For no reason I can fathom, people often come to me for relationship advice. Often, like, three in the past couple of months, often. And, more specifically, breakup advice. Which is kind of like going to your doctor for advice on writing a novel, or going to your accountant for advice on painting a landscape, honestly, because my experience with relationships can be summed up thusly:
- They are confusing.
- I always choose the wrong people, some of whom are actually dangerous.
- I try to avoid them, because:
- They end. Badly. And messily. And sometimes there is crying.
But that notwithstanding, people come to me, all, “Amy! Help me! I need advice!” and I try to give it, because I love my people, and I don’t want to leave them hanging out there with their sad faces all sad, you know? Who would do that? An asshole, that’s who would do that. And I like to be helpful.
I think people come to me because I’m practical about shit. Honestly, most of my advice consists of the following sentence:
“He/she is an asshole, and I love you and want to punch them in the neck for you. You need to get out of that relationship and find someone who is awesome enough for you, if, indeed, there is a person out there who can live up to the complete and total awesomeness of you.”
And I mean every single word of it. Well, maybe not the punching. I mean, I might WANT to punch, but probably I wouldn’t really punch. Mentally I’d punch. Or maybe with words, I’d punch. One time I emailed one of my friend’s exes a totally scathing email because he was an asshat. Then they got back together, and that wasn’t at all awkward. Oh, wait, yes, yes, it was, it was totally awkward. For the record, I still think he’s a total asshat, and someday I suppose I’ll see him in person and will have a very hard time keeping that sentiment from my face. My face is very transparent when it comes to asshattery.
So, anyway, I thought, you know what? With all of these people needing advice on ending their relationships, what does the interwebs have to say about this? I bet a lot. And I bet it’s better advice than a crazy cat person who’s kind of the most forever alone and, if given the choice between fourteen totally whole and honest and awesome men and one completely broken douchecanoe, would invariably fall head-over-heels for the douchecanoe, every damn time, BECAUSE SHE LIKES A PROJECT.
OK, this is already getting totally the most exciting, because the VERY FIRST ARTICLE I found is from Psychology Today. So you KNOW it’s going to have very good advice on how to handle a breakup. I mean, these are psychologists. They know what they’re talking about.
So Psychology Today gives us ten tips to survive a breakup. Well! I like tips. And survival. Will there be zombies? This is totally promising.
Cry all you want. You may be afraid to start because you’re fearful you’ll never stop, but you will. Um. Can I put a caveat on this? Sure, cry all you want, but probably do it over THERE. I have nothing against crying, but I have NO IDEA how to comfort you correctly if you’re doing so. I’m the worst at that. I’m all “there there” and awkwardly patting you on the shoulder and giving you a tissue and scoping out the exits and running through my excuses to leave in my mind because THIS IS AWKWARD FOR ME. So sure, cry away, Weepy Wanda, it’s good for the tear ducts, blah, blah, just probably do it on your own time, ok? Awesome. Thanks.
Do something every day to help yourself heal. Exercise, read, watch self-help DVDs, meditate, or pray. Well, this seems to be going in a direction I was not expecting, honestly. There are things missing from this list. Drinking. Drinking is missing from this list, Psychology Today. Also, self-help DVDs? I can’t imagine anything but Stewart Smalley from Saturday Night Live when I hear that, to tell you the truth, and I don’t know how much help that would be to anyone. Those calmy-calm voices make me want to stab a stranger.
Find emotional support. OK, yeah, sure, that’s good. But probably don’t just start spouting to anyone. Random strangers don’t want to hear how much Bob hurt you the time he gave you a bowling ball for Christmas instead of a necklace.
Don’t be a doormat. I like this one. YES. Good one, Psychology Today. Because listen, you’re already feeling like shit, so letting your ex walk all over you or make you feel small is only going to make things worse. I promise. You know what’s not doormatty? Thinking of stupid things they did while you were in your relationship that at the TIME you thought were SO EFFING ADORABLE and then mocking them to yourself, usually in a totally snarky voice. I mean, not that I’ve ever done that, or anything. Nope. Not me. Not at all.
Keep busy. Yeah, I’m with this one, too. If you sit around and mope, you’re going to just feel worse. Get out and do something. What? I don’t know, join a birdwatching club, what the hell do I know. Just don’t sit around and mope and think “NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME MOMMA.” Because that is ridiculous, and you are allowing that asshat to have a shit-ton of power over you. And do you really want to do that? No. No, you do not.
Don’t try to mask your pain by looking for a replacement. This is known as a “rebound relationship.” These never end well for anyone involved. People THINK they’re going to end well. People THINK, “Oh, this will up my self-esteem since I just went through this horrible thing.” No. No, it won’t. I mean, sure, you might be having all the sex with this new person, and listen, what’s wrong with all the sex? Very little, is what. But also, probably you’re still thinking about the other person, and what they’re doing, and what went wrong there, and the rebound thing isn’t doing much other than giving you a tree to scratch your back against, Yogi. Fix yourself first before moving on. Trust me.
