It can be hard enough to move on from the end of a meaningful relationship without other people prying. While they may mean well, sometimes hashing out the details of your personal life isn’t exactly helpful when you’re still trying to wade through the emotional rollercoaster (and perhaps distract yourself from the topic entirely). If you’re wondering how to handle nosy questions about your breakup, I have some good news — there’s a super simple way to skirt the subject sans any potential awkwardness.
But let’s be clear on one thing first: You don’t owe anyone any information about your breakup, according to experts. Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, points out that particularly if you and your partner were together for a while and your friends and family got to know them, your loved ones may be interested to know more info because they formed their own attachments to your ex. If you kept all of your issues private, they might have been blindsided by the breakup, and their questions may simply be an attempt to get clarity on the situation. But all that said, you still don’t need to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable or compromises your ability to move forward.
Furthermore, it’s totally normal if you don’t want to answer nosy questions, whether about why you broke up, who made the decision, or where and when it happened. In fact, Martinez notes that even the simplest questions can cause frustration when you’re still in a vulnerable place post-split.
“It's difficult to process your own feelings with a lot of other voices in your ear voicing their opinions,” she adds. “So, creating boundaries is key when you're experiencing any hardship.”
Fortunately, experts agree you can avoid answering such questions while still being polite. The key is to be as honest and direct and possible.
“For a situation like this, it is better to address that you don’t want to talk about it rather than just changing the subject,” says Maria Sullivan, dating expert, and VP of Dating.com. “It is absolutely OK to tell the person asking that you would rather talk about something else.”
Martinez recommends saying something along the lines of, "I'm just not prepared to discuss it; there's a lot to process." Hopefully, that will be enough to end the conversation, but there may be instances in which a person continues to press for information. That’s why Martinez says it’s important to be clear on your boundaries — otherwise, you could be baited into a discussion you weren’t actually up for.
“Be careful not to fall victim to venting about what's going on before you're ready and especially if you're hoping to reconcile with your partner,” she explains. “People who care about you want reassurance that you're OK, and you don't need to divulge details to provide that.”
As Martinez points out, the people who love you will be far more interested in how you’re doing than all the nitty-gritty deets surrounding your breakup.
“Others are just looking for entertainment,” she adds, “and you're not responsible to provide that at all.”
So, if anyone starts asking questions that you don’t want to answer, you can politely let them know that you appreciate their concern and that you’re doing your best to take care of yourself during this difficult time — which means waiting until you’re ready to talk about the breakup. Keeping the focus on you and your well-being should send a super clear message that you’re going to be in control of when, where, and how you talk about the end of your relationship.
It's important to keep in mind that when your friends and fam bring up the subject, they likely aren't doing so to hurt you or make things more difficult. In all likelihood, it's because they genuinely care about you. But if that's the case, they should definitely be able to respect the boundaries you set up around discussing the breakup. After all, it was your relationship that ended, and therefore, your needs come first. While it may feel a little awk at first to shut their questions down, being clear and upfront about your boundaries is an essential act of self-care. And as assert yourself regarding what you will and won't discuss, you'll be able to take charge of your healing process in a super powerful way.
Maria Sullivan, dating expert
Pricilla Martinez, life coach