Am I giving (or receiving) bad breakup advice?

Much like other females in their mid-twenties, I have more than a few not-so-supportive friends and have gotten the WORST breakup advice in the history of life. (I also have some really GREAT friends!!! But…) Some of my friends’ versions of “comforting” me only made me question the friendship and in some cases, end the friendship entirely. (Not every loss is a loss… see my post on toxic friendships!)

When your friend is going through a breakup and comes to you for help… they are sensitive, vulnerable, devastated, and sometimes maybe even a little erratic. It really puts your friendship to the test. A breakup is one of the top most traumatic experiences a person can go through if it was a long-term relationship or marriage. Maybe they lost their virginity to this person. Maybe they have become extremely emotionally dependent on this person. This is your cue to jump in and help him or her discover exactly what they need to start on that long and winding path of healing, or maybe just be the listening ear that they are seeking. It’s also possible that they don’t want to talk about it at all and just want someone to distract them. (If this is the case, no advice is recommended. Respect their needs. Don’t push.) I know I’m not the only one who has gotten Guinness’s record-breaking ‘worst advice ever’, which is probably why you’re reading this post. Do you have friends or family members that give you really bad breakup advice? Or do you want to know if YOU are giving your friend really bad breakup advice? You came to the right place. JUST ASK BLAIRE! I’ve got you!

First, I am going to give you a list of the things that should never be said to a friend or loved one going through a breakup. Then I’ll give you a list of things that are said with good intentions and just need to be demolished and rephrased.

Without further ado… LEGGO!

  • “He (or she) is ugly anyway…”

This is probably the most commonly used phrase and somehow people think this will make a person feel better about their breakup. It actually has the opposite effect. Your friend already has a running list of pros and cons going in their head (and maybe even on paper) and is obsessing over the loss of their partner, so commenting on their ex being “ugly” will likely just make them think of all of the attractive qualities they have. Obviously, your friend doesn’t think their ex is ugly, or they wouldn’t have dated them. It could also have a negative effect on your friendship because you are inherently saying that they have bad taste. Not something an emotional and confused individual needs to hear at that moment. If you think your friend’s ex is ugly, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! Even if they say down the line “my ex was really ugly, what was I thinking?” Still… no. Think of it this way… if your friend is looking in the mirror and says “I’m fat”, would you say “YES, you are! Stop eating!” ??? No. And if you would, you need to evaluate your life.

  • “He (or she) is a loser…”

It’s quite possible that your friend has already come to the conclusion that their ex wasn’t enough for them. Hence the breakup. Or if their ex broke up with them, this statement could lead them along the dark and twisty road of “if he’s a loser and I wasn’t good enough for him, what does that make me? Will I ever be enough for anyone?? Am I unlovable?!?” DO NOT say this to your friend! You don’t want to be the one to initiate a downward spiral. Friends are meant to be supportive and help find a positive perspective on a dire situation. To add more negativity to an already hurtful situation will only make your friend feel worse.

  • “It’s not a big deal…”

Come on… really? Why don’t you just punch them in the face? This is the most insensitive thing on this list that you could say to your friend. I don’t have to explain how this is unacceptable. But since you’re here, you might need me to. A breakup is a big deal! The feeling of loss, sadness, confusion, and emptiness can completely overtake someone if they are lacking support. As their friend, they are looking to you for help in sorting out their tangled web of emotions. To say “it’s not a big deal” is basically saying “well I have no emotional connection so I don’t care about you or your feelings”. If your friend has ever said this to you, I’d say this is grounds for a severing of ties. No real friend would even think this, let alone say this, if they love you.