Don’t spend too much time alone. I feel like maybe you didn’t have enough tips for ten and this is just a rehash of “keep busy,” right? Yeah, being around other people is nice, if that’s your thing. However, if being around other people makes you stabby, maybe don’t be around other people. It’s really whatever makes you feel better. Also, if the other people are all coupled up and whispering sweet nothings and kissing and kissing and kissing? That’s the worst, if you’re dealing with breakup shit.
Trust your feelings. This one is vague and imprecise. Dammit, Psychology Today. OK, I’m going to assume that this one is saying, “You knew all along that something was hinky, and you ignored your inner voice screaming ‘DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES FOR THIS PERSON.’ So move on, Sally, you knew all along this was an epic mistake.”
Take your time. Ugh, you know what I hate? Taking my time. I like things to happen IMMEDIATELY. I’m totally the instant-gratification generation. But yeah. Sometimes shit takes longer than you’d expect. It’s the worst. Sometimes you think, “A normal person would be over this by now.” No. It’s fine. Sometimes hearts take a little time to heal, is all. You’re not broken. You’re just taking a little while. You’ll be ok.
Research. I AM. I’m doing that RIGHT NOW. I love a research project like most people love things like shopping or football. BAM I GOT THIS.
OK. So that was…shit, kind of unhelpful. Let’s see what else the interweb has to offer.
Now, it’s 2012, and people are dating online, as well as off, right? RIGHT. And two of my nearest & dearest are dealing with internet relationships that have recently gone kablooey for one reason or another. WELL! Gizmodo, which is a website that I hate with the fire of a thousand suns because of that effing situation where they baited that adorable Magic: The Gathering player into dating one of their writers then excoriated him online for being *gasp* A GEEK, (please forgive the formatting there, it’s an old post I haven’t fixed) has compiled a guide of what to do when your relationship goes awry and you have to deal with the digital aftermath. OK, so I don’t look like a plagarist, I’m linking to it, but I’m telling you right now: DO NOT CLICK. Effing Gizmodo gets money every time you do. And I hate them so, so much and want them to go broke. But their article is the best one (read: the one I could mock the most easily) I found dealing with this shit, so I’m going with it.
So according to Effing Gizmodo (my official name for their site), when you break up with someone nowadays, you have to deal not only with the breakup, but the digital aftermath of the breakup. So here are some helpful tips.
Don’t break up via text-message, you balls-less moron. YES. Additionally: don’t disappear. I can’t even begin to tell you the stories I’ve heard where online people that you’ve been talking to forever just effing DISAPPEAR like they’ve contacted the plague. LISTEN ASSHATS. Is it a game? If so, what is your objective? I don’t get this. Did you win? Did you win the game? Are you a sociopath? I really am the most confused. How a “listen, this just isn’t working for me, sorry” message rather than a magician’s disappearing act isn’t better, I will never understand. CLOSURE IS A NICE THING.
Change your Facebook relationship status, but do it all tricky-like, otherwise it’ll hit the newsfeed and you’ll be all sad-panda and getting all kinds of “ARE YOU OK” comments. Or, here, this is better: don’t have a relationship status at all. Just leave that part invisible. Don’t your real friends know you’re dating or single anyway? Who cares what the other people think? I kind of don’t get that part of Facebook.
Save the digital photos of you two together, but delete emails, texts, and IMs. If you’re going to delete some, might as well delete it all, I’d think. Why do you want the photos and not the messages? All of that shit’s going to make you sad. When I was in college, I burned photos of my ex in the dorm laundry sink. It was the best. And I didn’t even set off the fire alarm! Total win.
Hide them from your Facebook feed and unfollow on Twitter, but do not block, because that is just TOO FAR. Really? That’s TOO FAR, Effing Gizmodo? I mean, it’s not like you’re stabbing them, you’re just blocking them. Why is that too far, exactly?
Don’t delete your ex’s number from your phone, but DO rename them: Gizmodo recommends “Gonorrhea Pants Jones.” ZOMG Gonorrhea Pants Jones. YES. That’s totally a name I want in my contacts list on my phone THANK YOU EFFING GIZMODO. No. No, delete their number from your phone. If you think you will need their number, send yourself an email with the number in it. Then, if you’re smart and you have Gmail, archive the email. You don’t have to see it every day, but you have it, and can search for it, in case you need it for some reason. Which you WON’T. Because you are BROKEN THE HELL UP.
Unfriend any of his or her friends you’ve friended on Facebook and Twitter. But what if his or her friends are awesome and better than he or she is? Because honestly, sometimes that happens. I can think of a few friends I have that are the result of ex-relationships that stayed with me once the relationship fizzled. I don’t think this slash-and-burn thing is really the best idea, to tell you the truth. Maybe his or her friends thinks he or she is an asshat, too?
