It’s a fine summer afternoon. Maybe you’re lounging by the pool enjoying a Michelob Ultra or some other, better, beer. Maybe you’re out on a rooftop bar or hitting the links. You feel a rumbling in your pocket, indicating an incoming text. Your friend just got dumped. He or she needs alcohol and commiserating.
When you walk into the nearest dingy dive bar (don’t take them to some swanky club with fancy drinks and attractive people, this situation requires dim lighting and for them to see people doing worse in life), you think of what you can say to cushion this blow. No one really knows what to say in this situation. Frankly, there’s nothing that you really can say following a breakup. But please, for the love of God, do not say any of the following over-used and nonsensical cliches.
“There’s plenty of fish in the sea.”
If you don’t understand how dumb this is, imagine if you have a dog and after it dies someone comes over and says, “Hey man, there’s plenty of other dogs out there that will love you.” You would justifiably get punched in the throat for being an asshole.
Yeah, sure, there are other guys/girls out there but your friend loved that one. You cannot just replace someone or something that was such a big and important part of your life. Also, unlike a dog, your friend can’t just go down to the shelter and adopt someone new to date. Unless they’re an Instagram model, in all likelihood they’re going to have some single struggles in the post relationship world as they scramble to find someone who is better than or equal to their ex and also wants to date them. I know that patience is one of the keys to fishing, but we live in a world where we can find five possible mates on Tinder and our President spews whatever thought pops into his addled, pea-sized brain. We don’t got time for patience, and trust me, I could catch a hundred fish before I find someone worth dating out there.
So yes, there are other fish in the sea. But don’t say that shit after the fish robbed your friend, snapped his or her legs, and left him in the middle of the desert.
“When God closes a door, he opens a window.” / “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
I get it, you want to remind your heartbroken amigo that this unfortunate turn of events might be an opportunity to bigger and better things. The only problem, much like these metaphors, is that their life was fine before. You know what’s easier than climbing through a window? Going through a fucking door. In this metaphor, the door was right in front of him and the open window is hidden somewhere in the dark alcoves of the room. Really fucking helpful.
Furthermore, you do know that you can’t make lemonade straight out of lemon juice, right? You need water and sugar, otherwise, you’re just drinking sour lemon extract. So the fact remains unless life also had the generosity to hook you up with other ingredients, you’re still left with some worthless lemons. The point is, yeah, things might get better going forward but that doesn’t change the fact that your friend feels like shit now. Their life was going one way and now, all of a sudden, it got harder and they don’t have a plan. Unless he/she knew that the relationship was toxic, this doesn’t immediately scream upgrade.
“It wasn’t meant to be.” / “Everything happens for a reason.”
Oh, hooray, you just got your heart annihilated because the universe or some higher power has deprived you of any free will. Doesn’t that ease your heartache, knowing this terrible pain was inevitable and there was no possibility for you to have happiness? I suppose it’s comforting to some to believe that there is some purpose when they feel heartache, but please don’t act like you know it “happened for a reason.” No one knows if there was a reason for this, or if it’s just the random nature of life. Maybe it was, in fact, meant to be but somehow I fucked it all up?
And if it wasn’t meant to be, do you somehow know what is meant to be next? Couldn’t you have told me, “Hey, maybe don’t get that attached to this girl” or cautioned me about moving in with her? The fact is, no one knows if anything is or isn’t meant to be, and acting your current anguish will result in something better coming along is bullcrap. Some people spend their entire lives miserable and die alone. What if that’s what is “meant to be?” Thanks for putting that depressing shit out there. Your friend definitely didn’t have that thought crossing their mind after taking an emotional grenade to the face.
“(S)he wasn’t the one.”
Christ almighty, this shit.
Look, I’ll buy the idea that some people are better suited for each other, or that two people can be unbelievably compatible. But there are seven billion people on this planet. Take away half who are the same gender as you, then another ten percent of that half who don’t bang people of your gender, another twenty or thirty for the too young or too old, maybe another ten for people who are eligible to bang but are married. I’m shit at math, but that’s not a lot of people left over to be the one. And that doesn’t even take into account geography, compatibility, mutual attraction, whether you’re both mentally ready for love, whether you’re hung up on someone else, or any other shit.
Even if you meet the one, will you two automatically fall in love or could you fuck it all up? I’ve always said that I pray I haven’t met “the one” in my life because I’ve been an awkward shithead for the 28 years I’ve spent on this Earth. If there is one girl for me and I’ve already met her, I’ve absolutely driven her away faster than a rabid dog in front of a meat wagon. By sheer statistic probability alone, finding “the one” should be like winning the lottery. Yet there are people every day who remain happily married. So either there’s some invisible power directing you to “the one” or these happy people didn’t meet the one and it doesn’t matter.
Or, more likely, no one has any clue if any of this shit is even real, so who cares.
“You have to love yourself first.”
Oh, okay. I guess I’m dying alone then. Seriously, does anyone out there in the world love themselves? Just pure uncompromised happiness, with no insecurities, fears, or self-doubt? If so, I’d like to meet this person and deliver the swift, emotional ass-kicking that’s somehow eluded them their whole life. I understand the principle that if you’re just unhappy in your own life that isn’t attractive because you’ll put all your dependence on your partner and smother them. But let’s be honest, most people like relationships because the other person validates them in some way and makes them feel better about themselves. That’s not a bad thing.
If I had to reveal my deepest romantic fear, it’s not ending up alone. It’s ending up stuck with someone who never makes me feel like my life with her is better than it would be alone. If you are an actively destructive person, who requires intervention, rehabilitation, or massive psychiatric treatment, then yeah, get that taken care of first. But don’t act like the reason your friend got dumped again is that they have some self-esteem issues.
“It is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.”
I am uniquely qualified to address this. In my past, I fell for a girl. We weren’t dating, but we were very good friends. We did a lot of pseudo-dating activities. I asked her out, she said yes. She then proceeded to break my heart into so many tiny pieces that Dr. Cox’s grandmother – who can finish a 1000 piece puzzle of clear blue sky in under an hour – would never be able to put it back together. Even if she did go back in time to when her eyesight was perfect.
Long story short, she did everything that screamed that she was into me then balked on the first actual date we went on by saying she’d “rather just be friends.” Somehow, I fell for a girl and got my heart broken, but also didn’t. It was Schroedinger’s romance, somehow existing and not existing for a brief window in time. If I could go back in time and not have to go through that, just be friends with her knowing it would never be anything more, I would do it without hesitation. Trust me, folks, never having loved sucks but having loved and lost sucks far worse. .
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