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by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt
Broadway, 2006
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Sep 25th 2007

It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken

This new self-help tome from Greg Behrendt, stand-up comedian and co-author of the bestselling book He's Just Not That Into You, offers guidance for those experiencing the heartache that accompanies the end of a romantic relationship.  This time around, Greg's co-author is his wife, Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt, with each of them calling on their past expertise as the "dumpee" in the breakup of a major relationship.  Having been there, done that, the authors are genuinely sympathetic about just how painful the loss of a relationship can be, yet at the same time, the provide an oft-necessary "kick in the pants" on the road to recovery.

The book has two main parts:  "The Breakup," which centers around coming to terms with the reality that the relationship is truly over, and "The Breakover," which focuses on coping with this new reality.  In Part 1, each chapter contains several of general information, a question and answer section, a reassuring segment about "The Best Worst News," Greg's reflections on "What I Did Wrong" when his ex-girlfriend picked up and moved cross-country to be with another man, and Amiira's thoughts about "How I Got Through It" (concerning the breakup of her first marriage).  These chapters end with a workbook segment offering simple exercises, questionnaires, and even recipes, and finally, the "Psycho Confessional"--in other words, mistakes that you want to avoid during your own breakup.  Part 2 of the book centers around seven "Breakup Commandments," a list of very strongly recommended suggestions such as "No Backsliding!"  For each commandment, the authors offer practical advice for following through, journal exercises (which they recognize might be dreaded yet persistently maintain will be helpful), more reflections from Greg in the form of "Dude, I Know What You're Thinking," details on how to handle special circumstances (such as working together or kids together), and finally, information from over 500 breakup surveys conduct by the authors, including highlights from the worse breakups ever.

It should be clear from the description above that the authors infuse plenty of humor into their work.  Although the line between being funny and empowering versus funny and belittling can be a fine one, happily, the authors fall well on the side of the former.   One of their main goals is to help the reader recognize that she is a "Superfox" who deserves better than the guy who dumped her.  Given that the book, with its subtitle of "The Smart Girl's Breakup Buddy," is geared mainly to women, other endearments, all intended to provide the breakup victim with a much-needed self-esteem boost, include "Pretty Lady" and "Hot Stuff."  However, as Greg makes clear from his own story, either sex can be the one that gets dumped.  Therefore, the authors encourage guys to read the book too, or at least the bonus chapter "Dude, Get Off Her Lawn."  For men or women stuck in post-breakup purgatory, this book might be just what they need to set themselves free.

Overall, the main point of It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken is that the breakups are like a serious illness which is undeniably painful yet completely curable.  With empathy, wisdom, and wit, the authors give the reader plenty of hope that she can pass through the destruction and devastation left by her former, broken relationship and embrace the wonderful new life waiting for her in the future.

© 2007 Beth Cholette

Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students at SUNY Geneseo.  She is also a Top 100 Reviewer at Amazon.com and the official yoga media reviewer for iHanuman.com.