I give you my hand-picked selection of bad breakup advice. And yes, I’ve been dying to write this one.
1. “Snap out of It”
Alright, perhaps even Wim Hoff would have trouble with exercising this amount of control over his autonomic nervous system. And yes, it’s called autonomic for a reason, and that reason is that it is largely unconscious. Not something you can consciously direct, as it turns out.
Welcome to the world snap out of it, where the unconscious tides of grief are ours to command. Why choose to wallow in misery when a world of enduring happiness and freedom beckon a mere snap of the fingers away.
Why I loathe this advice:
- I am not consciously choosing to drown in grief.
- Nor is denying the cycle of grief an admirable trait, it exists for a reason.
Eye-roll Rating: 7/10.
2. “Hah, they’ll Come Running Back”
What if they don’t? By erecting this hyper-optimistic expectation you are essentially making every day they don’t come running to your door in the pouring rain a miserable failure.
Beyond this, why would it in any way be a given that this is a good thing? Why should this be the “given” measure of personal validation? Relationships end, and when they do, we’re better off asking ourselves what went wrong rather than hang off the cliff-edge of hope.
Should reconciliation occur, the hope is that it occurs on an even playing field, not that we cast responsability for our emotional security into our ex’s hands.
Eye-roll Rating: 8/10.
3. “They didn’t deserve you anyway”
Again, scape-goating personal responsibility is inherently risky. The only person who can judge, through personal-history, is the person who is actively involved in the breakup. Not someone whose understanding of that connection is built on a pyramid of second-hand information.
Perhaps I’m being overly harsh here, because the underlying intention is that of propping the “victim” up. But there is always the chance, however vanishing it might be, that the much maligned ex is not wholly responsible for the fate of the relationship, and thus we deny ourselves the chance to learn and grow.
Eye-roll Rating: 3-8/10, depending on how willfully ignorant we choose to be regarding our mistakes.
4. “Use the no contact rule”
I have no problem with the use of the no contact rule when it is used predominately as a healing tool (ok, there will also be the hope that our absence will fuel longing). It is great at ridding our existence of painful distrators, and keeping the focus on our new lives.
However, when used as a get-them-back gimmick, there is a disproportionately large chance that it will backfire — and when I say backfire I mean backfire horribly.
- What if they assume you don’t want to talk and resist the urge to contact you?
- What if they call your bluff?
- What if you burn whatever bridges you have left?
- What if, despite potentially being interested in reconciling, they simply get used to not talking to you and drift off into the ever strengthening silence?
As the saying goes, “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”.
Eye-roll Rating: 7/10.
5. “Want me to ask [mutual acquaintance] to have a word?”
No, I really don’t. In my view, relationships are the epitome of personal stuff. Out of respect for both my ex, and the sake of our well-wishing mutual acquaintance, I’d rather demonstrate a modicum of responsibility and backbone and ask the relevant questions myself. Yes, I know, that is easy to say but hard to do. Which is precisely why I’d do just that. To convey importance, not just words.
Beyond simply making a mess of an already complicated situation, if I’ve lost my ex, I’d rather not lose my social circles along with it.
Eye-roll Rating: 4/10. Pet peeve of mine, it’s probably not as bad as I make it out to be.
6. “There are many fish in the sea”
Bad advice, not literally, because it is the truth, but because to someone who is currently in the grips of grief, it is a phrase that is empty of comfort and meaning.
Even worse, thrusting ourselves back into the dating world too soon will mean risking that:
- Everyone and everything will remind us of our exs, rather than distracting us from them.
- We might end up hurting someone else once we realize they’re just a tool for us to heal.
Statements such as these, while well-intentioned, are often offered by people who have forgotten how acutely painful it is to be in thrall of the past. And yes, that is very patronizing of me, please consider this entire article something of a belated stress dump!
Eye-roll Rating: 3/10. Not “bad breakup advice” per se, but ultimately devoid of any comfort and thus redundant.
7. “Having the time of my life here in Vegas”
Point number 4’s big brother. The use of indirect manipulation, with the sole objective of playing on our ex’s insecurity in an effort to make them “miss out”.
Thing is though, unless we really are having the time of our lives (which, at the tail-end of a relationship is unlikely, let’s be honest here), it only serves to make us look like the ones who are insecure.
There’s nothing wrong with documenting moments of joy, of course. I am only referencing attempts at striking at our ex’s insecurity here, and it really is painfully obvious when it does occur.
Eye-roll Rating: 5/10.
8. “You need to get out more”
And why is that?
Grief is inherently personal, as is the oscillating path to acceptance. No-one can unilaterally decide what works for anyone but themselves.
Manifestations of grief such as holing up and keeping to oneself should not be stigmatized as they are not projections of weakness (seriously, let’s not add guilt and self-loathing to an already strenuous moment)! They are natural, personalized reactions to a meat-grinder of insecurity that needs to be processed.
If you find comfort in socially binging, fine! If you feel like reincarnating 30 days of night, that too is great. The very last thing we should do is judge and compare ourselves to others in moments of difficulty.
Eye-roll Rating: 7/10.
9. “I told you all men/women are X, didn’t I?”
Not all men are pigs or alcoholics, in the same vein that not every woman is out for material gain. While you your ex may have been any one of these things, by erecting broad, sweeping generalizations about every other member of that sex, we risk harming our own chances at encountering something worthwhile down the line because we never give it a chance.
Let me put it this way: If all men/women are the same, what is more likely? That they really are all clones of each other, or that our expectation and judgement never changes?
Dealing with the past is hard enough that we owe it to ourselves to not jeopardize our future.
Eye-roll Rating: 9/10.
10. “You’ll get over it”
The emperor of vacuous one-liners, denoting not just a copious amount of disdain, but also a sprinkling of apathy.
Yes, I will get over it, however, the point is that I’m not, here in the present, here in front of you. Of course, the point is well taken, which is that it is a callous way of saying “who cares?“.
It is to minimize and ignore the importance of the emotions involved, while also graciously implying that I am somehow unable to figure that one out all on my own. Cheers!
Sure, I get that I shouldn’t make my insecurity the focal point of our friendship or connection, but if we’re in any way related, whether it be as friends, family or even a done-and-dusted acquaintance, you could demonstrate the minimal politeness of even attempting to give a damn.
Eye-roll Rating: 9/10.