AdviceHey, Bonita!

How Do I Help My Friend Move On After a Bad Breakup?

Dear Bonita,

My friend just broke up with her boyfriend of four years. I’m great friends with both of them, and I was friends with them before they ever started dating. Things ended pretty badly, but she’s ready to get over it and move on.

Him, not so much. He calls me a lot and asks me about her, though I refuse to share any information. It’s not my business, and I don’t want him pulling me into this, but he still manages to by insisting that he’s just trying to make sure she’s safe. He gets really emotional and talks a lot about missing her and needing to talk to her, and he won’t listen about just leaving it alone.

He’s starting to creep me and my friend out. She is able to keep far away from him, so I think he sees me as his connection to her, and he won’t leave me alone. He’s a very old friend of mine, and I feel for what he’s going through, but I can’t deal with all this pining and how he’s constantly bothering me about her. I wanna help my friend move on, but he seems determined not to.

You didn’t ask a question, but I can sense what it is: What do you do about your lovelorn, bothersome friend? Your boy’s heart is broken, clearly. My guess is he must have been the catalyst for the split, because he seems to be working with some major guilt here. Why else would he be wondering if she’s safe? He lost his “protector” role before he was ready to relinquish it.

I’m glad your friend is able to keep her distance from this guy, because he sounds pushy as hell. But I respect his heartbreak, too, and I know how it feels to be blindsided by a breakup and unable to cope. You’re right—he can’t handle the distance that his ex has put between them so quickly, and he’s using you to try to get to her. That’s not fair to you, because you’re his friend, too, and you have a life and a relationship with this guy that began before those two ever even got together. You need his friendship, his ear and his support, and his pain is making him act like a bad friend.

Your buddy needs to get his shit together. Maybe he’s holding out for her to give him another shot, but he shouldn’t be doing it like this. If they’re gonna get back together, it’ll happen no matter what he does, so he might as well be happy. Holding on to suffering allows us to avoid coping and healing, which can be scary if it means letting go of something we really loved or needed at one point in our lives.

Your boy is at that existential crossroads right now, and he should take the path towards healing. I don’t think he needs therapy—maybe just some good social time with you and other friends. Do the things he did before he settled into a long-term relationship, or continue hobbies he developed during that time. Hike the botanical garden, go to a show, ride bikes, whatever. He seems entirely too distraught to start dating just yet, but maybe seeing some eligible bachelorettes in public will remind him of his age, his potential and the fact that he has plenty of time to get it right.

Go grab your buddy and take him to have some fun, whatever “fun” might mean to you two. He needs to remember that life is good regardless of his relationship status. He’ll come back around.

He’s great! But he smells awful! What do I do?

Tell him so! Ask him to take showers and wear clean clothes when you’re gonna hang. If he’s mature, he won’t have a problem with that, and you can continue to date this great guy. You’re allowed to have standards, darling.

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