Criticizing Your Best Friend's Ex After A Breakup Isn't Wise. Here's Why

Watching someone go through a breakup is painful. When that person is your best friend, that pain is amplified, and being privy to it can be heartbreaking. Witnessing the suffering of someone we love can make it difficult to know what to say and how to be there for them. We want to give them the support and empathy they need in a healthy way, but that's not always easy when you know the source of their pain: their ex. Because of this, it can feel like the best way to help during their time of need is to drag that ex as much as you can. But hold up. 

"It's very easy to connect on pain and that actually doesn't help you in the long run," relationship expert Amy Chan told Insider. "It's like having junk food. You feel good in the moment and it's actually detrimental for you later on."

As much as it might feel good to talk smack about their ex, think your motives through. Is it really helpful to tell them their ex totally sucked and you've been waiting for this day? Hard no. Not only is that not what your BFF needs to help them move forward, but it could lead to issues in the future. Although your best bet in this scenario is to listen, if you do feel the words bubbling up in your throat, sugarcoat them. You may prefer the salty route, but you know what they say about honey.

It can be hurtful

While trash-talking your friend's now-ex might seem like a good way to show them you have their back, it could cause more harm than good. Maybe you were able to keep to yourself how awful the ex was all this time, or maybe you didn't think they were that bad, but if you're offering up the trash talk as a means to console, your friend might think you weren't being honest or they may feel judged for their relationship.

No one wants to think they have bad taste in partners or that their friends have been silently judging them for months or even years because of the person they dated. It can not only feel like a betrayal but can also induce embarrassment. Your friend has enough going on with the breakup, so don't make it worse by piling on more things for them to feel sad about. Instead, let them vent. Let them talk all the smack in the world while you listen — there's really no sense in pouring more fuel on the fire. You want to calm your friend down with support, not give them more reasons to wallow in despair or, even worse, take the revenge route. You're there to offer love, empathy, and rationality; not hateful mayhem.

It might emotionally push them back to their ex

Because no one wants to think they're wrong or that they have bad intuition, if you criticize your friend's ex, it could backfire in a way that you may not have expected: they'll try to get back together with them or, at the very least, continue to try to be part of their lives.

"We engage in cognitive strategies [to] help us maintain a positive image of our relationship and our partner," clinical psychologist Rebecca Cobb told Vice. "So if we see that disapproval (from friends) as interference, then we might actually react in such a way as to defend our feelings about the relationship and maintain a sense of connection to the partner, even if other people don't like that person."

When people are told what they don't want to hear, there can be a need to prove those thoughts and statements wrong. Although you don't want to treat your friend like a child, if you want to keep them away from their ex for good, you're better off using reverse psychology. Instead of berating the ex, you may want to stay as neutral as possible — as difficult as that may be — as a way to protect your friend from making a mistake like running back to that ex.

You might lose them

While losing a friend is always a concern if you're too honest or really drive home just how vile you think their ex is, if that friend gets back together with that ex, you just might lose them. Just think about it: you've laid out all the reasons why they're better off, you've highlighted all the things that are bad about them, and now they're back together. How do you expect your friend to respond? If they felt a sense of hurt or embarrassment as you threw out a barrage of negative stuff about their ex (no matter how warranted), you better believe they'll struggle to look you in the eye if the two get back together. If that's the case, your friend may end up choosing their partner over you.

When people are blinded by love and lust, it's hard to see down the road and have a rational grasp on how things may end up. Although it might ultimately be a bad idea if your friend trades you in for their partner, that's not something they have in their mind as a possibility when they get back with that ex. You don't want to lose your best friend over something that you could have prevented, so keep your lips sealed. 

Someday it might be your turn

It doesn't matter if you're single now or not, someday you may find yourself in a relationship and that relationship might end. If it does, the first person you're likely to turn to is your best friend and what do you want them to say to you? As much as you may be hurting, you probably don't want them to point out all the things that were wrong about your relationship with your ex and how horrible they always thought your ex was. You just don't, no matter how angry and devastated you might be. You want your friend to lift you up, not drag you further down the rabbit hole. 

With the possibility of it someday being your turn, choose your words wisely. Think about what you'd want to hear if you were in the same spot and go from there. If you can't say anything positive from which your best friend can benefit, then let them cry on your shoulder while you just listen. As much as you might be stoked that your BFF is rid of the dead weight that's their ex, their mental and emotional state is far more important. So focus on them and their worth, not the ex who probably never deserved them in the first place.