Your Friend Who's Going Through A Breakup Doesn't Want To Hear These 9 Things
When a relationship ends, friends and family tend to swoop in to offer comfort and advice. "There are other fish in the sea," they'll say, or "you just need to get back out there!" The thing is, even though they're only trying to help, it can still feel like these are the worst things to say to someone who's going through a breakup.
Most of this advice centers around the idea of pushing feelings aside and pretending like the breakup didn't happen, which can really suck. When you quickly jump to discussing future love interests, for example, "you are actually communicating that you are not willing to make space for the person to process and grieve their current loss," Lauren O’Connell, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "They may even feel a bit shamed for feeling sad and pressured [...] to move on."
That's why it's important to take things slow. "Make space for their feelings, ask how they are doing, and listen," O'Connell says. "If anything, I would just remind them that heartbreak is opportunity to grow as a person, and to learn lessons that will lead to being a better partner, someday."
It really can be as simple as offering yourself up as the proverbial shoulder to cry on. Respond to their texts, ask if they'd like to hang out, and let them know you're there. That's what'll be most helpful, unlike the comments listed below, which these folks say are the least helpful things to say to someone who's hurting after a breakup.
1. Lisa, 33: "You Need To Get Back Out There!"
"I went through a breakup at 30 years old, when everyone else around me was settling down and having children. Everyone wanted to give me advice, and the worst was the most common: 'Lisa, put yourself out there, because there are other fish in the sea.' I went against this advice and spent time figuring out who I was and, subsequently, reclaimed my worth and identity. Figure out who you are before you begin dating again, no matter how far behind you think you're in life — you're right where you should be, during the highs, lows, and all of the other emotions in between.""
2. Elizabeth, 40: "Did You Try To Save The Relationship?"
"I think the worst thing to say to someone after a breakup is, 'Did you really do everything possible to save the relationship?' The process of breaking up can feel devastating. Adding self-doubt does not help!"
3. Elaine, 50: "I Never Liked Them Anyway"
"Two of the worst things one of my best friends said after a breakup was, 'I never liked him anyway' and 'I never really saw what you saw in him.' Both were incredibly heartbreaking. It’s also not comforting to hear, 'You are still so young, you’ll meet someone!'"
4. Kyle: "Now You Can Find Someone More Worthwhile"
"'Now you can finally meet someone worthwhile.' This was meant to make me feel better but it had the opposite effect. The breakup was painful because I felt my partner was worthwhile and I didn't want to lose them. Having a friend tell me that made me feel like my judgment was suspect and that I was stupid for feeling bad about the loss."
5. Brad: "Why Are You Sad? You Can Get Anyone You Want!"
"'Why are you sad? You can get any person you want!' When a friend questions your feelings it's really frustrating. Feeling a sense of loss from a breakup is completely natural, even if the two of you weren't a perfect fit. Feeling ashamed or embarrassed by your sadness only amplifies the effects. I know my friend meant well and was trying to encourage me but it just made me feel like they didn't understand what I was going through."
6. Beverley, 59: "It's Their Loss"
"'You are better off.' Really? How do you know I’m better off? [And] 'it’s their loss.' What if I’m at fault, and it’s my loss?"
7. Ashley, 33: "Wow, Why Didn't They Tell Me?"
"When my ex-husband and I split up — he cheated and decided he didn't want to be married anymore — I told one of our mutual friends. The first thing she said to me was, 'Wow. Why didn't he tell me? We're friends.' I always knew she liked him a little better than she liked me, but it was the most insensitive thing anyone said to me during that period of my life. I was devastated that my marriage had fallen apart, and that was her response."
8. Salina, 27: "There Are More Fish In The Sea"
"The worst thing someone could say [is] 'there are more fish in the sea.' This statement is so invalidating — like the relationship you just got out of wasn't heartbreaking."
9. Ella, 27: "They Never Loved You"
"The most hurtful thing someone said to me after I broke with my boyfriend was, 'It was obvious that he never loved you.' Being in this position I didn't know what to think about my ex anymore. I had mixed feelings about him. That I was living a lie. When you are experiencing a break up, everything that you hear from someone gets stuck in your mind and makes it harder for you to see the reality."
Before dolling out advice following a friend's breakup, it's important to keep in mind how those words might be received. While the attention will likely be appreciated, more often than not it's better to just offer love and support, and leave it at that.
Lauren O’Connell, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist