If you have been through a breakup, you might just know how hard it can be. Knowing this, it can be heartbreaking to see someone you care about go through the pain of losing a relationship and partner. While you can’t take the pain away, there is enormous power in showing up for someone. Being truly present can plant seeds for powerful healing, so, want to do it right? Here are some guidelines for supporting someone you care about during their breakup.
1. Give them time
When the reason and need for the breakup seem so clear to an outsider, it can be puzzling, if not downright frustrating, to see a friend struggle to get over an ex or move on from the relationship. After all, if things were so bad, why can’t she just see how lucky she is to be free of it? Can’t she see how much better off she is going to be??
Just like relationships, breakups are dynamic, complex, and unique. No, it is not cut and dry for your friend and yes, she needs the time to grieve, process, and get to her own moving on point. Be as patient as possible and be there to listen as much as you can while also maintaining your personal boundaries. Do your best not to shame her for struggling right now. If her grieving period truly goes beyond what you consider to be a healthy length or if she appears to be crossing into a self-destructive zone, try to suggest she speak to a professional. Never judge.
2. Suggest activities
Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely important to simply check-in and ask how a person is doing during this time. It can also be extremely comforting to ask how you might help or what would be supportive. But don’t let it stop there. Even if it’s not your usual forte, come up with fun and comforting things to do with or for your friend. Make the suggestions and take a big hand in the execution. Don’t add an extra burden, even if benign, to her right now by asking what she wants “to do.”
Not only is your initiative going to provide company when your friend may need it most, but the care that you put into planning some lovely time together is also going to make her feel the love and attention she deserves and is probably missing from her partner.
If you decide on hosting a good old fashioned movie night, check out my recommendations for the best breakup movies here.
3. Try to resist giving unasked for advice. Instead, try to listen as much as possible
When it comes to break-ups, it may seem that the advice is obvious: ‘move on,’ ‘forget about him/her’. The truth is, however, that this is nothing your friend hasn’t already heard, and it’s not helpful (it’s really, really, not). Unless they directly ask you for advice or input, just be there to listen and to let her know she is cared for outside of the relationship that has just ended.
4. Be willing to take a side
Yes, this one is tricky, but it’s also about being unconditionally there for someone you care about. If at all possible, during the initial days after your friend’s breakup, give her a safe place to come by taking a social break from her ex, particularly if the breakup was an ugly one. This does not mean that you have to sever ties with the person, but it does mean that you need to let both know that for the time being, you will be taking a break from regular contact to show up most fully for your friend. The comfort and security that you will be providing to this person during this time by taking this move are priceless. It’s also a touching way to show your loyalty and a way to strengthen your bond.
Whatever you do, don’t try and maintain regular contact and keep it from your friend. Just trust me on this one. Also, while this scenario will be different for everyone reading this and while it is meant to be a general rule of thumb, if your friend experienced abuse in the relationship there is no grey area. Take a stand.
5. Save being flaky for another time
If you are going to show up for someone, show up. If you are the type who often runs late or has things come up, put forth an extra effort right now to be dependable. Sensitivities are heightened when emotions are raw and close to the surface, and even if she is normally quite understanding about rescheduling, your friend may be severely hurt if you fail to live up to your commitments. If you are concerned about being able to keep plans, show up for her in other ways right now. Honor 200% of what you say you are going to do.
If you think your friend may be open to more one-on-one support, why not gift her the Broken Heart Repair Kit? It’s 14 days of tips, tricks, and love to help women move onto the next big thing in their lives. Check it out and order here.