Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say when your friend is going through a heartbreak, or when they feel so emotionally low.
Here’s how you can help a friend deal with a breakup, as discussed by experts.
Table of Contents
- Do it in person
- Be honest
- Break up as many times as it takes
- Give the other person a platform
- Don’t air dirty laundry
- Don’t rally the troops
- Take time
- Set up a check-in time
- Be proud
- Ask for support
- Help your friend first by creating a safe space for them and by listening
- Hold your opinions
- Encourage them to take some time to focus on themself
- Check-in on them
- Invite them out
- Suggest a therapist
- Do not enable their pain
- Suggest new places you can go to and new activities bring positive results
- Encourage your friend to talk about their dreams
- Whether you’re a guy or a girl, reach out to your male friends who have broken up with someone
- Enourage them to talk about it
- Actively listen
- Do not tell them to ‘just move on’, to ‘man up’
- Show them that you actually care
- Check-in on them next week, next month, and a few months down the track
- Cherish your feelings and do things that make you feel good and aren’t self-destructive
- Don’t suppress your feelings, but be sure to talk back to any negative messaging your patterns are producing
- You don’t want to let a breakup sour you for the future
- Ask what you can do to help them
- Make sure that your friend is taking care of themselves
- When supporting a friend through a breakup, remember that everyone handles breakups differently
- Leave an open offer of your availability
- Offer practical help
- Hold space for your friend
- Be sure to listen to what they will say
- Offer practical support
- The most important thing is to be a supporter
- Take time to listen
- Suggest counseling
- Listen with your full attention
- Hold space for your friend
- Withhold judgement
- Encourage your friend’s self-care
- Never speak poorly about the ex-partner
- Never downplay their emotions
- Ask what you can do to help
- Offer practical help
- Validate your friend’s feelings
- Be patient
- Try to engage your friend in activities, something they really like doing
- Don’t victimize your friend
- Listen without judgement
- Provide a healthy distraction
- Remind her how amazing he/she is
- Tell your friend that his/her value is not tied to the relationship status
- Help her meet someone new
- Active listening is a powerful medicine for heartaches
- Let your friend know that you are on their side but don’t trash the ex
- Use humour
- Share your own story
- A role of a supportive friend is to be there for their heart-broken friend
- You will also have to check in on your friend during this time
- Just listen
- If they ask you for an advice, be honest but gentle
- As for maintenance, check-in with your friend to make sure they’re staying strong
- Let them first get off their chest what they’re feeling
- Listen and ask questions that makes them think it through
- Do not allow them to speak negatively about themselves
- Get your friend to engage in worthwhile activities
- Assess your friend’s current situation
- Take all of her or his feelings seriously
- Do not try and speed up the healing process
- Avoid giving advice
- Provide good distractions
- The single most helpful way of showing up for your broken-hearted friend is to include, not exclude!
- Make them feel that it wasn’t a failure
- Be there as they try their hardest to reinvent themselves
- Never tell them to just “get over it”
- Avoid speaking badly about their ex
- Be an elevating support system for them
- Help your friend focus on what they really want out of a relationship
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What can I do if my friend doesn’t want to talk about the breakup?
- How can I help my friend establish boundaries with their ex-partner?
- How can I help my friend avoid falling into the trap of seeking a “rebound” relationship?
- When is it appropriate to encourage my friend to start dating again?
- How can I be there for my friend without getting too emotionally involved or burned out?
- How can I deal with my feelings if I disagree with my friend’s decisions after the breakup?
- How can I help my friend deal with jealousy if their ex-partner starts dating someone new?
Relationship Expert | Public Speaker | Author, “Love Strong: Change Your Narrative, Change Your Life, and Take Your Power Back!“
There are five pillars a friend needs to provide to another friend going through a break-up:
By giving her the space to feel accepted through her decision-making process, she will be able to slowly start letting her ex go.
By listening to her lament about what went both right and wrong she will have the support to understand it for herself.
It is okay to acknowledge both the good and the bad with her. Play out the good parts with her to help her see what drew her to him in the first place. Then, when she is ready to listen while she admits where it went wrong.
This is the time where you will put your best BFF skills to the test. This is not the time to say I told you so or state your own issues with him. When she is ready, she will come to all of those conclusions herself. Then, you can speak your peace, but until then your job is to help her at her own pace.
Knowing that life as she knew it is coming to an end will bring her a considerable amount of stress. Your job as her BFF is to keep the peace for her right now.
You may question her mistakes or decisions, but it is her job to learn and grow from those choices – not your job to be the teacher. Grieving starts before a relationship ends, so believe me, she knew there were issues.
