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The Recovery's Up to You (and Good Ole Mom, of Course)!

October 26, 2006 By:
Adina Matusow, JE Feature
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Your friends can help support you after a breakup -- but don't cause another one by relying on too much sympathy too much of the time.

Everyone takes different amounts of time to get over someone they love. When a relationship ends, you look for as many ways as possible to fill the emotional void that your ex filled. You naturally turn to friends and family -- and let them become your lifeline.

A friend will tell you what to wear for a singles' night out, force you to go to the gym and advise you when your antics are over the top. Your friends play an integral role in your re-entry into the single world and, more importantly, help you through the tough times. You come to rely on them for help to get you through the anguish and the misery because quite honestly, you don't know what to do with yourself, and really need arms for support and an ear to listen.

Everyone takes different amounts of time to get over someone they love, and good friends will be there to do some serious listening. Just make sure you're not taking your friend's time or energy for granted! You are allowed to whine and vent, but only up to a point. And be careful how often you choose to vent with each friend.

Take turns expressing your sorrow and sadness, and open up to several friends -- not just one or two. It's hard to understand, but even the best of friends can get overwhelmed, or even put off by too much depressing conversation for too long. Sometimes, the friend you thought would always be there loses patience, and the friend you weren't that close with really pulls through. It can go either way.

The Give and Take of It

After my friend's divorce, she lost a couple of her close friends. "They stayed with me throughout all my sadness, but when they perceived I was getting better, they dumped me. They had been resentful, but hadn't told me because they knew I was in such a low place," she said.

"These are all really good people who stuck with me all the way through, but the friendship became defined by my sadness, and it was no longer a mutual friendship -- more like a therapeutic relationship -- so it didn't survive."

Friends are people with whom you exchange mutual love, support and affection. With a good friend, it is an unspoken understanding that sometimes you need to give more than you take, and sometimes you need to take more than you give. However, you can't expect a friend to put in 100 percent all the time. You have to remember that no matter how much you need, you must remember to give as well.

Because a friendship is a "mutual exchange" and it is important that you care, ask how your friend is doing. Ask what is going on in his or her life, but be sure to really listen. Don't just ask the questions and tune out.

It's good to vent -- it feels good to do so -- but trying to be the center of attention by always being miserable or in crisis is more likely going to harm a friendship than elicit the type of positive results you really seek. When you feel emotionally desperate, you feel like you're in competition with the world for some attention. It's your job to figure out how to control such needs and become the kind of person others want to be around.

You also have to realize when a friend has had enough. Even if all your friends understand what you're going through, they didn't just break up, too. No one wants to luxuriate in your pain. The fallout from a breakup is intensely personal, and no one cares about it as much as you do (except for maybe a mother). And that's a hard reality.

The biggest realization I had when my ex broke up with me was that, ultimately, all I had was myself. No matter how many people I had in my life who loved me and wanted to take care of me, I still had to rely on myself. This can be scary, but it's also an important realization that only leads to self-improvement.

I should take a moment to mention that while I was getting my life together, I was lucky to have someone in my life who went above and beyond the duties of a friend. This was, of course, my mother.

We've all been heartbroken and it stinks, but maybe we all need to have a little more patience for our friends who have yet to move on.

In your time of crisis, realize that not all people can give as much as you need. Rely on yourself (and maybe your mom) to start the healing process.

E-mail your dating stories to: adinaleah@yahoo.com.

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