and they broke up. It’s ridiculous!

Jannassa Neo
Jannassa Neo
14 Feb 2017

Jannassa Neo

What’s the worst breakup you’ve ever been through?
I’ve been through two breakups, but they weren’t very bad, actually. They were more like mature, mutual agreements that we should part ways, so it’s still been okay for me…so far!

How do you usually help a heartbroken friend?
I have a friend whose boyfriend left for Taiwan without her and without giving her any notice, so she was very broken. I couldn’t do much, but I was just there for her, that’s all.

What would make you break up with someone immediately?
If that person was unkind, because I think kindness is a quality that everyone should have.

What’s the most ridiculous reason you’ve ever heard for a breakup?
I can’t think of any at the moment, but (breaking up because) of something like leaving the toilet seat up would be a ridiculous reason.

Find out more about The Breakup List here.
Catch new episodes of The Breakup List for free every Monday and Friday on Toggle, or binge-watch the entire series with
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WATCH: Stars suggest ways to get over a breakup!

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