Movies and television shows have always glamorized a friend’s ability to give relationship advice. It is often portrayed that friends will gather and bash the ex over brunch and then it’s all solved and the relationship is put to rest.
The reality, however, is not as easy. In real life, comforting a heartbroken friend is difficult– you don’t know what to say and have no idea to the extent of their feelings. You also have to take into consideration your own feelings in order to not appear tactless or smother them when they need some space. (Read: Dealing with a Breakup? This is for you)
Remember that the most important thing is that you’re there for your friend– that they feel your comforting presence while grieving a relationship. But if you’re wondering how you can be there more for your friend or loved one who are experiencing the pain of the break-up, follow these tips.
Don’t assume you know what they need
Every relationship is different, which means every breakup is, too. While you can absolutely share what was helpful for you during your own breakup, it’s important not to assume that the same will be true for your friend. The most helpful thing you can do right off the bat is to ask what you can do to help.
Sometimes the best approach is to leave the offer to help open. So when the time comes that your friend needs you, they know that you will be there for them. (Read: 5 Ways to Strengthen Relationships While Social Distancing)
Don’t minimize their emotions with trivializing statements
Some statements that are meant to be comforting can come across as invalidating and may minimize your friend’s emotions. Avoid trivializing statements like “Good thing you weren’t together too long,” This statement may seem careless and making fun of the tremendous hurt they may be feeling. Set a non-judgmental tone– even if you secretly feel that your friend is overreacting.
Always remember that all emotional reactions are valid and that everyone experiences the grief of losing a relationship in different ways.
If they need professional support, help them find a therapist
Studies say that it takes three months to get over a breakup and each recovery looks different for everyone. Some people can take longer or have other effects on them– it will depend on past experiences and the unique situation of their relationship. (Read: This Mom Turned Lessons From A Failed Marriage Into Her First Book)
If you think your friend could use professional support– and they are willing– consider helping them find a therapist. A therapist will provide a neutral and safe space to talk in depth about the breakup without judgment or pressure.