Your phone pings. A message from your friend:
“We broke up.”
Oh sh*t. You had a feeling this day would be coming soon, but somehow it still seems to take you by surprise.
You’re lost for words and don’t really know what you can do to help them.
So, what now?!
If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know how hard it can be to find the right words or know what to do. So, here’s a mini guide with tips you can follow to help your friend through a break-up.
Ask what you can do to help. Even though you might be best friends and have known each other for years, it’s better to ask than to assume. Questions like: “Is there anything I can do to support you?” or “Is there anything you want to talk about?” are excellent ways to support anyone going through a tough time.
Don’t downplay their emotions. Show and tell them that it’s okay and, in most cases, good to allow all emotions to be felt. Downplaying someone’s emotions can lead to them burying them, which isn’t a healthy coping mechanism. Instead, learn to validate their feelings.
As well as not downplaying what they’re feeling, don’t rush on to try and cheer them up. Although you may want to point out any valuable opportunities they can learn from their past relationship, your friend might not be ready to enter that stage just yet. Everyone has their own way and timeline of dealing with their emotions and heartbreak. However, if you feel like your friend still hasn’t moved on after a considerable amount of time, you may want to suggest other solutions. In this case, seeing a qualified professional such as a therapist or counsellor may help.
As much as you may not have liked their ex-partner, don’t talk sh*t about their ex. As hard as it may be and as much as this can be a way of cheering up a good friend, talking badly about their ex isn’t the most productive way of helping them get over someone. Especially not shortly after a break-up. In the long run, it may even make them feel worse, as they may feel that they are unable to fully talk about all their feelings with you.
And, finally, respect their boundaries. We all heal at different paces and in different ways. No matter how close you are, you will most likely still have very different ways and timelines of processing your emotions.
Being there for someone and supporting them is never an easy task. By following these suggestions, you can support them by creating a safe space for each other to share and talk about your emotions and experiences. In this way, you can help them move on in a healthy and loving way.
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