Not long ago, I learned a very important lesson about how to handle another person's breakup. A friend of mine had been seeing a girl for almost three years, and it was rocky from the get-go. She is very attractive, but in a you-better-get-tested kind of way, and my buddy is just kind of a normal, boring guy who thought he had hit the sexual jackpot. After years of abuse, cheating, shouting matches and makeup sex, he finally called the whole thing off.
Some close friends of his, myself included, rallied around him in support of his decision. We told him exactly what we thought of her, and our vitriol was exacerbated by too much booze. We used words like "whore" and "succubus" to describe her, and might have disparaged her parentage. We also encouraged him to find a woman who doesn't have to check her overly tanned skin in as luggage every time she flies (that was my line).
Now they are back together, and we can't take back all the horrible things we said about her. To make matters worse, he told her everything we said -- even my comment about her awful, fake-baked skin.
Of course, we should have known they'd get back together. He's too insecure to find someone worthy of his doting, and she probably missed manipulating him like a marionette.
I asked him why he told her everything we said about her, and his response was, "I didn't want to hold anything back," or something like that. I translated that to mean, "I wanted to show her that I was a good boy, oh yes I am, oh yes I am."
Now I have to see the two of them all of the time. I've already hung out with them once, and she and I "cleared the air." I told her that I only said those things because my buddy doesn't have a mean bone in his body (or a backbone, apparently), and can't see the bad in anyone. I felt as if he would get over her more easily if I could cast her as the villain. I added that I didn't mean any of it, and I just want him to be happy.
She forgave me, we hugged, and she spent half of the evening making passive aggressive comments about how she had to watch what she said around me. The other half she spent draped all over my friend like a cheap sweater, giving his tonsils frequent tongue baths. It was equally tense and gross.
I learned some invaluable lessons. A.) One of my closest friends would sell me out in a heartbeat, if the prospect of sex is dangled before him. B.) His deeply-rooted need for approval governs his sense of self worth. C.) Never talk sh*t about a friend's ex until you know the relationship is over. Give it at least a year. D.) Don't tell your friends you write an anonymous advice column, so when stuff like this happens you can publish it.
It's easy to get carried away bagging on your friend's ex. But let them do the insulting. All you have to do is agree with everything they say. In many long relationships, the first breakup never takes. And it's important to remember, there are some things you just can't take back.