How Breakup Cliches Miss The Mark


Olivia Lucero

At Mend, we’re constantly reading stories about heartbreak, listening to how you mend, and paying attention to all the advice out there on how to recover from a breakup. We know that after a while, it’s hard to tell what’s cliche and what needs to be said, which is why our Facebook group for Menders is such a special part of our community. We know what the cliches are, and it’s a space where we can avoid them. Sometimes cliches are genuinely helpful, and sometimes the people trying to help miss the mark completely.

“Just get over it.”

Thank you so much for this groundbreaking expert advice! Why didn’t we think of that? Sarcasm aside, this is terrible advice and a very unfortunate cliche. Clearly, if we could “just get over it,” we would. This is a pretty insensitive thing to say, and don’t be afraid to tell that to the person who offers that tip. There is no magic pill, but our blog post “How to Get Over Your Ex” is a good place to start. Also, check out Elle’s post-breakup tips in The Chalkboard Mag, “I’ve Been Through Nine Breakups, Here’s What I’ve Learned.”

“Time heals all wounds.”

What a brand new concept! If we had a minute for every time we’ve heard this one, maybe enough time will have passed to finally get over the breakup. Right? Apparently, that’s how it works, according to everyone. In reality, time does not heal all wounds. If you take away everything that helps you recover and only leave time, you will definitely not recover. Mending is absolutely not a passive process that only takes time, it takes a whole lot of action. Action takes time, so in that sense, yes, it takes time to heal. Time itself, however, does not do the healing.

“Love yourself first.”

We already do love ourselves, thank you very much. We also happened to love this other person and are having a difficult time learning how to stop loving them. Loving ourselves doesn’t magically make the love we have for someone else go away. We know this cliche essentially means that you should not rely on love from other people to make you feel whole, but rather, love within yourself should make you feel whole. While that is absolutely true, this cliche offers no practical tips on what loving yourself actually means or looks like, or why it’s necessary. Simply telling someone to love themselves will make a confident person roll their eyes and an insecure person even more insecure.

“If it’s meant to be it will be.”

The implication with this cliche is that you need time apart “right now” to “work on yourselves” but in the end “if it’s meant to be it will be.” While this cliche may be true, it’s essentially telling us that it’s okay to hold on to hope for a future reunion because maybe they will come back. This is super unhealthy. It is nearly impossible to mend while also holding on to the hope of getting back together.

“I never liked them anyway.”

While this cliche is meant to be funny or lighthearted, it just makes us want to defend our ex, which means we have to think about all the amazing qualities our ex did have. One of the many perks of seeing a therapist is that they can’t insert their opinions on your ex because they never met!

“Focus on yourself.”

Similar to the “do self care” cliche, this is perhaps the only helpful one. This heartbreak is a time for reflection, growth, and transformation and those all occur within yourself. So, focus inward. You will learn more about yourself every day if you keep a journal and learn to process your thoughts and emotions. Figure out who you are without your ex, what you like, what you don’t like, try new things, meet new people, journal, exercise, meditate, find a hobby, read. What a wonderful time to explore your own mind! Here are 22 tips on how to practice self care.

Sometimes we don’t actually want advice, we just want our thoughts to form verbal words. Check out How to Comfort a Friend Who’s Heartbroken. It’s important to tell your loved ones what you need: advice, a listening ear, opinions, or other. They mean the best.

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