10 Ways to Support a Brokenhearted Friend

Often, people think it’s simple to comfort a friend whose heart is broken, especially on television. The girls sit around at brunch with endless mimosas, bashing their exes with one-liners, and the heartache disappears magically.

That’d be nice, but, sorry, in most cases, that’s not gonna happen.

Unfortunately, the reality of it is slightly less straightforward. In real life, it’s difficult to figure out what to say when you watch your friend cry and feel emotionally drained.

The funny thing is, you’re not even mourning the loss of her ex because you never liked him anyway. Your pain comes from her misery.

You’re unsure whether you should leave it alone and let your friend heal on their own. Or should you comfort them with pep talks and ice cream? If you’re stuck and don’t know how to help your friend, here are 10 ways to guide someone through a tough breakup.

1). Assist with Tasks and Chores

Breakups can be all-consuming. In addition to the reminiscing and the “what-if” questions, your friend may have many sleepless nights thinking about how to share the bad news with friends, family, and coworkers.

During this uneasy transition, minor life details can slip through the cracks. So if you feel comfortable, step in and assist your friend in the following ways:

  • Schedule appointments or check their calendar for outstanding appointments. This includes a doctor or a dental visit. Also, schedule an appointment for your friend at the spa and the beauty salon for a new post-breakup look.
  • Send them a supply of meal kits. Chances are, cooking isn’t high on the list after a breakup. Sending meal kits makes eating much easier. Plus, it’s no big deal if they lose their appetite, which is quite frequent after a split. They can save the meals in the freezer for when they’re hungry again.
  • Send new bedding. Out with the old and in with the new. New clean sheets equal a fresh new start.

2). Ask Them Directly How You Can Help

After a breakup, you may assume you know what your friend needs. While every relationship differs, share what helped you after your breakup (ex, hanging out with friends, getting a new hobby.)

However, what helped you won’t necessarily help them. You shouldn’t assume your methods for getting over a split will be true for your friend. If you want to know how to help them, ask. Offer some compassion by asking things like:

  • “I hate that you have to deal with this. Is there something specific you’d like to talk about?”
  • “Is there any way I can help you through this tough time? If so, let me know.”
  • “How can I support you while you deal with this?”

Sometimes, it’s best to leave the offer open. This way, even if they don’t know what they need at the time, they can call or text you if something comes up.

3). Make Sure to Take Care of Yourself Too

Often, we’re so busy making sure our friend is OK that we don’t even notice that we’re not. Caring for a lovesick friend is time-consuming and requires us to place the focus on them completely. If you feel overextended and exhausted, give some love to yourself to break up caregiving time. Additionally, set personal limits like:

  • Saying no if your friend wants immediate support but you have prior commitments or need some mental health time to yourself
  • Having designated self-care time for yourself. (ex, spa time, gym)
  • Utilizing additional friends in your circle to help support your friend

Of course, you want to be there emotionally for your friend, but you cannot offer much support if you feel rundown and exhausted.

4). Don’t Be Patronizing

You know what it feels like to be heartbroken. But on the other hand, maybe you don’t. You may have been lucky enough to avoid those devastating moments in your life.

As an outside party to the situation, it can be easy for you to see the opportunity for growth and to reinvent yourself. But your friend may be far from ready to hop on that silver lining train.

You may think you’re helping by saying things like, “Yeah! You’re single!” or “You can find someone better looking (hotter, richer, nicer, etc…), but it doesn’t help and may even make it worse. Statements like these invalidate your friend’s feelings and show that you aren’t listening to their pain.

Your friend will eventually come around, and your responses can be more lighthearted. However, until that time comes, let them deal with their emotions and support them through it.

5). Don’t Minimalize the Situation or Their Emotions

Some comments meant to be comforting can come across as minimizing or invalidating your friend’s emotions. Avoid flippant comments like “Thank goodness you guys weren’t together for long,” or even comment jokingly, “You were hotter than he is anyway!” Remarks like this may seem careless or frivolous, considering the hurt they may still be experiencing.

If you don’t know what to say, let them share how they feel and when they do, validate them. In a non-judgmental manner, use open-ended questions like

  • Is there any way I can help relieve your pain?
  • Tell me why you feel so bad about {the text your ex sent, the picture they posted on social media, etc.}
  • What exactly makes you feel bad about {being single, the way he broke up with you etc.}

Sometimes we can overreact over a heartbreak, but people experience grief in their own way, and you should respect that. Remember, every emotional response is valid.

6). Help Them Find Professional Support if Needed

Everyone processes a breakup differently. If your friend comes to you, or you sense they need outside help, assist them by helping them find a counselor or therapist.

Studies indicate that breakups take, on average, three to six months to get over. However, recovery is different for everyone and can take longer or have varying effects depending on past experiences.

If they ask you for assistance, offer your support by helping them find a licensed therapist. A therapist provides a safe and neutral space to discuss many topics in-depth, including devastating breakups, without judgment or pressure to “fix” things.

Woman Talking to Her Therapist

How do you know your friend could use outside help? First, be intentional about approaching their healing process, whether they’re balled up in a corner crying on the floor after the breakup or don’t go out as much anymore.

