Watching a friend go through a breakup can be tough. It’s hard to know how to help or how much you can do, especially when their breakup is very messy, painful, or unexpected.
Helping a friend after a breakup often comes down to doing simple things to show your friend that you care. Here are a few things I try to remember when a friend comes to me for relationship help.
I Can’t Fix It - And That’s Okay
When you want to help a friend, you may feel like you want to fix it. But the truth is, you can’t, and your friend is probably not expecting you to do so.
It was your friend’s relationship, and it’s your friend’s breakup. Your friend has to go through their own growth and make their own decisions during this process of pain, grief, and healing.
One key to having a strong friendship in the midst of a difficult situation like a breakup is having healthy boundaries.
Writer Rachel Krantz puts it this way: “Do your best to remind yourself that it is not on you to fix their pain or situation, and that the best thing you can do is to give what support you can genuinely offer without resentment, exhaustion, or desire for payback.”
Be honest with yourself about what you can do and what you can’t do and remember that your friend loves and appreciates you no matter what.
Listening is Key
Listening is one of the most helpful things you can do for your friend as they cope with their breakup. It gives them an outlet and helps them feel less isolated. You don’t have to jump in with a solution. Just be present and let them know you’re sorry they’re hurting.
If they’re not ready to talk yet, spending time with your friend can be a big help as they get ready to open up. Take them to calm, safe environments. Eat nourishing food with them and be sure they stay hydrated.
If your friend is a person of faith, it can encourage them to know you’re praying for them, and that God cares about them and what they’re feeling.
Don’t Victimize or Villainize
When my friend has gone through a breakup, it can be so tempting to agree with them completely that they’ve been hurt and that their ex should pay. And while there may be some truth to that, over-focusing on how much they’ve been hurt or how harmful their ex’s actions are is likely to make their healing more difficult.
Your friend is wrestling with the end of a relationship with someone they loved. They’re going to have a lot of complicated feelings. Doing your best to reframe those feelings in a positive light helps a lot.
Instead of “Wow, she’s the worst!”, try “I’m really glad to see you standing up for yourself”. Instead of, “He’s done so much to hurt you!”, try, “I believe in you. I’m here for you, and I know you can heal from this.”
Help Them Get Help
There will be things about your friend’s breakup that are more than you can handle. They may need an expert (someone trained in relationship support) to get them back on their feet. If it’s clear they’re overwhelmed, you can help them find more support.
TheHopeLine offers confidential, judgment-free mentoring and relationship help. You or your friend can chat online with a HopeCoach or sign up for an email mentor whenever either of you needs help sorting through relationships. I have no doubt your friendship will get stronger, and that your friend will find healing after their breakup. We are always here for you!
Want to help your friend avoid a broken heart? Read and share my blog on how you can keep your heart from breaking.