Situation #10 – The unexpected ex.

28 05 2008

The situation: You sweetly and innocently ask your friend how his or her boyfriend or girlfriend is doing, only to learn that they broke up last week.

The solution: First, you are entitled to some righteous indignation, so start by lacing into them with a “Dude! Why didn’t you update your Facebook status? How was I supposed to know?” Follow this up with an exasperated sigh.

Next, you’ll probably feel an urge to console your friend with some variation of “Well, he was a douchebag anyway. You’re better off.” Although well-intentioned, this tack is ill-advised for several reasons:

  1. Even if it’s true, your friend still misses that douchebag, and so it’s kind of insensitive and dismissive.
  2. It raises the question of why you let your friend date a douchebag for so long in the first place. (Explain THAT!)
  3. It will give rise to future situations of social awkwardness should they ever get back together.

Your best option (and also the one carrying Buddha’s seal of approval) is to take the middle path. You shouldn’t rhyme off a laundry list of character flaws in your friend’s ex that will make her sorry for dating him. Nor should you join her in lamenting the failed relationship. Instead, find a petty criticism of her ex, one that is unrelated to his actual character.

For example: “The guy wore transitions lenses. I mean, did you really see yourself with a guy who is too lazy to take off his sunglasses when he gets inside?”

Then give him a ridiculous nickname, like Old Transitiony Lens James. Now you can refer to him by this ridiculous name in future conversations with your friend. Speaking in such coded language will enhance your friendship. Plus, she’ll think you’re hilarious!

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