The support you receive from others is crucial when you’re getting through the end of a relationship, and it is important to recognize the types of advice you will get. Some will say things you want to hear, some will give advice you’ll want to take, and some will just give you some tough love.
I’ve had my share of difficult breakups and have coped with them in many different ways, but I can definitely say my friend groups were my biggest support system, thanks to their differing viewpoints on how to bounce back.
I thought I’d switch it up for this topic and give you guys the unique opportunity to hear a dual perspective. Dan Macak is one of my closest friends here and has a very set perspective on the dating world and the type of people you come across post-breakup. Regardless of the situation, we, as humans, will always deal with things in different ways, so let’s hear a little bit from a male perspective!
photo by John Saltz*
Dan: Everyone’s break up is different, and not every guy has the same friends. But these were the friends that had the biggest impact on me. A little background, my ex and I were together for a while and even lived together for a year and a half. We had a dog, and we were looking at wedding rings… and then everything fell apart. These types of friends had a big impact on getting me back on my feet and eventually getting back to being myself. While each friend’s method was different, all of them had my best intentions in mind and were really trying their best. Here’s how they shake out.
1. The Friend Who Only Tells You What You Want to Hear
Davita: I’d like to call this the “false hope” friend. As supportive as I know they’re trying to be, they resort to telling you exactly what you want to hear. By saying, “they’re going to realize what they’re missing,” “everything will work out,” or “maybe you guys will get back together,” your friend is giving you the impression that what they’re saying will come true. When it doesn’t, the disappointment becomes harder to face.
This friend means well and will make you feel better at first. From my perspective, I always hoped they were right. I never truly got any negative emotions about my ex from my friends, only little words of wisdom and hope that I knew wouldn’t end up coming true. Friends telling you what you want to hear will only get you so far.
Dan: This friend means the best, but they don’t know how damaging they are actually being. They typically take one of two routes.
Route one features you and your SO getting back together. They say things like, “you two will get back together; you were perfect for each other” or “she just needs time away so she knows what she’s missing.” And while this might be nice to hear, it’s leaving you to hold onto something that more than likely isn’t coming back. If they do come back, that’s great, but you need to move forward until that time comes.
Route two tells you they’re happy you’re broken up. Common phrases are, “I never liked her anyway,” and “you can do so much better.” While these are meant to help you move forward, they are honestly hurtful. You spent a big part of your life with this person, and had things worked out, they would have hated your spouse. That’s not comforting. It’s more concerning that they never told you. You know you might be able to do better, but at the time you don’t want better. You want your SO. This friend honestly is just picking an extreme and going with it. They’re trying to drop you on top of the mountain instead of letting you climb.
2. The “Rebound” Friend
Davita: Ahhh yes, this friend is fun. At least for a while. This is the friend that lives by the motto, “You need someone new. You need a rebound.” And it’s not even a matter of “you should find someone new,” it’s a matter of “no, you NEED someone new” in order to get over an ex.
This friend is probably the most determined, because they are willing to set you up with whoever. This friend will drag you to bars and parties and introduce you to people you never saw yourself interacting with, so there’s always a major sense of adventure when you’re hanging out with them. It’s never boring, that’s for sure.
Deep down, this may not be something you want to do, but the heartbreak can be consuming and let’s be real, you’re not thinking straight. It’s completely normal to think the best way to cope is to go out with this friend because the advice “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” does sound logical at the time.
However, it rarely works in the long haul. It’s rare that the person you hook up with right after a breakup is the one you end up marrying. (If that’s true for someone, let me know because I want to congratulate you and ask how that even happened.) Although this friend means well, too, I’d recommend listening to them only if you’re sure you don’t want something serious for a while.
Dan: Can’t lie…this friend is the most fun, but this friend also leaves you waking up the next day with a bad combination of a hangover and regret. This is the friend who wants to show you that you don’t need to tie yourself down to be happy, and there are plenty of fish in the sea.
The first ingredient in their recipe? Alcohol…and a lot of it. They’ll buy, which is nice, and girls do seem to like shots, but no one does their best decision-making when they’re drunk.
Ingredient two? Trash talk. “Do you not want to get laid? She’s probably doing it.” These two ingredients mixed together will typically help you buy into what they’re saying…your ex isn’t sitting around waiting…why should you?
Next, they’ll introduce you to everyone they’ve ever met: that person they did a Spanish project with freshman year, his coworkers, their other friends, sometimes even their past hook ups. If none of those work, it’s any girl around, and you play “haaaaaaaaaaave you met Dan?” If done right, this really does work. A lot of people like “How I Met Your Mother,” and it is an automatic conversation starter. But the thing they will tell you every time you resist is, “you don’t need to settle down, enjoy being young.”