  • “I don’t know what you saw in him (or her) in the first place…”

NOOOO. This (like point #1) will just cause them to run down the list of all of the things they love and will miss about their ex. Unless the purpose of the conversation is to help them identify the pros and cons of the relationship, it’s really important to stay away from prompting a visit to ‘the list’ while they are in crisis mode. ‘The list’ is important, but not during a melt-down. It’s really not your place to know what your friend saw in their ex. A relationship between two people isn’t based on what the person’s friends see in their partner. Obviously, they saw a LOT in this person to have been in a long-term relationship with them. Also, downplaying someone’s feelings or views of their ex will lead to more sadness. If they wanted more sadness, they’d stay home, eat their body weight in ice cream, and watch a ton of Grey’s Anatomy or Lifetime Movie Network.

  • “FINALLY!” also known as “I told you so!”

Oh my goodness, PLEASE NO! To practically tell your friend that you’ve been standing around in double-dutch mode anticipating the demise of their relationship is extremely hurtful! You should take no pleasure or get any satisfaction out of the fact that your friend just got abandoned or had to let go of someone they love. Your friend likely dealt with a lot of pain to fight and try to make the relationship work with no return on their investment of love and time. So for you to throw a party or collect money on a bet because it didn’t work out is completely unacceptable.

  • “I would go off on my boyfriend (or girlfriend) if they ever did (or said) that to me!”

If your friend has been cheated on, or has been verbally or physically abused, or anything similar, the last thing they need is to be reassured of how bad the situation is. By coming to you, they know it’s bad. Try to keep the focus on your friend and not fictional responses you would have if someone did or said that awful thing to you.

Now… there are some things that people say with good intentions but they come out wrong. So the next few things are statements that just need to be reworked to be deemed acceptable…

  • “You’ll find someone else.” also known as “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Your friend is not in a place to be thinking about dating another person. When someone goes through a breakup, especially one that isn’t mutual and ended on bad terms, the thought of dating someone else is sickening. Their heart is in pieces and they are trying to salvage what they can. Though it is probably a true statement, they don’t have the emotional or mental capacity to contribute anything to a new relationship directly following a breakup. Therefore, not helpful.

Alternative statement: “You deserve someone who will love and respect you for who you are and appreciate what you offer to the relationship.”

  • “The single life is better anyway… less drama.”

Ok… this is borderline. But right after a breakup, no one wants to hear that they are single. Especially if it’s coming from someone in a happy relationship! Even the word ‘single’ should be considered a buzz word when speaking to an emotional wracked person post-breakup. Also, the single life doesn’t necessarily mean less drama. Dating around or participating in random hookups can be MORE drama, actually. There are many benefits to being in a relationship. You have someone to talk to about everything who will (hopefully) not judge you, someone to laugh with and share victories with you, and a companion. Who doesn’t want that??

Alternative statement: “I know this is a hurtful situation, but maybe you can take this time to really evaluate what makes you happy.”

  • “I remember when my ex did that… it all started when…” or “How do you think I felt when…”

A person going through a current break does not care about what you went through 3 years ago during your breakup. This is not to say they don’t care about you, but when someone is going through a tough situation, they want to talk to you about that. Don’t flip the focus onto yourself and start reminiscing on your pain. If you recently went through a breakup as well, that’s understandable. But if your friend came to you seeking solace, try to wait until another time to start talking about your own struggles or let them know that you are going through a similar situation and aren’t able to provide the support they need. “But isn’t that insensitive, too?” Not really. It’s honest, and it’s better that you be upfront with them than to start talking about yourself. That way, you look much less selfish and they will understand why you aren’t comforting them the way they need you to. That saying “misery loves company” is a true statement, but two people talking about separate hurtful experiences and not listening or addressing each other’s issues will lead to nowhere. Listen to your friend, respond to what they’re saying, or just be a shoulder.

Alternative statement: “I can relate to your experience and here are some things that helped me heal from it…”

  • “I’ll hook you up with someone!”

