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wundayatta's avatar

Why do you think so many people say, "move on" as if it were as easy as testing a bed?

Asked by wundayatta (58596points) February 23rd, 2010

There are a lot of questions on fluther about whether someone should stay with their boyfriend or girlfriend. When you ask a question like that, you can bet that a large number of the answers will be “move on.” Little—if anything—more.

Saying “move on” like that implies that there is nothing to stop you from easily moving on. It’s as if you can drop someone that you are very attached to just like that. It totally ignores the difficulties in breaking strong emotional attachments, and as such, I think it does not actually answer the question. It seems to me that it’s more like a quip than real advice. Short and pithy; a snap judgment spoken with authority—but for what purpose? I don’t see how it could be about being helpful.

Move on? Sure. But how? How many people address that issue—how to move on? Do any? Why do you think people believe it is helpful to say, “move on?” Why do you think people don’t address the issue of difficulty in moving on?

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44 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Emotions don’t come with an instruction manual. They are an individual thing.When I say “Dump them” it gets straight to the point and hopefully makes them think for themselves and come to their own conclusion.

marinelife's avatar

Because often the question asker knows they should leave, and they have mentioned leaving, but they are looking for another way out.

Alleycat8782's avatar

People know how hard it’s emotionally to leave someone, but sometimes it’s the best advice anyone can give to ultimately be happy in the end. I also think that some people have probably been in the questioner’s shoes and really don’t see the situation getting any better if they stay in the relationship.

Trillian's avatar

I think it means ‘get a start’. Whether or not it’s going to be an easy thing, one must take a step. And then another.
I think that offers of help are sincere. The person knows you’ll miss whoever, so they say “Call me if you need to talk.” Just like quitting smoking. Call me when you get the urge, we can talk, go for a walk or whatever.
If you do nothing and stay in the situation, that’s a choice. “Move on” implies action. It means whatever is involved in getting past the feelings, for however long the process takes, but the responsibility for the initial steps lie with the person doing the asking. I don’t see it as dismissive, or glib. I see it as a desire on the part of the speaker to see the person posing the question stop being in pain.

Silhouette's avatar

Because they already know all these difficult issues and the truth of the matter is leaving hurts. But if you do it like you would remove duck tape from your buttocks it hurts less. If you grip it firmly and snatch if off fast it’s going to hurt less than slowly trying to peel it off. Either way it’s going to cost you some hide.

jrpowell's avatar

Most of the time there is so little information to go on. You have to flesh out more info.

“My man cheats on me, what should I do?”

turns into

“Oh, and we have three kids and a mortgage.”

Sometimes being simple helps to get the asker to fill in details so people can offer advice with a better understanding of the situation.

janbb's avatar

@wundayatta I tend to agree with you that in many cases it is simplistic to just say “move on” or “dump the bastard.” That is why in most of my answers to these types of questions – when I am not in a cranky mood – I will acknowledge, in some way, the difficulty of following that advice.

Just_Justine's avatar

I do normally tell people there is pain – huge pain when moving on that you cannot avoid. Even if you are the person that moves on. I have noticed a trend in answers on other sites that I used to visit where the pat answer was “dump him/her”. It gave me an image of paper people, being scrunched up and thrown away. I now call it the Paper People Society. I will put the “mover ons” into that category as well.

When we do move on we often find a whole set of new issues with the person we moved on with. They might be similar or different to the person we left. There is value in working through, with a person the issues you are having. It also makes it clearer if there is any thing to work with. Relationships are hard work. For me the dizzy falling in lust part is great. I don’t manage well with the other parts. I could be addicted to that nice good feeling, as I am an addict by nature. However, I did have a very difficult relationship with a woman who was bipolar and also schizophrenic (Paranoid). I was prepared to do everything I could to save the relationship. But when you are working on it alone and the other has no desire nor insight it is tough. She eventually embarked on an affair with a good friend of mine and so you can say I was pushed along.

I knew it was for the best, but my heart still ached. I still felt such pain and loss. It took about six months to readjust to my new very difficult life (long story) without her. Now of course looking back I know it was for the best. Their relationship also broke up of course because both of their issues obviously caused problems again in their relationship.

Perhaps now the trend is for shorter, I call them relatingships, short spans of time enjoyed fully for brief periods then shut down to make way for the next fun relatingship. I find it sad though. Because my parents grew very old together and died together. Many a time they were each others strength in the most horrendous times. But they certainly should have dumped each other many times over.

ubersiren's avatar

As are most things in life, moving on is easier said that done. It’s usually a canned response involving little compassion or attempt at understanding the individual’s position and feelings. It’s difficult to come up with anything meaningful to say if you’re not experiencing a very similar problem. It’s so easy to preach and instruct! Still, it’s good advice in some cases, provided that’s not all that you say.

noyesa's avatar

I think it’s easy for things to appear significantly more complicated than they are when emotions start flying around. The reality is that the solution is often much simpler than we’d like to think.