Sooner or later, the rubber will meet the road where you will have to keep it real with your BFF. If she is putting herself in an unhealthy situation, is failing to launch her new life sans her ex, or is getting stuck in reverse, you will have to call her on the carpet.
There is no exact science here so trust your gut. If enough time has passed and she is still riddled with anxiety it may be most helpful to suggest a life coach, expert, or therapist to help her gain perspective.
There is nothing like having a BFF to be your very own hype girl. When the time is ready to get her back on the market you can get to work. Perhaps you could help her change her look or even be her wingman with a new prospect.
This is when the new and improved version of your girl will appear. Keep her focused on moving forward by showing her a good time and also reminding her of her worth.
This is the list of advices I give my clients when it comes to breaking up.
Do it in person
Don’t avoid feeling the emotions by doing it over text or email. By meeting in person, you can both can feel free to emote and say your peace.
I cannot tell you how incredibly important it is to say the truth. I have seen so many clients get stuck in the abyss just waiting for answers or trying their best to understand the other person’s reasoning because the person who broke up with them was not honest. This is unfair and weak.
Break up as many times as it takes
I know this one sounds counterproductive, but sometimes it takes a few times to make it stick. Humans are not perfect. Sometimes we need a few test runs. Just be honest along the way.
Do not stay in something or go back if you know in your heart you want out. Be clear. Give the other person specifics as to why you want to end it. Respect always follows honesty.
Give the other person a platform
Let the person vent and emote. Listen and, when you can, clear up any mis- conceptions. Don’t give false hope. Giving false hope reduces the other person’s ability to move on effectively.
Don’t air dirty laundry
Inevitably both people lose initially in a breakup. Don’t take to social media to become passive-aggressive. You can always tell when a person starts posting quotes that they are dealing with some unresolved emotions. Do it in private with friends, family, a coach, or even a therapist.
Don’t rally the troops
Do not waste your time trying to get mutual friends to pick a side to deal with any tangled emotions. Be upfront with your needs and remain empathetic to your ex’s. It may behoove you to take a breather from social media for a while during your grieving process. Anger is just not cute.
Give yourself time to mourn the relationship. Do things that bring you joy, and also allow yourself to feel pain. If you don’t, you will end up with another weak love. Write in a journal, take walks, or do whatever else feels useful to you in those moments of deep sadness. I promise you will survive.
Set up a check-in time
Sometimes I tell my clients to set up a check-in time after the breakup has happened to clear up any questions or lingering emotions. It can be done via the phone or even in person. It may also be to exchange personal items or give one last goodbye hug.
If this check-in time is being used as a way to get the person back, you may need to go back to the first chapter and read the difference between loving weak and loving strong to figure out which way to go.
Pat yourself on the back for walking away from a person or situation that did not offer you strong love. Know your truth and stick to it. Live intentionally.
Ask for support
Tell friends and family what you need and don’t need. Stick with the advice from your relationship council. Trust that they have your back and trust in your decisions. You will be rewarded.
Arien Conner, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Founder, Clear Path, LLC
Helping a friend through a breakup can be tricky. It’s a balance between being supportive and empathetic while helping them find their strength and value and get back on their feet.
Help your friend first by creating a safe space for them and by listening
This is so important. Do less talking and more listening. Don’t try to relate to your own experiences or offer too much advice. Just let them vent their built-up emotions. Many times people find their own clarity through the word-vomit that comes from venting.
Hold your opinions
In the wake of a break up is not the best time to throw in how you never liked so and so, or never saw it working out. Allow your friend to mourn the good and come to terms with the bad on their own.
Encourage them to take some time to focus on themself
To do the things they enjoy but may have been putting off or their partner didn’t see the value in. Guide them back to the roots of their soul.
Encourage them to think about what makes them laugh, what do they feel passionate about, what activities do they miss and love. Help them consider and build their foundation as a whole person, before adding a new person to the mix.
Check-in on them
Do small acts of genuine kindness to remind them how great they are and that you love and value them until they can find the way back to loving and valuing themself.
Invite them out
They may say no multiple times and that’s okay. But remind them how much fun you have with them and that when they are ready to start moving on and leaving their grief hibernation, that you will be there waiting.
Addiction Therapist | Relationship Expert
Breakups are tough. If you are trying to help a friend get through it, then you must know the dos and don’ts of empowering someone.
Never be an enabler, which means to allow your friend to go on and on about the pain, way past the time it takes to get over someone. This is like allowing your friend to drink and continue in their addiction and keeping quiet about it.
