The Dos And Don'ts Of Helping A Best Friend Through A Break Up
When you get that "it's over" text from a best friend, your heart sinks. You probably want to know all the details, how it played out, what she said, what they said, how it was left. But you know you shouldn't ask those questions right away. And no matter how toxic or temporary their relationship seemed to you, you know your friend is going to be in a lot of pain, and you know it's your time to step up.
Throughout our 20s and 30s, we go through dozens of break ups. It might even feel like your group of friends is a revolving sympathy circle — each taking turns caring for each other's broken hearts. It's a part of life that we get better with addressing with age, but it's never any less painful to lose someone. And it's never any less difficult to help a friend through it.
And when your best friend is sitting beside you, face covered in tears, your heart will break, too. But it's important not to make this about you. It's your job as her best friend to be as selfless as possible in these situations. So find it in you to stay strong and be her rock, so long as she needs it. These are 13 ways to console your best friend who is going through a miserable break up:
Don't Bash Their Ex
You might be tempted to add fuel to the fire and "defend" your friend by throwing their ex under the bus —but don't do it. You never know what will happen in the future, and you don't want to say something you'll regret later.
Do Support Their Choice
There's a fine line between agreeing with your friend that the relationship was meant to end, and contributing too much negativity to the relationship. No one wants to feel like they wasted their time in a relationship. Even if it didn't last, it meant something and served some purpose. So don't make your friend feel like the relationship was all wrong. Just find a positive way to support their choice.
Don't Suggest A Rebound
If your friend wants to have a rebound experience, let that be their call. You don't want to egg someone on when they might not be ready. Sleeping with someone else too soon can backfire and make the person feel even more depressed and lonely. Only they know what they can handle.
Do Help Them With Logistics
After the emotional reaction to a breakup, a fear sets in for all the details that lie ahead. Sit down with your friend and help her make a list of everything that needs to happen in order for her to step away. Maybe she needs to move out — help her arrange the move and look for a new place. Maybe she needs to cancel a joint bank account or change a few RSVPs. Just help to keep the list organized and manageable. The sooner she's separated, the sooner she can heal.
Don't Pressure Them To Create Closure
It's not your job to dictate the speed of the break up. If your friend is not ready to remove her Facebook status or laser off her tattoo. She'll create distance when she's ready. You don't want her to make changes because you suggested them; you want her to make changes because she wants them.
Do Be A Good Listener
Let your friend vent until she feels better. This might take hours, it might take days or weeks or months. Do your best to listen, to be available on the phone, and to really hear what your friend is saying. Encouraging her to talk is important; it will help her heal.
Don't Play Therapist
It's fine to give advice, but now isn't really the time to psychoanalyze your friend. Leave that to the professionals. She's at a very vulnerable point in her life and your words might be more powerful than you think. Listen, offer logistical advice, and console.
Do Propose Healthy Plans
Don't be the one to encourage nights out of binge drinking. Be the one who suggests a day hike or a road trip or a sightseeing adventure. You want to enrich her life, not blunt the pain.
Don't Get Involved
You might be tempted to speak to her ex, to defend her or play messenger, but don't do it. Unless it's a dangerous situation, let them work it out together. It's not your battle.
Do Keep Things Private
If your friend has confided in you, keep it to yourself. Though you might be temped to tell people what's going on, that's up to her. It's not your news to share. Now is your time to show what a trust worthy friend you really are.
Don't Make It About You
You're probably tempted to make comparisons between your friend's break up and yours. You're probably tempted to discuss how her relationship and break up affected you. Try not to do either. This is about her. Don't make her responsible for your feelings right now.
Do Be Optimistic
When you tell her that everything is going to be OK, mean it. Break ups happen to all of us, they make us stronger and they bring us closer to the people we're actually meant to be with. Remind your friend as much as possible that things will work out for the best and that this is a blessing in disguise.
Don't Be Too Idealistic
But don't over-do it on the "everything is sunshine and rainbows" front. If your friend is really hurting, she's going to have trouble digesting anything that's too idealistic. Sure, in theory, this was "meant to happen," but that doesn't make it feel any less crappy. So don't go overboard on the mantras.
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