Breakups: What Not to Say
I can’t think of the right words to properly describe a breakup. They make you feel sick to your stomach in that, “I knew I shouldn’t have eaten Chipotle” way. Having your heart broken is humiliating, infuriating and debilitating.
Without a doubt your friends will have to deal with a heartbreak or two during your tenure, and you’ll be there with wine and a list of the most applicable episodes of “Sex and the City.” You’ll probably be at a loss for what to say – I always am – so here are some tips I keep in mind during those first few crying sessions:
1) She doesn’t want to hear that he’s an asshole.
He might be. He may have treated her like shit during the whole relationship and you could be COMPLETELY right that he is nothing but an asshole. Just don’t say it, yet. He may have been a douchebag, but he was her douchebag, and that’s how she still sees it. We’ve all fallen in love with the wrong person and when it ends, the love doesn’t fade away. Your friend still loves that guy, and a small part of her might always love him. She might continue to defend him long after the break up. She might call him a dick next week. Let her make that call. Coming to the realization that the man you love is actually not the wonderful person you thought he was is hard and pretty embarrassing. She doesn’t need to hear it from you. For the first couple months, though, if you need to vent about the asshole that crushed your friend, talk to your other friends about it. They probably feel the same way.
2) She doesn’t want to hear that there’s someone else out there.
There are plenty of fish in the sea. She knows that. We all know that. In this moment, though, the last thing she wants to think about is being with someone new. Another man is not what she wants. She wants her man. The thought of meeting someone new isn’t exciting right now. It’s uncomfortable and the first time it happens she’s probably going to get his number and then go in the bathroom and cry. Also, mentioning all those other fishies gets her thinking about the cute, young, short-skirt wearing fish her ex is going to be chatting up at the neighborhood Applebee’s while she’s still hiding under the covers.
3) She doesn’t want to hear how strong she is.
Believe it or not, being told she’s strong enough to get through this might not be comforting. It actually might make her feel like she can’t be weak even though it’s all she can do. Strong women often push themselves to be strong, reminding themselves that they’re not defined by their relationship status. So when the overwhelming heart break hits, they feel ashamed that they’ve let themselves fall apart, even for a moment. When you tell her she’s strong, her head’s saying, “No, you’re not. Look at yourself.” It might just be better to let her cry it out and not remind her that she’s letting her feminist sisters down.
4) She doesn’t want to hear that she’s “such a catch.”
Obviously, telling your friend what a catch she is comes from the greatest of intentions, but she won’t believe it. Just like Tai cries in Clueless, “If I’m too good for him, then how come I’m not with him?” Reminders of how funny, smart and fabulous she is, makes her feel worse because all she can think is, “Right. So why did he leave me? What did I do wrong?” She probably didn’t do anything wrong, but she certainly feels that way.
5) She might not want to hear anything at all.
Honestly, in my experiences in soothing the broken hearts of my friends (and my own) I think the best course of action is to say nothing at all. Let her cry. Let her vent. Let her talk. Let her eat the whole bucket of ice cream. And if she wants, let her alone. Having someone there to listen to me and hold me is more important than any words you could come up with.
Now I could be completely wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time. This little guide isn’t meant for every girl in the world, but it certainly fits for every girl in my world… including me.
Good luck, nurses.