Mourning the loss of love is a big deal, but sometimes it can go too far. If a year has passed and they still want to discuss the pain, this is really not healthy. You should suggest them to go see a therapist because you don’t want to end up being one.
Support is wonderful but it can be taken too far. Healing needs to take place and there must be transformation.
Here are some tips:
Suggest a therapist
Someone amazing who can help your friend looks at all sides of their relationship. What they learned from the experience, what baggage they brought, and what is their part in the breakup.
Relationships can be a mirror for deep spiritual transformation, and an opportunity to grow. A great therapist will help to expose the keys to change that must take place. A great therapist will end all victimhood and blame and get someone to own what they must in order to have successful love.
Do not enable their pain
You will know when the mourning process is going on for too long. You have to set a boundary that is healthy- I don’t think we should be talking about them, anymore..
Suggest new places you can go to and new activities bring positive results
Invite your friend to an event where it is possible to meet new people. Do not hang around lamenting about the past.
Encourage your friend to talk about their dreams
Encourage your friend to discuss what they are passionate about and what they really want in their new relationship that can be manifested. Help them envision a great new life.
Related: How to Make Someone Feel Better After a Breakup?
Dr. Kassandra Klein, BSc/MBBS
Mental Health Medical Doctor | Lifestyle Medicine Physician, Blokes In Mind
Whether you’re a guy or a girl, reach out to your male friends who have broken up with someone
For guys, they often don’t get much emotional support, and often their ex-girl was the only point of contact to share their hopes, fears, dreams, and deeper selves.
Enourage them to talk about it
Even if they aren’t opening up about how they feel after a breakup, they are often feeling more alone and unsupported than ever.
Whether to have a cathartic vent about what went wrong or how she treated him unfairly can really help a guy out. Provide a safe space for them to get the tough stuff off their chest. Encouraging men to open up about how they feel really helps them process their emotions.
Let them tell the story in their own words, and reflect back to them what you’ve heard. That helps make them feel genuinely understood and allows them to connect during this difficult time.
Do not tell them to ‘just move on’, to ‘man up’
Or that they should just sleep with other women and hit the booze to get over it. This advice will not help them move on, it encourages them to ignore how they feel and can make things worse down the track.
Show them that you actually care
Genuinely express empathy for their situation, show them that you care about how they feel and that you understand that it’s tough.
Men are often taught to repress their emotions so even though they’re not always open about it, they feel just as much pain as women. Their emotional palette is equally vast, so never assume they’re okay after a breakup.
Check-in on them next week, next month, and a few months down the track
We often think that men just ‘get on with it.’ after a few weeks. We often don’t give them the same kind of understanding as we do women in terms of taking the time to heal.
They often take a longer time to move on from relationships, because they often lack the intimate support that women are offered and often feel they have to bottle up their feelings which can prolong the healing process.
Furthermore, reassure them that it’s okay that they’re still struggling months down the track- that this is normal and that they shouldn’t beat themselves up for it (men often do).
Checking in again, later on, can really show them that you’re there for them in the long-term and that you’re somebody they can rely on to reach out when they need it most.
Relationship Expert | Author, “How to Live: Find Love and Keep It“
Cherish your feelings and do things that make you feel good and aren’t self-destructive
Give yourself time to grieve the ending if you need to, but don’t wallow in it. Often, it’s not the breakup that is making you sad, but the unprocessed pain of traumatic events in your past.
We all create stories about our lives, or scripts, from childhood, and often these are negative. For example, the idea that you don’t deserve love and will always be alone is a negative script. So when something bad happens, we try to fit it into this negative patterning because it’s familiar.
It’s often not correct, however. Scripts represent a desperate, creative process of meaning-making created by a child to provide a sense of self-regulation, compensation, orientation, and self-protection that will ensure a predictable future. They are efforts to control things that are out of our control.
Don’t suppress your feelings, but be sure to talk back to any negative messaging your patterns are producing
You had a breakup. Maybe there were some things you could have done differently, maybe not. Try to bring some awareness to your feelings and thought patterns and slow them down. You will start to see where they are coming from, the present or the past.
Don’t expect this process to be instantaneous – give yourself eight weeks to ruminate about it. Don’t heap additional grief on yourself moaning about the things you can’t change.
If you think the breakup was part of a pattern you can change, see a cognitive-behavioral therapist or relationship expert. Use this opportunity to learn about yourself. We learn most about ourselves through our most intimate relationships.
