I have a friend, whom I'm not especially close to. After his breakup from his long-time girlfriend (> 5 yrs) he started sending me a lot of texts with mostly very mundane contents. I usually text little back (what is there to text, when someone sends pictures of new drinking glasses that look very... well, just normal?). I understand he's probably lonely after the breakup and seeks alternative attention, but I'm not interested in providing such outside what's usually common between superficial friends.

Since I've already been accused of being very unsympathetic (which I don't deny), but also slowly get annoyed of the constant random texts, I wonder:

Is there something like an average "expiration date" up to which one has to be nice and understanding to a "not-best-friend" (of opposite gender, if it makes any difference)? If yes, how long would this be? I haven't had any relationships that long nor have I experienced any extremely hard break-ups.

Note: I have the impression, I'm the best (?) female friend among many, many male friends, albeit not being very close. I have considered that sometimes men find it easier to talk to women about emotional topics than to other men, but he doesn't seem to talk about the break-up (I have offered to listen, but haven't pushed after he didn't). I'm actually not really interested, just thought one usually should offer.

  • Why do you feel the need to handle him with kid gloves, at all? Jan 3 '18 at 14:43
  • I had the impression you have to be nice to people after a break-up, at least for some time. But then I thought it was weird that he complained for not getting enough attention.
    – Sara D.F.
    Jan 3 '18 at 14:47
  • Then he's not your friend. At best he's just an acquaintance. Your question depends on your patience. How long can you pretend for? Jan 3 '18 at 14:52
  • The line between "close acquaintance" and "not-close friend" is a little ambiguous for me, but that's where I would place him. If the social norm would be, 3 months (just as an example), I could pretend for that long even if I was annoyed. If it was 6 month I would at least try. But if it was only 1 month, I would simply stop after that. I'm asking because I'm a little awkward with social norms.
    – Sara D.F.
    Jan 3 '18 at 15:02
  • 1
    I'm not sure that we can answer your question as such a period probably varies greatly between individuals. Jan 3 '18 at 15:07

Is there something like an average "expiration date" up to which one has to be nice and understanding to a "not-best-friend" (of opposite gender, if it makes any difference)?

There's no rule that I've ever heard of. It is all very situational, based on your relationship to the person, how that person is taking the breakup, and your personality (do you want to be nice, or are you more of a cynical / "tough love" type?).

Typically, people express their sympathies once and then take cues from the other person. It's generally nice to avoid certain topics, e.g. gushing about your own relationship, for a bit (maybe a few weeks or so), but unless they have asked you to stop or been obviously uncomfortable, there's no requirement to treat them so delicately.

If you are annoyed by the constant random texts, back off from responding to them (which he might see as encouragement). If he accuses you of being unsympathetic, tell him that you are sorry for his plight but that you are uncomfortable with this new development. Being broken up with does not entitle him to demand attention from the nearest female presence! If you're willing to entertain him, that's very nice of you, but if not, let him know he needs to find a different source of attention.


IMO it depends on how well you know the person and how often you see them.

There isn't really a 'period of niceness' with these things, it's essentially how much you know/value the person and what you can live with doing about it.

For me personally, I don't really respond to mundane stuff like pictures of drinking glasses if it's someone I barely know as that just encourages more of the same.

If you care about the person, be supportive. If you don't then it's better to not respond, chances are this person is reaching out to a few people and will wind up talking to those that do care eventually.


How much does it take for a person to recover from a break-up, i. e. after how much time consolation becomes superfluous?

It varies greatly from case to case, depending on (among other factors): the age of the person, their personality, their resilience, the length and importance of the story, the causes and circumstances of the break-up, etc.

For instance: If he was living at her girlfriend''s place and after 5 years of deep love he found out that she cheated on him with his best friend, making him move out, expect a long time of these messages.

On the other end of the spectrum, if he slowly grew out of love for her girlfriend, which is also living in another continent and feels the same, the time of recovery could be way shorter.

This for the technical time a person could feel to need to be treated more nicely than the usual. As for how much do you want to provide this treatment, it is up to you. You mention that this person is not exactly your friend, but more like a close acquaintance. This can be an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship and become friend.

Regarding the random texts, your friend may find it difficult to talk directly about his thoughts, so he could look for means of starting a normal conversation and only if successful opening up to you. Being introverted and with some difficulties in asking for help, I'd do the same: I'd like first to check if the other person is interested in having a conversation with me, and only when they answer and ask me "by the way, how are you?" I'd feel there is enough space for me to open up.

Summing up: if you want to console him and at the same time estimate how much he needs your help, answer to his random texts and veer the conversation on his feelings. After that, the time you decide to spend on "being nice" with him, as mentioned in Tycho''s Nose comment, depends on your patience.

You can consider also finding a way to be nice with him without having to pretend. Is there some activity that you can engage in with him and that you find interesting? Can you invite him to go out with you and your friends?

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