Then, if you notice your friend is depressed but hasn’t come to you and asked for help, suggest they see a therapist. If they agree, assist them in finding the right one. However, don’t push it if they’re not interested in therapy.

If the depression continues, suggest it at a later time. Remember, your support should be a source of positivity in an otherwise tough period in their life.

7). Don’t Speak Poorly about Their Ex

As much as you hated him, when your friend is hurting over their breakup, avoid talking shit about him because it rarely helps.

You may be pissed off at her ex for how he treated your friend, or maybe you never trusted them in the first place, but now is not the time to essentially declare I was right!

Instead, keep your opinions to yourself until the situation settles down. Negative comments will only make your friend feel they can’t trust you when expressing sentiments about still loving or missing their ex.

6 Reasons to NEVER Date Your Friend’s Ex

He’s sexy, he’s hot, and now that your friend has dumped him, he’s single. But none of that matters because he’s off limits (or should be). There are a million guys out there, so why even glance twice at him? Instead, check out the reasons why you should never date your best friend’s ex.

  • It’s kinda weird: Doesn’t it skeeve you that your best friend had her tongue in his mouth only a few weeks ago? And think about the other openings (or don’t, but you get the idea.) If you and your friend’s ex ever got together, he may be doing the same sexual positions to you as he did with her. At one point, they were both lying naked next to each other on the very same bed you may end up having sex on. Yuck!
  • The jealous factor: While your friend may say she doesn’t care you are dating her ex, did you ever think she could be lying to save face? If you have a relationship with her ex, you may let it slip out that he took you to Vegas, knowing your friend always wanted to go there. You can even agree that you won’t talk about him if you date him. But we all know that won’t last. When you’re in a loving and happy relationship, the first thing you want to do is talk about it to your friends. Why bother being tempted?
  • More arguments: Relationships are complex enough, but can you imagine going to a party with your best friend’s ex? Wait, what’s that? Did he just make eyes at her skimpy outfit? Is he trying to get back together with her? Is it worth the extra headache you’d take on if you started dating him?
  • Choosing sides: Even if you and your friend remained on good terms, what happens if she didn’t with her ex? If you have the same group of friends, how awkward would it be for this guy to show up with you today, but two months ago, it was with her? Another option is to move to Guam–unless he dated someone there, too.
  • Kills the sex: If your friend dated him first, did she tell you about his likes and dislikes in bed? Are you going to be upset if he pulls out the same moves on you?

8). Be Their Sounding Board

Often, a person wants to simply talk about their feelings when they break up with their ex. That may be in the form of sobbing on your shoulder, or it may be shit-talking about how they used to cheat and how glad they’re happy to be rid of them.

Whatever their sounding board looks like, allow your friend to set the tone. If she starts making light of the situation (ex, I hated the way he chewed so loudly), or she wants a more profound conversation (ex, we were supposed to get married), follow her lead. Let her drive the discussion in the direction she wants, which may vary from minute to minute.

For example, she starts off relieved that they broke up, but an hour in, she begins crying about loneliness. Whatever she talks about, you talk about. It’s that simple.

9 Tips for Better Listening

Being a supportive friend is listening to them and offering assistance when needed. If you’re looking for ways to be an active listener, check out the following tips.

  1. Have proper eye contact by facing the speaker
  2. Never interrupt the speaker
  3. Watch for non-verbal cues
  4. Don’t jump to conclusions or judge
  5. Stop planning on what you’re going to say next
  6. Don’t offer opinions unless asked
  7. Keep focused
  8. Ask questions
  9. Summarize so they know you were listening

9). Keep Her Busy

After a breakup, many people want to lay in bed with the covers pulled up while listening to sad music. That’s OK for a moment, but if it goes on too long, she may fall into depression.

When this happens, it’s time to pull out the big guns and head to the club. OK, maybe she’s not ready for the full-on club scene, but an afternoon cup of coffee works wonders.

She used to mention joining the gym before she got into a relationship. Now that she’s single consider dragging her out for a hardcore workout. It’ll release tension and help clear her thoughts. If she’s not ready for that yet, a walk around the block is also a good way to relieve stress.

10). Consider Setting Her Up

This is a tricky idea because unless she flat-out tells you, you’ll need to gauge whether or not she’s ready to go out on a date. So first, consider setting up an online profile. This way, she doesn’t have to leave her house, but she can still check out what’s out there.

Suppose she’s not interested. No harm. If she is interested, set it up. The point is to have fun and do something out of her comfort zone. It’ll take her mind off her ex and put it on a new hot guy, however temporary.

Another option is to join a club and pick up a new hobby. For example, sign up at a local restaurant if you have always wanted to take cooking classes.

This is the perfect time to return to school or become certified in a trade. Keep her busy, and soon her heartbreak will be in the past.

Yes, being in a healthy relationship is fun and exciting, and breaking up can wreak havoc in your life. But this is the time to create a new you. Once you’ve grieved over your relationship and spent time healing, take the opportunity to become better and stronger. You’ll realize only you can make yourself happy and no one else.