You don’t want to let a breakup sour you for the future
There is a lid for every pot. Get back out there as soon as possible and start flirting and dating. Falling in love again is the best antidote.
Related: When Should You Date Again After a Breakup
Jessica Jefferson, M.A & M.S.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner and Director, Cloud Nine Therapeutic Services, LLC
Breakups are never fun. They legitimately can suck the life out of you. Seeing a friend go through a breakup can be hard, especially because you care for them deeply and you want to see them happy.
Plus there is nothing you can do to fix it other than being a good friend. It makes sense that being a good friend is hard to figure out at this time because you don’t know what your friend wants or needs to deal with the end of their relationship. But that is why it is important to ask.
Ask what you can do to help them
Sometimes as a friend we can become too overly involved in trying to help them be happy, that it ends up not being what they need or want from us. So first thing to do is to ask what you can do to help them.
If they need an ear to listen, be that ear. But only an ear. Your mouth wasn’t invited to the party, unless your friend extends the invitation.
If they need a distraction, do something that you know your friend enjoys. Whether that is going to Starbucks or playing a video game. Do something that they enjoy doing.
Make sure that your friend is taking care of themselves
If they are extremely heartbroken over the relationship, they can neglect self-care and that is essential in order to get over the heartache. So make sure that they are eating and sleeping (which is hard when you are sad) but super important for mental health.
If you become concerned about their well-being, reach out for help.
You are their friend, but you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to a trusted family member or another friend to help make sure that they are ok. If things become even more intense, help your friend find professional help.
Like I said, breakups are hard. As long as we have support around us to help us through this difficult time it can make the process more bearable.
So be that support for your friend. Let them know that they are awesome, that you are there and that you care for them.
Psychiatry Resident, Dalhousie University
When supporting a friend through a breakup, remember that everyone handles breakups differently
Rather than making suggestions on how to cope based on what worked for you, ask your friend how you can help.
Your friend may ask you for suggestions, or your friend may want to vent to you, or you may be asked to join your friend in new activities such as new hobbies, speed dating, or helping with a makeover.
Leave an open offer of your availability
Alternatively, your friend may not want any support at this time, or may not know what he or she needs yet. In that case, leave an open offer that you are available to listen or spend time with this person as needed.
Offer practical help
You can also offer to help with the practical side of a breakup, such as cleaning out gifts and photographic reminders of the ex from the home and from social media.
Whether or not your offers lead to any requested action, simply offering to support someone is helpful during a breakup.
Certified Divorce Coach and Family Lawyer
We all process experiences and emotions differently. In the context of a challenging life event, like a break-up, some people want to talk a lot and others don’t want to talk at all.
Hold space for your friend
One valuable way to support a friend is simply by holding space for them. The term holding space involves listening without judgment, with empathy and compassion.
Let your friend share as much or as little as they feel comfortable at that moment.
The focus is on simply being there for your friend – rather than jumping directly into problem-solving on their behalf or “fixing” your friend or their situation.
Be sure to listen to what they will say
While it may be tempting to offer unsolicited advice, be attuned to what your friend really needs from you in that moment, which may be simply to be heard.
If your friend is looking to you for advice and you feel it is beyond what you can handle, support your friend in finding an appropriate person (therapist, coach, or lawyer) to support him/her during the process.
Similarly, if you feel your friend isn’t coping, enlist the help of a professional.
Offer practical support
When a friend is having a difficult time, it’s common to offer “if you need anything, let me know”. But asking for help can be hard at the best of times, and for that reason sometimes people simply don’t reach out.
With that in mind, think of ways you can support your friend without putting the onus on them to ask. Some ideas might be:
- Letting them know you are going to the supermarket or shopping center and asking if you can pick up anything for them.
- Offering to collect their children from school or to take their children to an activity to give them some time.
- Delivering home-cooked meals or their favorite dessert to their home.
- Regularly checking in via telephone or text on how they are and how you can support them.
- Inviting them to social events and continuing to extend invitations even if they aren’t being accepted.
Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Neurofeedback and Counseling Center of Pennsylvania
Breakups can be a challenge. No one knows what the right thing to say is. The truth is that there probably is not the perfect thing to say or do because each person handles a break up differently, and their needs post-breakup also vary.
The most important thing is to be a supporter
Be there for your friend, for them to cry to you and laugh with you. Do something with them to help stay occupied and avoid rumination. Keep them company.
Take time to listen
Allow them to complain as much as they need, even if it seems to be the same thing over and over. Talking about an issue can be therapeutic in itself, and knowing you have a friend that has your back is immeasurable.
