Why Some People Lean On Their Exes For Emotional Support After They Break Up

by Alexia LaFata
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Today, Nick Viall spoke for the first time about his breakup with Vanessa Grimaldi to Us Weekly, and one thing he said in particular struck me as odd: "Vanessa and I are still very much each other's support system," he said, in part. "We're trying to do that and it's a challenge at times, but we still realize that we're there for each other." Yes, you read that correctly: Nick and Vanessa broke up, and yet he's being the ex who's using her for emotional support after their breakup.

In a serious relationship, it's normal to see your partner as your best friend. When times got tough, you leaned on that best friend for comfort, support, and guidance. So it's understandable that the urge to do that still remains after a breakup, despite the fact that your best friend is the reason you're sad right now.

Nora Dekeyser, Matchmaker at Three Day Rule, believes Nick's interview with Us Weekly — especially when he says, "What helps me is just kind of believing in yourself" — shows how little self-esteem he has right now, which is influencing his desire to lean on Vanessa. Dekeyser believes Vanessa has strong, resilient qualities that Nick wishes he had: "Nick is grateful for Vanessa as a support system because he can see that Vanessa is a happy, confident person, and he wants those qualities for himself," she says. "It shows a strong woman to continue to support Nick through this breakup (since I am sure her heart is broken too)."

ABC/Terhi Tuovinen

For contestants who have been on The Bachelor, leaning on an ex after a breakup kind of makes sense, considering their unique circumstances, according to Susan Trombetti, Matchmaker and CEO of Executive Matchmaking. "There aren't many people that can relate to what they are going through but those two," she says. "Who else is he going to turn to but Vanessa?! They were normal people that put themselves in the spotlight, and all hell is breaking loose right about now. They pretty much only have each other to get through it."

But in real life, if an ex is leaning on you, "cut it," says Trombetti. "He can't have his cake and eat it, too. Delete him from social media and cut the contact. It's the best way to move on." Dekeyser agrees: "Many couples search for closure via communication which is understandable, but I normally advise couples to have a clean break. Respect each other's paths to move on and end the communication."

I've tried to lean on exes for emotional support after they broke up with me, and it did not go well (surprising no one). There's nothing an ex can say to make the situation better. The only thing they'll say is some variation of "I'm sorry," and trust me, nothing sends you spiraling deeper into a black hole of self-pity than hearing "I'm sorry" from someone who just dumped you.

Leaning on your ex for emotional support after you break up is pretty much the opposite of what you need to do to feel better. Find friends, family, or literally anyone else to seek comfort in, and cut your ex off cold turkey. And Nick and Vanessa, you guys should really do the same. Just make sure you don't both end up on Bachelor in Paradise. (Though, you'll probably end up at a Fit Tea party or two.)

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