It seems kind of unflattering that the best way to remove yourself from a situation that is hurting you, and will continue to hurt you, is to simply remove yourself from it. There’s no clean-cut way to do these things.

It doesn’t imply that it’s easy or even desirable. But it does elicit the truth. The english language is expressive. We might say something simple like “move on”, but moving on requires work. I’ve had a troubled past. Moving on was the hardest, most mind-bendingly difficult thing I’ve ever done, but it was the only thing there was to do. The actual act of moving on is often much more difficult, but the point is the same.

Cruiser's avatar

I can say that is almost each and every one of these questions on what to do the asker obviously already knows the answer, is struggling with that reality and is hoping someone tells them something other than move on. No need to sugar coat reality. It’s called Tough Lurve!

TheJoker's avatar

Sometimes people just need to hear something out loud before they believe it.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Obviously it’s not that easy but it’s a lot of what we need to do. It’s not helpful to carry around emotional baggage. Living in the past is no good.
I tend tend use this in response to things like “Dad abandoned me at the circus when I was 7 so he could live with a traveling band of strippers and now I drink to deal with the pain 20 years later”. That’s a “move on” situation. Not easy, but it needs to happen.

mattbrowne's avatar

Moving on is okay when trying to realize the progressive promises of countries as promoted by for example.

‘Moving on’ as a slogan for dealing with human relationships sends the wrong message in my opinion. Same for the notion of ‘emotional baggage’. Interestingly there seems to be no German translation for the term. Just looked it up. Someone suggested ‘emotionale Altlasten’ which literally means something like ‘emotional toxic dump’.

In a case like this we should rather think of coming to terms with the new situation. Our brains can’t simply move on. Our hippocampus sets the stage for our nightly dream shows. So we should not kid ourselves. Talking to other people is a good way of adjusting to the new situation.

CMaz's avatar

Because saying, “move on” is easier then blowing wind up your dress.

wundayatta's avatar

I tend to get very attached. I just discovered there’s a psychological name for my affect called anxious/something. It has a bit of OCD in it, and your relationship style is to become very dependent on someone and to want to be closely attached to them. It usually is related to have a father who didn’t give you the kind of attention needed to become a secure adult.

Moving on is extremely difficult for me, and I don’t believe I have ever done it of my own free will. No, I did two times, but other than that, not. I certainly never moved on when I should have (seeing the writing on the wall). I always waited until nothing else was possible. This is not surprising given my personality.

I guess some people consider this to be a form of codependence or addiction to people. 30% of the population is the way I am, so that’s a rather large group to be considered pathological. I need to be loved in the worst way. I need to belong. I need to be liked. So I can’t move on. Even when it’s better for me. The pain of cutting it off is too much. It makes me too depressed, and that, when magnified by my other health issues, can be a dangerous combination.

So here’s an idea—perhaps I should attempt to change my nature (and no longer be who I am) and learn how to move on more easily? Learn how to be more independent and self-sufficient. Learn how to be confident and to stop considering myself with derision for my weaknesses and failings. Perhaps…..

Naw! Just kidding!

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

One day at a time man. You can’t take on too much at once.
Best to you.

wundayatta's avatar

Yup. Wundayatta time. ;-)

Kokoro's avatar

I think it’s just a simple way of saying to just not dwell and stay in a place that’s unhealthy. Moving on IS hard to do, I am experiencing having to “move on”... people have different ways of forgetting about relationships, it is different for everyone. Some may date someone else as a rebound, some may not date for awhile, etc.

“Move on” is just a quick, not a long conversation to show what someone thinks one should do, whatever that journey is for the person. Definitely easier said than done, but actually attempting to move on is much better than just holding on to something that has died. That would be worse in the end.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Because sometimes other people’s partners scare me so much in their actions, I don’t understand how they haven’t run yet – so I tell ‘em to ‘move on’ because they know they should have.

escapedone7's avatar

Breakups are much easier if you’ve only seen someone a few weeks as opposed to months. I think people sometimes have no idea the circumstances. Dumping a guy you had 5 dates with is easier than dumping a husband of 20 years.

