When you’re going through a breakup, one of your first instincts may be to pick up the phone. After all, you’re craving human connection — eagerly searching for some wisdom or advice that will help you to heal. While scrolling through your list of contacts, however, you’ll want to carefully consider which number you dial — there are certain people to avoid calling in order to protect yourself emotionally during this often painful phase.
As it turns out, most of us tend to turn to the ladies in our lives for some support: A survey from YouGov and the app LISTEN revealed that 27 percent of Americans would call a female friend after a breakup (and that goes for both men and women who were broken up with!). Another 17 percent of people would call their mom, and 10 percent would call a sibling or a male friend. Only four percent would call a non-immediate family member, and just two percent would call their dad or their former partner.
Of course, who you call when you’re dealing with the aftermath of a split depends on a number of factors. Still, there are some people that may not be able to offer the kind of comfort and guidance that you need.
I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t any kind of interaction better than nothing? But the fact is, a breakup can put you in a highly vulnerable state. That means you want to be extra cautious about who you seek advice from. Here are some other people experts say you may want to think twice about dialing after your relationship ends.
The Loved One Who Hated Your Ex
It may feel tempting to reach out to a friend or family member who disapproved of your ex once the relationship is over. Nothing like a good ex-bashing to help you move on, right? In fact, it’s best to think twice about going this route, according to relationship therapist Dr. Gary Brown.
“You may want to put some time and distance between you and a disapproving parent if they are taking the haughty position of, ‘I told you so!’,” he explains. “You don’t really need them pouring salt into the wound.
That’s not to say you must avoid anyone who wasn’t your ex’s biggest fan, however. Dr. Brown points out that if you feel confident that your disapproving friend or family member is able to be supportive regardless of their opinions while you grieve this loss, you likely don’t need to resist reaching out.
The Friends You Shared With Your Ex
Calling a friend seems like the sensible thing to do when you’re feeling like a straight-up struggle bus post-breakup. But you should carefully consider whether calling those friends you met through your ex will actually help you. After all, they may be unable to give you unbiased guidance since they’re friends with your former bae as well.
Dr. Brown notes that it’s important to be honest with yourself about your intentions in reaching out to a friend you share with your ex.
“Make sure that you are not using them to seek out information about how your ex is doing," he explains. "This will also prolong your suffering. There is more leeway here and you should listen to your inner gut about what is the best choice to make."
It’s also worth pointing out that calling them might put them in a very difficult position. That’s because friends you shared with your ex may feel caught in the middle while hearing from both of you, particularly if you put any pressure on them to choose a side.
Your Ex’s Former Flames
Perhaps you’re looking for a little dirt on your ex or a little insight into why their other past relationships didn’t work. But before you start reaching out to their other former partners, consider this: the information they offer may not actually help you to heal.
“For example, even though they might confirm that the ex is indeed demanding and critical, the details might not apply to your situation,” explains licensed clinical psychotherapist Dr. LeslieBeth Wish. “The history of a person’s love relationships is often a combination of repeating the same mistakes, over-correcting previous choices, misreading a person, or falling in love at a bad time in a person’s life. Your situation may not match the person’s state of mind and heart at the time. If you doubt that, remember that often one person’s ex is another great love match!”
According to Wish, it’s important to be aware that these exes also may not be over their breakups with your former bae, either.
“Keep in mind that the ex might not have your best interests at heart,” she adds. “He or she, for instance, might feel competitive with you or insecure.”
Remember that every relationship we have is unique, and therefore, the insight you gain from your ex’s previous partners may not only be irrelevant, but inherently biased.
Your Ex… Any Ex
It makes sense why your ex may be the first person you want to reach out to after a breakup. Maybe you’re hoping they’ll offer some words that give you more closure, or maybe you’re hoping they’ll have a change of heart. Either way, you’ll probably want to avoid dialing.
“If your relationship is truly over – not just a break but an actual breakup, then you are going to need some time to grieve the loss,” explains Dr. Brown.
Amanda Ruiz, licensed professional counselor and founder of The Counseling Collective, agrees.
“Keep in mind that the two of you broke up for a reason,” she says. “As hard as it may be, it would be best to not text or call your ex until you cool off, or are able to clarify what your goal in talking would be.
Dr. Brown suggests setting a no-contact time frame of 90 days — you’ll likely be far more clear-headed after a few months go by, and can reassess your intentions for reconnecting.
And while we’re on the subject of exes — it may not be the best idea to reach out to another past partner, either, unless you two happen to still share a platonic friendship. If you feel inspired to reach out to another ex, ask yourself what you’re hoping to gain from that conversation. As Ruiz points out, this can sometimes lead to a "rebound" situation, which may not necessarily help you to heal from your recent breakup.
So, who should you confide in?
Ruiz And wish both recommend reaching out to an empathetic friend, a wise and caring relative, or a trusted/respected therapist.
“Most of us are looking for reassurance after a breakup, so think through who is most likely to give you support and encouragement, rather than badmouth your ex,” adds Ruiz.
Wish emphasizes that it’s important to keep in mind that the primary goal of contacting others is to help you learn about yourself so that you can take away some wisdom from your breakup experience.
"Be clear when you listen to others that you focus on clarifying your reasons for breaking up, learning new insights about yourself and your ex, and bolstering the strength to change your dating choices," she explains. "Don’t make the experience a shared gripe session where you only get a bit of confirmation that you were smart to break up."
Don’t hesitate to pick up your phone whenever you’re struggling to cope with the aftermath of your breakup. A split can trigger a complicated wave of emotions, and talking it out has the potential to be immensely helpful. In fact, a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science revealed that analyzing your relationship with someone else makes you feel emotionally stronger, which in turn, gives you a boost of self-confidence. Researchers determined that confidence can then help you to move on more easily, because you may begin to grasp how successful and happy you can be without their ex.
Still, you’ll want to be careful about who you dial. To be clear, everyone’s circumstances and relationships are different, so there’s no “right” or “wrong” in terms of who to reach out to. However, your best bet is to connect with a loved one with an open heart and an open mind — that way, you’re most likely to glean the objective advice and support you need.
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