The Clichéd Advice That You Actually Do Need to Hear After a Breakup

It doesn’t matter whether you got dumped or did the dumping, “ending it” is hard. The really terrible part of it all is that, even if you know the relationship isn’t working, it doesn’t make healing from the breakup any easier.

Hey, aren’t feelings fun?

Somehow, even when you know the end is nearing, you end up crying, binging on junk food, and listening to your friends rambling on about the fleeting nature of love and the unknowability of life—not to mention a string of compliments that somehow make you feel worse (“If all of that is true, why don’t they want me?”). Inevitably, a lot of those reassuring words come in the form of clichés we’ve all told our heartbroken friends, but never ever want to hear ourselves.

You know what, though? Those sentiments are clichéd for a reason—they’re mostly true. Seriously, there is a reason that we say “there are other fish in the sea,” and not “there is no one else out there, you’re definitely going to die alone.” As annoying as they are, we all need to hear them after a breakup because more often than not they are accurate as hell.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

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This one is super annoying to hear and usually comes after particularly brutal dumpings of the “f**kboi” variety. Honesty time, guys. Right after getting viciously dumped most of us just want to start screaming, smashing the offending party’s belongings, and sending texts with some not-so-nice four letter words.

Our friends tell us that we can’t and why is that? Because, more often than not, if the way that they broke your heart makes you want to break their stuff, then they want to make you upset. They want to be validated by your anger and strong emotions towards them. If they need to ruin you in the breakup, then you rising above will probably ruin them.

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These are kind of “all purpose clichés” in the sense that they can apply to more than breakups, but it’s only really annoying after a breakup. Why? Because they’re the ones that you know are totally right, but can also feel like your friend is saying that your feelings of anger/rejection/betrayal/whatever aren’t valid. I promise you that’s not what they’re saying.

If you get dumped and your friend hits you with one of these, just accept that they aren’t telling you to suck it up. What they’re really saying is that human beings are incredibly adaptable and that, although you feel bad now, know that you will be fine. It can be annoying, but it’s such an important thing to hear when experiencing a romantic loss.

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This is actually a breakup cliché that I have mixed feelings about. While it’s totally, definitely, certainly true that there is someone else for you out there, most people don’t want to start thinking about who they’re going to date next while they’re crying over their lost love. I’ll give you a pass on being annoyed about this one unless you’re straight up asking your friends whether you’ll ever find love again.

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The “you’re too” variety of breakup clichés is tricky, because these kinds of things can trigger two very different responses. If you’re in the anger phase, then hearing stuff like this usually feeds your post-breakup hate fire. If you’re in the sad phase, then they can lead to self-loathing because you won’t be able to hear it or believe it—you’ll just build up the other person in your head that much more. It’s a hard line to walk.

That said, there is an important benefit on the “you’re too” selection. Sometimes, this kind of comforting can lead to pointing out incompatibilities that make you miss them less. Over time, hearing what the two of you didn’t have in common can help you realize just why it didn’t work out and alleviate the feelings of guilt at who ruined it.

The truth is that most relationships end not because someone did something unforgivable, but because the couple finally found the thing that was just too incompatible to overcome. No one’s view is necessarily right or wrong—they’re just too different to reconcile—and that’s actually okay.

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This is perhaps the most irritating breakup advice to receive but it’s also the most important to give. I’ve been met with a variety of reactions after insisting that this is true to heartbroken friends. Most often the response is “oh, is the reason me feeling like s**t?” or something to that effect, but I keep giving it because it is literally the most comforting thing to hear when something ends.

Saying that a relationship ending is “for the best” sounds trite, but there has never been a relationship in the history of the humanity that hasn’t ended for the better. The reality is that if someone doesn’t want to be with you (or you aren’t sure about wanting to be with them), then it is unequivocally better in the long run to not be with them.

Sure, maybe you’ll change your minds, get back together, and grow old together. That’s fine. You know what helped you make that decision? Not being together when you weren’t sure. Even though you got back together, not being together worked out for the best.

Just saying.