Again, similar to the first bullet point, your friend is in no position to be trying to give the leftover shards of their heart to a complete stranger. They are feeling extremely sensitive and protective of themselves, and the thought of dating someone new is the last thing on their mind. The myth of “the best way to get over someone is to get on top of someone else” is FALSE! Sleeping with another person when their judgment is likely impaired is a sure fire way to make a bad situation worse. In addition to the pain they feel from the breakup, they will possibly feel a lot of regret if they sleep with someone else too soon following a breakup. Also, it will be tough to explain to their ex if they do end up repairing the relationship. Do not lead your friend to more destruction!

Alternative statement: “When you’re feeling better and are ready, I would be more than happy to help you find a suitable boyfriend (or girlfriend) if you need me to. But for now, just focus on you and let yourself heal.”

When all else fails, just think “would this be helpful to me if I was going through a breakup? WHY?” A lot of people think a good old fashioned bashing session is just what their friend needs to show them they didn’t lose out on much. However, it doesn’t take away from the pain they feel and they will probably just feel bad when it’s over. Be supportive, loving, understanding, and just try to help them draw their own conclusions to the breakup. That way, you have no fault and they can feel the closure they need to help them heal and move on, or maybe even repair the relationship.

Peace and love always,

Blaire

Am I in a toxic friendship?

Ok… so you are obviously on this page because you are wondering if you are in a toxic friendship. Maybe you feel like your friend isn’t being a real friend, or maybe the friendship is bringing you down. Well… you came to the right place. Just ask Blaire. I’ve got you!

Here are the top 5 ways to determine if you are in a toxic friendship. Then I’ll tell you if you should get out of it and how to do so. First, let’s see if any of these things apply to you…

  • You feel emotionally exhausted after you’ve hung out with your friend.

Let’s just call this friend Sam (fitting to a male or female). Sam comes over to hang out. From the second Sam walks in, they start venting. You say, “but Sam’s my friend. Isn’t it normal for them to vent?” YES! It is. But this friend is ALWAYS venting to YOU. 95% of the time you are with Sam, they are talking about the 100 things wrong in their life. Your friend finally leaves and you feel like you need chocolate, some cartoons, and a nap.

This is a TOXIC friend! A friendship should be equal. It’s one thing if your friend is in a particular crisis. They just got dumped or broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. They just lost their job. They just got in a car accident and they’re coming over with the sole purpose that they need support for this isolated event. Fine. Cool. But if your friend is always in crisis mode, they only come around when they need comfort, or you never have an opportunity to share what’s going on in your life, you can bet your shiniest pennies… this is a toxic friendship.

  • Your friend only wants to hang out with you when there’s nothing better to do.

You reach out to Sam on Monday to see if they want to hang out, but they have to work late. You reach out on Tuesday to schedule a stay-in movie night, but they already have plans with their significant other. You reach out on Wednesday to see if they want to go shopping, but they aren’t feeling good and “took a half day off of work”. You call them on Thursday to ask if they want to go check out the new trail the city has just opened in the park, but Sam already made plans with Rebecca. You text on Friday to see if Sam wants to go to dinner and catch up, but they planned to stay home and clean their apartment from top to bottom. Same story for the following week. Finally, you decide to just chill at home and binge on your favorite Netflix show. You’re mid-episode and Sam calls and says their plans were cancelled for the day. They want to see if you are free to hang… this is a toxic friendship.

When someone cares about you, they will make time for you. It doesn’t matter if they are busy, they will set aside a slot in their oh-so-busy schedule to see you. Even if it’s just for an hour or two. Yes they have a job, a significant other, family, other friends, etc. Cool, so do you. But you care enough about this person to make time for them. So they should do the same for you. People will always make time for the things that are important to them. You say, “But sometimes people just have a lot to do. It can’t always be about me. Isn’t that a little over-sensitive or self-centered?” NO! It’s not self-centered to expect your friend to make time for you. They can obviously make time for everyone and everything else. Why not you? You ask, “They called when their other friends fell through on their plans, so doesn’t that count?” NO! It doesn’t. You are not a backup plan. You are not a sidekick. You are not a last resort. You are a human being with flowing blood and a beating heart. You are someone’s priority, not a fallback guy/gal. You have to know that and make it known to others in the BEGINNING of the friendship (obviously… you can’t go back to the beginning of this friendship. But for future reference…) If you allow your friend to treat you a certain way for the first few months of the friendship, you can’t then expect them to treat you differently later because they magically realized they are a terrible friend. No. People treat you how you allow them to treat you. If you don’t set a standard that you are a priority, then they won’t treat you like one. If you have a friend that puts you last all the time and you put them first… this is a toxic friendship.