If you feel like your friend is struggling more than “normal” during the breakup, suggest counseling. A professional can help be a support and guide them while monitoring their safety.
Michelle Pargman, Ed.S., LMHC, NCC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
We tend to feel closest to those by which we feel the least judged. When it comes to helping a friend with a breakup, coming from a place of conveying non-judgment is a great place to start.
Listen with your full attention
Keep in mind that “showing up” requires a willingness to listen with your 100% attention. Grieving the loss of a relationship typically includes feeling overcome by unmet expectations and profound sadness and regret about “what could have been.”
When faced with those overwhelming and new feelings, having a sounding board that can hold space for those feelings is a powerful gift.
Hold space for your friend
Holding space is the opposite of telling someone else how they should feel, or what they should do now. None of us know what will happen with any certainty beyond this moment.
When a friend goes through a breakup, there is also a possibility that the friend may get back together with the person they are devastated over currently.
Therefore, it becomes even more crucial as a friend (and ideally, a continued friend presence for the long haul), to withhold judgment, and simply actively listen to what your friend is expressing–both through the content of their words, and their underlying feelings.
Encourage your friend’s self-care
Other than reflecting back what you are hearing your friend says, to ensure that your understanding is accurate, be there to encourage your friend’s self-care.
Encourage them to get enough sleep; hydrating (meaning water, versus alcohol, which is a depressant, or excessive caffeine, which can escalate anxiety); moving–perhaps you can take a (socially distanced) walk together; getting out in nature, and encouraging additional resources.
Sometimes the trigger of a breakup can lead to further and prolonged negative thoughts and feelings that can be disruptive to one’s personal and professional life.
Be aware of what might be out there to further support your friend if they are open to it–remembering that you aren’t responsible for “fixing” the situation.
It is just as important to recognize your own self-care when helping a friend through any kind of loss.
Transformational Speaker | Author, “A Whole New Life: Discover the Power of Positive Transformation”
Never speak poorly about the ex-partner
You never know – they might get back together and its not a good direction for your friend to take with the emotions as it will make him/her even angrier, more resentful and it’s not a healthy state of mind.
Never downplay their emotions
Don’t say “You should not feel this way”, “This will pass”, “It’s not a big deal”, “You’ll be better alone”, even though all this is true but at that moment the person needs to process the situation, emotions, all the wounds and sorrows your friend is feeling.
Ask what you can do to help
The best thing to do is to ask “What can I do to help?” rather than assume that you know what your friend needs.
Every person process in their own way and the best way to help is by letting him/her know that you are there for them, whatever they need.
Offer practical help
Most of the time they need some practical things like help to take care of chores or kids. Be with them during weekends or holidays as those are the days when your friend would miss the ex-partner most.
Validate your friend’s feelings
Never minimize your friends’ emotions, as he/she needs to feel validated by you, rather than hearing “Don’t cry”. What you can say is “Cry as much as you need, I’m here for you”.
Crying, feeling the pain, and going through that emotion is actually helpful to process and let it go. You need to listen, instead of talking. Ask some good coaching questions: “How do you feel?”, “How do you want to re-prioritize your life”, “What do you want now?”.
As every person has their own way to process the loss and grief, they also have different timing. What could seem an enormous time for you, could but just perfect timing for the other person.
Try to engage your friend in activities, something they really like doing
Don’t try to force your friend to go on a cycling trip when he/she prefers watching a movie at home – better keep them a company watching their favorite movie.
Don’t victimize your friend
This is labeling him/her and cause feelings of weakness, not being able to get back on the feet. Be compassionate, empathetic as they go through the taught period instead of making your friend feel like a victim.
Founder and CEO, Select Date Society
Listen without judgement
Don’t say negative things about the ex or things like “I told you so.” Just be a listening ear. Your friend needs support, not criticism.
Provide a healthy distraction
It’s easy for your friend to drown her sorrows in alcohol or ice-cream, but you should encourage her to get involved in healthy pursuits as a distraction. Invite her on a hike or check out a yoga class together.
Remind her how amazing he/she is
A breakup can hurt your confidence. Rejection for anyone takes a toll on your self-esteem and it’s important to have someone in your corner to help build you up! Be a source of encouragement for your friend!
Tell your friend that his/her value is not tied to the relationship status
Chances are that you are friends because she brings value to your life and the rest of the world. Tell your friend the valuable qualities she has and the contributions she makes to the world that is independent of her relationship status.
For example, if your friend has a great sense of humor and always finds a way to make you laugh, tell her how much you appreciate that! If she is always positive and her smile lights up a room, tell her how many people love that about her!