If you are a woman, go to Craigslist for meaningless sex; if you are a man, avail yourself of all the online porn. WHAT THE HOLY HELL NO. I mean, sure, go get some internet porn, I don’t care. But women! You are better than going to Craigslist for meaningless sex. Seriously. You don’t need to do that. Did you not SEE the Craigslist Killer movie? I mean, come ON, it was on Lifetime and EVERYTHING. There are vibrators, you are aware of that, right? OK, just checking.
Re-establish online contact with your ex once you know you’ve really, really, REALLY moved on. Let me tell you about the exes I am still in contact with. There are…let’s see. Six? Six exes. No, I mean, there are INNUMERABLE exes, but six that I keep in touch with. There are two of those six that it’s not needle-in-the-eye painful to talk to, and that’s because DECADES have passed, and decades = a lot of water under the bridge. A LOT. The others…um…well, we’re still in contact, meaning, if I wanted to talk to them, I would know how to reach them? But I don’t. I mean, I totally don’t. Because they are EXES. And that is AWKWARD. And still HURTY. I suppose grownups get over such things? Sure, sure they do. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most grownup about such things. But seriously, think about this, do you WANT to be buddy-buddy with someone who rejected the shit out of you for whatever reason? No, seriously, do you? I mean, in a perfect world, that would be nice, wouldn’t it? So nice. But the world’s an imperfect place, what with the screws falling out all the time. For all the “I hope we can still be friends” there’s the cold, hard reality: you’re NOT friends. You STOPPED being friends when you started the relationship, whatever it was. Sure, someday, once all that water goes a’rushin under the bridges of life, maybe you can pick up and start friendshipping again. Stranger things have happened. But probably not. Because it is awkward, and the history makes it weird, and whenever you talk to the person, you’re thinking, “You rejected me. YOU rejected ME. What the hell? Who the fuck do you think you are? And why the fuck was I not good enough?”
OK, Gizmodo wasn’t all that helpful, either.
OK, fine, the interwebs have kind of failed me. Here’s a bonus for you. Here. Here is my advice for surviving a breakup. I gave a version of this to a lovely friend recently, and he reports it’s been working out for him very well (and yay, him, who I’m totally keeping anonymous, but you know who you are, so happy for and proud of you!) Also, P.S. – as much as I believe all of this, do you want to know something curious? It’s easy to GIVE someone advice, but when it comes to yourself, much harder to TAKE the advice. I find that interesting. Like, you know what you have to do, and you know what advice you’d give someone in your position, but when it comes to yourself, you don’t think the rules apply to you, or something. Someone should do a post about this. I NOMINATE ANDREAS. Because it is SCIENCY. Sort of.
- Stop talking to the person; stop seeing the person; stop 3 a.m. sad-emailing the person. You need to move on, and you’re not going to do that if you’re still in touch.
- Get rid of them on social sites; this ties into number one. If you see them all over the place, healing’s hard to do.
- Don’t beat yourself up. You’re awesome. Mistakes were made, sure. We’re human, and we make them. It’s part of being human. See it as a lesson learned; maybe you can’t see what the lesson is right now, but you learned something from it.
- Do things that make you happy. Write or paint or craft or game or read or watch a shit-ton of television or hang out with friends. Things that fill you up and things that are about you.
- It’s going to hurt. A lot. For a while. But one day, you’re going to wake up and realize, “Shit, I didn’t think about that person yesterday.” Then, a few days later, you’re going to think, “Wow, I went a couple days without thinking about that person.” And eventually, it’s going to be more days, and more days, and one day, you’re going to feel so light, like you could float away, because you’ve let it go. And it’s just the most awesome feeling, like your stomach is full of butterflies made of clouds, and things look beautiful again, and all is well, my little sunflowers.
And, if all else fails: you are awesome, and they are an asshole, and I want to punch them in the neck for you. And there is someone awesome out there, who will get to know you and realize, “Holy HELL but this person is a ton of awesome in a human-sized package.” And that is your person. And you are THAT person’s person. And all the shitty breakups along the way will have led you there, and all the chutes you fell through will have prepared you for this ladder.
But like I said, I’m the crazy cat lady, and why people keep coming to me for relationship advice, I couldn’t tell you. Also, stop crying on me. It’s hard to get snot out of a sweater.
(Psst, I was TOTALLY going to put some sort of funny broken-heart photo on here? But don’t EVEN do a search for “broken heart” in Google Images. ZOMG SO MUCH EMO I NEED TO BLEACH MY EYEBALLS. Also, there was a photo of someone who I think slit her wrists? And a kitty who hung herself for the loss of her love, or something? NO NO NO. Babes! Stop with the emo heartbreak artwork! It is counterproductive! And totally ick!)