  • You can tell that your friend doesn’t really enjoy your company and they are just checking the “hang out with ____” box off of their list of weekly chores.

Your friend is over and you guys are watching TV, but they are looking out of the window or daydreaming. You try to start a conversation with them but they sit there with their hands folded or their arms crossed and their foot is bouncing up and down while they give you one-word answers. Or they are on their phone the whole time texting, surfing the web, or scrolling through social media. Obviously, this person doesn’t want to be there. They hang out with you to be able to say that they hung out with you, so when they come to you to vent they feel justified because they “spend time with you on a weekly basis”. Uh… absolutely not. Do not allow someone to be in your presence if they don’t really want to be! You don’t need someone to hang out with you if it’s a chore to them! You say, “but something is better than nothing right?” NO! Something is not better than nothing. Accepting less is degrading to yourself. It’s basically saying “well I’m not worth prime time, so even if my friend hangs out with me and doesn’t really want to, at least I get to see them.” You are worth MORE! That’s why it’s called QUALITY time, not quantity time. If you look over at your friend while you’re hanging out and they are staring off into space and not interacting with you at all… this is a toxic friendship.

  • When you are in a group setting, your friend ignores you.

You hang out with a group of mutual friends and you try to sit next to your friend, but they leave a seat between you for one of your other friends. They avoid making eye contact with you. You remember something funny that happened and you try to joke with them about it, but they blow you off and act like they can’t hear you. They make it a point to play on a different team when you guys go over to play pool. This is not ok! Your friend should be your friend all the time! In front of people, in private, whatever the setting! What’s that you say? “Maybe they are just trying to divide their time equally. That’s ok right?” NO! There is a huge difference between trying to include everyone in the conversation vs. just straight up avoiding you like the plague.  Your friend should not paint you out to be the “needy” one when you are with other people. Especially if they are constantly running to you for advice. When you start wondering if you are being too clingy, or if you constantly have to “check” yourself for over-neediness, then there’s a problem. Things should happen organically. You shouldn’t have to be worried about walking up to your friend or spend a ton of time assessing if they’re going to receive you or blow you off. If they act embarrassed of you or act like they don’t want to be bothered when other people are around… this is a toxic friendship.

  • Your friend can never own up to the hurtful things they do.

Your friend hurt your feelings. Whether it was a small thing, a big thing, or whatever. If you go to your friend and tell them “You did this and it really hurt me”, and they come up with 3 things you did last week that they didn’t like, not good. That is a cop out. If you really did 3 things last week, they should have said something last week. If it mattered that much, they would have said something. Real friends don’t keep score. Real friends don’t hold on to their hurt feelings in order to use it as ammunition to get them out of something they did to you. Real friends don’t minimize your feelings and say “it wasn’t a big deal”. Friends don’t make you feel like you are being dramatic. If your friend stands you up or flakes consistently on plans and you bring it to their attention, the correct response would be “Oh my gosh. I didn’t even realize I was doing that. I’m sorry. I’ll really try to make sure I stick with our plans when we make them.” The wrong response would be… “I can’t be friends with you if you are going to make me feel bad about myself. I feel like I have to tiptoe around you because every little thing hurts your feelings.” NO! That is not a real friend! A real friend acknowledges the hurtful behavior whether they meant to hurt you or not. They did. So your feelings are valid and if they really care, they will try to correct the behavior. And you will see it not only in their words, but in their ACTIONS! You know that quote, “actions speak louder than words”? AMEN TO THAT! A real friend will change their hurtful behavior. If they don’t… run! This is a toxic friendship.