Help her meet someone new
She may not be ready to jump into a serious relationship, however, getting out there and meeting quality singles can show her that there are great people out there. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to start dating again.
Certified Life Coach
Active listening is a powerful medicine for heartaches
When the pain is still raw, your friend is likely to be suffering from anger, guilt, confusion, and fear.
They will be in need of a lot of talking and analyzing. They won’t necessarily be looking for practical advice or solutions, but what can be the most healing is to have a close friend who listens to and understands them wholeheartedly.
Let your friend know that you are on their side but don’t trash the ex
There is often a fine line between supporting a friend and victimizing them. As much as it is important that your friend feels understood and supported, it is never a good idea to blindly blame everything on the ex.
This is because when the ex is to take all the responsibilities for your friend’s pain, there is very little your friend can do to take charge of their own life.
Instead, one of the best things you can do for a friend is to help them see that they are in control and that they have the power to recover and make things better.
Being able to laugh during tough times really helps us cope with the agony from a breakup. If you are someone who can see the humorous side of a difficult experience, then pointing it out and laughing with your friend can be of such great value.
It eases the burden of life’s seriousness, even if just temporarily.
It is in the shared experiences and emotions that humans connect the most. Without taking away your friend’s chance to talk about themselves, it can be very soothing and reassuring for them to hear a similar experience of heartache from you.
Part of the pain one feels after a breakup is due to the loss of connection with another human being. Therefore, by deepening and reminding your friend of the connection they have with you, you can help them recover a great deal.
As with shared laughter, crying together can be even more powerful when it comes to healing from a breakup.
Relationship Expert, Dating Pilot
Everyone processes breakups differently and will manifest their pain in different ways.
Some people may be an open book and want to share their pain with a supportive friend, while others keep their pain to themselves; some want to isolate themselves from the world, while others want to distract themselves and travel the world; some may take a few months while others may take more than a year; the list goes on and on.
But, regardless of how your friend processes their break-up, the role of a supportive friend should be the same.
A role of a supportive friend is to be there for their heart-broken friend
This entails being an empathetic listener, being patient, avoiding phrases or terms that will make their friend shut down and not open up.
Even something as simple as letting your friend pour their heart out and just listening to them, without giving your opinion or placing judgment, will help the heartbroken friend process their feelings and move forward in their healing process.
It is also important to note, that you do not want to rush your friend’s grieving process as it can hinder the process of moving on.
If you are not an empathetic listener and give your unsolicited opinions, you also run the risk of your friend shutting you out and not want to open up to you anymore.
You will also have to check in on your friend during this time
Keep this in mind especially if your friend tends to keep how they are feeling to themselves. Being present and lending a hand can also be a tremendous help to your friend, as doing everyday tasks may not be as easy for them.
Doing things such as bringing groceries, watering their plants, returning their library books, etc. can be very helpful at this time. Also, offering things to do together such as taking up a new hobby or traveling to a new place can help the friend move forward.
Certified Life Coach | Dating Expert
When helping a friend deal with a breakup, the first thing to do is shut up and listen. Don’t speak. Don’t opine. Nod your head and hold their hand, and give them your time and your heart.
Let them cry. And cry some more. And when they come up for air and catch their breath, Ask them if they want your advice.
If they ask you for an advice, be honest but gentle
Your first priority is to be sympathetic and supportive, but constructive too. It’s important to give them ample time to grieve/vent/rant, but just as important is to move them forward as quickly as possible with a guiding hand and a game plan.
Reassure them they’ll survive; remind them time heals all, but they’re going to have to do the work. Along with hugs and high-fives, I always throw in a little tough love to keep them on task.
As for maintenance, check-in with your friend to make sure they’re staying strong
Make yourself available all hours of the day/night. If they have a moment of weakness and feel like they’re going to do something stupid, urge them to put you on speed dial!
Certified Life Coach
Trying to help a friend through a breakup can be a thankless task. The emotional curve of ups and downs – first grief, hostility, then anger and “I’m over it”, are a trial by fire for any friendship!
Let them first get off their chest what they’re feeling
At this stage, you want to keep your comments to acknowledgment and encouragement to talk, without offering any real advice or opinions of your own unless asked.
Try to avoid disagreeing with your friend, even if what they say sounds pretty off. You don’t need to agree or disagree, just acknowledge. Statements like “I really hear you,” can go a long way.
Listen and ask questions that makes them think it through
After the initial emotion has run its course, your friend might try to explain away what has happened. Again, the greatest help you can give them is to listen and ask questions that make them think it through, without trying to dictate what they “should” be thinking, or feeling about the breakup.
