Full disclosure: my friends and I have dated a lot, and it has not always (or even often) gone smoothly. A nice way to put it might be “romantic misadventures.” A less nice way might be “prolonged, repeated episodes of masochistic dysfunction.” I have definitely treated my friends like therapists—except I don’t pay them, refuse to limit my sessions to an hour, and don’t hesitate to call them crying at two in the morning even when they have a big important meeting in the morning (sorry, Katie! If you get fired the next round is totally on me!)—and they’ve done the same to me.
As such, we have uttered just about every banal post-breakup platitude there is— “he didn’t appreciate you,” “you deserve better,” “he was a flat-earther who stole your money,” you know, the usual.
But one thing I will absolutely never say, and hope to never hear uttered by even the most well-meaning of friends? “You just pick the wrong guys.”
First off, you don’t really “pick” who you fall for. Love isn’t a game show where you spin a wheel and take home whatever is behind door number three. Telling someone they picked the wrong person disrespects the validity of their feelings. Just because it ended badly doesn’t mean that whatever they saw in that person, whatever attraction, connection, and affection they felt, was faulty or foolish.
This also absolves people of the responsibility of examining their choices. I mean, okay, maybe we’re all just animals running around trying to mate with whoever’s pheromones trigger our fertility glands or whatever, but I like to believe there’s a little more reason behind why we choose to be with the people we do. Even if those aren’t always the best or healthiest reasons, they deserve respect and require accountability.
You shouldn’t shame someone for choosing the person they did, nor should you let them off the self-reflection hook if that choice turns out to be an unhealthy one; writing off bad relationships by saying “You just pick the wrong guys” does both.
Relationships may not all be good experiences but they are all learning experiences, so instead of telling your friend they made a bad choice, try asking them why they made that choice and what they learned from it.
And in the meantime, comfort them with more productive words of wisdom…like slights on his penis-size, or how at least now she doesn’t have to deal with his mom.