During my “serious” break ups I now recognize I went through all the stages of grieving I went through when a relative died. Seriously, there is a grieving process when there is loss. It takes time to work through grief, and replace all the holes in your life that used to be where you spent time with that person or thinking about that person. It is a slow process to rebuild your life. There are times though, when the pain of being with someone is more intense than the pain of being without them. The relationships I left, no… fled from…. caused me serious emotional distress, turmoil and pain that exceeded the pain of “breaking up” . The thing is the pain of breaking up diminishes with time. Sometimes it might take a year or more, but eventually it hurts less. The pain of an abusive, dysfunctional, painful relationship though goes on and on and on…

OneMoreMinute's avatar

How can anyone possibly give any kind of legitimate advise without being given the history? Would a doctor jump to advise aspirin without an examination?
I would not take any advise from a stranger who doesn’t know the facts.
Even if they had capital letters after their name.
People deserve serious consideration. All people.

thriftymaid's avatar

Because some of us have been through seven year good byes; don’t do that!

ChaosCross's avatar

Because they think they know the situation when they are not personally in one of those situations.

It is funny how fast a person can forget what emotional pain feels like, but they do anyway, part of what makes up human I suppose.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t think it is very productive to give a long response to someone who says “I don’t know what to do”, when ‘move on’ is the answer.

If they say “I’m trying to get over it and I don’t know how” that would call for a different response. It’s difficult for a Q & A site to give decent advice based on such a tiny amount of information.

It reminds me of the famous skit by Bob Newhart

nebule's avatar

because they are imbeciles
maybe not
<runs away>

OneMoreMinute's avatar

It seems people will “move on” anyways when the right time presents itself, without asking unknown third parties. When it’s time, the parties involved will both know, and the next step (moving on) is clearly there, because it’s simply the obvious choice.
Anything else is like taking a cake out of the oven before it’s baked.
What’s the rush? What’s the hurry?
If it doesn’t feel right yet, then don’t do it. You’ll only have those haunting thoughts, “Did I really make the right choice/Maybe I should give it just one more chance/Is this really done yet?
of course, there are many things that don’t get done on my part of the world, but then, maybe those things just gotta wait in the oven a little bit longer too.
Six years ago I realeyezd that I have “all the time in the world.” And I stopped living my life in a “Hurry Up and Wait” panic-mode.
but then, don’t take my advise, I’m just an unknown party without the facts.
besides, I would not want the added responsibility of making such decisions, for another person anyways.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille nailed it. (I haven’t read many other answers; maybe others did, too, and in different ways.)

You have to do the thing that is right, first, and then deal with the consequences. So when the best advice for someone is “get away”, then they need to do that: Get away! Yeah, there will be emotional and other real-life consequences of that, but the first thing to do is an action.

Sometimes you need to do the right thing first, and then change your mind to understand and accept that later.

Kokoro's avatar

@OneMoreMinute Good advice for a lot of people but it was what kept me with my ex. Even now I think, “Could have it been this way?” “If I had known, could I have stopped it?” but that is the past. Too much damage has been down by now, but I am smarter now to not listen to my heart in this case. Usually – there should be a healthy balance.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@Kokoro, But you didn’t know that without the experience being confirmed by actually going through it. Only retrospect can give this to you, otherwise you always wonder. This gives you certainty.

I said what I said because I HAVE told people “To Break Up With Them” many times to many friends, usually because of drama escalating into violence. So it’s no question at that stage. But, for what ever their reasons, they remained in their toxic relationship for many many many more dramatic episodes. Even hospitalizations. I’d get those phone calls in the late morning hours with my girlfriend sobbing…“he beat me AGAIN” Now, I can’t say to her, I told you so. But I’ve got to be there for her. Then later in the week, when she’s cooled down I can tell her to dump the jerk and get some help.

Well, what the final outcome ended up being was “I” ended up dumping my deaf friends.
Because I couldn’t stand watching them go through years of the insanity. She was my BFF since jr high school. And another friend I met when I was 30. Then again just five years ago.
It became too painful for me to listen to, let alone THEY were living it.

And I noticed nobody ever takes my advise. ex: I could advise a couple (who argues endlessly over which toothpaste to buy) to purchase both kinds. And I’m not heard. I chalk it off to, people just gotta do what they gotta do until they don’t anymore.

And I gotta stand aside and quietly LET THEM. Which I found difficult to do, btw. Still do. Still want to say what to do when I know this.

I think it’s naturally in our DNA to be to willing to give to many “one more chance, this time will be different” Humans can be to generous to a fault.

Kokoro's avatar

@OneMoreMinute Very true. I will know what to do in the future by the learning experience. I can relate on the other side of your story. My ex was emotionally abusive and I kept giving him chance after chance because I thought he would change. He would say things that would make me think he was trying, but he really wasn’t. Everyone, my family and friends would say that I deserve better but I just kept thinking to myself “They’re not in my relationship, they don’t truly know what’s going on…” but I should have taken their advice sooner. Sometimes people just have to learn on their own.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

and there’s much to be said about loving the person, not the behavior.
which even that well intentioned line may or may not serve us.

