Advice on Post-Breakup Advice: How to cheer up a friend after a breakup, from someone who’s recently broken up.
The day after my breakup, a friend of mine who became single 2 weeks before me (something is in the air, I swear) gave me the best advice I’ve ever heard after a breakup. She said “Everyone has advice, everyone says what they think is best, and while their intentions are good there’s absolutely nothing anyone can say that’s going to make it better.”
I’ve heard a lot of things over the last 6 weeks (wait, it’s been that long? I think? Time flies…), but none of it has been as true or as real or as applicable as that. Because soon after that, texts and emails and phone calls came rolling in like tidal waves, crashing onto me and drowning me in words I could barely comprehend. Everyone had something to say. Everyone I have ever come into contact with wanted to give me their two cents or a hug or do something for me. Which I appreciated a lot, don’t get me wrong. I was so happy to have these people come up around my broken self and want to help me.
But let’s be real. Some things people do are more helpful than others. Some things are better left unsaid. And some things we’re just not ready to hear yet. But one thing is for sure: having friends around during this time is absolutely (entirely, completely, tremendously) necessary. Like, I would still be eating pints of ice cream binging on Gilmore Girls (thank you Netflix gods) if it weren’t for them. Nothing anyone says will make you feel better, because nothing anyone says can make the problem go away (or make your feelings go away), but there are things that definitely don’t help, and there are some things that definitely do help. So here we go, from a recently-single-person’s perspective. (DISCLAIMER: Not all of these things apply to me personally, even if I use myself as an example).
1. DON’T tell me that we need to go out to get drunk and find me some hottie to hook up with.
Please just don’t. Like, I get it, you’re trying to get my mind off of my seriously awful situation, but I already feel bad enough as it is. Getting me schwasted and then letting me hook up with some random stranger is not going to make me feel any better. In fact, it’ll probably make me feel worse. Because not only will I feel like a complete idiot in the morning, I will also probably still feel miserable, miss my ex even more, and be hungover. Definitely not any better.
2. DO take me out of my depressing dark room for a girls night out.
Girl time fixes everything. I’m a strong believer that spending quality time with quality friends will help along the healing process. Going out dancing, having a good time, drinking and talking with girl friends (I’ve recently realized) is the best thing ever. The difference between this and #1 is that this isn’t destructive. It’s not about anyone else. It’s not for anyone else. It’s girl time. Time to look pretty and dance out all the stress/sadness/anger and forget about the world for a bit. It’s like therapy. But probably cheaper (depending, I guess), and definitely more fun.
3. DON’T tell me my ex was a jerk/didn’t deserve me/wasn’t cute enough for me/etc.
Yeah, unless I start a rant, you should probably keep your thoughts to yourself. Bashing an ex is good for no one. I don’t want to be bashing (especially right after the initial break up) because a) maybe I still care for that person and haven’t processed everything yet and b) maybe they actually didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t know my life or my relationship, so unless I want to complain about something, I don’t need you judging me (or my relationship). I’ve got enough on my plate. Plus, if you go on your rant, I might end up getting mad at you and defending him (which I shouldn’t be doing and don’t need to be doing). Encourage me in my thoughts and empathize while I’m criticizing, but don’t get carried away. Leave the dramatic raving to me. I’m really good at it.
4. DO take me to cuddle puppies or babies or something equally as cute.
One of the first few days after my breakup, I went to a friends house and played with littles. I held a baby and watched Monster’s University with them. It was the best day ever. There’s something magical about cuddly pets and babies. They are just so happy and pure it’s contagious.
5. DON’T compare my current situation to your last breakup.
This isn’t about you right now. Unless you have relevant useful information that really is comparable to my situation, please don’t turn this into a conversation about you. Let me have my moment. I promise I will return the favor. And when everything isn’t so fresh and I’m no longer calling/texting/morse-coding you sobbing every 10 minutes, then we can swap stories and experiences.
6. DO have a girls night in with me.
What’s better than bottles of wine, Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and some at-home spa treatments? Let me just give you a hint, the answer is nothing.
7. After all that wine (and maybe some shots of whipped cream vodka) DON’T let me do anything stupid.
Like drunk text my ex. Or call him sobbing. Or bash him publicly on Facebook. I don’t know. Really, the list could go on forever because I have been known to make rash decisions (shout out to all of you who’ve seen it happen) and having even half a glass of wine in me will just make that even more likely. So, if you see me focused super intently on my phone or speed-texting aggressively, do me a solid and try to dissuade me.
8. DO let me sob and rant, and make sure I wallow.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day, and she said something about how my generation (like she’s ages older than me) doesn’t like to be upset or sad for long. We want to rush past the pain and get back to feeling good. We want to pretend we’re okay and hope that pretending it makes it true. Which it does, sort of, sometimes. But only sort of and only sometimes. Wallowing is part of the process. If Rory Gilmore has to do it to get over Dean, I have to do it to get over my ex too. Eat ice cream with me and let me tell you how I feel.
9. DON’T tell me I’ll find someone better soon.
For obvious reasons, I hope. “How do you know that I will find someone better soon? Also, how soon is soon? And does ‘better’ mean ‘the one’? What if I don’t think there is anyone better? THERE’S NO ONE BETTER!” (Those are actual words I actually said. I was obviously crazed). See what you just started? I know it seems like such an easy encouraging statement and you may believe that’s true (and it may be true), but you can’t promise me that, especially if I’m not ready to find that person. Also, do I need to find someone better soon? Let me know that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be alone. And it’s okay to not find someone right away. All in God’s timing.
10. DO tell me I will be okay, I’m worth it, and I’m amazing the way I am.
Encouraging words go a long way. Even if I’m not okay right now, this will end. It will get better (it already has so I’m speaking from experience here). Self-esteem can be (and by that I mean always is) crushed after a breakup. Boost me up. Remind me of the good qualities I have and of all my blessings. (I sound like I’m asking you to compliment me right now – I’m not, this is hypothetical). All I’m saying is that it’s nice to be reminded of strengths in times of weakness.
Friendship is about boosting each other up when you’re down and helping the other remember that they are beautiful and wonderfully made.
I am strong, remarkable, and lovely.
And so are you. Don’t forget it.