A few weeks ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of nearly four years. He was my first love, and for a long time I’d really hoped he’d be my last. Plus, after living together for three years, we’d gotten pretty close and comfortable. But for reasons I won’t delve into here, we needed to break up. Even though I know it was the right choice, it was a choice I’d really, really hoped I wouldn’t have to make.
It sucks. I mean, I knew it would suck. But since this is my first breakup with a long-term boyfriend, I had no idea just how much it would initially suck. And I really had no idea just how often people tend to say the exact wrong thing to someone who’s going through a breakup, either. To be fair, almost nothing anyone could have said would have made me feel better, especially at first. But I’ve been amazed by how many people don't understand that there are some things you just don’t say to someone who’s coping with having a relationship end.
If you’re going through a breakup — or have ever gone though a breakup — then I’m sure you know the unhelpful advice and undermining comments I'm talking about. But even if your most recent breakup is far enough behind you that it doesn’t suck anymore, or you’re blissfully happy in your relationship, you should still read on and get a refresher on the eleven things to someone who’s going through a breakup. Your (newly single) friends will thank you.
1. "You’ll Find Someone New In No Time"
Are you crazy? Do you think that is what I'm upset about? What about this situation would make you think I’ll be ready to jump right into another relationship any time soon? I mean, I don’t want to be single forever. I loved having a companion. But right now, being single is exactly what I need. In order to heal fully from a break up, most people need to take time to focus on healing, working and taking care of ourselves.
Also, it’s not like I just stopped loving my ex the second I broke up with him. I need time for that love to change before I go trying to love someone else. I literally just got out of a relationship that had been stressing me out super hard. I don’t want a new boyfriend anytime soon.
2. "That's Too Bad, I Liked Your Ex"
I obviously really liked certain things about my ex, too, or I wouldn’t have stayed with him for so long. But this decision was already super effing hard to make, and you have no idea what things were like between us when you weren’t around. So don’t make it harder on me by talking about his likeability. Reminding someone of their ex's good qualities won't give them insight into their breakup, or make them feel any better.
I know it took me a while to make up my mind about him. But I have zero regrets about that. Will I wait that long in the future to decide whether someone is right for me and whether I’m right for them? Hell, no. Will I give the next guy that many chances? Absolutely not. But I’m really glad I gave our relationship all the shots I could handle. Don’t tell your friend that they wasted their precious time, or that they took too long to get here. They took as long as they needed, and it doesn't matter if you think that wasn't necessary. Knowing I tried my hardest to make things work is actually really comforting.
4. "Do You Think You’ll Get Back Together?"
Of course I’ve thought about the possibility of getting back together with my ex someday. But it would have to be in the distant future, and a lot of things would have to change first. Besides, it’s not healthy for either of us to dwell on what could maybe happen down the line. No one's first priority in a breakup should be focusing on whether the breakup is temporary. It's not a helpful line of thinking to encourage.
5. "Was There Anything They Could Have Done To Change Your Mind?"
Not that it's any of your business, but no. Just be supportive, and stop saying things that make me feel conflicted! Breaking up with someone you love is f*cking horrible without added self-doubt. It’s like breaking up with your partner and yourself. So, don’t ask me what he could have done differently. Because he obviously couldn’t do it or we’d still be together.
6. "Man, I Wish I Was Single"
Really? Then prove it. Otherwise, stop talking about it. I know that sounds harsh, but being single after spending years in a serious relationship is heartbreaking and really hard and kind of scary. So hearing coupled people complain about not being single is rough, at least for a little while. Don't say that you're jealous of my new opportunities, or use it as an excuse to complain about your partner. Just give me some time to heal, and then you can vent to me about your relationship all you want.
7. "I Bet They’ll Try To Get You Back"
I know this is meant to make me feel better, but it makes me feel worse. Mainly because this isn't inherently true. Not all exes try to get back together — and even if they do, it can often make things more complicated and make everyone involved feel worse. Either way, I can’t be thinking like this right now. I need to work on moving on. We both do.
8. "Don't Try To Stay Friends"
Maybe it's unrealistic, or even foolish, to try to stay friends with an ex. But I loved my ex a lot, and I think I’ll always have love for him. I know we can’t be best friends or anything, especially when we start dating other people, but cutting an ex off isn't always the answer.
9. "I Bet They Wanted You To Break Up With Them"
How could you possibly think this is an appropriate thing to say to someone who’s going through a breakup? Would you also like to tell me that he never loved me? Because I think I’ve got a tiny bit of soul left uncrushed, if you’d like to take a crack at it. You can hold on to your relationship analysis for a later date, if you absolutely must give your opinions on what went down. But don't ever say something like this to someone who is still smarting from a breakup.
10. "I Know What You’re Going Through"
I realize I’m not the only person to have ever gone through a difficult breakup. But you really don’t know exactly what I’m going through. Everyone’s experiences are different. Hell, yours could've even been worse than mine. But it definitely wasn’t the same because we’re different people. I appreciate your sympathy and all, but lets just avoid comparing breakups. At least for now.
11. "Are You Worried They'll Start Dating Again Before You Do?"
Honestly, I don’t want to think about my ex with someone else at all, let alone compete with him to see who can move on first. I do want him to be happy though, and no matter how quickly he moves on, it won’t change the fact that he couldn’t be the partner I needed him to be.
There’s no point in freaking out over which one of us will start a new relationship first. I have no control over when he’ll start dating again, and it’s officially none of my business. Do I hope it takes him a few months? Of course I do. But, ultimately, he can do whatever he wants to now. And so can I.
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