It must be breakup season or something because I’ve had quite a few emails asking about how to cope with breaking up, particularly after applying the No Contact Rule or even the slightly less daunting Get Out Plan.
I’ve done the 10 Commandments of Breaking Up but in ten posts I’m going to dig a bit deeper and apply my thoughts on breaking up and moving on to The Ten Commandments of Coping and Moving On After a Break Up series. The first one….Thou shalt cut off this ‘Let’s be friends’ mallarky
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are three key reasons why the friendship term gets bandied around after a breakup.
a) Guys in particular get to convince themselves that they are less of a sh*t than they really are if they can claim ‘friendship’.
b) It leaves the door open for slinking back in for some ‘just for old times sake sex’ and also for keeping tabs on each other.
c) It let’s the person who doesn’t want to let go of the relationship hold on to the fantasy of getting back together in a boy-meets-girl-but-a-series-of-disasters-get-in-the-way-and-eventually-they-get-back-together-because-they-realise-that-they-complete-each-other in a real life rom com.
Friendship after you break up is rarely about ‘friendship’ – there tends to be hidden agendas.
If friendship is truly the expectation, it can wait until at least 3-6 months after you have broken up.
You need time to breathe after a breakup! Why the hell are we putting ourselves through the torture of playing ‘let’s be friends’ and then going home and crying ourselves to sleep?
“Can’t I have a bit of space to heal?” I yelled at an ex once. “We’ve just broken up because you are not on planet commitment and now you want to hang out?”
Being friends with an ex straight after you break up is for chumps. You will find yourself on Manipulation Street so quickly, you will end up living in this sub reality where you are doubting your instincts.
“Did he just flirt with me?” is running through your mind but you just can’t be sure…and you’re worried about making a fool out of yourself and ruining things.
Being friends with your ex is a distraction and obstacle to coping and moving on because you don’t have time to think about healing from the breakup because you’re too busying fannying around with friendship etiquette.
A perfectly reasonable guy that can distinguish between his arse and his elbow and isn’t 1) a playa or 2) emotionally unavailable, will respect your request to step back and have some breathing space.
If you are dealing with a playa player or Mr Unavailable, they totally disregard your feelings because their needs come centre stage. You tend to be more attractive when you tell them to beat it.
They’ll have a three-pronged approach to staying in your life:
1) Ego massaging by ensuring that they stay front of mind by sending emails, texts, phoning, or even turning up on your doorstep when they suspect you may have started to forget them.
2) Keeping you dickmotised. Never, ever let a man relegate you from girlfriend to F*ck Buddy. Don’t let sex blind you. You can’t get over a breakup and shag at the same time. The two things don’t mix!
3) Keeping you on ice to ‘fall back’ on. It’s a bit of a dog in a manger situation – they don’t want you but they don’t necessarily want you to stop wanting them, particularly if they find themselves without an ego massage from elsewhere.
So what do you do when your ex asks if you can be friends or is pestering you and interrupting your healing and grieving?
Tell him straight up that you don’t want to be in contact for a while.
Polite route first: It’s nice to know that you want to be friends and no doubt we will be…but let’s leave things for a while and catch up in say, 3 months?
You can even say: As you can appreciate, we’ve just come out of a relationship and I think it’s best to put some space between us.
Semi polite: Look, I know you want to see if I’m alright, but we just broke up! I have to go but I’ll give you a call soon. (And hang up before they can answer)
Note – ‘soon’ is a word that Mr Unavailables in particular love saying to keep things vague. Now you use it.
Not so polite: Are you getting some sort of enjoyment out of calling me up and upsetting me? I thought you wanted to break up! You’re probably calling me more now than you did when we were together!
Angry: Just get medieval but obviously don’t let it get so out of hand that they actually think you give too much of a toss.
But remember that the best remedy for a man that doesn’t understand what breaking up means is the No Contact Rule – perfect for people that don’t have anything to give but won’t leave you alone.
Keep busy. I will be writing a separate post about keeping occupied but if you have a lot of time to be hanging with your ex or taking his calls, or sitting there thinking about him all day, you have too much time on your hands.
Stop worrying about what he’s doing, where he’s doing it, and who he’s doing it with and start worrying about you. Don’t do this friendship BS so that you can keep tabs on him because you will have more of a window into his life than you need.
Tell your friends not to pass on gossip about him. It’s better to cold turkey it out, feel the pain and move on, because living off titbits of information about him will stall the healing.
But what if he really loves me but doesn’t yet know what he’s lost?
I doubt that he has suddenly and miraculously realised in the space of a day or a week, and distance gives objectivity. Rather than getting back together in a knee-jerk reaction to the pain of breaking up or the insecurity of being single, get back together after a break and do it for the right reasons.
I always ask when people break up and get back together very quickly: What’s changed? If you haven’t resolved the issues that took you to Splitsville, trust me, they’ll be right there with you when you get back together.
Check out Commandment 2: Thou shalt not obsess
Check out Commandment 3: Thou shalt stop fearing the pain of breaking up and confront it.
Check out Commandment 4: Thou shalt stop doubting yourself and get angry.
Check out Commandment 5: Thou shalt be accountable
Check out Commandment 6: Thou shalt understand WHY and do something with the knowledge
Check out Commandment 7: Thou shalt forgive…but not forget…but don’t cling.
Check out Commandment 8: Thou need to get a life!
Check out Commandment 9: Thou mustn’t give up on love.
NML is the editor of Baggage Reclaim.