Most of us have been through difficult break-ups. Getting over the ending of a relationship is a process that can't be rushed - we all mourn in our own way in our own time. And while it's one thing to be in the middle of it ourselves, what about when we have to watch a good friend go through the pain and turmoil while we feel helpless on the sidelines? At times you feel bad for them, at times you want them to snap out of it so you can have your fun-loving friend back. It's a real testament to a friendship to be able remain supportive in your friend's time of need and it can be a difficult time for both of you.
Tips On Helping Your Friend Through a Difficult Breakup
1. Be patient and understanding, and realize that only time can heal your friend. Encourage them to talk about the situation, especially if you find they're not being very communicative but are obviously in pain.
2. Your friend's emotions will probably seem erratic. They need you as their confidant to help work through the confusing emotions and moods that can and do arise. One minute they may be angry and hate their ex, the next they may be incredibly sad and miss them terribly - this is normal and will subside with time. Avoid offering solutions and advice unless they ask you directly. They will come to their own conclusions and solutions eventually.
3. Oftentimes, we blame ourselves for a breakup and are very hard on ourselves. Let your friend know what a good person they are, and what qualities they have that you love and admire in them. Remind them of the good things they offered the relationship to help them from feeling totally responsible for its demise.
4. Don't talk negatively about your friend's ex. They still love them and you talking badly about them can signal to them that you're not interested in listening anymore. It can also contribute to the feeling that the relationship was a waste of time.
5. Provide healthy distractions (bike riding, a new hobby, a trip) for your friend that will help the time pass by more quickly for them and leave less time for them to mull over their ex. Staying away from drugs and alcohol is also a good idea - although it can seem like a temporary band-aid at the time, it can adversely affect their already erratic moods and serotonin levels.
6. If your friend really seems to be struggling - suggest professional counseling as an option, but make sure to do it in a way that will not offend them. Something like, "I knew someone who went through a similar thing and she said counseling actually really helped her through it", would be a non-threatening way to suggest professional help.
7. Don't encourage your friend to date until they're really ready. Getting involved with someone else before they're healed is not fair to anyone. Once you (and they) feel they're ready, suggest a low-pressure way to get back into the dating scene, like a casual outing with friends, speed dating, or a singles party.
Your friend will come out on the other side and they will appreciate your support and help in the long run. It may feel very frustrating at times to see your friend go through this, but your friendship will be stronger for it.
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