What Not To Say To Someone After a Breakup

June 12, 2016

In my extensive experience with break ups, I think it’s safe to say that your early twenties and your early forties are full of them.  Generally speaking, in your early twenties you break up with the person you met in your late teens, because it turns out they’re a dick.  Then you meet someone else, and society pressures you to get married and before you know it you’ve got a couple of kids, then you realise the person you married is a dick and you’ve gotta kill eight to ten years until the kids are old enough to deal with a divorce.

Breaking up in your thirties appears to be relatively rare, because by about this time you should be knocked up with number two (at least), and it’s like people don’t know what to say, so they just grab the first cliché they can find and throw it in your general direction.

  1. “It obviously wasn’t mean to be”If he’d been killed in a tragic accident, would that be your automatic response? Because right now, that’s kind of how it feels.  And no, I’m not comparing sudden death to being broken up with via text message, but the grieving process is similar (I’ve been there, I know), and when you’re somewhere in the denial/depression/heartbreak phase, someone telling you that the last few years of your life “wasn’t meant to be” does not help the healing process whatsoever.
  2. “Everything happens for a reason”Oh, most definitely, reason, season, life and all that, but as I dig through the box marked “scullery” trying to find the mandolin to make kumara chips, it’s pretty apparent that I am not unpacking this box in the scullery of our new house. No doubt there’s a reason, but right now I’m struggling to find a reason to get out of bed, let alone the reason why he put a ring on it and then decided it wasn’t such a good idea after all.
  3. “Someone better will come along”Oh absolutely, he’ll find me lost in the woods, and we’ll walk back to his white horse and gallop back through the forest towards the kingdom he’s the heir too. He’ll play it down though, just in case I look like I might be using him for his money, and then get me to sign a pre-nup just in case.  And on our wedding day when I walk down the aisle to John Legend (the actual John Legend and not a recording) I’ll have a fleeting thought: ‘this is why that happened with that other guy’.
  4. “I’ve got the perfect guy for you”If you look really closely, you can still see the mark on my left ring finger where up until recently my bling was sitting, I’m not sure if that’s a great conversation starter. Then there’s the inevitable awkward moment when he finds out I’m in my 30’s and flatting with my parents, the next question is always “why?” which is a hard question to answer in a bright and breezy manner when you’ve moved into the bitter and twisted phase.
  5. “You deserve better”Tell me about it – I know, right?  Not for one second have I thought to myself ‘this is neat, I deserve this’.  At the risk of responding to a cliché with a cliché, it is what it is, it’s happened, I’m here, and you’re there, telling me that I don’t deserve to be here, but I’m still here, and I agree, I deserve better.  Thank you for reminding me that I don’t deserve to be avoiding my loved up bridesmaids, when we should be tagging each other in pictures on Instagram.

Looking back now, at those first cry in the shower days, I remember thinking ‘who is going to be in my corner?!?’  And all these month later, I have the answer: me.  I am going to be in my corner.  I have wasted so much time and so much energy fighting battles that other people didn’t have the strength and support to fight, and now I get to back my own damn self.  And just like that, I’ve moved into the next phase: excitement.

P.S. If you’re wondering what the right thing to say is, try something like, “I’m so sorry to hear that, break ups suck and you must be really sad right now, but you’re a bad ass bitch, and you’ve been through worse, back yourself babes, you got this.”

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