The more you let your friend come to their own conclusions, the better off they’ll be in the long run.
Do not allow them to speak negatively about themselves
That being said, as a friend I highly encourage you not to allow them to speak negatively about themselves, put themselves down, or lay the blame too heavily on the other person either.
Try to keep all the conversation on how things will be better, or different, in the future – not regretting the past.
Get your friend to engage in worthwhile activities
Exercise, a creative project, or new business schemes are good ideas – not activities that will later become a crutch to them, such as drugs, alcohol, or rebounding.
Author | Actress | TEDx Speaker | Career Coach, Spelling It Out
Making someone feel better after a breakup can be a touchy but worthy cause. Every situation is unique and emotional responses can also be unpredictable based on numerous variables.
Assess your friend’s current situation
While in some cases advice can be timeless, in many others that’s just not the case. When helping out, take into account your friend’s history with their own family, past relationships, and the actual circumstances with the current situation. Then provide a listening ear.
Often times, dealing with a breakup requires time to heal which you simply cannot provide. A friend’s job is to comfort, sometimes provide distractions, and when possible offer perspective and powerful insights.
Great books or audiobooks can be another valuable resource in helping a friend through a breakup.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Author, “Why Are You Driving Me Crazy?“
Take all of her or his feelings seriously
Never minimize your friend’s pain with statements like, “(S)he was no good for you, anyway”; “You deserve better”; “There’s lots of fish in the sea”.
Your friend is probably hurting and possibly angry and needs someone to acknowledge those feelings. Even if you thought the relationship wasn’t very serious, wasn’t very good, or needed to end, your friend needs to talk about how badly she or he feels as long as they want to.
Once the pain has subsided, then it might be time to evaluate the relationship, but only to the extent your friend has asked for that.
We all have our own personal journeys to travel about our most intimate relationships, and we need for our friends to understand that there are very good reasons in our minds why we must do our relationships the way we do.
Dating Coach, Millenialships
Do not try and speed up the healing process
When we see our loved ones in pain, we often want to help them get from “sadness” to “happiness” but being sad is not a bad thing.
Being sad is a totally normal human emotion and your friend just needs help coping. She doesn’t need help “fixing” the problem. She can get through that part on her own.
Avoid giving advice
If she talks to you about her feelings, don’t give her any tips or ways to feel better. Don’t dismiss her feelings by saying “you’ll be fine” or “things will work out.” That’s you trying to get her to happiness when she’s not ready to be there yet.
Instead, just listen to her and give her compliments. Empower her by saying that she’s a strong woman and that you’re proud of how far she’s come in life. Agree with her by saying “yeah this really sucks” or this “this came out of nowhere.”
Agreeing with her shows that you’re feeling the pain as well. You’re on her side and you’re with her while she’s hurting.
Provide good distractions
Another way to help her without trying to fix things is to distract her. Help her get back to a normal life where she’s not constantly talking or thinking about her breakup.
The key is not to ask her permission for this. Instead of saying “let me know if you need anything,” tell her that you made reservations for her favorite restaurant and that you’d like her to go with you.
Doing this will force her to see a life outside of her troubles. It shows her that she still has people who care about her and that it’s ok for her to feel sad because other people will always have her back.
The single most helpful way of showing up for your broken-hearted friend is to include, not exclude!
The end of a relationship is often not only a loss of a romantic partner but can also mean the loss of a family unit, mutual friends, and the biting loss of invitations.
Human connection can help ease the pain of a break up, so it’s unfortunate that becoming a single is the single best way to halt invitations. Pairs and even numbers are how it’s done, what was once a fun night out or vacation with two couples now sounds dreadful as a party of 3.
Instead of excluding the newly single, make adjustments- invite other couples to what used to be a party of four and continue to include your newly single friend.
This goes for Friday night dinners, Sunday brunches, and don’t forget holidays! Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, Labor Day Barbeques, Superbowl parties- any gathering you’re hosting, include, don’t exclude your single friend!
Founder, Unify Cosmos
Breakups will make a person feel like they failed in life, especially if the relationship lasted for a long-time and plans had been made.
Make them feel that it wasn’t a failure
That it was simply a case of something not working out between two individuals. Instead, highlight the learning experiences from the relationship, which they can carry for the rest of their life.
Be there as they try their hardest to reinvent themselves
This is going to be tough, especially for those who were in long-term commitments, even those who were engaged to be married. But this is a crucial time, so being there for them would be more than enough.
