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How to help a friend through a breakup

If a close friend of yours has recently split from her significant other, she may need your comfort and support more than either one of you realizes. What you say and do for her during this difficult transition can make a huge impact on how well she rebounds from the breakup. And, when chosen wisely, your words and actions can also bring you and your friend closer together.

Helping a friend through a breakup

For ideas on what you can do to help your friend cope with the change and emotions associated with breaking up, consider the following tips:

Keep your opinions to yourself.

That means no bashing your pal’s ex—no matter how much you disliked him or what he may have done to hurt your friend. According to Dr. Simon A. Rego, PsyD, ABPP, ACT, director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center, “Breakups are difficult and the person who was left often has mixed feelings, good and bad, about the person who left them. Attacking the former partner will invalidate what the person had felt or may still feel for them.”

Get your girl out and about.

Your friend’s transition from being part of a couple to being single is a great time for you and her to reconnect and enjoy some girl time, says Dawn Maslar, author of From Heartbreak to Heart’s Desire: Developing a Healthy GPS (Guy Picking System). When inviting your friend out, Maslar recommends steering clear of places frequented by couples or events targeted at singles. “Nothing is more depressing than sitting in a group of 40 single women who are trying to get over a bad breakup,” she explains.

“Instead, do things you might not do if you were in a relationship, such as see a Broadway musical or a ballet, take belly dancing classes, or go on a yoga retreat. Take a funky weekend trip, go antiquing, or visit a museum.”

Don’t push your friend into a rebound relationship.

A common mistake people make when trying to help a friend cope with breaking up is encouraging her to start dating again too soon. “People need time to recover and make sense of what happens to them,” says Rego. “Pushing your friend to meet someone new, while exciting, won’t allow her the time to emotionally process the breakup and may ultimately lead to unresolved feelings.”

Lend a helping hand.

Breaking up is mentally and physically exhausting, so the more you can do to alleviate your friend’s stress the better. Dr. Amora Rachelle, president and director of Health IQ, recommends doing a few favors such as picking up dinner or running errands for her.

“If your friend is moving to a new place, offer to help her pack. Once a decision has been made to move, the stress is high and it may not be pleasant behind those closed doors,” explains Rachelle. She says there are plenty of things you can do to help your friend, such as lending your company, giving her a place to stay temporarily, and helping her pack and find a place.

Let your friend think for herself.

“Two people may react very differently to the same event,” says Rego. “Therefore, how you might think and feel based on what you know of the partner who ended the relationship is not necessarily correct and pushing this view on the person may ultimately make them feel worse if they don’t feel and think the same way.”

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