Sometimes when you leave a relationship, this is the lifestyle you want, and you really don’t need this friend to tell you because you already know. But when you leave something serious, it’s hard to go from your routine and being comfortably in love to drunken, meaningless sex. You’ll have the craziest memories with this friend – some will be great and some won’t. But you will realize you did need this friend at least once.
3. The “Tough Love” Friend
Davita: You’re sulking on the couch watching sad rom-coms, stalking his social media, and rereading old texts. Suddenly, this friend bursts through the door to shake some sense into you. This friend is a life saver, although this is something you realize much later. At the time, no one wants to hear the truth about why you and your ex broke up. No one wants to hear about how destiny didn’t want you guys together, or how you guys weren’t good together and you were both unhappy.
Obviously, yeah, you’ve heard it many, many times already. But this friend truly cares, so they’ll continue reminding you. They know this is a time for tough love, and while they’ll console you initially, they’ll reach a certain point where they feel the need to talk some sense into you and remind you how awesome and full of life you were before dating your ex, and how you can continue to be like that.
You’re going to get very tired of this friend because they always say the same things. You’re also going to feel attacked when they tell you to get off the couch and do something because you spent the last five days doing nothing but drinking wine straight out of the bottle. But eventually you listen to them, and you begin to feel alive again.
Dan: The friend that tells you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it. This friend is the one whose advice you eventually end up taking once you’ve done everything else and realize they’re right. But before you get to that point, you’ll fight with this friend, and probably a lot. They’ll say something you don’t want to hear, and you’ll get short with them.
They’re going to tell you the truth, because even though they know it’s not what you want to hear, they know it’s what you need. They’ll tell you what you did wrong in the relationship, what your SO did wrong, and what you both need to do moving forward. It’s typically cutting them out of your life, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. All of this piled together, chances are you’ll eventually get into a big fight with this friend, to the point where you may not talk for a while. When you look back at the fight, you’ll realize how stupid you really sound. You’re justifying things and will say “you don’t understand us.” No, they do, and it’s their understanding that allows them to tell you the truth. This friend is honestly your best friend.
4. The “Drink to Forget” Friend
Davita: Much like Number 2, going out with this friend may leave you waking up with so much regret and shame. But hey, it’s fun at the moment. It’s very possible you will come across a friend that believes the best remedy for getting over a relationship is “drink and party until you can’t feel feelings anymore.”
We’ve all had that conversation with a friend, or at least known someone who had it: “So they-who-shall-not-be-named* and I broke up.” “Wanna go out and drink?” “…yeah. Yeah I do.” Be careful with this friend. Have the fun you deserve but don’t do anything that’ll make the breakup even worse.
5. The Friend Who Only Wants the Best For You
Dan: This friend is a lot like the first one, but while the first one focuses solely on one side, this one won’t pick a side.
Talking to this friend is pretty similar to talking to a wall. They’ll probably tell you to do whatever makes you happy. Oh, okay! She makes me happy. Us being together makes me happy, but that isn’t really an option right now, is it? You went to them for help, and they ended up reminding you of what you lost. Sometimes they’ll even answer your questions with another question, like a psychiatrist stereotype. “What do you think she meant by that? Do you think that’s what is best?” I don’t know! That’s why I came to you! If I knew this, we wouldn’t be talking about it!
The bottom line is (and they genuinely mean it) they “only want you to be happy.” Me too, man…me too.
6. The Neutral Friend
Davita: Chances are if you dated someone for a long period of time, you ended up building friendships with the same people. Once a breakup occurs, you’re going to have those friends that WILL NOT pick sides by any means. Some will sit back and just listen to you vent, while some will simply not want to hear it because they’re loyal to both parties and don’t want to get in the middle.
This friend means well and wants the best for both of you, but it will be hard to go to them when you need consoling. If the breakup is ugly and you and your ex are still hanging out consistently in the same friend group, chances are things could take a turn for the worst. These types of friends do NOT want to see that happen. Once the breakup blows over, it’ll be difficult for this friend to switch between you and your ex, but they’ll eventually fully support you again.
7. The Friend Who’s Going Through the Same Thing
Davita: More often than not, you’re going to realize one of your closest friends is going through the exact same situation. You both just got out of relationships. You’re both heartbroken, thus a strong bond is formed through constant vent sessions, tubs of ice cream, and small yet satisfying moments of pettiness (because that’s normal, people.) Eventually, you realize you’ll get through this together.
In my experience, I’ve gained some strong friendships from people going through a breakup at the same time I was (reference to how Dan and I are friends.) These friendships are awesome because you learn how strong you and your friend actually are!
Dan: At the end of the day, each one of these friends played a role in my coping, some larger than others. But I would not have gotten back on my feet and became myself again if I didn’t have all of them. They each contributed in their own way, and I can never thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me. Thank you to Her Campus and Davita for featuring me in this article, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the perspective I was able to bring!