Ok… so you’re thinking “OH MY GOSHHHHHH!!! I’M IN A TOXIC FRIENDSHIP!! My friend (not-friend) does at least one of these things all the time! What do I do?” Here are some suggestions…

Evaluate the friendship. Make a list of all of the things you get from the friendship and all of the things you give in the friendship. If your “give” list is three times as long as your “get” list, think about whether it’s a friendship even worth keeping. Ask yourself “what will I be missing out on if I don’t have this person in my life?” If your answer is “a clubbing partner… a drinking buddy… a shopping cohort… etc.”, well you can do those things with someone else. So no loss there. If your answer is “someone to give me advice when I need it… someone who will hang out with me when I really need someone… someone who consistently initiates communication with me and asks how I’m doing or starts conversations about life stuff…”, then this may be a friendship worth keeping because they are adding something positive to your life. If your answer is “hurt… rejection… the feeling that I am not of value… someone who annoys me… someone who keeps hurting me… crying… arguing… make-ups and break-ups that give me whiplash”, then RUN AWAY. Hit the deck. Throw down your trump card. Cut your losses. Take the “W” disguised as an “L” and KEEP. IT. MOVING. You don’t need this person.

  • If you’ve made it through your evaluation and say “This is a friend worth keeping”, great. The next step is to address the issues with your friend. If they are as valuable as you say, they will really put forth the effort to talk it through and fix the problem. If they act like they don’t care, then repeat the evaluation step of this section.

 

  • Try to spend time with other friends. You can’t expect one person to be everything for you. One person can’t bare the weight of someone’s happiness. No one should be defining your happiness except you. Maybe this friend should be categorized as a “surface friend”, meaning someone to go out with but not your go-to person for emotional help. Or maybe the opposite. Make sure you are dividing up your time with other people so you aren’t putting too much pressure on one.

 

  • If your emotional needs go deeper than just normal life happenings, seek therapy. Getting therapy doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong! Accepting that you need help is one of the strongest things you can do. It’s a brave move on your part. Once you get into a more satisfactory and stable place in your life, re-evaluate this blog post and see if you’ve noticed a change in how you view your friend.

 

  • Observe whether or not this friend treats all of their friends this way. It may not be just you. Maybe this is just who they are. Maybe they don’t have the emotional capacity to be a supportive friend. If that’s the case, you need to determine whether you can live with that or not. If you choose to accept this about them, then you must adjust your expectations.

 

  • Think about whether or not you notice a pattern with the type of friends you attract. If you have several friends that do one or more of the above 5 things regularly, you need to pay closer attention to the types of people you are surrounding yourself with. Now that you know the signs, avoid people who exhibit them. Your heart will thank you.

 

  • Make sure YOU are not toxic!! It’s easy to say “they did this” or “they did that”. That may be the case. Just make sure you aren’t doing the same things. Are you there for your friend when they need you? Do you follow through with promises and plans? Do you treat them like a friend around people and in private? Do you accept when you are wrong? Do you own up to your mistakes? Do you make an effort to see them and talk to them? Do you ask them how they are doing? Are you a source of comfort when they need it?

I hope this blog helps! Some things to remember… you are worth it. You are important. You are a priority. You deserve a real friendship with your friends. You are NOT a last resort. You are NOT a backup plan. Your feelings are valid and you should voice them. You are to be respected and valued. Above all… love yourself enough to walk away from a situation that isn’t healthy for you. It will be ok, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. DON’T ACCEPT LESS WHEN YOU CAN HAVE THE BEST!!

Peace and love always,

Blaire

www.justaskblaire.com – IG: @justaskblaire – justaskblaire@gmail.com