Related: How to Start Over in Life and Reinvent Yourself
A good way to do this is by introducing them to a new hobby that can occupy their time. It would be a lot better if it is a skill they can be really good at, like cooking, playing an instrument or martial arts.
Never tell them to just “get over it”
There are also things you shouldn’t do, and one of them is trivializing their situation in any way. Simply telling them to “get over it” definitely won’t be helpful, especially if you have no idea about how the break up impacted their life.
Avoid speaking badly about their ex
It may come off as a form of empathizing, but it can only make the situation worse. You would want to be a source of positivity during this time.
Founder, Heartbreak to Happy
Be an elevating support system for them
What do I mean?
- It means not creating more negativity around the breakup by bad-mouthing the other person or allowing them to marinate in negative emotions but to help them move through it.
- Giving them a safe place to vent but not to stay in venting mode for a long time.
- It means helping them to see small wins every day that they can’t see for themselves.
When you do that for them you help create the momentum to see a realm of possibilities that they can’t see just yet. Most friends unconsciously create more energy around the negativity of a breakup and that’s not helpful when you’re trying to move on and let go.
Taking those baby steps described above will comfort them in a positive way and lessen the feelings of loneliness and isolation. This begins the process of shifting their thoughts to better feeling thoughts, guiding them to feel better, which then leads to moving on and letting go.
Founder, Strategy For Dating
Breakups can cause people to focus on what they’ve lost. They may idealize the relationship and think they lost the one, perfect chance they had to be happy in a relationship.
Help your friend focus on what they really want out of a relationship
It isn’t about a specific person, rather it’s about how they feel in that relationship, how they want to be treated, how they want to connect, how it improves them as a person.
When they look at the relationship through that lens, they will have to realize the broken relationship (by definition) did not give them what they really want. Hopefully, this will help them figure out what they do want and what they don’t want in a relationship.
In time, this approach will help your friend learn from the breakup and ensure their future relationships will be their best yet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do if my friend doesn’t want to talk about the breakup?
It’s crucial to respect your friend’s boundaries and give them space if they’re not ready to talk about the breakup. Instead of pushing them to talk, let them know you’re there for them and will be available whenever they’re ready to open up.
In the meantime, you can continue supporting them by doing activities together, providing distractions, or being a comforting presence in their life. Remember that everyone copes differently, and it’s essential to be patient as your friend goes through their healing process.
How can I help my friend establish boundaries with their ex-partner?
Helping your friend set healthy boundaries with their ex-partner is critical to healing. Encourage them to communicate their boundaries directly with their ex-partner, whether by limiting contact, taking a break from social media, or discussing how to interact with mutual friends or activities.
Offer your support and assistance, such as being present during difficult conversations or helping them navigate social situations involving their ex.
How can I help my friend avoid falling into the trap of seeking a “rebound” relationship?
To help your friend avoid a rebound relationship, emphasize the importance of self-discovery and personal growth after a breakup.
Encourage them to focus on their well-being and take the time to understand what they want and need in a relationship before jumping into a new one.
Support them in exploring new interests, setting personal goals, and building a strong sense of self before entering a new relationship.
When is it appropriate to encourage my friend to start dating again?
The timeline for when your friend may be ready to start dating again varies depending on the individual and the nature of the breakup. It’s important not to rush or pressure them into dating before they feel ready.
Instead, focus on their emotional well-being and personal development. As they begin to show interest in meeting new people or discussing the possibility of dating, encourage and support them while still respecting their healing process.
How can I be there for my friend without getting too emotionally involved or burned out?
Being there for a friend during a breakup can be emotionally draining. To avoid burnout, it’s important to set boundaries and practice self-care. Be sure to maintain your own routines, hobbies, and social life.
Also, don’t hesitate to ask other friends or family members for support when you feel overwhelmed. Remember that you can only effectively support your friend if you also take care of yourself.
How can I deal with my feelings if I disagree with my friend’s decisions after the breakup?
It’s natural to have opinions and feelings when your friend is going through a breakup. However, it’s crucial to prioritize your friend’s needs and provide a judgment-free space.
Practice active listening and empathy, and offer your perspective only when asked. Remember that your role is to support your friend, not impose your beliefs or decisions on them.
How can I help my friend deal with jealousy if their ex-partner starts dating someone new?
Helping your friend cope with jealousy when their ex-partner starts dating again involves validating their feelings and offering reassurance.
Encourage them to focus on their healing process and personal growth rather than dwelling on their ex’s new relationship.
Remind them of their unique qualities and the positive aspects of their life that have nothing to do with their previous partnership.
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