Which is worse?
Telling people what NOT to do, or telling people what TO DO?
People are just gonna keep doing what they’re doing until they’re done.
And people aren’t going to do what they’re not doing to do until they are done doing what they’re done not doing. Then the shift happens when it does. They must wait for the 99 monkeys first. It is Law!

lonelydragon's avatar

You make good points in your question. Most people can’t get over disappointed love or expectations at the drop of a hat. My sense would be that people who say “Move on” do not get readily attached to other people, so it’s easy for them to give such advice, even if it’s not easy for others to follow it.

YARNLADY's avatar

Why is there some kind of implied relationship between ‘good advice’ and ‘easy’? Just because ‘move on’ isn’t easy doesn’t make it wrong.

Kokoro's avatar

@lonelydragon That is a good observation. What I have also noticed that people may be less empathetic when they’re not first handedly experiencing. I have known a person who had incredible trouble moving on from a past love, and she gives me the “move on” advice as if it were easy, even ‘slapping me on the hand’ with quotes such as, “You should be over him by now!” when she knows very well it is extremely difficult.

lonelydragon's avatar

@YARNLADY Actually, your comment is the inverse of what I was trying to say. Sometimes, as you said, good advice is difficult to follow. But a lot of people dispense the “move on” advice as if it were easy to follow. I think people would respond to that phrase more positively if the advice-giver acknowledged that his/her advice is hard to follow, i.e. “I know you’re having a hard time getting over your ex, but for the sake of your mental health, you must try to move on.” Or something like that.

@Kokoro Good point.

Just_Justine's avatar

@Kokoro I agree with you, some people “couldn’t be bothered” for one reason or another so are somewhat flippant.

wundayatta's avatar

@all My feeling about this is that a good answer is a useful answer. Offering advice with no assistance about how to follow the advice, in my opinion, is less than helpful. I think it’s actually mean. It tells the person “move on” as if it were easy, and then the questioner feels bad about themselves for being unable to carry out the advice presented as if it were as easy as falling off a log.

I think the first step is what @lonelydragon said—acknowledging that the advice is hard to follow. But I still don’t think that rescues the advice. I still don’t think it can be counted as a useful answer. I think good advice goes one step further: it offers suggestions about how to move on.

If you offer advice this way, it shows you are empathetic with the questioner, which helps them all on its own. It acknowledges that they are in a touch situation and makes them feel less alone. It also shows you really want to be helpful. You are not just flipping an answer at them as if they are stupid for not seeing the obvious. It helps them get started in a realistic way.

I also think that since we get so many of these questions, there is a kind of answerer fatigue going on. It’s as if each new questioner was really the same old questioner coming back again and again and never learning. Conveying that feeling to our questioners is not helpful (and I am guilty of this, too).

The point is that I think we should be kind. Saying “move on” and leaving it at that is mean. I don’t understand why people would be mean. So I asked this question. I also hope that just by asking this question, people will become aware of the possibility that they are being mean, and might take more time to be kind.

As always, this opinion is my own, and could easily be wrong, although I feel very strongly about this issue (which doesn’t make me any less wrong, but there it is).

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@wundayatta I still think that the advice to “move on” ... offered even with no more than that… is good and valid and useful advice. That is, “MOVE!” and “on” (elsewhere): get moving; keep moving, go somewhere (figuratively, anyway). Do the thinking about that later, but for now “move on”. It’s excellent advice. Advising someone who is already stuck in a deep “think” about something to “keep thinking” is counter-productive. That person really does need to “move on”.

I think quite often the advice applies specifically to you, my friend. (Said with the best of intention.)

wundayatta's avatar

@CyanoticWasp That’s where I’m coming from. When people say stuff like that, it falls off me like water. It is meaningless, and it certainly doesn’t motivate me. If anything, it makes me dig in my heels.

I think that our opinions on this advice depends on how we picture the reader. I think how we picture the reader is based on our own personal experiences.

We should discuss the issue of being stuck in thinking some time.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@wundayatta that would be fine. I’ve been there, and quite recently, too. It wasn’t until I literally did “move on” that I broke out of the rut of rationalization and equivocation that was keeping me in a not-so-good place. I kept thinking that “it might improve” and “it might turn into just what I want” ... but I was fooling myself.

Sometimes you really do need to just “move off the dime” (in a manner of speaking—and no, I have no idea of the origin of the phrase) before your thoughts can catch up. Just because you might be obstinate (and I admit that I certainly am sometimes) and not want to take such advice doesn’t make it bad or invalid.

wundayatta's avatar

@CyanoticWasp The above is a perfectly fine response, in my book. It empathizes, it explains how the advice works, and suggests a way to implement it. I think it’s an effective way of delivering the advice.

lonelydragon's avatar

@Just_Justine Exactly. Some people are very sensitive to their own pain, but don’t have the patience to listen to others’ problems.

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