Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How To Help A Friend Through A Breakup... {Part 1}

Breakups can be tough, not only for the person, but for that individual's friends and family. Not only might you also be grieving the loss of that person to some extent (i.e.- now you have to "pick sides", or perhaps a siblings significant other had been in your life for many years as well), but you might feel somewhat out of control. You cannot fix your loved ones broken heart, and you can’t make things “ok” for them. However, you can be a great source and love and support for that individual.

It’s important to remember that going through a break up can be an intense time of grieving for the individual. The individual has lost someone important to them, as well as losing their future with that person. It takes time to process the relationship and grieve it.

Here are a few important steps that you can take to help:
  •  Remember that you can’t be the one to fix the broken heart. Only time and the things that the individual does or doesn’t do can heal it. If you try too hard to fix it, you’ll likely frustrate the individual and make them more annoyed and agitated.
  • Be patient and understanding. After a few weeks, and can get frustrating to hear the same complaints from the individual. Perhaps we might feel that things aren’t getting better quickly enough. Helping to normalize that this is a process that takes time can be very helpful to the individual. Don’t try to shame or guilt them into “getting back to normal”.
  •   Be a safe place for the individual to talk and process. It’s healthy for the individual to communicate their feelings and needs to those they feel are safe. Listening in a non-judgmental way is incredibly important. Ask if the individual would like advice before you give it. If the individual feels that you’re always ready with a simple answer to their problems, they may not feel that you are a safe person to disclose information to.
  • Avoid clich√© phrases. Statements like “you’re better off”, “there are other people out there for you”, “your ex was a loser”, “everything happens for a reason”, and other similar phrases are more hurtful than helpful.
This post is part of a larger series on surviving a breakup. Check in throughout the next few weeks for more posts on the topic!

Now it's your turn!
What was the best or worst thing that someone said to you when you were going through a breakup? Has a breakup ever been hard on you when you weren't one of the two primary parties involved? 



  1. When I was going through a break-up I had friends who just listened and listened and listened and listened, and I am sure they must have gotten so sick of hearing me say the same things over and over and over but they persevered and I will be forever grateful.
    The one suggestion I would make is to invite them for a meal in your home, preferably supper. Eating alone is the pits and it is so nice to share that time of the day. Despite my thoughtful friends, none thought to do that for me and it would have meant a lot. Now what my husband and I do with a friend going through a breakup is have them for supper, one night a week for many weeks, giving them one night they can circle and say 'I have something to do tonight and someone to do it with. Someone is cooking for me, someone is expecting me, someone will listen to me tonight.'

  2. I would also add to not bad mouth the other person in the relationship. You never know they may get back together and your friend will remember your words.

    1. Absolutely! That gets to be a dangerous thing (and something I'm addressing in a future post!)

    2. And even if they don't get back together I am sure they probably loved that person at some point and part of them really doesn't want to hear anything bad about them.

      I typically am the one to leave a relationship and I still have a very hard time with the breakup. My advice to friends and family, don't assume because your loved one broke up with their spouse or significant other that they feel fine. They still go through a tremendous grieving process as well as the additional worry of whether they did the right thing.

      Great Post and very helpful, thank you.


  3. This advice is wonderful. The first tip - remembering that you can't be the one to fix the broken heart - is especially poignant to me. I feel somehow responsible for the happiness of those around me and the closer they are to me, the more desperate I am to ensure their happiness. This is something that I have learned, with age, is not something within my control, but it is nice to have that reminder.